How do I warn this family about my abuser?
Dear Stop It Now!,
I am worried that my father, who has been convicted of sexual abuse against me and other children, will repeat these actions in the new family he married into. I need help warning that family about him and keep myself safe.
Dear Brave Survivor,
I'm so sorry to hear that you were sexually abused as a child. You have valuable tools and insight as a Survivor Worried about the Safety of Others, and I’m glad you’ve reached out to us.
Identifying Warning Signs
I want you to take a look at these Behaviors To Watch For When Adults Are With Children as well as these Signs An Adult Is At-Risk To Harm A Child and see if you notice any of these in your father’s behavior. I’m not sure if you still have contact with him, but often it can be helpful to discuss direct and specific actions that you’ve seen (presently or in the past), rather than to make generalized statements about a person’s intentions.
Besides looking at warning signs in a person’s actions, we also discuss what sorts of resources have been made available to the offending adult. Something to consider would be if he was ever able to get treatment to understand, confront, and manage his sexually abusive behavior. Adults who have sexually abused children can work towards a safe future if they remain actively engaged in sex-specific treatment. This is not to excuse his past abusive behaviors, and I certainly don’t want you to ignore your concerns now. As you are in Norway, we are not aware of guidelines and/or laws that are applicable to an offender's community presence - especially concerning children. You may want to consult with your local authorities and gather more information regarding community restrictions, as well as learn more about the treatment he might have undergone.
Also, are there other people who share your worries? As you mention that he had sexually abused other children, are you still in contact with these survivors now? What about your relatives, or your community – does anyone else have a concern for this man and his new family? I would encourage you to share the above tip sheets with other allies to see if there were behaviors that people had felt uneasy about before, but perhaps couldn’t put into words. Often an at-risk person may exhibit other concerns around boundaries that may become easier for other people to articulate after reviewing these tip sheets.
If you do plan to speak to his family, consider sharing share the above resources on identifying warning signs, as well as these Safety Planning tools so that they can spot any unsafe behavior in any adult close to their children. Safety planning can help them proactively discuss what body boundaries they want everyone to respect – both children and adults – and gets everyone on the same page about respect and appropriate behavior.
We strongly encourage you to not speak with this family alone - bring an ally. This person may either be someone who also had noticed worrisome behavior in him, or may just be someone who is supportive to you (like a friend or spouse) to help you in taking this step. Also, please only have this conversation if it feels safe to do so. Your safety and wellbeing are the first priority. If you are not planning on having this conversation, perhaps there is someone in a neutral relationship with this family that can share this informaiton. You don't have to do this alone, and while I understand that it may feel like it's important to act quickly, taking your time to build your support network and develop your plan of action is important.
Since you’re looking to take a very active role in prevention, which is great, you may find that some difficult feelings or emotions surrounding your own abuse may resurface. I want to make sure that you are taking care of yourself too, as you work to keep others safe. I hope you have the support of a specialized therapist in your life already, but if not our Adult Survivor Resources may be a good place to start. Though geared more towards our US-based audience, there are still many online communities as well as an article on how to choose the right provider. This can be a very overwhelming and emotional experience, so working with a therapist beforehand may be essential to ensure that you’re able to have all the tools and resources you need to navigate these next steps.
I also want you to know that we have sister sites both in the UK and Ireland, and in the Netherlands, that may have more knowledge of the resources available to you in Europe. Stop It Now! Netherlands can be reached thru their website, or by emailing info [at] stopitnow.nl. Stop It Now! UK and Ireland can be reached by emailing them directly at help [at] stopitnow.org.uk.
What you’re doing – looking to keep other children safe through prevention and advocacy – is commendable. I hope that you are able to find peace and healing, and I wish the best for you as you continue to raise awareness and educate others.
Stop It Now!
Last edited on: July 23rd, 2018