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How Do I Keep My Conduct Disordered Step-son From Molesting My Children?

Question:

Hello. I am the proud momma of 3 children, ages 5, 2, and 1. I also have a stepson and stepdaughter ages 8 and 9, I have never had a problem with my stepdaughter and I have tried to be the best step mom I know how, but my fear is that my stepson may literally be a sociopath. At the young age of 8 he has been diagnosed with many different things, bipolar, conduct disorder, a narcissistic personality, he hears voices destroys property and he has molested two of my small children. I am scared to death and I need to know how to keep him away from my kids permanently. My husband keeps fighting me on keeping him away from them even after the advice from 2 mental health facilities that he should not be around other children. Even if I leave my husband to protect my children I am afraid that when he has visitation that the babies would be vulnerable to their step-brother. How do I protect my babies? One last thing He has a history from the age of 4 of inappropriate behavior and assaulting other children when is enough, enough? I do feel bad for him in the fact that he was molested when he was 2, by one of his mother’s babysitters. He is dangerous. Can I take legal action? Please give me some advice

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Answer:

The situation you’re in is complicated. No one can blame you for wanting to keep your children safe from abuse. Unfortunately, the source of the abuse is coming from within your family: your step-son. Your husband, who is the boy’s father and protector, has apparently a stronger alliance with his son than with you or the other children. You have not said it directly, but I gather by the fact that you’re worried that your husband would have visitation were you to separate from him that he is the natural father of your three children. He is downplaying the very real danger the boy appears to present to the other children based on the history you’ve offered. In order to keep the children separated, then, you have to fight your husband’s defensive reaction and denial.

If the diagnoses that your step-son have received are accurately made at all, this boy has some serious problems, and not simply things that have occurred as a result of his molestation. There are basically two classes of diagnosis being made here: a psychiatric illness (e.g., bipolar disorder, probably made as an attempt to explain the auditory hallucinations the boy is apparently experiencing), and one or more personality disorders. Conduct disorder is technically not a personality disorder, but it is essentially the juvenile expression of antisocial personality disorder (ASPD). A disproportionate number of kids diagnosed with conduct disorder will go on to be diagnosed with ASPD. The narcissistic diagnosis may be an alternate way of talking about the conduct disorder. Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) and ASPD are closely allied diagnoses; both being part of what has been thought of as the "dramatic/erratic" personality disorder cluster. Add to the mix that the child was sexually abused and acting out that abuse and you have quite the volatile cocktail.

There isn’t any good way to keep your children safe from abuse by their step-brother short of keeping him physically separated from the children or providing 24/7 supervision of all interactions that the children have with their step-brother. As providing such supervision is impractical, the most workable solution would seem to be to keep them separated if at all possible.

At least with respect to domestic violence incidents, there is a legal concept known as a restraining order. A judge can order one relationship partner to maintain a physical distance from the other partner. Whether a restraining order is appropriate or even possible in your situation is a purely legal question and you will need to get the advice of a lawyer in your area who practices family law for a useful opinion. In my limited experience, such orders usually follow in the wake of serious domestic disputes which the police are called upon to break up. Because the police are involved there is a paper trail documenting that abuse occurred. My guess is that similar public/police documentation of your children being molested by your step-son would be important to have on record before requesting a restraining order from the court. Without it, it would be your word against your husband’s and the court would not know who to trust. If you don’t have formal third party documentation of your children’s abuse, make sure to get it (e.g., by taking your children to the hospital for a rape assessment and/or involving the police.

It’s important to keep in mind that your step-son has real problems and will require love and support and careful parenting himself if he is to have the best chance to grow up healthy. It’s easy to make him the problem but the problem is really larger than he is. The fact that your husband and you cannot see eye to eye on the reality of the danger the boy poses and the need to do something about it is also a serious contributing issue to your problems and one which has nothing to do with the boy. The practical and financial problem of how to make an effective separation occur or to provide effective supervision is also substantial and nobody’s fault. Try to keep this in mind when butting heads with your husband over this. This is just a complex and difficult problem to solve. Good luck.

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Comments
  • aj

    I am in a similiar situation and feel your pain. My 15-yr-old stepson recently had to move back in with us after living with his mother for the past 4 1/2 yrs. He had lived with us since the age of 3, and his behavior gradually stressed our marriage enough that we sent him to live with his mother (who initially had fought for custody but lost since she had a history of fraud and embesseling). Approximately 4 months ago, his mother was arrested for fraud/theft against her ailing grandfather, so the child naturally came back to his father. We have 3 children together, ages 8, 6, and 5 months. Two years ago, during a weekend visit, I found my stepson exposing his erect penis to my then 6-yr-old daughter. What if I hadn't checked on him? He has also exposed himself to a 3 yr-old neighbor girl at his mother's house. He is a pathological liar, recently been investigated for theft in our town, skips school, gets poor grades, started smoking and chewing, possibly drinking, and sneaking out of our house at night. His father works nights, so I am the one doing the worrying about our kids. I can't sleep well at night and am scared to death he will repeat previous behavior with my daughter or son. I love my husband, and so do my kids. I feel like there is no solution to his HUGE problem which is making my life MISERABLE!!!

  • Anonymous-1

    I have a situation where my 76-yr.old Mother is being abused by her adopted 11-yr.old. Her and my Dad adopted him when he was just 2-weeks old. His real Mother has mental problems. She has been in/out of jail all her adult like and she is only 29-yrs.old My Dad died 5-yrs. after they adopted this boy. Leaving my elderly Mother to raise him alone.My adopted brother (who does not know he is adopted) hits my Mother. Pinches her (leaving nasty bruises), kicks her, pushes her, and throws objects at her with intent to hurt her. He is also verbally abusive calling her nasty names. He has admitted to me any of the acts that I have confronted him about. And will not give me a reason why he does these things to her.I'm 54 yrs old and have NEVER been exposed to a child such as this. He has been diagnosed with Behavior Disorder. I'm assisting my Mother in trying to get him into an academy but this could take months/years before his name comes up on their very long list of kids waiting to get in.I have confronted him about it. He does not respect my authority. Says I have NO RIGHT to tell him what he can/can't do. I told him that I do because he is abusing my mother and he is causing distruction to my home that they reside in. He has been cited as a perputrator addressed by the APS (Adult Protective Services) yet he takes that with NO seriousness, and with no remorse. Just this week he threatened a teacher that he was going to get a gun from his backpack and shoot her. That is going to cost my Mother $365.00 in court costs. He of course did not have a gun in his possession, but..........I truly believe that if he ever gets a hold of a gun that he is going to shoot someone - maybe even me or my husband.He hits kids at school. He argues with all adults. He is totally out-of-control and my husband and I don't know what to do about it. I'm so afriad that he is going to hurt my Mother. All its going to take is him pushing her and her fall. If she breaks a hip/pelvic she will be laid-up for weeks!! I don't want to have him in my home while she is in the hospital. What are my choices?? He has been in therapy and nothing seems to be working. He is getting worse very quickly. I'm seriously worried that he is going to hurt someone. He needs 24-hour supervision to keep him out of trouble. But I can not find any place to get him into that does not cost more than my Mom can afford.Anyone have any suggestions on who I could call? I've already talked to an Attorney but the only thing he suggested is getting him into a facility but I can't find one that she can afford.

  • Anonymous-2

    I don't mean to sound insensitive because I am sure that what you are experiencing has placed a significant amount of stress on your marriage and life in general. With that said, I can't help but see a flaw to your complaint. You and your husband did at one time have custody of this child because the mother was surely incapable of raising him. You also say that a 3 year old placed so much stress on your marriage you passed him back to the mother. That is pathetic. A child is not a puck that is to be passed from one hand to another. Did you ever consider that perhaps if you and your husband could have worked with the child instead of tossing him to the side when the going got tough, that maybe he would be a responsible and respectful teenager? I also want to note that it seems to me that you are having trouble with accepting the fact that your husband has a child from a prior relationship. When you do marry someone you also marry their baggage too. Let me ask you a question.... if one of your own children were behaving in the same ways as this boy, and putting undue stress on your marriage, would you discard the child to a family member or the system? Of course not! You would work through the problems as a family. Grow up, suck it up, and realize that life isn't a bed of roses....and why should this boy be tossed to the wind because you are unwilling to be unselfish for one minute in your life and try to work with not against him and the experiences this child has had??? PS like it or not this child has just as much value to your husband as the children you share together....and if you wouldn't get rid of your kids then why should he?

  • Anonymous-3

    I am in a similar situation except I am not married to my partner. His child has an active IEP for conduct disorder and has: bullied others, been physically aggressive, hurt animals, started fires (at my house and witnessed by a therapist), use profanity, vandalism my and my child's belongings, broken items around my home on purpose, makes sexual comments, and has threatened my child and I numerous times. He has also exposed himself. His father does not take it seriously and every so often states that the teen (14) has changed. The child has received no counseling at all. Not from bio mom or bio dad. I have recommended it for a couple of years now but no. When i make the suggestion I am told he has changed, however, his last pysch report of early 2009 states the same issues. THe problem is denial. THere is no way to keep other children safe except to keep them away from this individual...or guard them 24/7 even at night when they sleep. You do not want a deviant to sneak into their room and molest them while you sleep a couple of rooms away. It is enough that one young person is conduct disordered, but if not supervised they will molest others and cause more children to have this disorder. So the cycle continues. Denial is an absolute detriment. Sticking one's head in the sand never accomplished anything except exposing others to harm. If your worries are not acknowledged as being reasonable I suggest you put your children first and get out of the relationship. If the bio parent will agree that this needs treatment then stand together, preserve the family, protect the family, and work on this young person get the professional treatment he needs. If no treatment occurs, SAVE your children and get out. Full brothers and sisters...as well as half siblings or step siblings are the most common occurances of molestation.

  • Patricia

    I suggest anyone experiencing these sorts of situations visit attachment.org. Also if you are unsure about a child's history or suspect potential perping I would put a beeper on their door. You can get them online or usually at Radio Shack. They can be attached to the door and door frame to beep or make an annoying noise when the door is opened. Another type hangs from the door knob. It will help keep everyone safe!

  • Anonymous-4

    Actually this sounded quite rude to me!

    dont mean to sound insensitive.... - - Sep 14th 2009

    I don't mean to sound insensitive because I am sure that what you are experiencing has placed a significant amount of stress on your marriage and life in general. With that said, I can't help but see a flaw to your complaint. You and your husband did at one time have custody of this child because the mother was surely incapable of raising him. You also say that a 3 year old placed so much stress on your marriage you passed him back to the mother. That is pathetic. A child is not a puck that is to be passed from one hand to another. Did you ever consider that perhaps if you and your husband could have worked with the child instead of tossing him to the side when the going got tough, that maybe he would be a responsible and respectful teenager? I also want to note that it seems to me that you are having trouble with accepting the fact that your husband has a child from a prior relationship. When you do marry someone you also marry their baggage too. Let me ask you a question.... if one of your own children were behaving in the same ways as this boy, and putting undue stress on your marriage, would you discard the child to a family member or the system? Of course not! You would work through the problems as a family. Grow up, suck it up, and realize that life isn't a bed of roses....and why should this boy be tossed to the wind because you are unwilling to be unselfish for one minute in your life and try to work with not against him and the experiences this child has had??? PS like it or not this child has just as much value to your husband as the children you share together....and if you wouldn't get rid of your kids then why should he?

  • GrfandmaQ

    Please be careful when you say 24 hour supervision. In my experience it is impossible. My stepson molested my daughter after we were all in bed asleep. He told her we would not love her and we would get divorced and it would be her fault...I realize your stepson has mental illness which makes me believe that he could be more sneeky than my stepson. She was 8 we did not find out until she was 15..When we found out I could of killed him but my daughter said to me she did not tell because she knew I would want to protect her and she would not have a Mom anymore that I would be in jail and she was right. I take my hat off to you for being able to be around your stepson and I will be praying for you. 16 years later we still do not have a relationship with the stepson and never will. Pleae do everything you can to protect your children as in my opinion they are at risk for mental illness because of the molestation and this is a life long illness. It has been hell for my child.

  • kate

    This is address to anyone who has no idea what it is like to live in hell. My stepson left makes on my little girl . He has tried to kill his grandparents, Tried to pioson us , Assault me, and my little girl. His father doesn't know what to do. When I bring up the issue, he gets defensive. I am not the cause of my stepson problems. I have done EVERYTHING I know.. Trying to get help is like trying to pull teeth.. Nothing has worked.. And it will continue . No one who has not been in this situation has no idea what it is like... It is a living hell.. Don't say suck it up. You have no clue. To the people who are in this situation do what ever you have to do to protect your children and yourself... Hire a lawyer call for an emergency hearing and make your plea... The more people that become aware of the problem the more higher your chances of protecting your children. And yes it does affect your children for years to come.. It might not now but it will affect them. Get them help... Don't let this go..

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