General Question

tranquilsea's avatar

How do I stop my head injured sister from meeting some guy she "met" on

Asked by tranquilsea (17760points) February 27th, 2012

He’s been e-mailing and calling her so often that I am growing more and more concerned. He supposedly knows that she has deficits (bad short term memory, speech and motor problems). She lives with us because she is so easily taken advantage of.

It really bothers me that she met him on

I feel caught between just letting her live her life and then trying my hardest to protect her. She has lots of friends that she doesn’t tend to go out with because she can’t remember to make plans and then follow through with them.

He raises my creep metre. I’m going to go with her when she meets him but I cannot be a constant chaperone. I’m just too busy with my own life.

This is a dilemma for me. How would you handle it?

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51 Answers

CWOTUS's avatar

The only answer I can give you on this (aside from a general feel-good commendation for having her interests so close at heart) is “it depends”.

That is, it does depend on her age, her “degree of deficit” (at least mentally) and whether she has a legal guardian or not. Does she need a guardian, if she’s of legal age to make her own carnal decisions?

If she’s old enough and has the mental capacity for consent, and you can’t convince your parents (or a judge) otherwise, then it’s time to throw off her mooring lines, wish her well, hope for the best… and keep a lifeboat handy.

keobooks's avatar

I was going to say almost exactly what @CWOTUS has said. If she’s over 18 and she has not been declared incompetent, there isn’t anything you can legally do.

You can try to talk to her and give her advice or anything else you’d do for any other family member over 18. But unfortunately, you can’t actually intervene unless you want to take legal action declaring that she is unable to take care of herself and needs a guardian. This is really tough to do and can cause lots of bad blood in the family if people have different opinions. But maybe it’s for the best.

6rant6's avatar

If you feel that she’s in physical danger from meeting this guy, that’s something that you can’t ignore, of course.

But I don’t think you can protect her from sleaze. It’s out there, as Fox Mulder was so quick to point out.

I think your job is to be on her side, to pick her up when things go badly -as they do sometimes for almost everyone, be she brain-damaged, of Nobel laureate. The worst outcome is that you isolate her by making her feel incompetent and judged. My opinion anyway.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Here’s my take. (It might sound cruel but bear with me for a moment.) If the person is collecting Social Security for a mental disability, the US government, with ample medical advice, has declared that individual to be mentally incompetent and thus eligible to collect SSI. In most states, a mentally incompetent person is incapable of giving consent since they do not have the capability or capacity to make that determination. Look up the rape laws in your state. In NY a 21 year old can be charge with Rape 3, found guilty, and locked away in prison for having sex with a healthy, ready, willing, and able 16 year old. Why? Because NY says a 16 year old is incapable of giving consent.

When you meet the guy let it be known right up front that your sister is disabled (if she is). Put the fear of a rape charge in front of him.
You are in a tough spot. Years ago sterilization was mandated in some cases.

hug_of_war's avatar

I think you should be very concerned, but a lot more so because of her brain injury – brain injuries can seriously mess with a person’s impulse control and ability to think things through. If she’s living with you because she is easily taken advantage of, it seems she is probably suffering from some pretty normal issues, which unfortenately leaves her more vulnerable than the average person.

Does she have any health advocates (like a nurse or social worker) who can talk to her about this, or even just one of those friends or a support group? Yes, she has to live her own life, but she probably could use a talk on internet safety with someone who understands the unique problems faced by the brain injured.

Someone with a brain injury oftentimes doesn’t look disabled, but if her problems are great enough where she can’t live alone, then I don’t think you should perceive this as just your typical encounter. Under different circumstances, I was once taken advantage of, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I was targeted due to my difficulty reading social cues and not understanding how to act in that situation. You don’t want something like that to happen to your sister.

GracieT's avatar

I am head injured also. When I came home it was after spending 6 months in the hospital. Once home, I felt 2 different ways:
1) that if I survived my injury I could survive anything
2) I had thought that no-one would ever find me sexually attractive.

I met someone on a computer dating service. He was the first (and only) man that responded to my posting. Luckily I was at least aware enough to meet him in a crowded resteraunt that my father was also at although not with me! Keep in mind that although she has many other friends this one is someone that she is able to relate to (she thinks!) on a physical level. Maybe do what my dad did. Have her meet him in a crowded place where you are also, and remind that meeting someone only once Does not mean that she should be alone with him, and then when she is ready to go come find you to go home.

This may not work for her, it’s just what my father did.

tranquilsea's avatar

She’s 36 and, as a family, we’ve been very reluctant to take away her right to be her own guardian. Besides, even if I was and I could get it very easily, I would have the same problem. I am currently her trustee (she’s been under a trusteeship order since her accident) as she cannot make good financial decisions to save her life. For example: the local convenience store loves her because she buys $50 to $80 a week of pop, chips and candy.

She did date a guy 14 years ago that she met through a head injury group. He dated her for two months and then talked her into “loaning” him $200,000 so he could start a restaurant. When the family advised him that he would not be getting that money he dumped her like a hot potato.

She is noticeably disabled. She walks and talks like she is very drunk. She has a 5 to 10 minute memory.

I am acutely aware of her right and desire to find someone special in her life. But I also know that she is a target due to her disability.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

May I ask what she has to say on the matter?

tranquilsea's avatar

@hug_of_war I have talked to her ad nauseam about Internet safety and especially about this particular site. This is where her head injury gets her into trouble. She doesn’t remember that we’ve talked about it. When we do talk about it she blows me off with, “I’m going to die before I’m 40 anyway so I don’t care if I put myself into a dangerous situation”. She is not going to die before she is 40, this is an erroneous thought of hers. But even if she was she should care a bit more. This is where she lacks impulse control and has problems with executive functioning.

tranquilsea's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir she wants to meet him.

blueiiznh's avatar

It is admirable that you are helping to protect her as a loving caring family member. There however is a balance that needs to take place on her ability to learn some things on her own.
Certainly have things established to protect her from slimes and her finaces. It sounds as though that lesson has been learned already the hard way.
It is tough being torn as it sounds that you are. You even stated that you can’t constantly be there and have a life of your own. Do all you can, shy of resentment. You are in a caregiver role and that can be one of the most difficult things to wrestle with.
I know you want and will do the right thing for her.

“Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are.”
~Malcom Forbes
You are the angel she needs.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@tranquilsea Well, you know…if she wants to meet him, you can’t sequester her to your home…I remember a time when my husband and I were just talking on a website like this and I wanted to go meet him and EVERYONE thought I was deranged for doing so because of how dangerous it might have been…but, brain damage or not, it was I wanted to do and no one would stop me. The more you make this an issue (though, I understand of course your concern for safety), the more she might resist. I’d suggest having them meet somewhere in an open area where you can perhaps be ‘spying’ on her, essentially, just in case. It feels wrong to me, but I might do it if I was in your position.

tranquilsea's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir that’s really my only option.

My hubby tore a strip off me when she went to meet this guy last week. I was in the middle of something with my kids and I couldn’t go with her and she was intent on going. I told him that I really couldn’t stop her short of physically holding her down and I was not going to do that. I know my hubby’s anger was all about being really worried about her.

Oh, and about that meeting: she forgot about it midway there and turned around and came back.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@tranquilsea Well, crisis averted for now. It must be quite difficult at times for her to live life in this society.

deni's avatar

You should let her live her life in general, yes, but in a situation like this? Sounds like it could be super sketchy and really its a matter of safety in this particular situation.

I don’t want to be a debbie downer, but where I grew up a few years ago there was a girl who was very mildly retarded but had some other problems. She thought she made some “friends” and they invited her over, took turns mutilating her, then killed her and dumped her body in the middle school parking lot…… can never be too careful at times like this.

nikipedia's avatar

Can you talk/have you talked to the guy?

tranquilsea's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir My dilemma will really be if he continues to contact her. I know I can’t be with her all the time nor should I be. I just wish I could be confident that some guy off of a site with that name could be trustworthy.

I’ve actually been quite happy with how 99.9% of people treat her.

Hopefully, as we move forward this will be a much ado about nothing.

tranquilsea's avatar

@nikipedia I haven’t yet but I will be talking to him. He will know that she has many people who care about her and that he’d better mind his Ps and Qs.

deni's avatar

I like @Simone_De_Beauvoir suggestion….then maybe, stop trying to discourage her and let her do it so she feels she can make her own decisions and you aren’t stopping her from living her life….BUT go and “spy” on her, or just keep an eye really. I think that makes the most sense and is as close to a win-win situation as you’re gonna get with Creepo.

nikipedia's avatar

Based on your description it sounds like her judgment really cannot be trusted. If you can keep an open mind about the guy, scope him out as much as possible and proceed based on what you actually know about him—not based on this guy from your sister’s past.

If you think he is really a threat to your sister’s health/safety/wellbeing, then I would take @LuckyGuy‘s advice and tell him no uncertain terms that he is risking a rape charge and you are not afraid to file it.

But if you just think the guy is gross or a loser, I think you should try to help her get whatever enjoyment she can out of the relationship in a safe, healthy way.

LuckyGuy's avatar

You did not answer whether or not she is collecting SSI for this disability. That would prove the state has declared her incapable of giving consent. Look up the law in your state. Here is a subset of NY’s Rape law. Note sub-section 1.

New York Penal – Article 130 – § 130.25 Rape in the Third Degree

Legal Research Home > New York Laws > Penal > New York Penal – Article 130 – § 130.25 Rape in the Third Degree

§ 130.25 Rape in the third degree.
A person is guilty of rape in the third degree when:
1. He or she engages in sexual intercourse with another person who is
incapable of consent by reason of some factor other than being less than
seventeen years old;
2. Being twenty-one years old or more, he or she engages in sexual
intercourse with another person less than seventeen years old; or
3. He or she engages in sexual intercourse with another person without
such person’s consent where such lack of consent is by reason of some
factor other than incapacity to consent.
Rape in the third degree is a class E felony.

Print it out and keep it with you when you meet. Hand him a copy. With the appropriate lines highlighted.
Is she paying for her own computer and internet? (I didn’t think so.) Tomorrow, buy parental controls software for your PC and server and block that site.

By the way, we have a mentally disabled member in the family. Fortunately she is incapable of using the internet.

And to anyone who pooh poohs this saying she will learn. No, she will not learn! She is disabled. The message will be lost 10 minutes after it is received. Sadly, a resulting child (or genital herpes) will not be.

@tranquilsea You are in tough spot but someone has to be the bad guy. It will only get more difficult later. Much, much more difficult. .

LuckyGuy's avatar

Here are the papers for Rape 2nd You can fill them out ahead of time.

Look it up for your own state. Attached below is an excerpt from the above document.
Rape 2nd has stronger penalties than Rape 3rd. If you check the statues you will find oral sex, touching of genitals are listed. Make sure Wonder boy knows you know this.

(D Felony)
(Incapable of Consent -
Mentally Disabled or Incapacitated)
PENAL LAW 130.30(2)
(Committed on or after Nov. 1, 2003)
The _________ count is Rape in the Second Degree.
Under our law, a person is guilty of Rape in the Second
Degree when he or she engages in sexual intercourse with
another person who is incapable of consent by reason of being
mentally disabled [or mentally incapacitated].

MENTALLY DISABLED means that a person suffers from
a mental disease or defect which renders him or her incapable of
appraising the nature of his or her conduct.(4)

In order for you to find the defendant guilty of this crime, the
People are required to prove, from all the evidence in the case,
beyond a reasonable doubt, both of the following (two/three)
1. That on or about (date), in the county of (county) the
defendant (defendant’s name), engaged in sexual
intercourse with (complainant’s name); and,
2. That (complainant’s name) was incapable of consent
by reason of being mentally disabled [or mentally
NOTE: Where lack of consent results solely from incapacity
to consent because of the alleged victim’s mental disability or
mental incapacity, a charge on corroboration is required, and that
charge is in the “additional charges” section of this article. Penal
Law § 130.16.

Note: I am not an attorney and do not have the right to practice law in any state.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Oooo. This one is even before they do anything. Has he tried to convince her to engage in any activities? Do you have the emails? Start collecting your evidence now – while you don’t need it.

New York Penal – Article 130 – § 130.16 Sex Offenses; Corroboration

Legal Research Home > New York Laws > Penal > New York Penal – Article 130 – § 130.16 Sex Offenses; Corroboration

§ 130.16 Sex offenses; corroboration.
A person shall not be convicted of any offense defined in this article
of which lack of consent is an element but results solely from
incapacity to consent because of the victim’s mental defect, or mental
incapacity, or an attempt to commit the same, solely on the testimony of
the victim, unsupported by other evidence tending to:
(a) Establish that an attempt was made to engage the victim in sexual
intercourse, oral sexual conduct, anal sexual conduct, or sexual
contact, as the case may be, at the time of the occurrence; and
(b) Connect the defendant with the commission of the offense or
attempted offense.

This is a tough situation that only people in your position can understand.
I hope I gave you enough ammo. Good luck.
(PM if you like.)

funkdaddy's avatar

Would it be possible to frame it less as “I’m going with you to watch you” and more as “I’m going with you and we’re all going to have a great time”?

Obviously her care is a huge and ongoing undertaking, but this probably isn’t the last time she tries to find someone special, so maybe the ground rules are just the first meeting is a “double date” with you and your husband? Get in touch with the guy and go have dinner somewhere, if he’s just a creeper he’s not going to sit through dinner and probably will never show up. If he’s actually interested in getting to know your sister then your presence won’t seem odd at all, especially with your sister’s short term memory issues, and it’s just “meeting her family” for the guy.

I understand she won’t always remember your ground rules and I’m not pretending to understand the nuances of your situation. It does sound like she tends to check with you before going on these dates though, correct?

If you’re not able to make it, would she maybe have another friend who could fill the same role? Again, it’s not odd at all for a single woman (or anyone for that matter) to take a friend to a first meeting with someone, so neither side should feel like they’re an exception or being coddled.

If he is just an interested guy, that gives her the opportunity to find someone without accusing him of rape. If his intentions aren’t good, he’s unlikely to show up if he knows other folks will be around. If he does show up, you’ll have the opportunity to get a better read on the situation.

My cousin has some mental and physical issues and I never thought she’d find someone. Last year she got married to a nice man who likes having someone to talk to who doesn’t judge him and he seems to actually enjoy making her happy. Of course her family was skeptical throughout their relationship, but they seem to be good for each other and beyond that not much else matters. Maybe the same is possible for your sister.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@funkdaddy Congratulations to your cousin and new husband. Did they meet on benaughty dot com? Probably not. That’s one of the many red flags for me.
I would go with her on the date to meet the guy. However, like a handgun, I would carry the above information well concealed and only pull it out when I intended to use it.

funkdaddy's avatar

@LuckyGuy – I’m not sure how they met. Two things I’m relatively sure of

1) He could have been the most eligible bachelor in America and his motives would have been in question. No one is ever good enough for the people we feel responsible for.
2) BeNaughty isn’t much different than Match or PlentyofFish when it comes down to it, Who knows how she ended up there. It could have been suggested by a friend, or linked on a discussion forum. was probably taken or too long to remember.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@funkdaddy. Yep. If I’m the one responsible for somebody, no one will be good enough.
Hopefully @tranquilsea knows how they met, has seen some of the email exchanges, and knows his motives are chaste and pure.
A friendly double date with hubby and the prospective couple is in order – after the homework is done and she’s carrying a full clip of “ammo” in her purse.

Our disabled family member met her guy through church. Turns out he was an abuser. Go figure.

Ela's avatar

@funkdaddy I beg to differ that there is not much difference between sites such as PoF and BeNaughty as apposed to Match. True they are all “dating sites” but I think the sincerity of the members can differ immensely.

tranquilsea's avatar

She’s on CPP (Canada Pension Plan) and has disability insurance as well. She will never work again due to her accident nor will she live on her own. This is because of her memory problems and her poor impulse control. The reasons she has a Trusteeship order are also due to her memory and impulse control problems. She’d give money away to anyone she feels badly about.

My heart breaks for her every day. She was robbed of a normal life.

She has met other people for coffee but those people are ones that she has met through her groups. I’m worried because this guy came from BeNaughty. The name says it all.

Ela's avatar

If you know his username, Google it. He may pop up for other dating sites and you can get a better feel for him. If you know his real name, pay the 5 bucks or whatever it is and do a search on him. I’d dig and poke and prode all I could to find out about him.

If she insists on being on a dating site, get her an account on Match. I think out of all of them it would be the most reputable.

Ela's avatar

As long as you are trustee, they cannot get to her assets and funds, correct?
Unless the injury affected her ability to feel love, desire and compassion (which it doesn’t sound like it did) you can’t really blame her for wanting to find someone, head injury or not she is still a woman. Follow your gut. If you have a bad feeling about this guy, do what you can to prevent the meet up, but don’t stop her from going. I guess I would go with her, spy on her, do whatever I feel needs to be done to get her through this particular incident.
Then I would get involved in helping her meet someone acceptable.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@tranquilsea “She’s on CPP (Canada Pension Plan) and has disability insurance as well”
There you go! You have all the ammo you need. Now you can play it by ear. Check out the laws in your “Province” first. Like how I speak “Canadian”?

jazmina88's avatar

I’m glad you are going. and you must speak to her often about being victimized. It’s not the money they could steal, but her sexual health and Life well-being.
It is hard to chain impulses.

You have alot on your shoulders.

6rant6's avatar

Is it beyond the pale to suggest you invite the guy over for a family dinner?

wundayatta's avatar

I don’t understand how this is a problem. If her memory is how you say, then how can she remember she is going to meet someone? How does that work? How does she even remember there is someone to go see? And do you know what she wants from this guy? Is she hoping for sex or something else?

YARNLADY's avatar

Go with her.

lemming's avatar

@tranquilsea No way let her meet this man. No way..have a heart to heart with her, be upfront, tell her she has head injuries so she mightn’t understand, and that maybe you never made her promise anything before – but make her promise she will never meet this man. A girl will know that it is important and she will believe you…then consider getting a child blocking service on her computer, because it’s for her own good. This doesn’t mean she will never have a boyfriend again…just not some slime ball off the internet..

tranquilsea's avatar

@wundayatta through her I’ve learned how interesting a thing memory is. If high emotion is attached to a thought she’ll have a higher chance of remembering it. The picture she has of this guy is very interesting and attractive for her. She’s put it on as her wallpaper on her computer. Benaughty sends her daily e-mail reminders about this guy. Without those three facts she would forget about him.

It is tempting to empty her computer of his pictures and get rid of BeNaughty BUT I’d not do that because I don’t believe in intruding into her life in that manner.

GracieT's avatar

@lemming, but that might backfire and have the exact OPPOSITE effect and make her all the more determined. She must be feeling somewhat interested in dating if she looked at that site and she is at least aware enough to use a dating site.

tranquilsea's avatar

So, we met with him today. He is at least 10 years older than he let on. He was sitting at a table and I motioned to my sister to see if she recognized him. She said, “God I hope not”. Well, it was him.

He raised my creep meter to about 5 out of 10 (10 being the creepiest). He is homophobic and, I have to say, I had a little bit of fun calling him out on it. He got creepy when he suggested that we should talk about breasts.

He’s a real loner. That concerns me.

I made sure she wrote down her impressions of him in her daytimer. Hopefully, she believe her own handwriting.

My sister didn’t really like him BUT she’ll forget about that tomorrow. If she chooses to meet him again I’ll go along but keep myself at a distance.

blueiiznh's avatar

Thanks for the update. I respect your care and concern. The topic of breasts on a first meeting would have raised my creep meter over 10.

SpatzieLover's avatar

I think if another meeting takes place I’d hand him a signed letter that states all of the laws @LuckyGuy supplied you with above.

tranquilsea's avatar

He didn’t seem very intelligent to me. So, I think if this goes any further then I’ll let him know that if he tries anything with her then he could be up on rape charges.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@tranquilsea Change the “could” to “would”. Big difference.
Look up the statutes in your locale and give him a copy.
It is for your own good. You do not want to be stuck supporting their child.

tranquilsea's avatar

@LuckyGuy the thing is that she is in a grey area for the consent issue. But he doesn’t have to know that lol.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@tranquilsea Tell me again, why is she on full disability? Reason
You have everything you need.

tranquilsea's avatar

But I think that she’d need to be under a guardianship order. She probably could be but our family has always leaned towards giving her as much freedom as possible. Doing so is fraught with pitfalls though.

CWOTUS's avatar

I think your family, and you in particular, are doing the right thing, @tranquilsea… for whatever that vote is worth.

tranquilsea's avatar

Thanks @CWOTUS it’s hard to be in this position in so many ways.

6rant6's avatar

Well, if I were in her place, I’d want you to treat me as you have been treating her. Instead of being her warden, you’ve acted as her external memory. Now that she’s met the guy and didn’t like him and, again putting myself in her place, I’d expect you to get rid of him somehow. Even if she can’t figure out in the moment why you are doing it.

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