Parent to adult son with CPTS diagnosis

I really feel for you. You are between a rock and a hard place here. Unfortunately, until he wants help and is open to it, no amount of therapy - no matter how good he counsellor, is going to get through to him.

@somerandomguy has some really amazing and wonderful advice for you.

I would add, it’s perfectly acceptable for you to set boundaries around his bahviour under your roof. He can’t just crack off and destroy your property, and push you around and be abusive. It’s okay for you to say to him there are ground rules for staying here, and if you can’t stick to them then you’ll need to find an alternative place to stay. He is an adult, he can look after himself however much he doesn’t want to & you want to protect him.
He hasn’t had those behaviors in about-3 and a half or 4 years/since everyone was closed off inside from the Covid pandemic.
Mostly I’m saying we are concerned about his dating, meeting these people on dating sites, one after the other every week. These people could be anyone.
 
This is hard to write as it is hard for me to share. I have four children (now adults) and a few of them were molested by their biological father during visitation. When I found out it about broke me and definitely broke a few of the children. The path of healing started with pressing charges, a trial and a conviction. He was sentenced to 140 years with a maximum sentence for each count to be served consecutively. When he went to prison, the healing began as it was now safe and he couldn't threaten. What happened with his bio father and grandfather? Were there ever charges or at least a confrontation in regard to what was done?

The children did have therapy and one never admitted abuse and went through all kinds of addiction. He has gotten counseling and has been clean for four years, but whatever he is dealing with is between him and his therapist. Yes, I did have him leave the residence. My youngest daughter also had to move out for a while. I set strict boundaries and when they were repeatedly crossed, they had to leave and they knew the repercussions up front. One of the hardest things I had to do, but there was no way I was enabling addicting or controlling behaviors. They were all adults at this point and although they had no control over what happened when they were children, they did have control over their own actions as adults.

On the positive side, those that had to leave finally got the help they needed and took ownership of their own recovery. They are all now between the ages of 31 to 45, all employed, living independently, some are married and some have children. The cycle was broken and not that problems don't arrive, but everyone has the tools to deal with it, the support from family and their own therapist when needed.

No one should ever put up with violence direct toward them or property damage. From experience, that doesn't get better and does get worse. I understand the wanting to help, but there is a fine line between supporting and enabling. I don't mean this to sound harsh, but it comes from a place of concern and experience. Also, it would be of benefit to both you and your husband to have your own therapist. As a PTSD sufferer, I too had therapy and after a year, I was in a place where I could manage my own symptoms. Used a lot of CBT, but I was told not to do EDMR as the reliving of suppressed memories could do more harm than good. Just a thought.
We did contact the police immediately upon him disclosing this. We were given an initial, brief telephone interview and they felt that it was appropriate to bring us all (my son, myself and my husband) for an interview I’m person. Then met with us together and separately.
At that point they felt there was enough cause to go to his father’s home, and continue the investigation and interrogation. Unfortunately the powers that be (the district attorney) said after reviewing everything the criminal statutes had expired.

He hasn’t had violent behaviors in a number of years now. Slamming doors yes, but heck I work with people who do that.

The biggest concern is his obsession or addiction to dating, and risky sexual behavior. But that is extremely common for a sexual abuse victim.

Again as I said in reply to another post, his counselor is approaching this differently because as he said, one size does not fit all.

I know I did my part in stopping the abuse, in stopping all contact with his father the very second I saw reason-just something that made me wonder and my son didn’t want to go there anymore.
 
You may well be fueling his addiction by giving it so much attention. If you think about how lots of 18, 19 year old boys act they do the opposite of what authority wants them to because they’re an adult now. Lots of PTSDers do it to as a way to regain control. I echo what others have said about him being an adult, I can’t imagine any adult welcomes unsolicited advice about their love life or lack there of.

My advice, based on the comment that he doesn’t have friends, would be to try and find ways for him to get out and meet people so he can make some plutonic friends and then wouldn’t crave female companionship so much. Does he work? Could he volunteer? Does he have interests? Church group? Survivors therapy group in the area? Did he use to have friends and maybe could be encouraged to find them again? You can only encourage and help him locate people of like minds but it may go far to help with his troubles and allow him to feel secure enough to drop his addiction.
 
You may well be fueling his addiction by giving it so much attention. If you think about how lots of 18, 19 year old boys act they do the opposite of what authority wants them to because they’re an adult now. Lots of PTSDers do it to as a way to regain control. I echo what others have said about him being an adult, I can’t imagine any adult welcomes unsolicited advice about their love life or lack there of.

My advice, based on the comment that he doesn’t have friends, would be to try and find ways for him to get out and meet people so he can make some plutonic friends and then wouldn’t crave female companionship so much. Does he work? Could he volunteer? Does he have interests? Church group? Survivors therapy group in the area? Did he use to have friends and maybe could be encouraged to find them again? You can only encourage and help him locate people of like minds but it may go far to help with his troubles and allow him to feel secure enough to drop his addiction.
Thank you for your thoughtful reply.
His therapists ( he has two; A cognitive behavioral therapist and trauma therapist who is trained and certified in EMDR and SandTray therapy.)
The advice to us has been to take a more active role in his healing and recovery from the trauma (although I know that there really is no “recovery” just a new way of thinking and being because the abuse can’t be undone.)
We’ve been told that if circumstances were different, the advice would be different but that each situation is unique and “one size does not fit all.” So because he resides in our home and because we are all he has, it’s a different situation.
He doesn’t work currently, he was working but he lost his job several weeks ago.
We have suggested and one of his therapists has suggested numerous times that he look at local activities, which could be anything from a book club to a hiking club or whatever because that would present opportunities to meet friends. He refuses to do it.

It’s interesting that you talk about how he might be refusing to take out suggestions or the therapist’s suggestions (who have said on many many occasions that until he adequately addresses and works through the trauma he won’t be able to have a healthy relationship. I heard an expression many years ago, “The more you resist, the more it persists.” I suppose you could be correct that this is a way for him to regain control. But then again I do know that these types of risky sexual behaviors are extremely common in sexual abuse victims.
We did try the approach of not saying anything few weeks ago when he met a woman on a dating site/app and he met her at a hotel (very dangerous as you know) but we just said ok. Yet yesterday he told us the “lady” he’s “been seeing” (they’ve had two dates-one was for lunch and he was only gone for an hour and the other date was for a hike and he wasn’t gone long then either but anyway-she invited him over to her place to “cuddle” tonight. That time I asked him, do you think it’s safe to go to someone’s home that you just met and really don’t know? He said it’s fine. I said well it isn’t fine and it isn’t safe and really it doesn’t align with the values we raised you with. He said it said why isn’t this ok this time, I met someone i didn’t know at a hotel a few weeks ago and you and Dad were ok with it, you were supportive of me doing it. I said just because I didn’t say anything doesn’t mean I wa supportive of it. You’ve been told numerous times over the past 8 months that this is potentially dangerous, harmful, and not how we raised you. You’ve been told by us and your therapists many times. He said well “I’m going over there anyway.-is that ok?” I said it isn’t ok but we can’t stop you and whatever consequences you create, you’ll have to deal with. He said ok.

Just FYI he had a girlfriend a few years ago, they were together for I think a little over or around 3 years. He met her online. After their 3rd date, she asked him to move in with her and he did. He refused to use protection with her. He has been told a thousand times about that by us and his counselor about protecting himself. Yet he refused. At one point he came to me crying because he had something going on so to speak-he went to the doctor and got HPV from her. She had lived with 5 other men before they met-none of those relationships worked out for her. Anyway after he got the HPV and he told his therapist about it, the therapist and us AGAIN talked about protecting himself. Subsequently his counselor asked him if he was protecting himself and he said no!

He moved back home after 6 months. That kept getting back together and breaking up )but he didn’t move back in there). She treated hik terribly yet he continued to go back with her, spend all his money on lavish expensive dates like weekend getaway’s and so forth. She has a diagnosis of schizophrenia and borderline personality disorder. She was hospitalized a number of times. One time was because she left her apartment (they were broken up at the time) and hid in a park for almost 24 hours until she called an ambulance to go get her. They kept breaking up and getting back together.

As I initially said-he will literally go out with anyone -no matter how badly they treat him. The girlfriend before that physically assaulted him to the point we had to take him to the emergency room one time and yet-the next day was Valentine’s Day and he went over to her house and gave her a gift! She had serious psychiatric issues too-she assaulted her own father and went to jail for a few days over it. The only reason that broke up is because my husband talked to her. He was on the phone with her and we could overhear her screaming at him, calling hos awful names and he handed my husband the phone and he told her to stay away from him. Thankfully he didn’t go back to her.

I know that if he continues down this path-it’s only a matter of time before he either; contracts a more serious life threatening disease, gets someone pregnant, gets his wallet stolen. gets assaulted or worse. These people on these date sites can be anyone. They aren’t necessarily who they say they are. You could arrive for the date and it could be 5 men waiting there. Anyone can put up a picture of anyone and pretend to be someone else. And many of the people on these dating sites have malicious intentions. The police told him that. He was receiving death threats against him and us through those sites a couple months ago. We had to go to the police several times over the course of a week or so. The police told him numerous times how dangerous these dating sites are-and advised him to delete all of his information and delete all of the apps from his phone. They told him they get a ton of reports filed and complaints from people who were financially victimized by people on these sites and apps, people who were badly beaten, assaulted and worse. But it made no difference to him-he continued right on with this nonsense.


I’m sorry my posts are all over the place and hard to follow!
 
You may well be fueling his addiction by giving it so much attention. If you think about how lots of 18, 19 year old boys act they do the opposite of what authority wants them to because they’re an adult now. Lots of PTSDers do it to as a way to regain control. I echo what others have said about him being an adult, I can’t imagine any adult welcomes unsolicited advice about their love life or lack there of.

My advice, based on the comment that he doesn’t have friends, would be to try and find ways for him to get out and meet people so he can make some plutonic friends and then wouldn’t crave female companionship so much. Does he work? Could he volunteer? Does he have interests? Church group? Survivors therapy group in the area? Did he use to have friends and maybe could be encouraged to find them again? You can only encourage and help him locate people of like minds but it may go far to help with his troubles and allow him to feel secure enough to drop his addiction.
By the way-I just reread this-You may well be fueling his addiction by giving it so much attention. It’s very interesting that you said that because when he goes ok these dates, his counselor advised us not to ask him many or any specific questions about the person. It’s ok to ask where they live or what restaurant they’re going to (for safety reasons) and sometimes he will tell us and other times he’s very evasive about it. But counselor advised to keep questions mostly general and specific to him. For example, how did you like the restaurant? What did you have? How was the food there? The counselors reason for avoiding questions like; Where does she work? What does she do? Where did she grow up? And questions of that nature is because it sends the message that you agree it’s a good idea to be doing this and it sends to message that this is important, it’s important to be doing all this dating and it’s important to find a relationship.
So we have avoided asking those types of questions.

I figure we have told him we disapprove, we have told him why. His therapists have talked with him many many times about this, the police have talked to him about the dangers of this. None of it matters to him. He has been told this is dangerous, he has been told this doesn’t align with the values we raised him with. And he has been told that we can’t stop him, but we disapprove and why, and that he’s going to have to deal with whatever consequences come out of this. He isn’t working and I have to wonder if he’s told this most recent girl he doesn’t have a job because I can’t imagine any stable person would want to date a 33 year old who doesn’t have a job and lives with his parents. If she does know that, it certainly tells me that she she’s serious issues of her own.

I hope it doesn’t come to this but I’m guessing it may take an irreparable tragedy to get him to stop this, he gets assaulted and seriously injured, gets his wallet stolen, gets a more serious life threatening STD, to get him to wake up and stop. The police told us they get people every single day coming in reporting they met someone online and got their money stolen or the other scan is the person goes through the wallets when the person is in the bathroom or something and takes pictures of the drivers license, the debit and credit cards. Then there can be identity theft and fraudulent charges to
 
Is he paying rent?

People who have to work tend to have a lot (like…a lot!) less time to indulge in casual dating.

Work also builds relationships, and a positive sense of self worth.

If he’s living with you? That’s what I’d lean into.

Due respect to his therapists, your micromanaging his relationships doesn’t seem to be helping, and I’m not sure that you’re modelling healthy boundaries for him.

What is the role of a supporter for you? Have you asked him what kind of support he’d like from you, and what he doesn’t want?

He’s playing a bit of Russian roulette with the dating scene. That’s very typical of someone who has been through sexual trauma and has, as a result, built a distorted sense of self and self worth that is tied to sexual intimacy. But as an adult, that’s his choice.

You can’t force him to stop dating. No amount of worry on your part will precent something bad from happening to him on a date.

His recovery, and the length of time it takes, is in his hands. You may be in for the long haul watching this play out for him. Even though he has ptsd, he’s entitled to make his own choices about what relationships to get into, even if they’re really bad choices. As a supporter, you can be there for him if he needs a soft place to fall if something bad happens - you can’t stop him walking into that no matter how much you want to.
 
I haven’t fully read everything so ignore me if this has already been said, I apologize. But I did notice that the biggest concern around your son meeting people is that he doesn’t know them, they could be harmful, and he’s flitting from person to person.

When I was in my late teens to early twenties, and even a little into my late twenties, I did what he was doing but worse. I was trying to gain some sort of control over my sexuality back. Granted I wasn’t in therapy yet. But I was meeting men who were significantly older than me off a kink site and deliberately put myself into very dangerous situations *because* they were dangerous. Something drove me to seek that out as a means to prove to myself/them/my molester that I’m the one with control now, I’m the one who gets to decide when and how and who uses my body. It was a draw to not know their names, not use protection, not let anyone know where I was.

There was also an element of self punishment for me. Being told over and over that I deserved better would have been (still is, I’m still actively working in this area) a direct line for my imposter syndrome/lack of self esteem that no I don’t deserve anything resembling kindness, empathy, care, love, etc. not from myself and not from others. My view of myself was basically that I deserved to be in dangerous/dirty/disgusting situations because I was already broken and that’s what broken people get.


I don’t have good advice, other than I’m glad he’s in therapy and has people that care about him. I just wanted to give insight into the mindset of someone who was doing the same things.
 
The biggest concern is his obsession or addiction to dating, and risky sexual behavior. But that is extremely common for a sexual abuse victim.
You've got me wondering how the numbers actually break down on this. My own reaction was to avoid people and avoid relationships. I know what he's doing is a thing. It may or may not be extremely common. It's definitely not uncommon.

A lot of the supporters here have therapists of their own and seem to have found that useful. (I can see where it would be.) You might give that some thought because you DO need to look out for yourself.

Going back to the reasons for his behavior. Developmental trauma sends people in a variety of directions. (You probably know all this.) It affects how you see yourself, how you see other people, how you see relationships, lots of things. @OceanSpray just gave good examples. Since it sounds like he's not stupid, I'd say, at some level, he KNOWS what he's doing is dangerous. (One of my personal things has been doing dangerous stuff thinking I might accidentally get killed and that would be ok. If I didn't get killed, there's something kind of exhilarating about cheating death.) The question, really, is what does he get from taking those chances. I would think he's working on this stuff in therapy. (He should be.) He needs to learn what a healthy relationship is, because chances are he hasn't learned that. He needs to learn his own value, because it's likely he has a different idea about that than, for example, you do. It's not so much a matter of stopping the behavior as it is getting at the causes and finding a better way, a more accurate way, for him to see the world.

What a couple people have said about this being a way for him to try to gain a feeling of control makes sense to me. It might not be the case with him, but I can sure see how it might be. I can definitely see how it would be hard for a parent to watch from the sidelines! IDK, I can see, as an option, telling him that, if that's the lifestyle he's choosing, you don't want to watch and can't be a part of it, he needs to find another place to live. And, yeah, those places probably won't be as safe as your house is.
 
Is he paying rent?

People who have to work tend to have a lot (like…a lot!) less time to indulge in casual dating.

Work also builds relationships, and a positive sense of self worth.

If he’s living with you? That’s what I’d lean into.

Due respect to his therapists, your micromanaging his relationships doesn’t seem to be helping, and I’m not sure that you’re modelling healthy boundaries for him.

What is the role of a supporter for you? Have you asked him what kind of support he’d like from you, and what he doesn’t want?

He’s playing a bit of Russian roulette with the dating scene. That’s very typical of someone who has been through sexual trauma and has, as a result, built a distorted sense of self and self worth that is tied to sexual intimacy. But as an adult, that’s his choice.

You can’t force him to stop dating. No amount of worry on your part will precent something bad from happening to him on a date.

His recovery, and the length of time it takes, is in his hands. You may be in for the long haul watching this play out for him. Even though he has ptsd, he’s entitled to make his own choices about what relationships to get into, even if they’re really bad choices. As a supporter, you can be there for him if he needs a soft place to fall if something bad happens - you can’t stop him walking into that no matter how much you want to.
He was working until about a month ago when he lost his job. Even when he was working he found plenty of time for this dating app/site nonsense so working didn’t make a difference.

He is currently looking for another position and has submitted some application packages with his resume and cover letter. He has a professionally done resume, cover letter and Linkdin account. We hired a professional career coach for him and that included a professionally written resume, Linkdin page, cover letter and interview coaching. We paid for it as a gift when he completed one of his college degrees.
He is also taking an online course right now that pertains to his profession. I have no idea how much time he spends on it per day but it isn’t 8 hours per day.

Right now it’s a slow time of year there aren’t a ton of positions available. He had had several telephone interviews (which seems to be typical these days and then if they’ll eventually call for an interview in person.
 
He was working until about a month ago when he lost his job. Even when he was working he found plenty of time for this dating app/site nonsense so working didn’t make a difference.

He is currently looking for another position and has submitted some application packages with his resume and cover letter. He has a professionally done resume, cover letter and Linkdin account. We hired a professional career coach for him and that included a professionally written resume, Linkdin page, cover letter and interview coaching. We paid for it as a gift when he completed one of his college degrees.
He is also taking an online course right now that pertains to his profession. I have no idea how much time he spends on it per day but it isn’t 8 hours per day.

Right now it’s a slow time of year there aren’t a ton of positions available. He had had several telephone interviews (which seems to be typical these days and then if they’ll eventually call for an interview in person.
Ps -he is not paying rent. He pays for his car payment, insurance, car repairs, therapies, gas, hair cuts. We don’t make him buy his own food or anything.
 
Ps -he is not paying rent. He pays for his car payment, insurance, car repairs, therapies, gas, hair cuts. We don’t make him buy his own food or anything.
When he has a job, start charging him $200 bucks a month will be small enough it’s still worth it to stay home but large enough to take a chunk out of his dating budget. If you feel bad about it then you put it in a savings account that you don’t tell him about and when you feel he’s ready to handle the money you give it back.
 
When he has a job, start charging him $200 bucks a month will be small enough it’s still worth it to stay home but large enough to take a chunk out of his dating budget. If you feel bad about it then you put it in a savings account that you don’t tell him about and when you feel he’s ready to handle the money you give it back.
I agree except that where we live, if you charge rent, the person becomes a tenant and has rights. Those rights include having people over to the house. We didn’t want him to have those rights so our attorney advised us not to charge him rent or have a lease because of that.

Subsequently, we found out that here where we live, one cannot make a person leave your home-unless and until you go through s very lengthy and expensive legal process. It isn’t typical eviction process because he doesn’t have a lease and hasn’t paid rent.
The process takes anywhere from 12-18 months, possibly longer and costs $25,000-$30,000.

So it isn’t as easy as telling him to leave-which he isn’t prepared to do anyway right now.

At this point we are trying to take a breath and take it day by day. I might contact one more attorney to see if there are other options but we had several consultations and that was the consensus for the mist part. One said hr could try to sneak it through as a standard eviction and hope the judge doesn’t catch it but if he does then it won’t work.
 
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