What should I do with the potential abuser of my grandchildren with whom I live?


Further Reading

Is there hope?

This may turn out to be a long question (although it’s only 3 words), but I hope you can help.

My companion and I have been living together for almost 4 years. I had no idea of the “problems” (in my opinion) he had/has until a couple of months after we had been together. The first thing I noticed was his excessive use of alcohol (beer, mostly). I knew he stayed on AOL for extended periods of time (daily and sometimes from the time he got home in the afternoon until 4:00 AM). Then I saw one of the conversations he had printed out to take to work with him… he pretended to be a white woman having cyber-sex with a black man. I soon found out that he liked seeing black men with white women; he doesn’t like “committed” sex (he prefers the back alley, one-nighters); he can’t seem to live with thinking of sex (he has lots of pics on his computer and sits and looks at them for hours on end or writes sex fantasies about them while he sits and “flicks” himself); he would prefer to spend time shut up in a room with his computer and his sex activities (from 4:00 PM until whenever he decides to come out) than spend time with a real person; he has admitted to other men online via e-mail that he considers himself a “closet-bi,” but denies it to me. And he doesn’t want me to know about any of this. Oh, I forgot to mention that he is impotent.

Is there any chance of him reforming? He doesn’t believe in support groups because they tell a person who they should be. Would shaming him only make it worse? I don’t know what to do…. Saturday, he was isolated in his haven from 9:00 AM until 4:00 AM Sunday morning. I went back there about 2:00 AM and he had printed out a letter (with a XXX graphic) that he had written (he writes these and pretends he’s sending them to one of these magazines that has XXX letters in them). He turned it over so I couldn’t see it, but it was too late. I told him I was putting in a movie that we had rented, thinking he would come and join me. Nope… he didn’t come out until 4:00 AM and by that time, I was fuming. I left the house and didn’t come back in until he had passed out on the couch.

Oh, I also forgot to tell you that he can’t get on his computer unless he “has something to drink,” meaning he has to have his beer beside him. He drank at least 21 Saturday night. He says his beer allows his mind to open up so he can think. The problem is, he thinks about the wrong things.

I did get up one morning not long ago…. it was about 2:00 AM and I noticed the television wasn’t on yet, so I knew he was still back in his haven. Well, I started down the hallway that leads into the den (where I have the oldest granddaughter sleeping) and there he stood at her bed, rubbing her forehead. I just stood dead still. He finally saw me and pretended he didn’t. He sat down on the foot of her bed and put his head in his hands. Then he got up and walked back to his room, but I could see his shadow and knew he was just standing in the doorway. I went into the dining room where my computer was and turned it on. There was NO WAY I was going back to bed. He stood in his doorway for quite a while then came in here to see what I was doing. Normally, he would yell at me for being up “watching” him and “looking over his shoulder.” He didn’t say a word and it has not been mentioned since then.

Is there ANYTHING I can do to make him realize that he has an addiction?

Any help you can give me would be greatly appreciated!!!


I also worry about my grandchildren which I am raising. The 3 oldest are girls and one is starting to bud out a little. I’m afraid this addiction of his is going to go further than just the computer, yet I can’t leave. I cannot raise the kids without his income.

Dear PK:

This is psychopathology, pure and simple.

Without my speaking with him, it seems that your mate is a problem drinker or alcoholic (21 beers in a night). He is sexually dysfunctional (impotent/fantasizes about bizarre sex/compulsively involved in sexual acting out on the Internet). And you tell me that he is endangering the children who live with you, and you can’t trust him not to molest them! This is like one of those TV talk shows where people confront the mother who allowed her children to be sexually abused by a stepfather.

“Why did you permit it?” they ask accusingly. The woman answers, “I didn’t know!”

But you know.

There is an old bromide in therapy—you can only help the person who comes to you. In those TV shows, one always wonders what the relationship is like aside from the abuse of the children. From your description, not much. No companionship, no sex, no respect on either side! You say that you didn’t become aware of your mate’s problems until “a couple” of months after you were together. Well, you found out quicker than most. Why did you stay when you uncovered the abyss after a few months?

Obviously, you are stuck somehow. You say you depend on your mate’s money. You have at least four children living with you. But, I must warn you, I believe most courts would call your behavior “endangering the welfare of children.” They could say that you were not the right person to raise your grandchildren, and seek other parental arrangements.

My speaking to you is not the way to attack your mate’s addictions and other problems. The way to deal with this is for you to seek help for yourself—privately, through social agencies, or otherwise—for supporting your family. If it were you alone, I would not tell you what to do. But you are in a legally and psychologically compromised position.

To pursue therapy with you I would explore your background, which I’m sure is exceptional. Besides having to care for four or more grandchildren, you are an exceptionally intelligent woman. I almost never receive mail as well-written as yours. Permit me for uttering the words: “What’s with you?” You seem willing to put up with almost anything, and then to question your own perceptions of wrong (you refer to ” ‘his problems’ (in my opinion),” as though there were some way to view this man’s behavior as reasonable!

Protect your children.

Very best,

PK wrote back in part:

I wish to thank you for the compliment. Actually, I am a high-school graduate. I’ve had no college education at all. But, I’m not sure what you mean by “What’s with you?” I’m trying to keep my grandchildren out of foster care! Because of their ages and behavior problems (which has GREATLY improved in the 5 1/2 years I’ve had them), they will have to be placed in separate foster care homes. After six months of being in foster care, DSS will file for termination of parental rights and put them up for adoption. They may possibly never see each other again.

I guess the reason I feel so strongly about that is the fact that I was placed in a Children’s Home at the age of 11. My mother and dad divorced when I was 9 months old and my only brother, 3 years older, went to live with my dad. I saw him once when I was 5 years old and once when I was 11 (right after I went to the home). I lived for the day I would get out and be able to find my brother and get to know him. Well, that dream didn’t come true. He was killed in a freak boating accident when I was 15. I don’t want this to happen to these kids.

So, I continue trying to find something I can do from home to earn a living for me and the kids. And I continue going with very little sleep in order to try and protect the children from him. I’m in the process of rearranging the house and I’m putting all 3 girls in the same bedroom. Because of behavior problems with the little boy, he sleeps on a cot at the foot of my bed so I can hear him if he gets up during the night. And, if it becomes necessary, the girls will be moved to my bedroom, as well.

Again, thanks for the rapid response and for the compliment.

Have a great day!


Dear PK:

I know you’re doing the best you can. Life often offers hard choices. But living with the children under lock and key is, well, you know.


Stanton Peele

Stanton Peele , recognized as one of the world's leading addiction experts by The Fix, developed the Life Process Program after decades of research, writing, and treatment about and for people with addictions. Dr. Peele is the author of 14 books. His work has been published in leading professional journals and popular publications around the globe.

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