Dear Dr. Saltzman,
First and foremost, I apologize that this is a long message. Unfortunately, I'm dealing with a complex and disturbing situation, and I don't know how to accurately paint a picture of the problem without all off the details.
My husband and I have been married for a little under two years. We only dated for about six months before marrying. We knew each other as children in school, but did not interact (I thought he was weird, nerdy, etc., he says he doesn't remember me, but does vaguely remember my fraternal twin). He was no longer in school before he started high school, and rumors circulated that he was in juvenile detention for molestation.
We met again over a decade later, and it was love at first (okay, second) sight. The situation was complicated from the onstart. His 22-month old daughter was in foster care. Social services had been involved for a few months as her mother was neglectful and a drug addict. In retrospect, I should have assigned more blame to my husband; he was there for much of it, and was neglectful in not removing her from that situation. He said he hadn't loved her mother since before she got pregnant, but thought he did, and so stayed. When he finally left, he didn't take his daughter, rationalizing that he didn't have somewhere to take her (he was staying on a friend's couch). Within months, the situation was bad enough that she and the mother's other son were removed from the home, and my husband had to let her go into foster care as he had nowhere to take her. I was involved in the entire process (we began dating a month or two after his daughter was placed), and I know this is the truth. He did everything required to get her back.
When we got her back, my husband was rarely home. I became pregnant and lost my job due to complications. We had severe money issues due to this. I later found out my husband lied to me about the severity of the money problems. He went out to lunch every day.
I also later discovered two disturbing issues. The first, my husband was engaging in gay cybersex online. The second, my husband received nude photos of a 13-year-old girl. When found out, husband ceased contact with both, except for one incidence of gay "sexting." The girl was someone he met online, who claimed she was 18. However, he still accepted and encouraged the photos even upon discovering her age. He claimed that he had feelings for her, and didn't understand why he didn't stop upon learning her age... he said that after dealing with his daughter's mother (who was verbally abusive and severely mentally ill as well), that he knew it was wrong but didn't care. I later found out he was raped repeatedly by a friend as a child, which was why he was doing the "sexting." After confrontation, he cut off all contact with the girl (he hadn't received pictures from her for months, but still spoke to her occasionally). He also stopped visiting gay chat rooms, except for one instance when I went to visit family. It was difficult to keep in touch with him b/c it was a holiday and things were hectic, and he claimed he was afraid I was going to leave him (We were seperated for 2-3 months after I discovered these things). Therefore, he visited the chat rooms again. I've never found any evidence to show he's done it again.
There were no incidents for months before this one. There were no incidents for months after this, beyond typical couple issues, and my insistence that something was "weird" with him... he'd become increasingly distant and moody. Finally, one night, my husband broke down into hysterics, and told me he had to tell me something, but that I was going to hate him when he told me. The rumors from our childhood were true.
He's blocked out most of the situation and his time in juvenile. However, from what I have garnered from his family (although the accounts vary from information and perspective), he was raped by his best friend for a period no less than 1-2 months and up to years. At some point, his mother discovered a used condom, and realized something was going on between my husband and his friend, but did nothing. Some time later, he molested two of his half-siblings in the household, a boy aged 5, and a sister who was a toddler or preschooler. His mother sent him on his weekend visit with his father and told him my husband was "acting weird," and not to leave him alone with the kids. His father ignored this, and my husband molested his half-brother. His stepmother called the police and had him arrested. My mother-in-law claims she had all of them put into counseling before this, but the rest of the family claims this didn't happen until my husband was arrested (at about age 12). The boy who raped my husband went to trial, but the case was dropped, and I was told it was because my mother-in-law failed to provide the information she was told to. My husband was place into juvenile detention. Within months of release, he was arrested for robbing a house and went to jail until he was 21. He had a relationship with a girl in college who lived hours away, riding a bus for around 10 hours every weekend to see her. After that, he got into a relationship with the mother of his daughter, and was about to leave her b/c of her behavior when she announced her pregnancy. After ending things with her, he still gravitated towards resuming the relationship, despite a relationship with another woman, the internet relationship with the 13-yr-old, and later on, with me.
My gut says that he would never hurt our children (I include my stepdaughter in that statement, her mother hasn't seen her in years). But am I taking a chance on my children? Is my "gut instinct" enough to go on, or am I taking too much of a risk?
The issues with lying have gone done considerably. But I feel like my husband's turned things onto me (he "needed" the relationship with the 13-yr-old, he "needed" the gay chats, now he "needs" me enough to give all this up). Are his feelings for me as unhealthy as his desires for those things? He wasn't interested in the girl b/c she was 13, he just "couldn't tell her good-bye" after finding out. He has blown money that we don't have at an astronomical pace. It's been a year and a half since he cut off contact w/ the girl, almost a year since that last texting incident, and six months since he's seriously blown money, but is he doing these things b/c he doesn't want to or because he's afraid I'll catch him? Is he transferring onto me what he saw in these things? And most importantly, should I take him away from our children?
The situation is even more complex due to my stepdaughter. She would go into foster care again. If she loses him, she loses me and her sister too. I don't know what to do. If I make the wrong decision, it could destroy my children. I could pull my stepdaughter away from everyone she knows and loves, and me and my daughter from her. But it would also destroy them if I leave them in the path of a predator.
On top of this, I suffer from mental illnesses. I am mildly bipolar and a borderline personality. So I'm having trouble trusting my own decisions... Am I TOO preoccupied with this? Am I looking for trouble where there might not be any? Or am I so afraid of losing my stepdaughter that I'm putting her at risk?
I know my husband regrets telling me, but he had promised to stop lying and felt like it was important. On a side note, the incidence with blowing money months ago? He swears he doesn't understand how he did it... it was our taxes and he just blew it with hundreds of small transactions. I haven't caught him lying since then, but of course anyone can lie better.
I don't understand why I still love him. Everything would be find if I felt like I could trust him. Instead, I'm a neurotic mess to a point that I don't understand why he still loves me.
Please help me. I've exhausted every resource trying to find help. I don't know what else to do. I don't know where else to turn. The stress and fear is overwhelming... I don't know how to make this decision. He's an amazing father... am I taking my children from a really great dad or from a monster who is waiting to hurt them?
Please, please, please help me.
I am so sorry for your situation. And indeed it is a hard one. Have you tried sending an e-mail to Dr. Robert himself? Because this kind of case really needs a professional review.
I get really bad feeling in my stomach out of these kid of stories. It's like all the happiness from the world has vanished. I am in no way competent enough to give you any kind of advice, but I can tell you my opinion, from one person to another, from a woman to woman.
For starters. If your husband was indeed raped by the age of 12 it is a dreadful thing to happen. Didn't he tell you the details?? Was it truly rape. By that I mean, it was not mutual in any way? If that is the case, your husband was by MY NON-PROFESSIONAL OPINION a "sexually-reactive child". A child that reacted in a sexual matter because what himself has been through. So it is a symptom in my opinion. What did he do to his siblings? Did he hurt them, penetrate them? Or just touching and stuff.. I am reluctant to accept a 12-year old child is a demon. He couldn't even be prosecuted in my country for lack of age.
But what he has done now is what I would be most concerned about. It is COMPLETELY inappropriate for him to have such activities online. In my opinion, if you both haven't agreed on having such type of relationship, he should not indulge gay and especially not under-age girl relationship. And from your words I take that you were in no way warned of such activities from his side.
I believe most people would tell you to get your daughter out of the house and run for it. It seems like a wise thing to do. But I would have a big big talk with him. I would tell him, "Don't you want a new life, starting over, without all of the dreadful past events".. "don't you want your daughters to grow up much better then you did, and without anything bad happening to them, don't you want to protect them"..
It seems to me that your husband is being very much drawn to a lot things sexual, probably because his life was from the early age scared with this deviant sexuality, and the label he was given. He needs to get out from that shell and release that past life and live to best to his abilities. If you have any resource i would write you both down for some counseling. Especially him. You can not resolve a hard case like this form anything you get online. I wish my best to you..
I have had that discussion with my husband, and he always honestly seems ashamed of his actions and also seems more protective of kids than a threat. My concern is that this could be a facade.
We went to therapy before his therapist relocated, and he hasn't found one he trusts since, especially since the therapy he got was free... obviously, financially, we're in a bad spot.
He was raped, repeatedly, but he's blocked out all but the first incident. His stepfather was abusive, and he had gone to the bathroom one night while the boy was over. His stepfather wouldn't let him get up to go to the bathroom, so he left all the lights on, and stated he would always go a little, then stop and listen for him coming, then finish. When he returned to the room, the boy accused him of "playing with himself," and pushed him onto the bed. From there, it's blocked out. Another boy was there at the time, and my husband can't remember if he stayed asleep, ignored it, or participated... it's completely black.
He didn't rape his siblings... from what I gather, it was mostly innappropriate touching, and oral with the one he was arrested over.
The therapist said as far as the gay chats go, it was his way of regaining control. She actually outlined it.. she said he went as far as inviting them over, and then ceased contact altogether, not providing them with any of his information.
The girl is my biggest concern. I understand that mentally, there is a part of him trapped at that age, and that he was too insecure to stop the relationship once he found out (he's never actively pursued a relationship w/ someone underage, no evidence to point to that either). There's been nothing since to ever indicate anything like this. I found out through sent and saved e-mails. There were sent e-mails for years back, and there were no other incidents. When I confronted him, I told him, "When this girl's parents find out, you are going to be arrested and put in jail. You encouraged it. You'll go away for a long time." He just looked at me in shock and broke down, like he had no idea that there could be repercussions or something (I don't see how).
I still love him. A part of me wishes I didn't know, but I know I NEED to.
Leaving him is where my scariest decisions lie, as well. The only reason I would leave him would be out of concern for my kids. Therefore, if I claim I'm leaving out of concern for them, it means getting social services involved again, having my stepdaughter put back into foster care (or worse, her mother managing to get custody again, I say foster care b/c the mother would have her put into foster care over me, and seeing as I can't afford housing, I'd never win a fight), and fighting for no to supervised visitation for my own child.
The weird part? He's a great husband and father. We have our problems, yes, but he supports me through my issues and helps me as much as he can. He's great with the kids and they love him to death. If I'm wrong, they would miss out on alot.
If I could get back into a therapist, could they reasonably tell me if he's a risk? If he's not, I feel like I should support him as he has me.
The "What-ifs" are destroying me and our family.
I understand that I want someone to say, "No, he'd never do a thing!" I also understand that this isn't a reasonable request.
After I found out about everything (except for what he did to his siblings), I put him in counseling. I didn't find out about the siblings until he was no longer in therapy. While in counseling, he improved unbelievably. We've had setbacks (financially) since he's been out, but there haven't been any sexual issues. I just found out about something that happened a long time ago. I just worry that these things altogether can make a monster.
How can anybody make this kind of decision?
Every single one of us is capable of doing most dreadful things in certain situations. People who are not capable of admitting this live in a large illusion I'd say. And more then 50 % of people would tell you in this situation to leave him and take the kids. I do agree with the part that you have to protect the children, but I do not believe that he does not deserve a second chance in life. If he was indeed raped, I really don't see how can anyone blame the child for touching anyone. IT WAS A CHILD. I even think his mother can be ashamed of herself for calling police on him instead of calling them when she suspected something was happening to himself. I think it was a bad bad family situation.
He can get another chance from you by my opinion but he needs to prove to you every day that he is indeed worth it. And tell him openly.. straight to the eyes.. "If you ever touch any of the girls, if you ever take piece of their souls in such a way, you will never see us again. And if you feel u have such urges relate to them at time and seek help."
I have no more advice to give you, you will have to wait for the Doc..
Oddly enough, I have. My exact threat was along the lines of "I will put you in jail. I will terminate your parental rights. I have plenty of friends who will step up and claim to be their father if the youngest is too young to remember you, and if one or both of them is, I will tell them you are dead, change their names to something random, destroy any evidence of your name, and basically make it impossible for them to ever try to find you and vice versa. Then I'd pay anyone I'd have to to ensure that everyone in that prison with you knows exactly everything you've ever done."
That was pretty much it. I worry with having left him before and returned, and there's been plenty of times since I almost have again, that he doesn't believe I will... sometimes, I wonder if the financial things aren't "tests," so to speak, to see either if I'll still love him, or worse, how much he can get away with...
The trust is fairly destroyed, and only slowly rebuilding. Therefore, I don't trust my own judgement anymore.
Dr. Robert, do you have an opinion?
I would need more information, and even then might not be able to offer an opinion. But you can try if you like.
By the way, the forum had to close for a time due to an systematic spam attack. I hope this will not recur so that the forum, which many find helpful, useful, or simply entertaining, will be able to remain open to posting.
To the spammers: you must be some sad, empty, pitiful people to be sitting at your computers, which can take you anywhere, using them to vandalize someone else's work instead of using them to be exploring this vast world of information and knowledge, or even creating something worthwhile yourselves.
Adam, I know it is you who arrranged the spam attack, and your particular hypocrisy in pretending to be someone caring and intelligent is totally egregious. Your actions are the behavior of a sad, sick child, not the brilliant man you claim to be. If you have a shred of the intelligence you pretend to have, you will feel shame for your behavior, and I hope you do.