Advice for handling a wedding

aki

Not Active
I was SAd by my father as a child. My mother knows and I've strongly hinted to my two brothers, but only recently. I haven't come right out and said it to either of them for different reasons. I'm pretty sure one wouldn't believe me and the other is getting married and I'm trying not to cause drama. However, the one getting married invited our father as a courtesy (they are low contact but see each other for Thanksgiving and Christmas - they live in the US). He knows I harbor vitriol for my abuser and told him to stay away from me at the wedding.

However, my abuser/father has always been about control so I don't trust that he will follow this. The wedding is mid-March and I'm fighting growing anxiety and doubts about having to be in the same area as him. In a fight or flight situation I'm definitely fight, but this is a situation where I'm trying to avoid him to keep an event peaceful. My hackles are up as I imagine every way he could cause quiet trouble and it takes time to calm down. There are times where I even doubt myself and wonder if maybe I'm misremembering and making something small into something big because no one else seems to hate him as much as I do. As the oldest and the only girl, but also the most resistant, I took the brunt of the abuse. The non-groom brother had it fairly bad, too, but he reacted by craving his/our father's affection and still diminishes the abuse etc. The groom brother was the most "acceptable" so he says it wasn't as bad for him.

I'm rambling now. I guess what I'm looking for is advice or to reinforce that I'm not making this up or something. Usually I'm okay and I went through therapy for 20ish years, but this wedding has brought back a lot of stress because he'll be there and I haven't seen him since one time when I was 21 (I'm early 30's).
 
You’re not making it up,. You’re in a horrible situation.

does it help to know that you are under no obligation to go?

looks like your options are:
tell you brother and say you can‘t be there
tell your brother and ask him to deinvite your dad
tell your brother and say you will be there but might need to leave if it gets too hard
don’t tell your brother and don’t go
don’t tell your brother and go, but leave if it gets too hard

wha t would your dad leaving you alone look like for you?

edit to say: you’re not causing drama. You’re navigating how to manage seeing the parent who abused you. Pretty serious stuff.
 
That your brothers know you father is a pedophile, and are inviting him to places with children? Would have me :

A) Informing EVERYONE WITH CHILDREN that the man is a pedophile, because parents have a right to know that their so called friends/family are grooming their children to accept someone as “safe” that isn’t.
B) Never going anywhere he was invited, & leaving the moment he showed up anywhere I was, whether I had children with me, or not.

This isn’t a “what if” situation, in my life, but what I actually did. I married into a family where the pedophiles were kept “secret”. I very nearly divorced my husband on the spot when I found out (in retrospect? I should have.)… and the only way I or my son had anything to do with my in-laws (many of whom were wonderful people), was by maintaining those boundaries.

- I will not spend time with pedophiles.
- I will not allow my children to spend time with pedophiles.
- I will inform anyone with children exactly who the pedophiles are. (Including weddings, funerals, birthdays, graduations, etc. Because parents have a right to know they are bringing their children around someone who rapes children, and are in a group of adults who invite pedophiles to places with children.)

It created some drama for a few years.

What almost made me throw up, though, was the first family event when one of the (adult) cousins looked around and said… “You know? It‘s so NICE to be able to come & not have to keep a constant eye on & still worry about the kids!”

If adults want to spend time with people they know rape children? That’s not my lookout. Grooming kids to be sexually abused by being a trusted person in their life, and inviting a pedophile to spend time with them? Hard limit. No. I will not do that, nor participate in someone else doing that. Full stop.
 
You’re not making it up,. You’re in a horrible situation.

does it help to know that you are under no obligation to go?

looks like your options are:
tell you brother and say you can‘t be there
tell your brother and ask him to deinvite your dad
tell your brother and say you will be there but might need to leave if it gets too hard
don’t tell your brother and don’t go
don’t tell your brother and go, but leave if it gets too hard

wha t would your dad leaving you alone look like for you?

edit to say: you’re not causing drama. You’re navigating how to manage seeing the parent who abused you. Pretty serious stuff.
I appreciate that and I appreciate the options you've laid out.

Since he'll probably be there no matter what I'd prefer he just pretend I'm not there. That's my plan with the wedding so far. I told my brother that if he insists on talking to me I will tell him that I hope he respects my brother enough to not talk to me and I told my brother that if he pushes then I'll leave early. My stepdad has offered to run interference. I don't know if he actually knows everything, but he hates my father for what he does know.

It's still stressful but I'm grateful he told me he has my back.

That your brothers know you father is a pedophile, and are inviting him to places with children? Would have me :

A) Informing EVERYONE WITH CHILDREN that the man is a pedophile, because parents have a right to know that their so called friends/family are grooming their children to accept someone as “safe” that isn’t.
B) Never going anywhere he was invited, & leaving the moment he showed up anywhere I was, whether I had children with me, or not.

This isn’t a “what if” situation, in my life, but what I actually did. I married into a family where the pedophiles were kept “secret”. I very nearly divorced my husband on the spot when I found out (in retrospect? I should have.)… and the only way I or my son had anything to do with my in-laws (many of whom were wonderful people), was by maintaining those boundaries.

- I will not spend time with pedophiles.
- I will not allow my children to spend time with pedophiles.
- I will inform anyone with children exactly who the pedophiles are. (Including weddings, funerals, birthdays, graduations, etc. Because parents have a right to know they are bringing their children around someone who rapes children, and are in a group of adults who invite pedophiles to places with children.)

It created some drama for a few years.

What almost made me throw up, though, was the first family event when one of the (adult) cousins looked around and said… “You know? It‘s so NICE to be able to come & not have to keep a constant eye on & still worry about the kids!”

If adults want to spend time with people they know rape children? That’s not my lookout. Grooming kids to be sexually abused by being a trusted person in their life, and inviting a pedophile to spend time with them? Hard limit. No. I will not do that, nor participate in someone else doing that. Full stop.
I don't know if they know he's a paedophile. They both seem to believe he's reformed a lot since I left at 17 and "destroyed" the family. As far as I'm aware he only assaulted me.

It's a child free wedding.

Most of the family that is attending doesn't associate with him already and this will be the first time most of us have seen him in many years.
 
You’re not making it up,. You’re in a horrible situation.

does it help to know that you are under no obligation to go?

looks like your options are:
tell you brother and say you can‘t be there
tell your brother and ask him to deinvite your dad
tell your brother and say you will be there but might need to leave if it gets too hard
don’t tell your brother and don’t go
don’t tell your brother and go, but leave if it gets too hard

wha t would your dad leaving you alone look like for you?

edit to say: you’re not causing drama. You’re navigating how to manage seeing the parent who abused you. Pretty serious stuff.
I do want to add that I plan on telling my brother after the wedding in more blatant words, but it mostly only affects me and I feel like I should wait until after. Maybe he'd prefer to know before? I wish I knew what his reaction would be. Maybe I should just tell him and let him choose. It might be sunk cost, literal money since weddings are so expensive per person, and I don't know. I've always been the strong one, the protector, the reliable big sister. It will probably shock him.
 
I do want to add that I plan on telling my brother after the wedding in more blatant words, but it mostly only affects me and I feel like I should wait until after. Maybe he'd prefer to know before? I wish I knew what his reaction would be. Maybe I should just tell him and let him choose. It might be sunk cost, literal money since weddings are so expensive per person, and I don't know. I've always been the strong one, the protector, the reliable big sister. It will probably shock him.
You're taking on a lot of responsibility about his decisions. Can you let that go a bit?
Focus on what works for you rather than deciding what the impact and consequences on him and the wedding are? Because all that doesn't actually matter (the cost for a person at the wedding).

What would you want him to do if you told him?

I recently told an outline to my two sisters. I have also been the one that always fixed things in my family. One sister got it. The other sister has been incapable of any empathy or understanding. (it wasn't family members who abused me). I don't regret telling. I told because I wanted to. I wanted to give some context to my behaviour whilst a particular issue was happening. So whilst really really hard to deal with the response of telling. I'm glad I did.
 
"I love you brother but I will not be in the same room as my abuser ever again." Send a gift and your apologies for missing his day but your safety is top priority.

And I agree with @Friday.

The people who harbor pedophiles are as guilty as the perp.
 
You mentioned that your mum knows.

Have you spoken to her? Is she able to be a support for you? Or is she in a bit of denial?

I have an inability to confront something not dissimilar from my past. An inability to cut people out of my life who, if I had any distance at all, the answer would be very simple: why the hell do you tolerate them? Or anyone who associates with them?

Part of that is the comforting (likely incorrect) myth that I tell myself: it was only his kids. He wouldn’t have to anyone else.

And, not allowing the people around me to make their own, informed, decisions.

As your sibling, do I want to know, post-fact, that guy in all my wedding photos sexually abused one of my siblings, who also came to be there for me that day. The idea of him being in my wedding photos, then finding out who he is, makes me feel a little ill…

So, can you talk to your mum?
And, while I appreciate the sentiment of not wanting to create mess prior to the wedding, is your brother better served to make informed choices about who he invited to share his special day.

And, maybe it’s not an ‘all or nothing’. He could be there, standing at the back, to witness the exchange of vows. But then leave, not welcome to be part of the celebrations afterwards.

We have demons in our lives that we need to coexist with, such is the nature of family sometimes. But it rarely needs to be the ‘all or nothing’ that us ptsder’s so often resort to.
 
You're taking on a lot of responsibility about his decisions. Can you let that go a bit?
Focus on what works for you rather than deciding what the impact and consequences on him and the wedding are? Because all that doesn't actually matter (the cost for a person at the wedding).

What would you want him to do if you told him?

I recently told an outline to my two sisters. I have also been the one that always fixed things in my family. One sister got it. The other sister has been incapable of any empathy or understanding. (it wasn't family members who abused me). I don't regret telling. I told because I wanted to. I wanted to give some context to my behaviour whilst a particular issue was happening. So whilst really really hard to deal with the response of telling. I'm glad I did.
I'd want him to believe me and uninvite them.
There is a part of me that worries I'm wrong. What if I'm misremembering the abuse? Memories can be altered, what if I'm altering my own memories? How can I even know that?
We all know that there was psychological and physical abuse. I don't know that anyone else was affected, what if this is something I (unwittingly) made up in therapy? My therapist was helping me to overcome the mental block where I couldn't remember most of my childhood but had PTSD triggers and this is what I remembered. I have vivid flashbacks and memories, but what if they're false?

I no longer live in the US with them all and have not associated with my father in 10 years.
My brothers both say he's changed for the better after some events led to him losing his job and having to crawl to his mom (also evil) for help a few years ago. I haven't trusted him since I was old enough to realize he was a liar who wouldn't protect me from himself.

I probably need to go back to therapy as it's been a few years.
 
You mentioned that your mum knows.

Have you spoken to her? Is she able to be a support for you? Or is she in a bit of denial?

I have an inability to confront something not dissimilar from my past. An inability to cut people out of my life who, if I had any distance at all, the answer would be very simple: why the hell do you tolerate them? Or anyone who associates with them?

Part of that is the comforting (likely incorrect) myth that I tell myself: it was only his kids. He wouldn’t have to anyone else.

And, not allowing the people around me to make their own, informed, decisions.

As your sibling, do I want to know, post-fact, that guy in all my wedding photos sexually abused one of my siblings, who also came to be there for me that day. The idea of him being in my wedding photos, then finding out who he is, makes me feel a little ill…

So, can you talk to your mum?
And, while I appreciate the sentiment of not wanting to create mess prior to the wedding, is your brother better served to make informed choices about who he invited to share his special day.

And, maybe it’s not an ‘all or nothing’. He could be there, standing at the back, to witness the exchange of vows. But then leave, not welcome to be part of the celebrations afterwards.

We have demons in our lives that we need to coexist with, such is the nature of family sometimes. But it rarely needs to be the ‘all or nothing’ that us ptsder’s so often resort to.
My mother knows, yes. She is a complicated situation but she has offered support. I trust her husband to help me more than her but if she thinks I need her then she'll help me.

I warned my cousin who recently had a baby to keep her away from this person. My family is large and very fractured so this person is the only one in the area with kids right now.

I guess I'm going to have to talk to my brother pretty soon. If it were me, I'd want to know before the wedding and would be upset to find out afterwards. He's been a keeping the peace type since childhood so I don't know how he'll react but it's unfair of me to not tell him and allow him the chance to decide while he still has time.
 
They both seem to believe he's reformed a lot
Amazing how child abusers “get better” once kids are grown ups. 🤔 Amirite? Until there are grandkids, neighbor kids, etc. It’s almost like child abusers, abuse… children.

There is a part of me that worries I'm wrong. What if I'm misremembering the abuse? Memories can be altered, what if I'm altering my own memories? How can I even know that?
That’s an extremely fair point… mad respect for it… except for 1 thing; he abused ALL of you, and all of you remember that. Only sexually abusing one child? Is really “normal” for preferential offenders. Sex & Age are the 2 biggest dividers, but hair color/ eye color/ disposition/ opportunity/ etc. all play a role. So I’d be far more inclined to believe a known child abuser is also raping children… even if “only” the girls, boys, toddlers, preteens, blondes, green eyed, fighters, sweethearts, youngest not in school, oldest scratching the itch so the younger children aren’t “needed”, etc.

There’s a particular sicko in my x-in-laws who “only” finger rapes infants through the leg hole in their diapers, in crowds. The covert exhibitionism is part of their twist.

So, if you’re altering your “just” abuse, into sexual abuse, courtesy of an unethical & f*cked up therapist? I’m sorry on three fronts. First, because of how wrong that is, second because “just” abuse is enough, and third because if you aren’t altering but are now torn in doubt.
 
If it were me, I'd want to know before the wedding and would be upset to find out afterwards.
I think most people would want to know BEFORE the wedding, like you would.

I have a similar situation with my extended family. The perp is a cousin, so I've skipped a multitude of weddings, funerals, and reunions over the years. I finally told the cousins I care most about a few years ago, because I felt like they were owed an explanation. Since then, they've chosen to allow him to come to reunions etc, and I haven't gone. Be prepared to accept that kind of response because you might get it. But, I really don't see on upside to spending time with someone you know to be dangerous.

The accuracy of your memories.... I never even told my therapist exactly what I remember and I STILL doubt myself. But, while memory isn't infallible, in the recovered/ false memory experiments I've read about,the majority of subjects AREN'T convinced that they got lost in the mall as a small child when they didn't. In the particular experiment I recall right now, something like 25% of the subjects were convinced of a false memory. So 75% weren't. I can sure see some sense in revisiting therapy. Both to talk through the memory thing and to help negotiate the wedding & related stuff. Good luck!
 
Back
Top