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TheQuietOne's avatar

Would you pretend for the sake of your family?

Asked by TheQuietOne (147points) April 4th, 2010

Hypothetical A: You were abused by an older family member as a child, and the abuse was kept a secret. Now you are an adult and your abuser has Alzheimer’s and cannot remember you, or the abuse he inflicted. The responsibility of caring for this person has fallen to your immediate family, from whom you have been hiding the truth for years, and they need you to help them take care of him. Do you remain silent about the abuse and help your family out in taking care of this person?

Not entirely Hypothetical B: You are in a relationship with someone who you know was sexually abused by a parent as a child. It’s been many years since the abuse occurred and now your SO has a somewhat normal relationship with that parent. Your SO wants you to be a part of his/her family’s life. Do you go to family functions, dinners, and outings with him/her where this parent is present, and pretend that it’s no big deal? Can you “forget” what you know about this person for a few hours so your SO can have a good time with his/her family?

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13 Answers

dpworkin's avatar

I am so thankful not to be in such a situation, but I myself would not be so likely to forgive. I would still want the (non-Alzheimer’s) person punished.

rahm_sahriv's avatar

I would not forgive in either case. I would have nothing to do with the care of the person in A nor be even remotely friendly with the person in B. I doubt I could maintain a relationship with someone who was so willing to forgive abuse anyway so the point would be moot in my case.

TheQuietOne's avatar

@rahm_sahriv why do you assume in situation B that it was easy to forgive the abuse?

netgrrl's avatar

Because of my own past, I have some real experience with your situations.

I never tell people what they should do. But I can say that an important part of the recovery process is forgiveness.

Forgiveness is important NOT for the abuser, but for the victim survivor of the abuse.

Once the survivor has forgiven, the rest of the decisions that need to be made are relatively easy.

Cruiser's avatar

I would have a very hard time in Situation A and feel it would be best to not have the burden of taking care of him. If I was stuck taking care of that person I might find it hard to resist a little payback.

Situation B is entirely up to the SO and your concern should be for them and let them decide where, when and how to interact around this offender. You SO may need or be willing to leave well enough alone.

bunnygrl's avatar

My Gran always told me that the only power someone has over you is the power you give them. In example a, it would depend on whether you are able to forgive this person. Altzeimers is such a dreadful disease that takes everything away from a person, their memories, their dignity, their connection with the world around them, everything. Perhaps that is a punishment? If however it causes too much pain to be around this person, then you have to break your silence and tell someone who will understand, and remove yourself from the situation. I do think that in order to move forward though, to break the hold they have over you, to be free of the painful memories you’d be better trying to forgive them and then, as I said remove yourself from the situation. No one, knowing the situation, could possibly blame you for not helping to care for this person

Surely in example b, your feelings do not matter. Your only concern should be that your SO is happy. Your role should be supporting him/her in everything they do, as they would do (hopefully) for you? It is their choice whether to forgive this person, and if they choose to do so, it is their decision to make and their secret to keep, if they choose to do so. You have to be silent and respect their choice. Do what you should be doing, supporting them, and letting them have your strength to cope.
hugs xx

thriftymaid's avatar

A. I would feel no obligation to care for such a family member.

B. I would try my best to support the decision my partner made about his parent.

CaptainHarley's avatar

What would I do?

A. I would inform my family that I will back them up by cleaning and cooking and filling in for those who care for this person, but that I would not personally take care of this individual.

B. I would do my best to comply with my SO’s wishes. If the situation became one I couldn’t handle, I would inform my SO that I will go to family functions as long as I don’t have to interface with this individual.

chyna's avatar

100% in agreement with @thriftymaid.

ZEPHYRA's avatar

Fate was too kind to the Alzheimer’s victim. The disease gave him the chance to deactivate himself of the guilt, memories of his terrible actions and the chance to possibly seek forgiveness from the person he inflicted so much pain upon. I would say, most regretfully, that I wouldn’t take the path of forgiveness so easily(I am not saying it is right).
I would keep my distance from that person and if possible let the others know of his despicable actions. Awful as it may sound, that sick person should be left alone to his fate, locked up in an institution.

About B. It would be advisable to simply show face at those family functions for the sake of the SO. Further than that, an obvious distance can be kept and the mere formalities followed, nothing more. Also visits should be kept few and far between.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I wouldn’t keep quite in Situation A – it is my right to refuse to care for this person and they should know why. I would keep quite in Situation B – this person has made their own peace, supposedly, with the abusive parent and that matters more – I wouldn’t play nice with them though, just be civil.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I mean quiet..sometimes I can’t spell

JeffVader's avatar

In situation A I would advise refusing to help in any way. If the family want to know why, then either tell them or lie, whichever is easier on you.
I’ve been in situation B, exactly. I chose to respect the wishes of my partner & remained silent. It was not easy.

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