Staving off Chester the Molester Without the Drama?
June 21, 2008 12:45 PM   Subscribe

Tips for avoiding an awkward social situation with someone who molested me?

My ex-stepfather is an extreme alcoholic who molested me as a child.

His kids, however, are awesome -- my very best friends growing up, who tried their damndest to protect me from their dad. I love them enormously.

A few years ago, I attended my ex-stepsister's wedding... and my former stepfather pretty much ruined the reception chasing me around and touching me inappropriately, to the point that my stepsister screamed at him in front of everyone and I left early to avoid wrecking her wedding even more.

In a few hours, I'm attending my ex-stepbrother's wedding. As insurance, I've brought a childhood friend as my date who is aware of the situation and has promised to play overprotective, touchy boyfriend.

What I want more than anything is to NOT cause a scene at this wedding, so I'll need to interact with my stepfather to some extent, as avoiding him completely would be awkward. Any tips on handling the situation without getting groped or making a fuss?

If it helps... I don't think my stepdad even remembers that he molested me. He was a falling-down, piss-in-your-chair, total blackout drunk who seems to genuinely believe that we had a great relationship.

Also, I am TERRIFIED of him and tend to totally deer-in-headlights when he's around... another reason I'm hauling along the faux boyfriend.
posted by Gianna to Society & Culture (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
If interacting with him means getting groped or other inappropriate behaviour, I'm thinking you should just deal with the awkwardness of avoiding him. And really, I don't think it would be that awkward to avoid him, especially given that it was apparently so bad your ex-stepsister had to intervene at her own wedding a couple years ago. The people who were there will certainly understand, and the people who weren't will just think you don't get along. Which you don't. Happens in every family (though not always for the same reason).

If he approaches you be cordial but end the interaction as soon as you can.

Also:

I don't think my stepdad even remembers that he molested me. He was a falling-down, piss-in-your-chair, total blackout drunk who seems to genuinely believe that we had a great relationship.

I don't know you or your stepdad, but I'm calling bullshit on that. He may act like he doesn't remember, but alcohol is not the memory-erasing alternate personality-creating elixir some people make it out to be.
posted by AV at 1:05 PM on June 21, 2008 [4 favorites]


Good God. I'm so sorry you have to go through this.

You're on the right track. This is going to be a team effort. You're going to want to stay "busy" with a lot of people around you as much as you can, and when he approaches, you're going to need his kids to run interference for you, which is football speak for "get in between the two of you and distract him".

Since he's not a malicious sexual predator, how and why does he try to relate to you when he sees you? What is he thinking exactly?

Also, his kids should look into controlling his drinking for the night, though the task may prove Sisyphean.
posted by Doctor Suarez at 1:08 PM on June 21, 2008


When he comes up to you, walk away. When he does it again, walk away. Just completely avoid and ignore him. If he touches you, tell him in no uncertain terms to remove his hands from your person and not touch you ever again. And walk away.

Btw.. if he was touching you inappropriately, that sounds to me like he hasn't 'forgotten' what happened, he wants more.

Also.. you left early to avoid 'wrecking her wedding even more'? Wrong, wrong, wrong. You were not wrecking her wedding, he was. He should have left. I suggest you have a conversation with your stepbrother about how you will both handle the situation if the asshole pulls that kind of behaviour again. I would gently suggest that if he does pull this crap again, and doesn't back off after being told firmly to do so, that he should be politely escorted out by a couple of big guys, and kept out. His behaviour, his consequences.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 1:14 PM on June 21, 2008 [11 favorites]


so I'll need to interact with my stepfather to some extent, as avoiding him completely would be awkward

Actually, it's ok to avoid people who have molested you. In fact, considering his behavior at the last wedding, one wonders why he's invited to this one. But either way, there's no rule or pact or social covenant that says you have to interact with this person.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:15 PM on June 21, 2008 [3 favorites]


Faux insecure boyfriend counteracting former molester could easily blow up into a scene or otherwise fail epically if your ex-stepfather is undeterred by his presence. Make sure you have a careful plan of action worked out with your friend.
posted by Derive the Hamiltonian of... at 1:19 PM on June 21, 2008


Even if just from the scene at the last wedding, it sounds like there are a lot of people who could understand that the two of you would best be kept apart? Make it known that you would appreciate people stepping in to suddenly want a semi-private chit-chat with the guy whenever he comes near you; given that it's his own kid's wedding, presumably he can be pressed upon to rush off to help straighten little Timmy's tie or help auntie Flora freshen her drink.
posted by kmennie at 1:31 PM on June 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


What I want more than anything is to NOT cause a scene at this wedding, so I'll need to interact with my stepfather to some extent, as avoiding him completely would be awkward.

Actually, avoiding him should be relatively easy (depending upon the size of your family), and the "awkwardness" you mention will only be felt by you. Other people will be focused on the couple that is getting married, for the most part, so if you end up maintaining a thirty yard distance from the stepfather at all times, they probably won't notice. It's unfortunate, because it will certainly make the wedding much less fun than it ought to be, but it's better than forcing yourself to interact with him.
posted by voltairemodern at 1:41 PM on June 21, 2008


What I want more than anything is to NOT cause a scene at this wedding, so I'll need to interact with my stepfather to some extent, as avoiding him completely would be awkward. Any tips on handling the situation without getting groped or making a fuss?

Just avoid him. If he tries to talk to you, nod, make a noncommittal noise, and walk away. You have a zillion people to interact with that are not your stepfather.

P.S. Also calling bullshit on him not remembering, especially since he's still at the inappropriate behavior.
posted by desuetude at 1:42 PM on June 21, 2008


P.P.S. Don't feel awkward or guilty about avoiding the creep.
posted by desuetude at 1:44 PM on June 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Confront him before the wedding, not alone, tell him you remember him molesting you and requesting him to stay away from you at the wedding. I agree with AV about the alcohol not wiping memories ( unless you are well into DT and pickled brain): he is not facing up to the facts or he is justifying it to himself with the reason that you wanted it or were a willing participant.

An official looking letter, special delivery, could work, but telling him off in person would make me feel empowered, but you are the best judge of what you can tolerate.

Gianna, you are truly an amazing person, being able to separate the sins of the father from his children.
posted by francesca too at 1:46 PM on June 21, 2008


Nobody will notice any awkwardness if you politely excuse yourself every time he approaches to "freshen your drink" or "visit the ladies' room" or "say hello to someone who just arrived."

"Oh hi, Mr. Molester, how have you been? Oh! Will you please excuse me? I have to go help Mrs. So-and-so with the snacks / her baby / the tricky staircase." You can also just walk away, but if you want to keep others from noticing, come armed with a million excuses. "I feel a sneeze coming on." "I just got something in my eye." "My contact is slipping." "It looks like Boyfriend is lost." "I told Linda I'd be right back." "My mother asked me to call her at 8."
posted by salvia at 2:16 PM on June 21, 2008


A few years ago, I attended my ex-stepsister's wedding... and my former stepfather pretty much ruined the reception chasing me around and touching me inappropriately, to the point that my stepsister screamed at him in front of everyone and I left early to avoid wrecking her wedding even more.

Assuming that same ex-stepsister is going to be there, ask her to have a pre-emptive "talk" with her dad, something along the lines of "I am not asking, I am telling you: do not bother Gianna like last time. This is going to be a wonderful wedding and a wonderful reception, and you're not going to do anything that will make any uncomfortable or make people want to scream at you."
posted by 23skidoo at 2:41 PM on June 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Seconding 23Skidoo; ask your sister to make sure he understands that a condition of him being there is that he does not talk to you, bother you or get anywhere near you. Make sure that is spelled out to him clearly so it gets through his drink-addled brain; if he comes near you, he's getting thrown out.
posted by baggers at 3:39 PM on June 21, 2008


If it helps... I don't think my stepdad even remembers that he molested me.

I find that hard to believe. Does he chase all the other women around groping them, or just you?

Avoid him. No eye contact, no conversation, and walk away if he talks to you.

Everyone who matters to you already knows and will understand, so it won't be a scene if you do this. It's very kind of you, but you're trying too hard to be nice and he is not worth it.
posted by rokusan at 3:44 PM on June 21, 2008


Jesus. This is horrible. I wish your ex-stepbrother would un-invite this molester. He may be his father but he is the one who should be made to feel uncomfortable now - not you.

I guess the idea of the ex-step-sister talking to him may be the best you've got. Also a great idea that you're bringing a trusted and protective friend.

One other thought is sending him a brief letter before the wedding to tell him yourself. Something like:

I understand we will see each other at Ex-Step-Brother's wedding. I need you to know that I am not comfortable speaking to you there or anywhere else. I don't wish to discuss this further at all - please do not write back or contact me. I hope you will respect my wishes and support your son during his wedding by avoiding me so we do not have the type of scene that happened at ex-step-sister's wedding.
posted by serazin at 10:03 PM on June 21, 2008


I like this advice from Miss Manners: The Different Degrees of a Cold Shoulder.
posted by clearlydemon at 10:54 PM on June 21, 2008


Thank you all very much for the great advice. Unfortunately... or fortunately, i haven't really decided yet... the wedding was apparently held in Brigadoon. My white knight in shining fake boyfriend and I drove around in circles for two hours, unable to locate the wedding with Google Maps, a GPS system, directions from four separate convenience store clerks, and five members of the local fire department.
posted by Gianna at 1:02 AM on June 22, 2008


It's very kind of you, but you're trying too hard to be nice and he is not worth it.

A-men. You have zero obligation to be any kind of polite to anybody like this. A slap to the face, a kick to the crotch -- possibly even the application of pepper spray -- these things are not outside the bounds of proper etiquette in response to the behavior you've described. Avoiding this person systematically can hardly qualify as drama.
posted by namespan at 1:05 AM on June 22, 2008


I hear a lot of fear your your voice, probably the same fear you had as a child. Turn that fear into extreme anger. He violated your rights. I would confront the bastard alone and perhaps even throw a good kick in the balls. Threaten him and make him fear you. Maybe then he'll know what it feels like to feel helpless and scared.

And like everyone else said, this sick fuck does remember. And he's continuing his actions by chasing/groping you.

It's a shame you didn't bring me as your "date". The whole issue would have gotten solved real fast.
posted by dasheekeejones at 5:07 AM on June 22, 2008


Hey, sorry for the late response, but for future situations --

(and it seems like this *will* happen again because your ex-stepfamily seems to invite both you and him to the same events, not a good idea, imho)

please read The Courage To Heal. (http://www.amazon.com/Courage-Heal-Revised-Expanded-Survivors/dp/0060950668 or find it at your local library -- or consult your therapist or a trusted friend or physician to help you find a copy).

You are an adult, and you get to choose who is in your life. None of us can speak for you, but you may want to consider avoiding situations altogether that this person will most likely be at. This man is a predator -- he's not just a cute drunk. He will keep it up as long as other people allow him to. As difficult as it may be, you don't have to be there, wherever it is, if he's there.

I realize this isn't always the easiest thing to do socially, but if we're talking about trusted people that know what really happened (ex-stepsiblings who may or may not have also been molested), it is totally ok to take them aside, weeks before the event and tell them what you're feeling. Maybe they'll have a plan in mind for making sure you're safe from his advances and always at a distance from him. Maybe they'll dis-invite him. Maybe they were just waiting for you to tell them the obvious -- that you're not ok with him being there.

Thanks for your bravery and honesty. Feel free to contact me if you want to talk -- I am a fellow survivor.
posted by salem at 9:06 PM on July 6, 2008


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