Monday, June 3, 2013

True Story: My Father Is A Pedophile


This is one of many True Story interviews in which we talk to people who have experienced interesting/amazing/challenging things.  This is the story of 'Renee' and her father.


Tell us a bit about yourself! 
I’m originally a west coast Canada girl but I grew up all over the place so I don’t really have a place that I call "home," I’m in my early 30’s and a run a location-independent online business, and for fun I do a lot of stuff but mostly I travel!

What was your family life like growing up?
My childhood was okay – my mom was a stay-at-home mom to me and my two siblings and my dad was never around because he was an airline pilot. But my mom kind of lived in a fantasy land – June Cleaver style – and couldn't really handle any conflict between us three kids so we’d get punished by our dad when he came home.

When I was ten my parents went through a very ugly divorce and my dad got custody of all three of us. He didn't want custody of us, he never wanted female children to begin with, but because my mom "crossed" him by asking for a divorce, he swore he would leave her poor and childless and that's exactly what he did. When I was 14, my dad moved my little sister and me to Central America because white guys with money can get away with pretty much anything there. At that point we were truly on our own in raising ourselves.

When did you begin to realize that your dad was different from other dads?
I realized he was different when he ramped up his relationship with a boy in Central America. All of a sudden, his guard was down and it became so blatantly apparent that there was a very inappropriate relationship going on, and in my own home to boot.

How did your dad's pedophilia affect his life? 
It’s not even that he made excuses, he just made it look like he was a benevolent rich man who cared about the well-being of kids who didn't have as much as our family did. He has a huge God complex and played on that to make it look like he was just being generous and charitable. I don’t know 100% how he hid all this in Canada because I was so young, but in Central America no one was really paying attention so he had a certain degree of impunity.

I do know that before I was born he was a leader in the Boy Scouts, and was dismissed under questionable circumstances. And then in my early teens he bought a van with dark tinted windows when we already had one vehicle per driver in the family. It seemed odd, but apparently that’s common with pedophiles because they can’t bring their targets home.

How did your dad meet boys? How did he convince them to be part of his life?
When I was really little he preyed on the children of family friends but didn't get very far. Then he targeted my cousin and actually got him to move into our house and then cut him off from his parents. Hard to believe, I know. And later when we moved to Central America he targeted poor boys and lavished their families with money and gifts.

Did anyone else in his life realize what was going on?
Nope. Well, not that I’m aware of. He’s extremely smart, handsome, and charismatic. But he’s also a classic psychopath. He lacks all ability to empathize with other humans, and once you get past the charming veneer, you realize that the only way to have any kind of relationship with him is if you allow him to control you. There is zero dissidence allowed - which is why he has almost no friends. His carefully curated circle of adorers only see one very small part of what he really is.

Did you or your sisters ever contact the authorities? 
Yes, but I can’t discuss it and to date, nothing has come of it because he’s THAT good at covering his tracks. 

What is your dad's situation now? What's your current relationship with him?
I stopped speaking with him over a decade ago as did my siblings and he proceeded to marry a woman in the Dominican Republic, adopt two sons, and then divorce her later after he had brought the boys to Canada. From what I know, the boys escaped him after years of abuse.

Do you feel that your dad's behavior has affected your feelings about romantic relationships or children?
I’m fortunate in that it made me be drawn to the nicest, most honest, most lovely people as romantic partners and I've now been with the same super mega wonderful guy for almost a decade. After 20 years of someone treating me like a dog or a possession, I was more than ready for the opposite.

 And as for children, I think it’s made me
a) be realistic about how common dangerous people are (they ARE our dads, our teachers, our cousins, our neighbours) and
b) given me an astoundingly accurate danger detector.
I am less worried about my kids because I know the anatomy of a pedophile/psychopath and can help them navigate the world and recognize those danger signs.

What advice would you give to someone else whose parent is engaging in illegal, unethical behavior?
If you’re young and totally dependent on them, survive. Do what you need to do to get by and know that this too shall pass. Once you are free you can heal and if possible, get them locked up! There’s no doubt in my mind that my dad could have and would have physically harmed me badly if he thought I was onto him and a threat for exposure. First order of business is always to protect yourself.

Thanks so much for sharing your story, Renee.  Do any of you guys have questions for her?  Have any of you struggled with unbalanced, unsafe parents?

original image (without text on top) by libertad leal, for sale here

21 comments

  1. This is an amazing story. I commend your strength and courage to stand up to him! Congrats on your ability to gravitate towards positive people.

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  2. Wow. This is fascinating and so eye-opening. Way to go for being mature enough about this to share it. I love how you realize that your father's choices don't show anything about the person you are/have the capacity to be.

    Allie @ callmesassafras.wordpress.com

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    1. Allie thanks for your comment and I think you make a very important point - that our parents choices have little to do with the person that we are and the possibilities available to us in life. We get SOOO caught up in our society around these myths of familial relationships, but the truth is no matter WHO your family is made up of and no matter what you must endure, every day that you wake up you get to choose how the story goes. *Especially* if you are a financially independent adult.

      Your parents are not you. Your parents actions are not a reflection of you. You aren't doomed to be a certain way because of what your parents did. Etc etc. Both of my parents are just people operating in the world the best way they know how - yes...including my dad. I know that sounds crazy, but he is very mentally ill and he is in fact, operating the best way that his brain knows how. It's sick, and dangerous, and awful, but he is what he is. It has NOTHING to do with me. My only job in this life is to make every day count. To cut out the bullshit with reckless abandon, to be happy, to help people all the time...that's my focus. No sense dwelling on the past.

      I wish you the best Allie!
      Renee

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  3. Tbanks for sharing…what you have said will prove helpful to all those who are encountering this issue either as a victim or relative…It shows that you one can move beyond the poor choices their parents have made.

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  4. Damn, this was intense, and so goddamn sad. How horrible that someone can get so adept in terrorizing people weaker than they are (and that they are essentially given carte blanche to do so by an unwitting system).

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  5. Thanks for sharing your story. I'm glad things have worked out for you!

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  6. Thank you for sharing, this was really brave of you. You wrote "I am less worried about my kids because I know the anatomy of a pedophile/psychopath and can help them navigate the world and recognize those danger signs."

    What are some of the warning signs? Do you (or anyone here) know of a good resource? I know I'm vigilant about strangers but how would you detect a family member or close friend? I never thought about this stuff before I had kids but I worry about everything now!

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    1. Hi, this is Renee! So, your question is a really tough one to answer because the 'detection skills' I've developed are much less empirical and much more intuitive. I don't think I could give you a reliable list of things to look for because it really is just a keen feeling, a sensation I get based on the tiniest little signals I get from someone. For example, when I started dating my partner a decade ago, he had a very good friend who after a couple of meetings I just *knew* was a predator. To this day I've never seen him around children but there's something about the way he carries himself, and that same thing missing in his eyes that was missing in my dad's. I told my partner that it's fine if they remain friends but that guy is never, ever allowed in my home nor near my children. The truth is I think we all have the ability to sense when something is off...my ability is just more finely tuned than most peoples. With a family member or close friend, one thing to look out for is if that person wants to take your kid to do 'fun stuff' on a regular basis. My dad always had toys like snowmobiles that he would invite our male cousins to come over and enjoy. Also, any divisive behaviour...if you feel like your child is being influenced away from you. And following on that, any time you see your child retreating into themselves at all. I know this isn't helpful because this is often noticed after the fact. But I'm just trying to think of any signs that may be helpful to you. Rather than looking for warning signs, you might want to consider just having a super open dialogue with your kids as soon as they're able to understand and let them know that they will never be shamed for telling you the truth if something weird happens. Does this help?

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  7. Girliest Nerd,

    I don't know where you're located, but in the States, there's a program called Darkness to Light that helps educate adults about the signs of child abuse. The organization's website is http://www.d2l.org. I went through the training they provided (required by my church for anyone working with kids), and it's really fantastic. I hope that helps.

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    1. Thanks! I'm sure that will be very useful for someone in the US. It sounds like a great organization.

      I should probably clarify I'm more looking for signs or indicators that someone is a pedophile and less for signs of child abuse. Not that I'm not concerned about child abuse, it's more that I'd like to be able to notice things about an individual before they harm someone.

      I know I had a friend (a girl) who I always had a bit of an off feeling about but couldn't place. She volunteered as a big sister but was kicked out because of something that happened. I don't have the details but it freaked me out because although I that "off-feeling", it was not very specific or helpful and I really have no idea what to look for.

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    2. Hi again, I just googled signs of a pedophile and WOW, this article describes my dad with about 85% accuracy http://crime.about.com/od/sex/p/pedophile.htm. Maybe this helps more? My dad always targeted shy boys, always used money, presents, building model planes, etc as a way in. He had a sexless marriage with my mother...really just a cover to make himself look more 'normal'. He has almost no friends and the ones he does have are meek and kind of scared of him. I could go on! I hope this article helps you.

      Renee

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    3. Thank you Renee! You're very brave to share your story and I truly appreciate your insight :)

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  8. Renee,

    Thank you for sharing your story. I'm so happy to hear that you (and hopefully your siblings) have healed and moved on as mush as one could. - In your story it sounds as though it was pretty easy for you to move on and leave your father in the past, I wonder, was it really that easy for you, or were there times of emotional hardship for you?

    - tianna :)

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    1. Hi Tianna,

      Great question! In one sense it was very easy because I had been wanting to escape his hold for years. The last time I saw him in person, I was sick to my stomach for days before he arrived. That's when I knew I couldn't do it any more. He also started telling me on phone calls that he wanted to have my younger sister killed for all the "grief" she had caused him. (meanwhile, HE emotionally abused her for all of her formative years!!) And that's when I broke. I really hated him at that point. The hard part about breaking free was that I was terrified he would come after me in some way. I had seen him destroy people's lives (like my mom) who had crossed him in the past. But at that point it was worth the risk of dealing with the fallout. You can't keep humans locked in a mental prison forever.

      It was one of the single best and bravest decisions I've ever made. He has tried numerous times to get back into my life...sending me e-cards and once even depositing money into my bank account when he knew I was living in a garage. I returned the bank transfer that very day. My freedom is not for sale.

      So yeah, it was super hard in some respects but that's life, right? Life requires courage. Life asks us to stand up for ourselves. So I did. And I don't miss him because he was never a father to begin with. He was a keeper. At no point, even when I was living alone with him for years, could he even name my three closest friends. I was like an "it" that lived in his house. He never knew me. And I'm fine with that. We get very caught up in what our family/relations are 'supposed' to be but I don't buy that. My true family are the people I've chosen to be a part of my life and provide the support I need. I hope this answers your question! And thanks for reading.

      Renee

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  9. This was fascinating. A great read, I particularly love how she doesn't over dramtise anything. Just facts. She seems very pulled together.

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  10. Wow! Thank you for sharing your story! You sound like such a strong person and it sounds like you used it to help you and inform you for parenting and protect your children (also to help inform you in dating). My reaction would have been so different than yours; way to be empowered! Thank you!

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  11. This was a really moving post, and I too have to commend 'Renee' for her bravery. I don't have any personal experiences with abuse, but it's certainly something I think about with a baby boy, and I am so grateful that you shared her story.

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  12. This really is an incredibly story. I can't even imagine what that kind of knowledge of your own parent must be like. Kudos to Renee for coming out the other side of this a strong woman.

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  13. Renee, I hope that you will continue to share your story. You briefly mentioned that the courts awarded your father custody. Today, courts are STILL awarding pedophiles with custody of their victims, at alarming rates. When people hear of these cases, they simply assume that the mother was "crazy" and was simply
    "brainwashing" the kids to make the allegations. In today's courts, 90% of fathers, who have been accused of molesting their children, are awarded custody. 58,000 children PER YEAR are handed to their identified abuser. I hope that you will speak out on behalf of these victims.

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    1. Hi Anonymous,

      Renee here. I didn't realize the rates were so high but somehow, I'm not surprised. There is something seriously broken with the system. Not to mention, it was easy for my father to discredit my mother because he purposely married a woman who has the emotional intelligence of a 13 year old. Making her appear "crazy" or "neglectful" (even though she was a stay-at-home mom for my entire childhood) was easy for him because he's hyper-intelligent and she could never stand up for herself. Just didn't have the tools. Shame. I imagine there are so many more stories like this. I will continue to do what I can, and once he's gone (and I don't have to worry about my safety), I will be very vocal and public about it. Thanks for your comment.

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  14. This is a really brave and inspiring story Renee! I really hope you and your siblings have got over it and I'm so glad you're such a strong woman now.

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