Suspected inappropriate touching
I've been living with my "boyfriend" for about six months. He has two daughters age 7 and 4. We never told the kids we were boyfriend/girlfriend; instead we acted the part of roommates when they were around. Not kissing, touching, or sleeping together in front of them.
At a family Christmas party someone introduced me as his girlfriend and the 7 year old went nuts that night at bedtime. He explained that I was a "girl" and his "friend" (I was not around when he and his daughter were talking, so I 'm not exactly sure what was said or done). We never told the girls about us because we thought they shouldn't have to feel like they needed to compete for his attention. Her reaction proved they were not ready for their parents to start new relationships (he's only been separated 10 months and is just now finalizing his divorce).
Things seemed to be ok until a day or two later. I was making breakfast and the 7 year old was bathing. He was in the bathroom, and the door was closed. I walked in (obviously unexpectedly) to ask a question. The 7 year old had a washcloth 1/2 way in her mouth, she was leaned back, he was kneeling down by the tub, and I'm not sure where his hands were. I think one was over the side of the tub, but I'm not sure because everyone seemed so startled by me. I guess the looks on their faces bothered me most. It made me feel like I had "caught" them at something. Not too long after that he told me I was too involved. He said he appreciated the fact I let him tuck them in, but I wasn't the "mom". (The girls mentioned to me once when I was there that they all slept together). I've since gotten my own place, but I do go there for dinner.
One night after dinner, the 7 year old went to shower. Her father, after having turned the water on, stayed in the basement (where the shower is) folding laundry. He then helped the 4 year old bathe, again with the bathroom door shut. I could hear what they were saying as he helped her wash and rinse her hair, but the voices got really low and I couldn't make out the words. When I neared the door, I did hear him say something like "You have to tell me what you want". He came out of the bathroom soon after and noticed I was in the kitchen - I think he thought I was watching TV. I had to leave at that time because I felt ill. Am I over reacting? I was inappropriately touched by a teacher and more than one babysitter so I'm afraid that I may be over-sensitive to these things. Also, it could be that I'm not being objective because I'm feeling left out or jealous. Please tell me what you think and any advice you can suggest on how I can prove or disprove what I think I'm seeing and feeling. Anything would be helpful. Please help me with this - it's consumed my brain for days.
Do I ask the girls if daddy touches them? How?
Karlita my dear,
From the tone of your writing, I have a strong feeling that, at least within your own mind, things are over between you and this man. You don't respect him, and you don't trust him. Even at the very start, your relationship was built on deceit. It was not a good idea to keep secrets from the two girls. Once you start with a lie, however well-meaning, things will only get harder, never easier. There never would have been a good time to tell them once you started with deception.
You have strong suspicions that he is sexually interfering with his little daughters. You have suffered something similar as a child, and know how damaging it can be. As a psychologist, I come across many adults who were scarred for life by such "fun" and "innocent" sexual interference.
If you loved this man and were committed to a long-term relationship with him, this would place you in a huge quandary. I may be wrong, but I feel that you don't hold much hope for such a future anyway. If he lies to his children as a way of solving problems, he will probably lie to you too should that be convenient. I think you know that love can't be based on deception.
You don't have that much to lose by confronting him. It is your duty as a caring adult and as someone who is the survivor of abuse herself to do what you can to stop his actions. Even if he denies things, by confronting him and explaining the consequences, it may be enough to stop future recurrences.
I don't know where you live, but in most places sexual abuse of children is a criminal offense. He is damaging his own children. If you can, confront him face to face. You will need to judge whether this is safe for you, and whether you are able to carry it through. If not, write him a carefully thought out letter. It may help to include a copy of this question and answer to Queendom. I would be happy if he were to email me with his version of the truth.
He is not a villain, but a misguided and perhaps weak person who has some serious problems. He can work through them. If he doesn't, he will continue to cause harm to those he loves, and to himself.
Have a good life, you deserve it.
This question was answered by Dr. Bob Rich. Dr. Rich has 30+ years of experience as a psychotherapist. Dr. Rich is also a writer and a "mudsmith". Bob is now retired from psychological practice, but still works with people as a counselor.For more information visit: http://anxietyanddepression-help.com