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Plucky's avatar

Do you have an "Uncle Grab" in your family?

Asked by Plucky (10319points) March 22nd, 2013

I’m starting to wonder if everyone has one… you know, that person you are related to who no one trusts with their children. To explain it further, I mean a relative who likes to touch/hug/kiss a little too friendly, usually with female relatives (kids and adults).

I have an Uncle Grab on both sides of the family (and, yes, we call them that – not to their faces though). My partner has one too. My sister’s fiancĂ©e does as well. So many people I know seem to have at least one.

Everyone in the family usually knows about Uncle Grab. People will watch closely if he’s around their children at family gatherings. No one ever leaves their children alone with him. If you have to personally greet him, you do so with a cringe inside.

These people are rarely lawfully accused of anything inappropriate but they make everyone uncomfortable.

Do you have anyone in your family like this? Why do you think so many families allow an Uncle Grab to continue this behaviour? Or do you have a female relative like this? I’ve actually never heard of an Aunt Grab, so it would interesting if someone knows one.

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35 Answers

the100thmonkey's avatar

I don’t.

It sounds a bit creepy, actually.

DigitalBlue's avatar

Well, he isn’t actually an “uncle,” but we always called him uncle. He’s in prison, now, for raping children. Don’t know if that counts.
In the same branch of the family is another (non-uncle) “uncle” who always gave everyone the creeps, in the same sense. The odd thing about the two is that they are not related to each other, but they are married to sisters (we are related to the sisters.) I’m still not convinced he isn’t a creepy pervert. His son was accused of raping a child when he was a teenager. That was years ago, but it always made me even more wary of the father.

We really just don’t associate with those people, anymore.

zenvelo's avatar

Not growing up, but I did not have a big extended family.

But my ex brother in law made some jokes to my ex when my daughter started going through puberty, and we said he could not be around her at all. Ever.

nofurbelowsbatgirl's avatar

Nothing that I or my sibilings or my daughter ever encountered. But when I was young I used to hear stories about my aunts ex husband who was a creeper. And that according to family he had done something to my uncle. I was so little though I am not sure if he crossed the line or made my uncle uncomfortable, but if I had to guess I am sure he was an uncle molester. But either way that guy has been deemed a pervert and exiled from the family since that incident, hence the divorce. I have heard through the rumourville that my aunts ex husband now goes to Jamaica and tries to pick up young boys. If they are too young I hope he gets caught and castrated.

ucme's avatar

No but I know somene who has an Auntie Fanny…sounds like someone that’s offended by arseholes.

picante's avatar

My (now deceased) uncle is guilty as charged. I and my cousin were both childhood victims of his perversion.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

We had one. He’s doing 99 years in a state penn.

CWOTUS's avatar

I don’t have that relative (and I’m not that relative), but having witnessed the phenomenon firsthand in other families, I do have an opinion about it.

It’s not always “perversion” just because someone else was raised to be more physical than you were. In a lot of families “normal touching” – which is not “molestation” – is a lot closer than in some others. My own family, for example, was very standoffish – we didn’t touch much at all. But we had neighbors who were very affectionate towards one another and touched all the time. It was sort of awkward when we would associate with them because their closeness made us somewhat uncomfortable, and I’m sure that our stiffness made them feel awkward, too.

But I learned from those experiences that different people have different comfort zones – and different upbringings! – that make manifestations of physical affection difficult to deal with (on both sides) between people with these differing views on “personal space” and “hugging” and touching.

This is not to say that “anything goes”, or should be allowed. Sometimes there’s a very good reason why you have a bachelor uncle who has never had a “normal” relationship with a woman (or a man, for that matter), and a lot of people are still in the closet regarding their sexuality, even in this day and age. So I’ve learned to accept a wider range of “touching behavior” among groups and families, especially when there are obvious cultural and ethnic differences in what is and is not okay.

And I still watch out that kids and infants are safe.

For the record, I was a near-victim of a suspected child molester when I was about 6 years old. Walking home alone from school one day (walking a mile home from school at that age was no big deal then) I was approached by a teenager who came out of his house and offered to show me “something neat” in his house. He seemed friendly, and I was interested, so I was all for it. I had walked in the front door and was on the bottom step to go upstairs with him when the kid’s mother came around a corner, saw me, saw her son, and yelled holy hell at him. Thinking she was yelling at me, I beat it out of there and ran home to apologize to my mother for doing whatever it was that had gotten me in such trouble. I still remember the friendly – and big! – policeman who came to visit us after that. I think he was about 8’ tall.

marinelife's avatar

Yes, I did. He was a great-uncle. We avoided being alone with him, cringed if he touched us.

geeky_mama's avatar

Yep. Just one. Creepy Uncle T (name withheld to protect the guilty?).
He’s related to us by marriage..and when he was still young-ish (30s) and my sister and I were just kids he was living in this big abandoned theater space and invited us over to roller-skate one afternoon. He brewed us tea from leaves he’d picked by the train tracks and my sister and I both quickly figured out not to be alone in a room with him and that he was very inappropriately not wearing undergarments and “letting it all hang out” of his shorts.

We (sister and I) both kind of asked each other: “Hmm…are you getting the same yucky vibe I am?” and essentially both suspected something wasn’t right with his playful attention & affections (which is amazing or highly perceptive considering how sheltered and young we were…)..but nothing more came of it and we kept our distance in the future.

On the rare occasions that I’ve visited that part of the family with my own children I warned the kids in advance to keep their distance from this particular Uncle and kept them close to me at all times. I was extra careful to make sure he was never able to touch/hug/be alone with my kids.

I’ve never heard of an “Aunt Grab”...but I did have older relatives that were distant relations (essentially strangers to me) who thought nothing of pinching my cheeks and demanding a kiss on the cheek. But…we’re talking about 70 and 80 yr. old women when I was a child in the 1970s..

AshLeigh's avatar

My grandfather and my uncle are both convicted child molesters, so I doubt if anyone trusts them with their children.

OpryLeigh's avatar

I Have one, I stay well away from him. He was calling me sexy when I was 14/15 yrs old. Not right.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@AshLeigh That’s a GA for having the courage to admit that. They haven’t messed with you or any of your siblings have they? Answering is optional.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Leanne1986 Good choice. Wow, there are a lot of them out there.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe There really are. This man is the son of the man who abused me as a young child so it’s obviously in his genes :(

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Leanne1986 I’m so so sorry. That was a GA for courage. Anyone that would hurt a child is beyond anything I can fathom.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe It’s ok, I’m quite open about it on here. Being able to avoid dodgy family members is one good thing about growing up.

RandomGirl's avatar

There’s one guy who’s related somehow (let’s see…. I think he’s my cousin’s brother in law) that’s not quite right in the head. I think he might be mentally retarded, but it’s so sporadic and mild that he’s basically just creepy. He can silence Christmas dinner quite easily. I guess maybe he doesn’t know why certain gestures and phrases are awkward, but maybe he does. It’s hard to tell.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I have a cousin on my mom’s side who is a bonafide P-I-M-P, so I hear. He’s creepy and loves to talk to all of us girls at family reunion’s, but we’re always in a group, never alone.

BBawlight's avatar

*Shivers * Yeah I have an “Uncle Grab” and ever since the first incident, I’ve stayed well away from him.
I had to stay the night at my Aunt’s house because it was my cousin’s birthday (she was probably five or six), and there wasn’t enough room in my cousin’s bed, I slept on the couch.
So well into the night, I’m still up watching cartoons- UG comes in starts talking and touching (not a discretely as he thought), and I push his hand away a few times. Then he asks me to kiss him. His breath reeked of alcohol and there was no way I was going to kiss this drunk pedo. I said no and he stared asking again. I said no again and turned my back to him. He got the message and left (not without touching my butt, of course).

He did this to another cousin of mine (not his daughter) and we filed a police report on him. His daughter can’t have friends over anymore, but she doesn’t know why. And he’s currently suffering because the liver transplant he got failed because he’s an alcoholic and doesn’t know when to put the bottle down. So, I’m pretty satisfied with this result…

Sarah90's avatar

A nice Tazer blast usually takes care of frisky relatives.

Berserker's avatar

All I remember about my uncle was how horrible his breath smelled.

Plucky's avatar

Thanks for the answers so far. Very interesting.

As far as inappropriate touching goes… I mean the, supposedly, innocent touch on the butt or brush of the breast… sometimes a kiss on the lips that feels wrong to the person receiving it. I’m very aware of cultural differences. However, my question is not meant to be an example of that. I mean the intentional “cop a feel” type of touching. Not exactly the typical molestation (although I’m sure it can very much lead to that, if it hasn’t happened already). In saying that, I am not implying this behaviour is acceptable and/or shouldn’t be taken seriously. On the contrary, I believe it should be taken very seriously – which is, in part, why I asked the question.

I am wondering…with the relatives who haven’t been accused of anything further than being “too friendly”, why does family tend to let them be? Does anyone have serious conversations about it in your families or is it more rumour-mill type of talk? Is it left as is because people assume it hasn’t gone further than touching? If so, why is that ok? Does the age of Uncle Grab have anything to do with it? As in, if he’s a senior v.s. someone in their 20’s.

I’m curious what others think…why is this allowed? If someone who wasn’t family did that to your child, or you, would it be treated in the same regard? Sorry for all the questions. I just don’t understand this whole concept.

augustlan's avatar

One of my uncles (now deceased) sexually abused me for 13 years, so…yeah. He got to one of my cousins once, and a neighborhood girl once, too. I tried to have him arrested when I was an adult, but the crimes had happened so long ago that they weren’t felonies at the time they were committed, so the statute of limitations had run out. I made damn sure he never even met any of my own children.

nofurbelowsbatgirl's avatar

@augustlan thats horrible. You know I think there should be no “statute of limitations” that law is stupid and it makes me angry! Obviously you are a victim and just by you talking about it now shows us that the crime didn’t just stop affecting you because of a certain amount of time! If I was the law all those sickos would be tried at anytime! The sickos should be afraid. Too many people are afraid. I didn’t speak up either.

Coloma's avatar

Yes, I did.
Those ‘after dinner walks” when I was in my blossoming phase and the arm around the shoulder that always seemed to rest on the side of my breast. Nothing horrible ever happened but yep, I had a “funny Uncle.”
Once when I was about 14 we had a pool party at the Aunt & Uncles and my uncle who was probably in his early 50’s at the time couldn’t wait on us girls enough, constantly finding reasons to come out to the pool with drinks and snacks to watch the us little bikini clad darlings.

I never realized just how sickening this really was until I was a lot older.
He also found a way of just “happening” to walk in on me in the pool guest house where we would change clothes.
Classic ” Oops, I didn’t know you were still changing.” Uh huh! Gah!

Berserker's avatar

@augustlan Man, that uncle sucked. I heard this thing once, that if you were sexually abused by someone as a child, from that date, you have 35 years, as a limit, to get them arrested for it, if it’s actually possible to prove it and all. Now I’m not sure how true that even is, but that’s what I was told.

Of course, since that uncle is now dead, doesn’t really matter now…XD

augustlan's avatar

@nofurbelowsbatgirl and @Symbeline If the crimes happened in today’s world, they’d be felonies and could be tried many years later. Unfortunately, he was abusing me in an era when childhood sexual abuse wasn’t taken nearly as seriously as it is these days. It was still considered a “family secret” type of thing back then, something best left for the family to handle rather than the law. If the law did get involved, the crimes were misdemeanors and the punishment was basically a slap on the wrist. Thank god times have changed!

KNOWITALL's avatar

In our family, we had one cousin who was married to a pedophile. It was speculation as far as the pedophilia, but a few things were off. One of my little cousins, his stepdaughter, had a birthday party, and invited all the little cousins, Including me, to spend the night.

My grandmother and mother were insistant that I didn’t go, but all my other cousins did. That night, while the mother had the party for the kids, this a-hole took each girl back to the bedroom and molested her, then sent her back to the part. One by one, all of them.

Basically, my immediate family trusted no one when it came to overnights until I was about 13 yrs old and the situation discussed many times, and I understood. Ends up, that man was taken back into the home by his wife, and my cousins and I have just recently connected on fb again, because it got so nasty in court.

Seems to me that “uncle grabs” are everywhere and most families just keep their kids away from him. Our family prosecutes, but I’d also be interested to hear why others don’t, probably because it’s hard to prove and really hard on the children.

Coloma's avatar

@KNOWITALL Well,also…in my case, I DID tell my mother about Uncle grab and she was in denial.
Said ” Oh, you must be imagining things!”
In my case it was subtle, but so obvious, but often other family members/parents can’t handle the idea that their brother, BIL, etc. is a creeper.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Coloma Oh I know, honey. Half my extended family still hates my grandma (who is deceased) for telling everyone about her own father abusing her. They insist it’s a lie and it caused a total breach in the family.

A few of them are my fb friends, but that’s about as close as I’ll allow them to be. And if they ever say anything about my grandma being a liar or anything, we’re done completely. .

I met him, my great grandfather the pedophile, when he was dying in a nursing home and I imagined him as the Devil or something, but he was just a pathetic old man.

Only138's avatar

I was very lucky and had some of the best uncles in the world. None acted out of line…ever.

Bellatrix's avatar

I used to have a step-uncle that visited. We would be told go and give Uncle xxx a hug and he would want us to sit on his knee. Always felt very odd and uncomfortable but I never knew why ‘he’ seemed so wrong. Years later my older sister explained he did the same to her and he had an erection. I really don’t think my parents knew but yuck.

Plucky's avatar

@Coloma and @KNOWITALL That is so true…about family not believing, or wanting to believe, in situations like these.

Some examples from other women in my life:

My partner, when she was little, told her mother about her Uncle Grab. Her mother yelled at her and told her not to lie. Her mother also didn’t believe when all 4 of her children told her about their father molesting them when he was an active alcoholic (which happened over many years). To this day he denies it. And the kids (now grown up) still associate with him. The mother now believes it happened but will not hear anything of it. The last “blow up” of the past was about 4 years ago. They all got into a huge fight (the children against the parents). Now, you wouldn’t even know it. It has been successfully pushed under the rug, again, with all the other family secrets.
Also, when my mother was about 12 years old, she told her mother about her Uncle Grab. Her mother slapped her across the face and told her to never say something like that again. When my mother was raped by a neighbour (at 14 years old), my grandma blamed my mother…saying she must have brought it on. My mother still holds these things against her. My grandmother refuses to talk of the past.

It is interesting how family can be so blind…or choose to be so blind. Yet, we have no problem calling it out when we see it outside the family.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Plucky @Bellatrix Thanks for sharing!

Personally, I think some family thinks it reflects on everyone for one person to be a nasty pedophile. Some people think it’s a mental illness, too.

Just so you know something good came out of our family’s tragedies, in that my grandmother helped legislate to get anatomically correct dolls here for small children to point out the areas of their bodies that the pedophiles touched. I’m pretty proud of her legacy. :)

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