**WARNING - This post contains sensitive content that may disturb and/or trigger some individuals! Please proceed at your own risk.**
Before I begin, a bit of background info first. NM had come over earlier that day and, in front of myself and my MIL, told us about some disturbing sexual behaviors that my step nephew was apparently exhibiting. NM claimed that NHS had told her that morning on the phone that my SN (step nephew) - who I will refer to as "A" in the transcript below - had been caught masturbating right out in the open on several occasions, would repeatedly rub things on his crotch region before handing them over and, most concerning, had apparently been trying to teach my niece and nephew, who are aged approximately 6 and 9 respectively, how to masturbate as well.
Obviously I was extremely concerned as this is NOT normal behavior for any child, much less one of only 14. At the time my NM mentioned it to me, I remember making the comment that it sounded like SN may have been or was being molested. NM said she thought the same thing when she heard about it.
Before saying anything, I asked a trusted source - who is a pediatrician and works with others peds in various fields, including psychology - what she thought. She reiterated that this was NOT normal behavior and that her peers concurred. She also said she felt I would be perfectly within my rights to report what I'd found out.
Hearing that, I decided to confront my NHS for confirmation of what I'd heard. Following is a transcript of our Facebook conversation.
Me: Mom was saying something to me today about A and some recent weird behavior? Was wanting to get your side of the story since mom's not always the most reliable source...?
NHS: yep he did it all. he won't be coming back over. i think (BIL's name) will have his visits somewhere else. i think A has inherited his mothers sociopathic personality.
but if anyone else tells me A needs this and that im going to scream. we've tried everything we could possibly try. we've been there for him, supported him etc. you cannot change someone w/ a personality disorder. he may be doing things as a cry for help, but it is not us he wants attention from. its his mother. the other stuff he is doing isn't a cry for help, he is just strange. his whole family is strange.
Me: Well I was wanting to know the details from you so that I was sure I heard everything clearly. Based purely on what I heard secondhand from mom, the sexual behaviors he (A) was exhibiting are well beyond what would be considered normal, even taking into consideration all the hormones that are probably starting to flow through his body. I hate to say it but it's the behavior of a child who's been sexually molested. I definitely think it warrants checking out, either you guys doing it or by you guys calling child protective services and telling them his recent behaviors.
I'm no psychological expert but what I did study I made all A's in and I've also had friends who've been there as well as having read books on the subject and A fits the descriptions. If you guys don't have him checked out by a professional (or can't afford it) PLEASE call CPS and report it. Something very wrong is going on here and it ain't a personality disorder. (For the record, I studied personality disorders in particular because I found them most interesting and that was what I had wanted to do - treat people with personality disorders. Granted, I've not been around A all that much and not ever really lately, but from what I've heard from you and mom through the grapevine, it's not that.)
Forgot to add, isn't his mom's dad - A's grandpa who I thought you said his mom was always leaving him with - a convicted pedophile or something? My bet is on him being the one who did it.
NHS: No, his grandpa is not a pedophile. A's grandparents love him, and as weird as his grandpa is he wouldn't do that.
No, he hasn't been molested. What he has been doing is not as bad as it sounds. We just are nipping it now. He has a personality disorder. We know that for a fact. (Various family members of A) and A's cousin all have the same issues. It runs in their family.
Me: Well, I pray you're right. As I said, I wouldn't wish that on anyone, especially not a child. Regardless of how big a pain the kid was or wasn't. But from what I know of that particular issue and from what I heard from mom, I'd be willing to stake a lot that that's what's going on. What he's displaying doesn't fit any personality disorder I know of, certainly not antisocial personality disorder. And while there is some genetic component with regard to personality disorders, that's not exactly how it works. If it did, there'd be a lot more of the population with personality disorders.
It couldn't hurt to make an anonymous call and just ASK the people at CPS what they think and if it bears filing a formal report on. It could be you'd tell them what you know and they'd say, no, they don't think there's anything to report and then it's a done issue. But I have heard of situations where the other parent getting in trouble too with CPS because it's assumed that the other parent would and should have noticed something "untoward" or out of the ordinary in other words, going on and thus, CPS assumes they bear some of the responsibility for what may or may not have occurred.
If someone else were to report this, say the school for instance, they could also investigate you and BIL's family because they would assume - since A spends time with you guys on visits - that you should have noticed and yet didn't report anything. Not sure how it works exactly but I have heard a couple people online talk about something like that happening and I would NOT want that to happen to you guys.
No one could ever find out you were the ones who called (if you decided to call, I'm saying). I don't think that CPS even asks for your name if you don't want them to have it, or so I'm told. I say better to cover your OWN ass so you don't have to worry about any trouble. Not only that, A would be checked out by the state on taxpayer's expense and not yours and you could know for sure whether something had happened or not. If not, then you can put that worry aside. But if SO, then it would be brought to the light and A could get the help he needs sooner rather than later which is best for everyone, especially him.
Just my two cents. You can take it or leave it. :o)
NHS: The weird stuff he is doing isn't associated with a personality disorder. He has that to begin with. The other behavior is mostly typical stuff teenage boys do around each other. A just needs to learn that he cannot do that stuff around (niece and nephew's names). He scratches himself around the kids, and thinks it is funny to pretend to hump things, but he isn't crossing the line yet of disturbed behavior. We just are saying something about it now, bc we don't trust him not to cross the line. That is all. I am not sure what all you heard, but it seems a little more serious than it really is. Anyway, disorders are inherited. If a parent has it, the child has a chance of getting it. Of course the child won't know they have it, bc they can do no wrong in their eyes. His family also has a gene disorder called the anger gene. It is common in McCoy families in West Virginia. That may be what his disorder is. We have kept a close eye on A for 14 years now, there is nothing going on with his family except for their lazy parenting skills.
Me: The only way you could know for certain A has a personality disorder would be if he was formally diagnosed by a LICENSED PROFESSIONAL. And no professional in his right mind would diagnose a 14 year old boy with a personality disorder, especially not one as serious as antisocial personality disorder. And, again, I know something about personality disorders. I studied them in school, I've read book after book after book and this is NOT a personality disorder. Also again, they don't run in families in quite the way you're implying. It just doesn't happen like that generally. It's POSSIBLE, but not very LIKELY, in other words.
If THAT isn't good enough for you, then perhaps dh's opinion will matter to you seeing as he majored in psychology for 2 or 3 years before changing his major to art. Dh knows what mom said and he agreed with me that this is NOT a personality disorder and is NOT "normal behavior" for a 14 year old boy. Scratching himself in public is one thing. Masturbation doesn't generally begin until 16 years of age however and a child would very likely NOT do it in front of anyone but is almost always caught in the act while doing so privately. More to the point, a child would NOT be doing so in front of his younger siblings. The fact that he would try to engage them in some way, be it to make them watch, try to show them how to do it or whatever is VERY outside what is "normal".
I'm also confused as to how you can claim this is "no big deal" or "normal" and yet you've stated several times now that A is no longer welcome around your children and/or that you don't trust him around your kids anymore?
Again, admittedly, I'm no expert on the matter but I would at the very least have him checked out by a licensed professional who specializes in abuse cases. To me, the risk is just far too great to simply assume that nothing bad is going on when there's even the slightest possibility that it may be. Nearly all children who are molested are done so by a close family friend or family member. Did you know that? Believe me, I can totally get where ya'll wouldn't want to consider the possibility. It's horrible and I wouldn't want to believe it either. But the sad fact is that it CAN and DOES happen all the time.
All I'm saying is that you need to know for sure. What can it hurt just to look into it? If you take him to someone and they say with total certainty that that isn't the case, GREAT. I'm just saying that I would want to be 100% sure if it were my child. That's all.
And even if it's not that, there's obviously SOMETHING wrong with this picture, something that needs and requires intervention NOW before things go from bad to worse. Whether it's just normal issues for a child of "divorced" parents (I know BIL and his ex weren't ever actually married but you know what I mean, separated parents situation) or something more serious, it needs to be looked into NOW before things get past the point of being able to be fixed. It won't be long before A will be a legal adult and, at that point, no one will be able to make him be evaluated and he'll be free to do what he wants. Why not get him the help he obviously needs NOW?
Not trying to be a bitch or meddlesome or anything of the sort. Just heard some stuff (which you confirmed, btw) and was concerned. That is ALL.
NHS: A did not masterbate infront of the kids. He just scratches himself. Nothing you are saying has anything to do with what's going on. You have not spent time with A or his family. You don't know him like we do. The only reason we are not letting him back over is bc he is getting too old for it now and he is a bad influence. He was not showing his privates or masterbating infront of the kids. I don't know why this family has to be so dramatic. Does everyone think we are that stupid to not know what to do in this situation? We know what we're doing, and we have been ontop of all possibilities. Everybody chill out.
Me: For the record, this will be my last email on this subject.
"A did not masterbate infront of the kids. He just scratches himself. Nothing you are saying has anything to do with what's going on. You have not spent time with A or his family. You don't know him like we do. The only reason we are not letting him back over is bc he is getting too old for it now and he is a bad influence. He was not showing his privates or masterbating infront of the kids. I don't know why this family has to be so dramatic. Does everyone think we are that stupid to not know what to do in this situation? We know what we're doing, and we have been ontop of all possibilities. Everybody chill out."
When I first emailed you to ask you about A, your response to me was that it was all 100% correct and you were apparently willing to say that without even hearing what mom had said. I'd tell you now exactly what was said but even if what mom told me WAS correct, I wouldn't trust you to admit as much.
You are right. I don't really know A, but I don't have to know him to know that what I heard about him is most definitely NOT normal, that it's NOT a "personality disorder" - which, by the way, neither of you are qualified to diagnose - and that it represents that there is a HUGE problem going on. Even if I'm totally wrong and A hasn't been molested, something is still clearly VERY WRONG in his life. And apparently you and BIL know that otherwise you wouldn't be keeping him away from your kids. What's more, this goes well beyond A merely "scratching himself", as you claim, because him itching himself in his private area is NOT reason enough to label him a "bad influence" and limit his exposure to his siblings and you know it. Something else is going on here but, clearly, you aren't going to admit it.
As for A being "too old for it now", too old for what? Visiting and spending time with his father? Are you serious???!! A may be 14 but he's still a CHILD who needs his dad in his life. PARTICULARLY now when he's going through some issues above and beyond the normal turmoil adolescents go through. But then, it doesn't surprise me that you all are taking this "out" as a means of further distancing yourself from him. After all, the two of you have been saying for years how you're just "counting down the days" until A is 18 so the two of you will no longer have any obligations to him. Nice attitude for the both of you to have about your husband's firstborn son. And everyone wonders why the kid has issues.
To answer your question about whether or not I think you are that stupid to not know what to do in this situation or something similar, though it pains me to say it, the answer is YES. You guys apparently ARE that stupid. The fact that that child (A) so clearly has serious problems - which even you two admit, going so far as to label him as having antisocial personality disorder - and yet the two of you are so ready to blow the whole thing off as totally normal "acting out" is nothing short of insane. Labeling a 14 year old child who has apparently displayed the sort of behavior that I was told he was as having antisocial personality disorder and then telling everyone you guys are handling it and that we should "chill out" is absurd. Yeah, sounds like you two are completely "ontop of it" alright. Just like you're "ontop" of (dear niece's) problems.
Because I DON'T know A as well as the two of you do and because I DIDN'T directly witness any of the behaviors I was told about, I don't feel I'm in any kind of a position to call anyone and make any kind of reports. Especially when there isn't a chance in hell of getting the truth out of anyone at this point. I just pray the two of you have as good a handle and are as "ontop of it" as you'd like everyone to believe.
Within a day or two, this letter was sent to my NM and dh (who was at work at the time, for the record):
(DA's) email is completely uncalled for, and frankly, it is rather disturbing.
This was not solicited from her, nor is it appreciated. It needs to stop. I don't appreciate the allegations in this entire correspondence. I've kept my mouth shut about DA and her behavior towards us for years to keep the peace, but I will no longer allow my family to be denigrated and attacked in this manner. I have put up with personal attacks, her spreading lies about our family to her extended family and her general rude behavior towards us for years. I will no longer tolerate it.
I could understand if a sister wanted to help out a sister ... but this isn't the case. DA is always hurtful towards NHS and has been her entire life.
Please make it clear that DA is to not contact NHS or our family via email or by telephone. NHS does not want to talk to her again, ever.
We are dealing with our own problems in our lives as you all need to do in yours. Unlike your wife, I am not going to try to pretend to psychoanalyze your problems and then berate you for not taking my advice. I don't feel the need to check- in with (NM's name) or DA as I do what I see fit for my family, as I don't expect you to do that with us.
DA does NOT know everything that is going on. She does not know the circumstances, what happened or how I and A's mother are dealing with him. It's not right for her to project her situation with her dad onto my family as fact. She has absolutely no knowledge of this situation.
She does not have a degree in psychology or sociology and has no business thrusting terms she loosely understands at my family and labeling us as such.
Furthermore, she does NOT know about our ongoing treatment of (nieces name) for her flatfootedness; she has not been to the doctors with us, done research with us or have had consultations with specialists with us.
We haven't shared this with her because ...
It's none of her f**king business.
I'm sorry it has to be this way, I truly am, but we just will not tolerate her behavior any longer.
- (BIL's name)
By this point, in fact before I'd hit the send button on my final email to them, I'd planned on never speaking with or dealing with NHS and BIL again. So to hear BIL claim that they didn't want anything more to do with me, all I did was laugh.
I would also like to take this opportunity to point out that I said many, MANY times in my conversation with NHS that I am NOT an expert on the subject of psychology or anything pertaining to the subject of possible molestation. Despite that, you can see how BIL and NHS have twisted it around to my supposedly stating or implying that I am some kind of "expert" in psychology and/or sociology.
It was later the same day, or possibly the following day, that NM received this email (along with dh) that I got a nasty voice message from NM saying that she was "so disappointed" in me and why couldn't I have just kept my mouth shut, like she'd told me to? (For the record, NM had previously THREATENED me in a phone conversation to keep quiet and drop the whole thing, saying that A's mother and new dh "didn't take kindly to people talking badly about their family" and implying they'd have me "taken care of". I told NM that A's mom and FOO could bring it on, that when it came to the protection of a child or an animal (or anyone for that matter), I would stand up for what was RIGHT and anyone who didn't like it could go straight to hell.)
This was also the point at which NM changed her tune and claimed she hadn't said anything about A masturbating but that she'd said merely he'd been caught "scratching himself" as NHS had claimed. CLEARLY, NM had been fed what to say by NHS and BIL and was regurgitating it to me in her voice mail. It wound up costing NM my going NC with her for just over 10 weeks. Looking back, I wish to God I'd maintained my NC status instead of going back for more one final time. Had I just stayed the course, I'd now be NC for almost a YEAR instead of just two months.
Looking back, I still don't believe I did anything wrong throughout this entire interaction. I heard some very disturbing information from my NM about a young boy, I went to the supposed source and asked for clarification and was told by her that "he did it all", I politely urged my NHS to have it looked into and, instead of being met with a serious response by her, was given her usual attitude of being flippant and rude (not to mention her switching the story and gaslighting the heck out of me) at which point I basically told her shame on her for not taking the matter seriously and that I prayed they were as "ontop of everything" as they would like everyone to believe.
For that, I had my own mother turn on me, claim that *I* was the one who was lying and, once again, "putting my nose where it didn't belong" as well as reiterating how "disappointed" she was in me. A nasty email about me was sent to my NM and my dh who, again, was at WORK at the time of the email and then was later sent out by BIL to the rest of the extended FOO. Then NM and NHS and BIL embarked on a vicious smear campaign against me which, thankfully, wound up backfiring on them big time with the extended FOO, though not at first. As it stands now, I am not in contact with my NHS, BIL or their two children and, oh yeah, I was excluded from the Thanksgiving festivities at my NM's house last year because NHS and BIL told NM that they would not come if I was there. So, lest the GC and her dysfunctional mate be "put out", I was told I wasn't welcome or wanted. THIS is what I get for being a good person and doing the right thing. And they all wonder why I want nothing more to do with any of them.