Gransnet forums

Ask a gran

Abusive ex doesn't know he is a grandfather

(18 Posts)
loona Wed 01-May-13 16:34:55

My ex abused his stepdaughter and my other two children(by him) were 4 & 11 months when I kicked him out and he hasn't seen them since. My granddaughter is nearly six now and my daughter feels her father should at least know he has a grandchild. She also has questions she wants to ask him like why did he do what he did.

The abuse was over 20 years ago and although I know how to contact him I have no idea of his life since I kicked him out. I don't even live in the same city. I don't know what to do. My youngest does not want to know but will go with whatever I feel is best. How my abused daughter would react I don't know. I worry about how she would feel about it.

I want to do what is right & best for my children & granddaughter.

whenim64 Wed 01-May-13 16:58:10

They naturally have some curiosity. Many children and young adults satisfy their need to know and don't bother with further contact. If the abuse was sexual, they should be wary of him knowing there are children, and find out what they can either from a third party or on neutral ground with no commitment to meet again. The children should be kept out of it for sure. I can't think of many men who would be prepared to meet to answer questions about their ill-treatment of children, especially nowadays when children decide they want to prosecute the man for what he did. They should talk it through and be prepared for disappointment.

Florence56 Wed 01-May-13 17:12:58

Hello loona, what a difficult position to be in. I think a lot needs to be thought and talked about about before any actions are taken. Your daughter has a wish to contact your ex yet you feel torn by the history of abuse.
My gut feeling is that he has forfitted most of his rights as a parent and Grandparent but your daughter obviously has things she needs to sort out in her own mind. Perhaps that might be something she will have to do on her own with outside help. Or perhaps she might realise she has created an unrealistic picture of him in her mind because she was so young when he left.
The daughter he abused must be supported and protected as best you can, only you know what she can cope with. Just take everything very slow and make sure everyone has plenty of time to talk and think. I do hope all goes well.

loona Wed 01-May-13 17:21:56

My eldest did prosecute and he went to prison for 3 months and served half. Because he pleaded guilty we did not even know the case had gone to court until he phoned and asked to see his children. That is how it was back then, my daughter wasn't informed as his guilty plea meant she was not needed to give evidence. I said no and got a solicitors letter to that effect sent. He never asked again.

whenim64 Wed 01-May-13 17:28:06

Given your eldest child took action against him, I can only begin to imagine how she would feel about the others being in touch with him again. If they are all friendly and supportive of each other, they should talk this though very carefully, and if they decide to proceed, maybe make contact with him by letter via a third party.

loona Wed 01-May-13 18:02:28

We are a close family. None of us would want to hurt my eldest. I and his two kids live up north, my eldest lives down south and we keep contact every week using a webcam. He lives in the midlands so there is no chance of bumping into him. We don't like secrets between us but we don't know how to approach her on this as she is bipolar which is under control and she lives with it but we guess it was triggered by the trauma of his abuse.

loona Wed 01-May-13 18:04:52

My granddaughter would never be allowed alone with him but what if she asks questions about him somewhere down the line.

whenim64 Wed 01-May-13 18:45:57

If it was me, I would be laying out a strong argument for not having contact with someone who has caused that amount of harm. If the others want answers to their questions, he could start by putting down his answers in a letter. When children ask about the whereabouts of an abuser who has not been in their life, it's best to give age-approprate answers e.g. he did some bad things and had to go to prison, and now he lives somewhere else.

Adults can decide when they are old enough, but children need to be safeguarded till then. Hope you can all sort it out between you, bearing in mind your eldest daughter's well-being and the damaging effect it could have on her if he was to re-ppear. Probably not worth contemplating.

loona Wed 01-May-13 19:49:13

Thanks whenim64, it's good to hear another point of view from someone who is not involved in the situation. After all these years it can still feel raw at times. We moved away from everyone we knew because he only moved a couple of miles away when I kicked him out and we felt watched. My youngest is now 24. I have seen all three through University and each are well respected in the community.... We are a success story but just have this one part of our lives that is a problem.

When I divorced my ex he had "reasonable access" and was allowed to take his two out for a couple of hours unsupervised once a week and a visit to the home once a week. My solicitor said that "reasonable access" meant that I had to comply but if he did anything then I might have them taken from me. I do hope that the law has changed since then. It was only after he went to prison that I could stop him seeing them and being involved in their lives.

Your idea of a letter is a good one but it still sticks in my throat that I would have to contact him as I think I am the only one of us that knows where he is.

I had such good times with my grandparents & my great grandmother too. It is such a shame that my granddaughter will only know one grandparent.

whenim64 Wed 01-May-13 19:53:32

If it sticks in your throat loona, then you can go with your instincts and leave the matter alone altogether. You've done a good job looking after your children so far, so they can be guided by your judgement. Good luck smile

Grannyknot Wed 01-May-13 22:06:26

Ioona you've had good advice here. Your daughter who wants to confront (perhaps not the right word) your ex is very courageous, my understanding is that generally few people have the courage to do this whilst the abuser is alive, often these matters only come out once the person is long gone and it is 'safe' so to speak.

Likewise, you made a brave move, and faced life with a young child and a baby. I take my hat off to you and the success you describe with what you have achieved as a family is a triumph. flowers

My instincts would be - not to contact him. What if it opens a Pandora's Box - not in a good way, and you regret it afterwards. Now at least you know what you're dealing with, you have no idea where life has taken him - perhaps you find you want nothing to do with him more than ever before, and as I heard someone say once "You can't un-ring that bell".

Flowerofthewest Wed 01-May-13 22:33:53

I too would say do not contact him, it may open a can of worms and I feel that the grandchild should be protected at all costs.

loona Thu 02-May-13 17:53:46

Thank you all. You will not realise how much you have helped. With what has been in the media since the Saville news broke my head went into a spin. That sort of news bring it to the front of our minds. Maybe that is why my youngest daughter wants to make contact. Being 4 at the time we have never known if anything happened to her but maybe a memory was triggered. At the time Social services thought it was best to not ask questions and better to keep her out of it.

I have done some thinking. We know how things go around in our minds and affects our lives more than 20 years later. It should not become a burden in the mind of another generation. With that in mind I think I will tell my daughter that it is better not to see him because it would just play on her mind and if her daughter ever asks then it is best that she told that he just left or something like that. A small lie but in her interests.

Florence56 Thu 02-May-13 18:51:38

Hello loona, I also think that what has been in the news of late shows just how devious abusers can be. Having watch Stuart Hall on news - in an earlier clip he is all defensive and in denial, saying such things as the accusations against him were untrue, cruel and spurious! Abusers are very good at playing mind games - its part of their 'act'. If this man did find his way back into your life you would just never quite know what the risks would be. I suspect your daughter has created a wishfull vision of some sort of reconcilliation - its only natural now that she has a child, but I suspect things will not be as rosy as she hopes.

FlicketyB Thu 02-May-13 19:09:31

If you write to him, write a letter containing no address, but set up new email address only for communication with him, give him that. If it all goes wrong or feels wrong, remove the email address and you and your family are safe, because he still does not know where you live or what your usual email addresses are.

Faye Thu 02-May-13 19:52:33

From what I gather your ex husband abused your eldest child (his step daughter). Now twenty years later your younger daughter (one of two children you had with this man) is now a mother and wants to contact her father (who abused her older sister and was sent to jail for his crimes).

I know a family where the father abused both his daughters, years later the younger daughter invited him to her home. It caused huge arguments between the sisters. The outcome was he hadn't changed and the younger sister realised her loyalties were with her sister, who has been very disturbed and is still affected from the abuse she received as a child.

Your ex was sent to jail for his crimes against your eldest daughter. Your loyalty should first be with the child who was abused. How will she feel about her sister inviting her abuser into her life. If your youngest daughter feels she must contact her father, if I was you I wouldn't be involved at all. I would in fact strongly advise against it.

dorsetpennt Fri 03-May-13 09:23:01

Ioona this is such a tricky situation. Even though the abuse occured 20 years ago who has he abused since? when is the voice of sense and reason on the GN forums and has a wealth of experience so be minded by what she has said.

whenim64 Fri 03-May-13 09:59:14

Can I say one final thing, then maybe this will help you decide. Sexual abusers have sexual fantasies about what they want to put into action. They fantasise whilst masturbating. The vivid images they create and shape into a gratifying stream of pictures or films in their head are so powerful and effective, they continue to use and adapt them even when they undertake treatment for sex offending. Skilled therapists teach them how to extinguish deviant sexual fantasies, but many sex offenders don't disclose their fantasies in full, out of fear that they won't be able to get sexual gratification again.

If he has gone through a sex offending treatment programme and it has been successful, he will not respond to your letter asking questions, but will seek support from a responsible third party and suggest mediation before having contact with a non-abused member of the family, being aware of the effect his appearance could have on the daughter he harmed.

If he hasn't been successfully treated, are you prepared to take the risk of him learning that there are children in the family and they have no idea about what he is capable of?

Many sex offenders who abuse one child only, and elevate that child to the status of an adult in order to justify their behaviour, might never abuse a child again. Even if you do know what category of risk, and type of sex offender he is, would you expose your abused daughter to resurrected memories of the harm that was done to her, and a worry that you all put her well-being second to the curiosity of siblings who don't quite get what he as done?

I am picking up that you don't want any of this, but need to say enough to justify this problem going away again. Children can be told he did bad things and had to go to prison, and that's why he's no longer around. Adults can be told how sex offenders operate and then make responsible decisions about how they keep their children safe.