How to handle a family secret?!

posted 2 years ago in Family
Post # 61
Member
81 posts
Worker bee

Things like imitating sex acts with Barbies or even imitating some sex acts oneself are not really abnormal or unhealthy for children. It would be unhealthy if the exploration involved forcing or coercing others into participating in some way, but the roleplaying/make believe is a healthy way to explore sexuality. Children do this with all aspects of life, not just sex. 

 

I think the core of this is that your friend appears to have certain beliefs about sex that are biasing her judgment of the situation. Things that stand out to me are that she says she also had a problem with porn but thinks this is more abnormal for a woman than a man to experience. To me, that indicates that she doesn’t know or believe that women are sexual beings, just as men are. To some degree, she may be associating sexuality with shame. She also appears to be convinced that her father has an addiction, though the evidence only seems to show that he consumes pornography.

 

Overall, I think your friend has beliefs about sex that may or may not arise from religous beliefs and these are making her concerned for her dad and family. It’s fine to be against pornography, but I think it is important to understand that many (most) people consume it, that most people who consume it are not addicted, and that it does not cause people to be dangerous (nor does it indicate that people have dangerous interests). I watch porn sometimes and I am as docile as they come, and have a very healthy relationship with a man who also watches porn and doesn’t have an addiction or anything like that.

 

I think I can relate to this to some degree. My mother is pretty religious and would constantly make comments about sex when I was growing up. If there was a sex scene in a movie, she would say “oh, they’re not married, they shouldn’t be doing that” or “remember, not until you’re married.” She makes casual comments implying that men are very sexual and women aren’t, and has implied that oral sex is wrong between even married people. She is opposed to pornography. Overall she appears scandalized when sex is mentioned. I grew up thinking sex was a pretty big deal and “sinful” unless you were married. I had a lot of shame about exploring sexuality with my boyfriend and having sexual thoughts. I felt that people who had sex outside of marriage were immoral and it represented a poor character.

 

In my opinion, this appears to be a similar perspective your friend is viewing her family situation from.

 

Bottom line: unless he is doing something illegal or has demonstrated a dependence that is affecting his ability to engage in his life, there isn’t a need to bring it up. It’s fine to be disappointed in him morally, but unless there is more to this story (and I am not convinced of that), there is no further concern here. I would recommend that your friend do some further research into sexuality and become more familiar and comfortable with it, even if still disagreeing with certain acts.

Post # 63
Member
81 posts
Worker bee

KKML125 :  Right, I just saw that. If there was child pornography then she should report it to the police. I am not there talking with you and your friend so it is harder to ascertain exactly what’s going on, but I think she needs to take a moment to clarify what exactly she saw before reporting it (as she did not initially tell you that it was child porn, and seemed more concerned about cheating, etc.). I think it will be difficult to report as it was so long ago and there may not be evidence, but if he is still consuming it then there will be.

If she believes she may have been abused herself, she should also seek counseling for that (and I see that you already suggested that, so good for you!) Further, if there was child pornography involved, she is right to keep her daughter away and should not allow them to be together.

I still believe that some of what I said about her viewpoint on sexuality is true, but it may have been informed partially by abuse if she was molested, so I think counseling is definitely the best way to address that instead of just researching it as I initally suggested. I am curious why she thinks she may have been molested though. She certainly may have been, and people do sometimes repress memories like that, but is there a further reason she thinks this beyond her persistent discomfort with sexuality? Either way, counseling.

Post # 64
Member
5978 posts
Bee Keeper

anthonyswife :  I believe OP’s friend too. This explains why it’s so traumatic to her years later and why she’s afraid of having her daughter around her father. 

smalltownbigworld :  Inconsistencies are understandable when you have someone who originally saw these pics as a minor herself and is uncomfortable in what she’s remembering/ repressing. Unfortunately this does sometimes gets valid cases tossed out- but sometimes it also makes them more credible. I know a detective who is in Major Crimes locally (SVU ) and he says sometimes gaps and inconsistencies make it MORE credible…..because we don’t always have solid, neat answers for everything. 

I think OP’s friend should go for counselling in dealing with all of this and to the police. And definitely protect her little girl. The mother’s role is less clear, she could be unaware of her husband’s activities and he’s convinced her their daughter was lying/ didn’t see what she thought she saw or she’s had her own suspicions and doubts but chooses to turn a blind eye to it. Rarer but unfortunately not impossible, she knows what he gets up to and still turns a blind eye to it. Unfortunately I don’t think confronting her mom will do any good, she sounds like one of those ‘stick your head in the sand and pretend nothing’s wrong’ types and will only blame/ resent OP’s friend for trying to pull her head out of the sand. 

Post # 65
Member
857 posts
Busy bee

KKML125 :  ok. I had to stop reading comments after your update 3hrs ago. She needs to desperately seek therapy. 

Ive accidently came across my SO dads porn history. His mom has been open about it. Ive never brought it up. She on the other hand has expressed it to me. Shes fine with it because she doesn’t have a sex drive after menopause. She told me that. I never asked. My SO and I found it a problem when we used the household’s pc and seen he was having live chats and cheating. Fortunately we didn’t have to say anything. She eventually caught it. She picked up his phone and there was a conversation going through text. He made excuses and she decided not to end the marriage. There’s alot that goes on in a marriage that has been discussed and they might find appropriate. I especially found it in appropriate that his father made a concerning comment to me when I was 16. He to this day says questionable things. For that if I had a daughter I’d be careful taking her around him. My SO feels the same.

What really struck me was your comment about barbie sex acts. Big red flag. I’m guessing finding this porn is giving her PTSD. It’s triggering high emotions she can’t handle. It’s not healthy. That’s what why I say seek therapy. I grew up with family secrets. As a friend you need to talk to her.

Post # 66
Member
857 posts
Busy bee

KKML125 :  if you or her needs to have someone to talk or listen to message me. 

Post # 67
Member
9132 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: August 2013 - Rocky Mountains USA

This is really hard to understand.  It’s impossible to know if her hangups are based on real, scary issues (child abuse, child porn) or just a messed-up view of sexuality and pornography due to her religious upbringing and the early difficult relationship with her parents.

THERAPY.  Let a professional help determine what’s going on here.

Post # 68
Member
366 posts
Helper bee

Well, this new info COMPLETELY changes my response. If she thinks she may have been sexually abused she needs to seek therapy immediately. I completely understand her ‘involvement’ in her father’s porn and sex life, because she thinks she’s actually searching for answers of her own childhood. It actually makes perfect sense now because she thinks she may have been abused. Its possible she was abused and that’s why she herself was highly sexual as a child and had her own porn addiction, or, some other reason, but only therapy and soul searching will help discover it. Her need to check up on her father could even be a repressed “policing” of him, she thinks shes saving someone else from it. She should definitely explore it in therapy. In the meantime, she should limit her time with her father and obviously her daughters time with him until she figures it out. Being someone’s father doesn’t automatically give them the right to be in your life, if shes not comfortable with it, she shouldnt spend time. She is not obligated to spend time with him.

Post # 70
Member
187 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: November 2016

Please tell her not to worry that her story may not be convincing, this is very common for people who have experience trauma.

Have you every had something really horrible, unexpected, or terrifying happen to you? You may not remember the details well at all.

For example: I’ve been very lucky and the worst thing that has ever happened to me is that my best friend died very suddenly when I was 22. About a year later I got into a very silly argument with another friend about whether or not she had been at my cottage when I got the news of my friend’s passing. I was sure she wasn’t there, she was certain she had come with me on vacation. About a week after the argument I found a bunch of pictures of us together on my phone at the cottage. Checked the time stamp, she was there.

My point, I have absolutely no memory of her coming to my cottage with me and staying for a week. Doesn’t matter how hard I think about it, how much I KNOW she was there, I just don’t remember it. Actually, that whole summer when my friend died is very hard for me to remember. I often find myself remembering things in the wrong order, leaving things  out, etc.

All this to say, trauma fucks with your brain, give you friend the benefit of the doubt.

And actually, playing with Barbies in a sexual manner CAN be a sign that a child is being abused. See http://www.stopitnow.org/ohc-content/tip-sheet-7

Post # 71
Member
5189 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: July 2018

KKML125 :  She was hoping that since it had been years since she had “caught” him looking at such things, that it had passed, but it is apparent that it hasn’t.

So is she saying she found child porn on his computer recently?

Post # 73
Member
783 posts
Busy bee

MsBeer :  I have to agree with MsBeer. Other than the fact that you were called a liar when you’re dad knew you weren’t, and I bet your mom knew as well, I don’t see the issue. You didn’t mention anything about kiddy porn or that any of it is illegial in your original post, so I assume you didn’t see anything like that.

Seems clear that you don’t believe in porn, and that’s fine. You said yourself you found pictures in a fire proof safe, was this something you had been given permission to look into? If not, you should have stayed out of it.

I’m sorry this affected you in such a way, and I think your parents could have dealt with it much better for you sake. I would say from now on, if you don’t like porn, don’t look at it and don’t allow it in your home. Other than that, it’s not your concern or worry if your parents enjoy it. Don’t be so quick to assume your mom is being disrespected since I’d be shocked if she doesn’t already know. From now on, tend your own gardens.

 

Post # 75
Member
476 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: July 2018

KKML125 :  Although viewing porn might seem normal to most people, it does make some uncomfortable especially if they had any sort of sexual trauma in their life time. I agree that some of the posts are a little harsh. You can’t just demand that someone gets over something they were traumatized by just because you personally don’t see it as traumatizing. There are normally hidden reasons as to why someone thinks something is a big deal. I think that your friend should go for professional help from someone outside of her town to cope with this. If she goes out of town to see a therapist she’s likely to feel more comfortable since the therapist will not know her parents. If she doesn’t feel comfortable with her daughter seeing her Father then she should limit their contact until she meets with a therapist and can make a clear decision as to why she feels weird about it. 

Good luck to your friend, and I’m sorry that she lived with something bothering her for so long. I hope that she gets the help she needs to feel better about this situtation. 

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