I am a victim of child sexual abuse. But no one has ever violated me.
Yet my soul has been sapped. My energy drained. My career sidelined. My second marriage on a precipice. My family in tatters.
And no social worker, counselor, judge or other expert has an answer. Because there is none.
Before I tell you more, here’s a bit of a scorecard:
Son 1 – oldest son with wife #1
Son 2 – younger son with wife #1.
Daughter 1 – young daughter with wife #2 and half-sister of the boys.
Two years ago this spring, wife #1 called. At the time Son 1 and Son 2 lived with her while I had regular visitation. (Should have been the other way around but fathers don’t seem to matter in court.) She caught Son 1 touching the young daughter of a family friend.
He later revealed longstanding sexual abuse of the worst kind against his brother, Son 2. That explained some of the behavior we saw in Son 2 but didn’t know what caused it. He never said anything.
I immediately took Son 1 out of that home, reported it to authorities and got counseling help for victim and perpetrator. I did everything I could and should. In fact, I was commended by Social Services for being a rock.
Son 1 served time in juvenile detention, went through probation and I eventually got legal custody of him. He moved in with my new wife and young daughter. He swore up and down he did nothing to my daughter but we took precautions like alarms on his door, curfews, monitored email, no phone, etc.
A few months later, while in counseling, he DID admit to abusing his baby half-sister. Once again we had to move him, this time to my parents.
My wife, the mother of the daughter, and I went through an emotional roller-coaster that ended up with him back in our home. Under careful watch of course. Still, the tension between Son 1 and my wife was unbearable. She did not let him forget what he did.
It got so bad that, without letting me know, my wife unceremoniously packed up his stuff (nicely I must say) and kicked him out of our house.
At this point I was too emotionally drained and disoriented to care. Back to my parents he went.
Six months later he’s still there. Despite my best efforts in counseling and mediation, we don’t know where he’ll be for his last two years of high school: With my elderly parents, who have an older home and won’t be able to drive much longer, with me and my wife, or with his mom.
That last option would require us to take Son 2 (which we welcome) because the boys cannot see each other, and they haven’t been together since that day more than two years ago.
Counselors say they may never see each other again. Let that sink in. They may never see each other again.
How would you like it, I tell friends with multiple kids, if one of your children grows up without seeing his sibling again?
I can’t look at photos of them together. It hurts too much.
That aside, I’m now faced with a heart-wrenching decision. Where will my son spend the next two years of high school? How do I balance the safety of my daughter with data from the experts showing he is no longer a threat? And, how do we get counseling back on track so maybe, just maybe, my sons will see each other in the future?
Ignoring the palpable emotions for a minute, the sheer magnitude of logistics I deal with rivals that of a military battle. Let’s see ….
- Son 1 and 2 can never be together. When we switch them we have to meet in one place, leave a kid, and meet at another place for the transfer of the second kid. It’s like we’re in the witness protection program.
- My wife and ex-wife can’t be together. That can get nasty.
- My wife is not talking to my parents – and won’t let them see our daughter — because they want her to move on. So no chummy family holidays or dinners, either. I have to go it alone.
- The one silver lining is when Son 2 and daughter are together. They are both doing great, by the way!
And there’s me. In the middle. And broke because of all this.
If I side with Son 1 (and my parents) and urge him to live with us, I will lose a wife and daughter. If I side with my wife, I lose the support of my parents and Son 1.
The only option that ensures one parent is with one of the sons full-time is to switch so we get Son 2 and my ex gets Son 1. But she wants none of that. In fact, she’s distanced herself from this and has been most unhelpful.
I can’t imagine the death of a spouse. I still have my parents. Those are awful losses. But in death there comes renewal and celebration. I don’t have any of that. Every day is a nightmare that does not end.
I used to have grand career plans. With all this shit it’s a miracle I still have a job. And I’m not doing it as well as I should, either.
My goal these days isn’t a high-powered job, a new home, time off to travel the world, or a cottage in the woods.
No, my goal is just to get to the end of the day.
Every. Damn. Day.