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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How do I deal with my mum's decision to stay with a Paedophile?

    My mother's husband sexually abused myself and sisters as children. We decided to tell her recently (we are adults now) as she was asking to stay with us when she visited and we were running out of excuses to have them here.

    My mother says she believes us but says that her health is poor and she can't be alone at her age, she is in her 60's. We were expecting her to tell us she didn't believe us and stay - not to believe us and then go on as normal with that man. I feel betrayed and let down, she walked out on my dad and us as kids and met him. It feels like we are being abandoned all over again. I don't know if I can have a relationship with her anymore, knowing that she knows this and still remains with him. He told her he ‘does not recollect’ but he hasn't denied it or said we are lying. she wants us to keep it secret, but after 31 years of silence, I cannot do that anymore.
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  • 1


    Justin Stroud

    HealthShare Member

    That's a very rough situation an no one should have to go through that. I hope your ok now he can not do those things to you anymore an hope you can maybe find the better things in your life to keep you from thinkin about it. As for your mother I'd be very upset as well as it would be very upsetting maybe your right I'd probably not see my mother either if I was in your shoes but have a good think about it an talk to a phychologist it's always help gettin things off ya chest. Good luck

  • 1



    HealthShare Member

    thanks for your reply, was thinking about going to a psychologist as it has totally thrown me.  i never thought she would believe us and stay - so it has come as a bit of a shock to now know that is what she wants to do.  i keep thinking how i would feel seeing her now and it is gut churning, so if that is my initial reaction, then i may not be able to see past it.

    but then, something inside me keeps saying, ‘if you cut her off and she finds that she cannot live with the man and leaves after a few months or so, would it be ok then?’  do you accept her back into your life after she made conscious choices of staying in the 1st place and turning her back on us?  I think probably not, but you would like to hope that your mother will be a mum and there for you and that she may see the light, i don't know if i have the capacity to reunite if she decides to leave after a long period of time………..

  • Justin Stroud

    HealthShare Member

    Yeah it's definitely a tough one. Never been in that situation so don't know how it would feel. But I know people like him shouldn't be in society. How old are you now obviously it was a long time ago

  • My research interests include immunology and the mechanisms of amyloid formation. The latter has implications for people who are dealing with Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease … View Profile

    As the others have said, things can not be easy for you.

    You might find this site of some help: - it provides support for adult survivors of sexual abuse.

    All the best.

  • 4



    HealthShare Member

    I know exactly what you mean, my mum is doing exactly the same thing. Except for the fact that I told her whilst my 4 younger brothers and sisters are still living at home coping the abuse, and she still forces them to be around him. When posed with the question ‘ don’t you think there could be an element of truth to what I'm saying,, didn't you notice some odd things with him growing up' then her answer is yes, I do believe her sometimes, but we all have to move on now don't we. It's never an easy situation, part of you will love her as the mother she always was, part of you will grieve the mother that you lost when you found out she had betrayed you, part of you will grieve who she should have been, and most of all you will grieve the childhood you never had, but, things do get better. 

    I don't know if in your situation you are able to be around your sister, or if it is too painful, but my advise, the only thing that has worked for me is to focus on your relationship with your siblings as you all went through it together, but in contrast to your mum, you will not have as many betrayal and painful feelings towards your siblings because at the time you were being abused, they had no responsibility over you like your mum, and it is a lot harder for you to hate your sis for something she did as a kid when she was also being abused, whereas your mum…. Well I probably don't need to tell you that you will spend a long time wondering if she did or didn't notice earlier, and if she did notice why didn't she do anything.

    it is the single hardest thing to go through in life I think, know that your not the only one and there is support out there if you need it. A really good place to go is BRISSC. ( based in Brisbane, but they have a phone line you can ring from anywhere, and they are absolutely lovely and understanding) I find it easier to get help from places that do not actively encourage mandatory reporting for over age clients, that way you don't have the added worry of are the police going to contact you…. Probably the last thing you need happening out of the blue.

    with your mum, working out your relationship is going to be long and hard, I think the best thing you can do for yourself is set some clear boundaries with her, I know typically the mum is supposed to be the one boundary setting, and you may even feel the need to wait for her to do it, but sadly in these situations waiting for her to do it will be exactly that….. Waiting. Find something that works for you, I don't talk to mum on certain days to give myself time off, I tell her so too, I have therapy on Mondays and I tell her, if you call me in a Monday, I won't pick up. Never let your mum come into therapy with you, I made that mistake, it makes your little safe space feel soiled, and unsafe, your therapist is for you, if she wants one too then she can get her own. My mum is absolutely not allowed to come around to my house without organising it ahead of time, and the biggest rule of all is mum is allowed to mention dad, If she is aking questions about what I remember, or what he did to me, but my rule is absolutely no talk about dad as if he is a normal, don't mention what you did together last Sunday, or tell me he says hello, no happy families crap. If she starts doing that I leave. Sadly in these situations when the mum acts this way, they try to get you to play happy families, they try to get you to forgive your abuser, know that if they try to do this they are in the wrong. Your family is not happy, and you do not have to forgive your abuser, you can if you want to, but that should be part of your own healing process, and it only has to happen if you want to, nobody else. Some people like me never forgive their abuser, and that is ok, in my opinion they do t deserve forgiveness, the only ones who deserve your forgiveness is you and your sis.

    i have found it best to play it safe by accepting that your mum may never be the mum you need. Trust her to be only herself,  and that is someone who will probably always choose your dad, over you, it sucks, but if you try to test her by giving her personal information like where you live, how much money you have or where you usually visit and do things, please be prepared for her to tell your dad, and you may want to get a separate throwaway ph mob for your mum, that way you know that when it rings if your not in a good headspace you don't have to answer, and you don't get surprised if your dad rings you on it. If you have a separate ph for those you trust, you don't end up petrified of answering your ph.

    bottom line of all this is I think if you cut her off part of you will need her, if you don't cut her off then you will miss her space, and hate her.
     Try keeping her in your life if she follows the rules and doesn't push your boundaries, and maintains respect, if not then she has to go, because your healing is more important than her feelings.

    best of luck, my heart is with you ….

  • 1




    Jan Seeley

    Counselling Psychologist, Psychologist

    Jan Seeley is a Counselling Psychologist and a member of the Australian Psychological Society with a Master of Counselling (Psychology). For over 25 years she … View Profile

    What a difficult situation for you, especially given you have waited so long and protected your mother by not telling her earlier.  It is important that you think about what you need to do to look after yourself at the moment.  Seeing a psychologist experienced in working with child sexual assault issues could help you work through your feelings regarding your mother's reaction and prior abandonment.  Most people find it incredibly difficult to break contact with close family members and can experience the pain and guilt of that as equally bad as the problems with maintaining contact.  But for some, they find that it improves their situation.  Whatever your decision, you have the right to do what you need to do for yourself and to protect yourself from further contact with the perpetrator if you choose, especially given he is not accepting responsibility for his actions.  I encourage you to seek assistance as this is such a complex area and everyone's situation and needs are different.

  • Anonymous

    I don't think you should have anything to do with her.  I can't understand even wanting to see her.  She is supposed to be protecting you and even now won't put you first.  I don't speak to one of my parents as I believe the most important part of any relationship is trust.  If you can't trust friends, relatives - those close to you - to have your best interests at heart then what is the point in having that relationship.  You shouldn't have to be in such a close relationship like parent -child and have to protect yourself from that person.  As a parent myself I couldn't stand to be in the same room as someone who had done something to my child.  I think she either doesn't care or doesn't believe you or a combination of both.  What if you have children and he's around? Setting boundaries I don't think works and they will be constantly pushed.  I would kiss that relationship goodbye unless she diches him, and work on areas that are working in your life, and be a mother to yourself, and do what you think is right - like not having to see someone who abused you in your own house.  As a victim you should not feel the need to protect her.  And why were you so afraid to tell her?  Are you more afraid of her reaction, so her feelings are foremost in your mind?  Rather than your feelings and your experiences - which is what it should be.

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