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#57507 - 08/26/05 06:15 PM "Dad, I have something to tell you..."
roadrunner Offline
Administrator Emeritus

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 22045
Loc: Carlisle, PA

This is something I have said before, but maybe it bears repeating. I refer here to a kind of undercurrent in several threads here concerning disclosure to our fathers.

I think I need to say to our teenagers that I am not addressing you guys here, though you might find this valuable. We can and should discuss what its like for a teenager if you wish to do so, but I think it's very different when both son and father are adults. This latter situation is what I want to talk about here.

I will just quote Kirk as a point of departure because he said this just today on another thread:

I told my father and all he was concerned about was "did I bring any other boys into this circle of abuse". Since that time I have cut myself off completely from my father to the point that I tell myself he is dead and I feel much better.
I can understand Kirk entirely. What a terrible thing for his father to say. But there is another side to this. I don't know Kirk's relationship to his father, but I wonder if his father just blurted out whatever came into his head. My point is that I wonder if we should be so hard on our fathers, both in what we expect and in how we react to what they say when we tell them.

I'm not talking about fathers who have been abusive, alcoholic, violent, etc. That's an entirely different thing. And I know we are different ages and backgrounds here, so the fathers we are talking about will be different too. What I can say here of course has my own father in the background.

My Dad is 80 years old, born in a conservative isolated community just before the Depression. So he's a very conservative guy, with a rather narrow view of "manhood" and kind of tough in a way. But of course he is. He did his growing up beginning 70 years ago, and as soon as he turned 18 he was fighting for his life in the Pacific. Looking back, I can see he did a lot of changing when he had to cope with his hippy son (me) in the 60s: drinking, drugs, thrown out of university over civil rights demonstrations, running off to San Francisco, etc. But he always loved me and respected me, and he was willing to meet me halfway. From those days we have built a really good relationship.

Still, when I tell him about my SA I know I may get an earful. There is no way he will be prepared for this news, and I am sure he will be shocked and very upset. He will support me, of that I am pretty sure, but he may say anything, and some of it may be very painful to me at first. I also know that although I am doing this for me, it may end up me helping him for awhile. But I am prepared for that. My Dad was a good father and whatever I can do for him now he richly deserves.

Let's recall that until the 1990s the sexual abuse of boys wasn't recognized as a problem by professionals, and even today public awareness still isn't all that high. And when we speak of our fathers we are talking about men who grew up when? 1930s? 40s? 50s? 60s? What can they possibly know about CSA? And what image do they have of perps? Michael Jackson. Perv lurking in a public toilet. Many will not think that an abuser could be a relative, a close friend, the babysitter, trusted clergyman, etc.

Then add into that equation the fact that the survivor is his son? And how would he have any clue about what sort of response would hurt his son as a disclosing survivor?

Into the mix we also have to look at ourselves. When I disclose, I know the thing that will bear down on me the hardest is my own burden of guilt, shame and feelings of worthlessness. I will be all primed and braced for my disclosure to fail, and largely because of my feelings about me, not because of whatever my Dad might say.

I am trying to prepare myself for this, and with that in mind I started making a mental list of things to think about beforehand. I thought I might share them:

Things he might ask:

1. I know he will ask who did this. In my case it isn't so important, because my abuser died in 1994. But I still fear my perp, can you believe it? So I can tell my Dad he's dead and even the perp's own son didn't go to his funeral. For other brothers here, however, this is important. If you don't tell your father it is very unfair (I think). He will spend the rest of his life wondering, and everytime he sees someone he knows he will be thinking is this the one?

2. He will ask how many times this happened. In my case I will speak of lengths of time since I don't know "how many times". But here I would say resist the temptation to minimize what happened. Even if you were "only" fondled or groped one time, that is abuse and its effects can be devastating. Telling a parent shouldn't begin by trying to play things down, as if it really didn't matter after all.

3. He will ask how long it continued. That will be a rough one for me, since my answer is 4 years. I know I have to be ready to explain that an abused boy is quickly stripped of all his self respect and just goes numb about what is happening. None of it was my fault, but I didn't know that then and I didn't think I deserved any better.

4. He may ask "what happened". That is easy in my case: everything he could dream of in his worst nightmares. But I can spare him the details, give some general idea, and ask that we leave that topic for the moment. If your own abuse history is less extensive, it might be good to at least hint at that, otherwise your father will assume the worst.

Possible comments and reactions:

1. Why didn't you say no?

2. Why didn't you tell me then?

3. Why did you let this continue?

4. Did you like it? (follow up to "how many times")

5. So are you gay now (male perp)?

6. She "made you a man" (female perp).

7. Did this happen in my house?

8. Did you do anything to encourage him/her?

I guess the list could go on and on. I will stop here and ask if others have any views. I just started this thread because aspects of it have been in the air here recently and perhaps this is something to talk about as a topic in itself.

Love to all,

Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway.
Nobody living can make me turn back:
This land was made for you and me.
(Woody Guthrie)

#57508 - 08/26/05 06:50 PM Re: "Dad, I have something to tell you..."
Mike Church Offline
Moderator Emeritus
Registered: 01/23/03
Posts: 3439
Loc: Toronto, Canada
Larry I was raped in 1957-58 and did not tell my parents until 1999. I was so pissed off at them with trying to help them with their problems: stroke for him and lung disease for my mother. My Dad had been physically abusive to me as had all the men on both sides of the family. (I was recently diagnosed as being ADHD , and had been that all my life). There is still no exuse for what happened to me as a child. It was my parents who sent me off to Military College to make a man of me.

The answer I got from both of them was:

1. Why didnt you tell us.

2. Get over it it happened a long long time ago.

I never forgave my mother for her behaviour but I did forgive my father before he died in November 2000. My mother had died Feb 2000.

The point I am making here is that no matter what you say or how you tell it, unless you come from a caring and loving family, it will stain your relationship and sort of alienate you as a freak of the family.

I never told either of them of my prostitution on the streets of Ottawa from 18-21 or my heroin addiction. In my opinion that would have branded me as not their son. They could never have had a son who would behave like that!!!

Disclosure to family is a tricky thing. Just be careful and consider your personal relationships with parents before you act.



#57509 - 08/26/05 07:09 PM Re: "Dad, I have something to tell you..."
roadrunner Offline
Administrator Emeritus

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 22045
Loc: Carlisle, PA

Thanks for that warning. It's clearly an important consideration. I should have stressed that my background is that of a close loving family. Hmmmmm. I was about to apologize for that!

That new one you name should go on the list of possible responses though: "Get over it; it was so long ago." I can see a father with no awareness of CSA thinking, okay, what's the problem? It was 40 years ago.

Mikey's post makes me add this extra bit. I don't mean to be an advocate of disclosure to parents. I am sure there are lots of cases where the results would not be positive for the survivor. I just wanted to start a discussion for the benefit of those who think it might be something that would help them, but who are (like me) confused and worried about how it will go.


Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway.
Nobody living can make me turn back:
This land was made for you and me.
(Woody Guthrie)

#57510 - 08/26/05 08:00 PM Re: "Dad, I have something to tell you..."
Dan88 Offline

Registered: 08/07/02
Posts: 247
Loc: DC
I think that's a great list and a great idea to fully prepare before disclosing to anyone, including a parent.

In my experience, people can and will react in any way imaginable and in some that are unimaginable. One time, after a lot of angst, I told a friend that I had been molested from age 7 on by a minister. Her response was: "Was he any good?" She wasn't trying to be hurtful, she was simply trying to make a joke of it. I think my jaw dropped and I was stunned speechless for about a minute. Today I laugh about it because it so clearly illustrates how totally (fortunately for them) ignorant most people are about sexual abuse. To them, sex is fun. While they will, when they think about it, understand that sexual abuse is wrong and harmful. They have no good way of knowing just how much it hurts someone.

The point I would add is that in addition to preparing to disclose, we should also spend time deciding whether we disclose. There is no shame in telling everyone on earth what happened. And there is no shame in deciding to not tell.

I have chosen not to disclose to anyone in my family, including my mother. (My father is dead.) I don't tell my mother for a variety of reasons unique to my situation, but one key one that others may relate to is that I'm not prepared to lie anymore about what happened or my perception of it, and I'm not eager to tell her parts of the truth that I'm sure would trouble her needlessly.

Specifically, I'm sure she would want reassurance that I don't blame her for what happened, that she was a good mother. In fact, I consider her to be a lousy parent and that her neglect contributed substantially to the perps ability to molest me. I would grant her that she may feel she did the best she could, but the fact is she did a piss poor job. I have no need or desire to have her defend herself. I was there. I also have no desire to make her pay or make her miserable about it.

So I see no point in disclosing. There's nothing in it for me (most importantly). And I see nothing in it for her. So preparation, I agree, is essential. But I hope everyone recognizes that even before that, there is no right or wrong about whether to disclose to parents or anyone else.

#57511 - 08/26/05 08:45 PM Re: "Dad, I have something to tell you..."
Mystic Rhythm Offline

Registered: 08/12/05
Posts: 96
Loc: Limbo, clawing my way out...
Before disclosing to a family member, would giving them advance warning that the abuse you will be disclosing to them will shock, upset, confuse, and possibly even anger them?

Something like: (whether in writing or speech)

"(Mom) (Dad) (brother) (sister)etc, there's something in my past that is very traumatic, and I feel I need to share this with you. I want to prepare you for the fact that you will most likely react by feeling shocked, upset, confused, and maybe even angry. You might even place the blame on me. Those are all perfectly normal reactions. My greatest fears are a) you'll think I'm a freak, b) I won't have your support, c) to lose you and your love, d) etc..."

Something to that effect. I guess it would be different for everyone, how'd they try to brace the person or persons they wish to divulge to for the shock of your divulsion.

I dunno... would it work for some? My 2 cents I suppose.


"Don't give up and lose the chance to return to innocence" - Enigma, Return to Innocence

#57512 - 08/26/05 08:57 PM Re: "Dad, I have something to tell you..."
lostcowboy Offline

Registered: 11/10/04
Posts: 798
Loc: Rhode Island
Hi Larry, I would suggest having a good book on rape and how it effects people on hand for the parents to read. I did not disclose to my parents, but did to my brothers and sister, and I gave a book, for them to read.

"Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow. Don't walk behind me, I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend." - Albert Camus
Pretty much my life as I have posted so far. Triggers!

#57513 - 08/26/05 11:31 PM Re: "Dad, I have something to tell you..."
Kirk Wayne Offline

Registered: 05/31/05
Posts: 499
Loc: Shrewsbury UK

"I don't know Kirk's relationship to his father, but I wonder if his father just blurted out whatever came into his head".

The relationship with my father was to say the least extremely dysfunctional. He wanted me to do well academically and wanted me to go and work at the London stock exchange, now I have a phobia for figure work but he never ever picked up on this even when I was asking for help and support with my school work, I never recieved that type of support. Because I didnt do as he wished I was labelled the black sheep of the family (a bad un) and was propmptly kicked out of the family home at the age of fourteen, some coincidence that I fell into the hands of a well organised paedophile ring, it was downhill from then on in, booze, drugs, homelessness, violence and male prostitution. I got sober and clean ten years ago and decided to try to make it up with him. I travelled down to London to meet him and patch things up but when I mentioned my abuse, (my father knew my perps well he knew three of them) On disclosing to him the first thing he said is what you have quoted, he said nothing about my own welfare. So from that I walked away and disowned him from that point, I dont need crap and hurt like that in my life. I'm fifty years old for gods sake.

"But he always loved me and respected me".

My father certainly did not and doesnt, you are a lucky man Larry


"Instigate change, as it appears it wont come naturally in our cause. Sometimes it needs a little forcing".

#57514 - 08/27/05 12:02 AM Re: "Dad, I have something to tell you..."
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
My father did not protect me. He wanted to be a good dad but he failed in some significant respects.

I love him and don't see any need to hurt him by bashing him over the head with his neglect. I forgive him for his limitations. Yet the idea that I am now protecting him with my silence, when he was supposed to be the one doing the protecting and he failed, makes me angry.

I would not be able to disclose to my father without "being too hard on him."

Mystic Rhythm,

You are of course correct that loved ones feel shock, anger, sadness etc. when someone discloses. But I think most friends and family don't experience those feelings at first-- at least in my experience with my boyfriend's disclosure to me, the very first things I felt were all about him and his experience and emotions. I could sense his extreme emotions and for a time my own emotions sort of shut down (kind of like how pain or fatigue feelings "shut down" when someone is in danger). I needed to know how HE was doing and feeling.

Later on my own emotions started to come back and it was difficult and surprising how strong they were about the topic of his abuse, and a bit guilty-feeling (because after all, it was HIS abuse, what are MY feelings doing in it?). It would have helped me a great deal to hear from him that he understood that I would have strong emotions and that whatever they were, they were okay. Does that make sense?

#57515 - 08/27/05 12:17 AM Re: "Dad, I have something to tell you..."
reality2k4 Offline

Registered: 07/06/04
Posts: 6845
Loc: Stuck between water, air, and ...
Larry, many boys carry a total silence for many years, and it sure is a heavy load to carry.
They must all yearn to disclose, but even though you can shift some of the load, then it is good to get a positive response.

I was abused at 10, and my father already knew, but from that point onwards I learned to read like an adult, and must have bugged my dad with, what does this mean? And what does that say etc.

One day I picked up the local daily paper and asked him what the word 'rape' meant and he almmost died, and I had to find out for myself.

I never found any reference to male rape, and I could not really understand it all in my head, because I confusingly thought it was just for girls and stuff.

No wonder it was so difficult to report the facts to the cops when he did not even know their meanings, but he found out fast.

CSA, has been a tragedy of society throughout time, and it still is today, and why the hell do Governments cover it up!!!

But they do, which makes me suspicious of those in power, the very ones who are supposed to protect the innocence,


Whoever stole the Sun, put it back and we'll drop all the charges!

#57516 - 08/27/05 05:06 AM Re: "Dad, I have something to tell you..."
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
we share a lot, we're about the same age and weren't abused within our families.

Also, like you, I haven't told my parents, and I've made the decision not to tell them.

They're both over 85 and ailing, my mother has dementia and would barely understand anyway, and my father is showing his age and has my mother to deal with, and she was difficult before her memory deserted her!

But 6 years ago when I first disclosed to my wife and started therapy they were doing OK, and that's when I made my choice.
At that time it was a purely selfish reason than made me choose not to tell them.

My abuse was discovered by the headmaster of the boarding school and I was not believed and it was then covered up.
I have no way of knowing 100% that he didn't tell my parents 'something'.
Logic, and knowing my parents, tells me that even if the headmaster had told them a heavily edited version of what had happened; something like the phrase "it was just boys sex play that got a bit out of hand" ( this is burned into my memory from when he dismissed and punished me after his enquiries )is what I fear he might have told them my parents at the time. And if he did, and they did nothing then that's more than I could bear.

But I've moved on and learned a lot, now I think that if my parents were told anything at all they would have taken me away from the school. My mother was a fearsome woman when threatened, always kind and loving, but not someone to mess with. So I'm convinced they knew nothing.

And now, well it's too late for a start. They don't deserve the shit that would surely go with my disclosure for their final few years.

I don't regret my choice at all, it was right at the time. Maybe there's some regret that I haven't got the loving relationship with either of them that I would have loved to have, but that's an issue that's seperate to my abuse - although my abuse has made things worse. But it's never been their fault that they didn't create a loving environment, and my brother says exactly the same thing which made it easy for him to emigrate to Canada.

It's going to be a difficult thing for any survivor to disclose to parents, especially after many years, but I can see the reasons why some survivors would want to do it, and they're wonderful reasons.
It shows that as a family there are no secrets, lots of love and trust and a feeling of togetherness.
My family lacks that, but they did the best they could, so maybe I had TWO reasons why I didn't tell them a few years ago ?


Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

#57517 - 08/27/05 06:30 AM Re: "Dad, I have something to tell you..."
demonboi Offline

Registered: 05/14/05
Posts: 228
Loc: East Coast

Every corner, every city
There's a place where life's a little easy
Little Hennessy, laid back and cool
Every hour, cause it's all good
Leave all the stress from the world outside
Every wrong done will be alright
Nothin but peace, love
And street passion, every ghetto needs a thug mansion

#57518 - 08/27/05 07:24 AM Re: "Dad, I have something to tell you..."
Dewey2k Offline

Registered: 08/22/05
Posts: 3069
Originally posted by Mystic Rhythm:
Before disclosing to a family member, would giving them advance warning that the abuse you will be disclosing to them will shock, upset, confuse, and possibly even anger them?
I realize that I seem to have a better relationship with my family than many of you do or want to have. However, here is the general opening I used when telling my father:

Dad, I need to talk to you I have something to tell you that will be hard for me to say and hard for you to hear, but I can't stay silent any longer.

At the age of 10...
I covered a lot of ground afterward including his culpability (none in my case; there was nothing he could have done to protect me) and what I think the abuse did to me.

Don't know is this helps or is even appropriate to any of your situations, but there you go.

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