Stepson sexually abusing my son? Husband in denial.

mmae33April 3, 2010

I need advice! I'll give some background: I've been married for almost 9 years to a man who is the love of my life. He has 2 sons (ages 19 and 15) from a prior marriage and I have 2 daughters (17 and 14) and 1 son (11) from my first marriage. His oldest son lived with his mother and is now in college. His younger son (I'll call him Cole) who is 15 years old has always lived with him/us. My children have always lived with me/us also. My ex is not in my children's lives. My 15 year old stepson's mother is not really in his life, either. "Cole" has always been a challenge for his dad, his mom, me, his teachers.....lots of lies throughout the years, very angry, would throw tantrums when he was younger, now he confines that to throwing things in his room. He does make good grades. He has no friends his own age, but hangs out with my 11 year old and his friends who are younger. He's always shown bullying behavior towards my youngest son, mostly with words but occasionally things have gotten physical and he's left marks on my son. He's always been very interested in sexual themes (like love scenes). There are a lot of issues for Cole with his bio mother...she wanted his older brother to live with her, but she did not want Cole. She told my husband when they divorced that she never bonded with Cole as an infant. I feel like this explains a lot of his problems, but my children and I are the ones dealing with the fall out.

Over the past couple of years, as Cole reached puberty, he began walking around the house with an erection. He would do this in front of ALL of us, including me and my daughters. He would keep his hands in his pockets and "play" with his penis in front of us and it almost seemed like he was doing it unconsciously. We bought him new pants/pajamas with no pockets and went from letting him wear boxer underwear to "whitie-tighties". Hoping this would keep things held in, if you know what I mean. It helped somewhat with that particular problem. He also started masturbating, which I know is very normal, but he does it very frequently and leaves his used washcloths under the couch, or on the counter or floor in the bathroom he shares with all 3 of my kids. I think this is disgusting and very un-hygenic, but my husband does not agree. He thinks it's not a big deal.

In the past, Cole's lies and his behavior have almost caused my husband and I to split up because I was very concerned for my children's safety. He would say things at school that would cause the school social worker to call us, or the school counselor, trying to find out if he was in any danger at our home. He accused me of hitting and kicking him (which I absolutely did not do) and he accused his mother's boyfriend of the same type of thing. So we have a long history of trouble. I've managed to cope with this up until this most recent thing that's happened.

We took Cole's cell phone away from him due to some behavior issues and while my husband had the phone, he looked through the pictures/videos. There were 4 pictures and 2 videos of Cole being sexually explicit with a large teddy bear. The pictures/videos were almost violent and were pornographic in nature (after we found the pics we learned that Cole has been looking at porn on the internet at someone else's house). Cole had my son, who is 11 years old, take these pictures and videos. I was physically sick to see these on Cole's phone and even more so to find out it was my son who took the pictures!!! We've learned since then that this "type" of behavior has been going on for almost a year. Cole would act out sexually in front of my son, has pulled his pants down in front of him to "moon" him, has pulled his shorts up or down to show my son his "Balls" calling it the "Brain". My son says it was Cole's idea to do these things and he was always trying to "keep him off guard". I'm disgusted by Cole's behavior and I can't hardly stand to be around him and my daughters feel the same way. This is tearing our family apart!!

I've taken my 11 year old to have a psychosexual evaluation for a sexual abuse victim, this was done on the advice of our family counselors, one of whom is a psychologist. The evaluation was to rule out whether or not my son has been sexually abused. The results were "may have been sexually abused, is slightly depressed, has anxiety and is afraid for his safety." I'm devastated. The counselors and psychologists all think there is more to this story and I have my son in counseling now. DFACS was called to our home by the people who did the evaluation. My husband was so angry and he still is. He thinks this is all my fault and we should have been able to handle this situation within our family, without outside help. DFACS told him he has to get his son into counseling, but he doesn't want to pay for the evaluation (its $550 and I've already paid that for my son's). My husband says this is just boys being boys, my son is just as guilty as his son, and that a male psychologist would see this differently because only women have looked at this situation. That's why it's all being blown out of proportion, because of the women!!

I'm in counseling, too. My counselor told me last week that I need to think seriously about taking my children and leaving our home if my husband won't leave with his son. My son's psychologist told me that if Cole is the source of anxiety and fear for my son, that we would have to live separately in order for my son to heal and get better. The problem is, I don't make enough money to live by myself and I'm so torn up over this!!!! I want to take care of my children and protect each one of them. I'm also scared that if I make the decision to leave, that it will be a huge mistake.....what if the boys were just playing around, like my husband says....but my gut says no, that's not true. I feel so alone, can anyone give advice?

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your son is in danger and so are your daughters. what do you mean you don't make enough? rent a small apartment, move in with a family/friends, go to shelter, work 2 jobs. how did you live before you married this man?

your DH must get his son into intense therapy and evaluation until then you must protect your children.

what you described is not normal. i grew up with a brother and no he did not walk around with erection or touched his penis in front of his family or made his siblings take inappropriate pics. teddy bear? WTF!

and making your little boy taking pics of sexual activities is a form of abuse. boys being boys? he is only 11! he just does what his older brother tells him, who knows what he is going to tell him to do next? do you want to wait and find out or protect him now?

    Bookmark   April 3, 2010 at 11:39PM
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I felt ill reading this. I have 2 biosons age 13 and 11, and I would be more than devastated. Dear Lord what is wrong with your husband?! Doesn't he think this is just a bit too bizarre? My husband read this and said NO WAY would he think was this normal behaviour for boys.

Run, dont now and take your children with you. I know you say you think you cant manage financially but trust me when your boy is 25 he wont remember money being tight, but he will remember being abused and will want to know why you made him stay.

Are your girls safe - you said you had a 14 yr old?

I am so worried for you and your children - get them away from this boy now please.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2010 at 11:42PM
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Oh my goodness, that is terrible. Your husband must take this child and move out immediately & I would insist on it.

I could not even imagine my DS or SS's doing anything like that infront of me.. Yes masturbation is normal during puberty (in private) however leaving your dirty catchers all over is not!! No, no, no, no, no.

Yuck. Either he would have to go or I would and I think you should insist that DH take him to some sort of treatment center as he obviously has some serious issues that he needs professional help with.

I'm so sorry. But that sounds like one messed up kid, he needs help. And your DS needs to know he is safe.


    Bookmark   April 4, 2010 at 1:49AM
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IMO, it's not ok to leave a towel out, let alone a dirty towel. They go in the hamper or they are hung up. Period. It's called common courtesy.

If your husband cannot understand this simple, basic rule, there is no reasoning with him. It may sound like I am trivializing this, but I'm not. It comes down to the basics. How can you possibly be on the same page regarding sexuality and decent exposure/interactions if you cannot come to terms about a towel.

Take your kids, go to a shelter. Go to family. Don't worry about the money. Heck. Worry about the money. But nothing can buy back your son's childhood. DH needs to understand this, and if he doesn't, he's not worth your time.

I wish you the absolute best. Godspeed.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2010 at 2:49AM
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Thank you, all of you!! Especially Saxons who let your husband read my post. My counselor told me the same thing about staying in this situation and my son wondering why I made him stay here when I knew something was going on. My husband's controlling side wants this all to go away and he wants me to drop it. It infuriates him that I'm not letting it go. His attitude and behavior towards me makes me second guess myself and wonder if I'm blowing this out of proportion. That's why replies have helped me so much, coupled with what I'm hearing from all the professional women we've seen. I am also worried about my stepson around my 14 year old daughter, not so much the 17 year old. We have no family in our area, but I'm traveling today (Happy Easter) to see my parents.

Thank you all so, so much for these supportive comments and advice!!!!!

    Bookmark   April 4, 2010 at 8:12AM
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please let us know what you decide, but please decide fast

    Bookmark   April 4, 2010 at 8:27AM
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IMO you need to get your children away from "Cole" and your husband now, if not sooner. Cole's behaviour is nowhere near "normal"- leaving soiled washcloths is not "no biggie" any more than if you or your daughters were leaving soiled feminine hygiene products lying around for all to see. Performing in amateur porn videos and coercing an 11 year old to film them is definitely not "normal", and whether actual sex is involved or not, Cole is sexually abusing your 11 year old. Your husband claiming "this is just boys being boys" is waaaay off the mark and is tantamount to aiding and abetting Cole's perverted behaviour. If you stay without stopping this sickness, you also aid in abusing your son.
Which would your children prefer? Leaving, and being poor but feeling safe, or staying and living in fear in return for financial stability? Having a mother who will do anything to protect them, or one who would trade her children's emotional well being for money? For their sakes leave, leave, leave.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2010 at 11:20AM
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MMae, here's what happened in my state when a mother just "let it go" when her son did distasteful things. You're not doing the boy, your family, or your community any favors by sweeping this under the rug. I'm not suggesting this is where he is headed, but it highlights the need to act swiftly when you get that little voice in the back of your head saying "something's not right". Go with your gut Mama.

His mother let him keep living with her

    Bookmark   April 4, 2010 at 12:48PM
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It is empowering, and scary, too, to read all these responses. It occurred to me a few days ago when I set our house alarm at night, I'm not keeping the scary people biggest fear is living right under my roof.

Silversword - I read the link you sent and it's absolutely chilling to see what this man did and how many times someone else could have stopped him, starting with his mother. My stepson also lacks empathy and remorse, that's something his dad and I have always talked about and wondered over. When my kids get in trouble, they feel bad for what they've done and tell me they're sorry - but Cole, it doesn't even occur to him. That lack of a conscience in him fuels my fears, too. I looked up profiles of a teen sexual perpetrator and he has A LOT of the characteristics. My husband sees this, too, but he also sees the boy who helps around the house, is funny, makes good grades, plays soccer very well and shares Dad's interests in sports. He's not a complete monster. But I want to leave the monster and let his dad deal with him....while I take my kids somewhere I know we'll all be safe.

I do have a friend with a garage apartment, so I'm going to call her today to see if we can live there temporarily, until I can get on my feet financially. I'm going with my mama's gut!! Much thanks to everyone!!!!

    Bookmark   April 5, 2010 at 8:21AM
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great news! it might be that your marriage is not completely doomed and it could be saved and SS could get treatment, but until then you are making right decision by putting your children first! keep us updated.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2010 at 9:42AM
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In the special needs community, we have an acronym that everyone knows: DID, which stands for Dads In Denial. Deep down inside, Mom knows there is something wrong with her child, but Dad refuses to admit it, refuses to even consider it. Sound like you've got a classic Dad In Denial.

Cole sounds like a very deeply troubled young man, and he's chosen sexual ways of acting out, which spread the trauma throughout the rest of the family. Quite simply, that boy needs MAJOR help, and he needs to be separated from the younger children who are not able to adequately protect themselves. (Is it possible Cole was sexually abused? He's certainly acting out in ways that suggest something of the sort...)

Not to minimize the trauma to your son -- but I suspect if it ends now and Cole moves out for a while and gets into treatment, that your son will be able to put it into perspective and move on in a healthy way.

But if nothing chages? My goodness - What message will this send your kids? As a parent, you simply HAVE to protect them. You have to. They have to know that you, as a parent, will protect them from harm.

If your marriage truly is a good one, I'd send all of the kids out for an evening and have a heart to heart with him. PREPARE your side in advance, because you need to say what you need to say, and having it organized and streamlined may be the only way to make sure it happens. Key points:

-- Cole needs MAJOR help. He's been acting out for a long time, but his behavior has taken a turn toward sexually victimizing others. In a nutshell, he is acting like a young sexual predator. Cole needs help and as his parents, you and Dad NEED to see that he gets it - NOW.

-- Being in the same house with an untreated Cole is dangerous for your children. Your son has already been damaged, at this point, probably not irreparably, but only because the problem was discovered. Now that you know about it, you, as a responsible parent, NEED to act on it. You cannot ask your son to live under the same roof with the brother who sexually abused him.

-- You love your husband, your marriage and your family. After much soul-searching, you have come to the conclusion that to save your family, Cole and your children cannot live under the same roof. And because it would be unbearably cruel to 'abandon' Cole all over again, Dad should take him and move out while Cole starts treatment. You can have family dinners together and still be committed to your marriage and family -- but you need to protect your children. Without Dad's help, the family cannot survive. So either he supports the separation, or you need to pursue a divorce.

Best of luck to you -- And please, stay strong for your children's sake.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2010 at 10:07AM
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I'm so sorry for you all, and wish the best for you in the tough times ahead. I really hope that you and your husband can work this out; even if you have to live in separate places for a bit the kids will, as they do, grow up. Eleven sounds awfully young to be "playing around" in that manner and I really do not think that you should take a chance on ignoring this and hoping it will blow over. It's got to be really hard on your husband to think that his son, who he (and you) raised, might have serious problems - he may be thinking that he is somehow to blame for this, which would explain his denial.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2010 at 10:38AM
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