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Right To Protect My Child From Step Child - Long Post, but advice needed!

tienleeh's picture

Hello everyone, I am new to this forum. I was trying to research step-parent's rights, and all I could find was info about the step-children. My question is regarding my biological child and my own rights to protect against the step-child. I will try and give a quick background: I am married with one toddler. My husband has 2 kids from a previous marriage ages 9 and almost 12. Both kids have a lot of problems physically and mentally. Both kids have been exposed to physical abuse and possible sexual abuse by ex's, now, ex-husband and his family. Both kids are very unclean and are not able to properly bathe and take care of their hygiene. This has been a major cause for concern because when we do their laundry we find feces and urine in the underclothes and clothing.

Both kids act out tremendously. 12 year-old is severely depressed and eats her sorrows away. She is obese and complains constantly about everything. She is basically a sweet girl, but just has so many problems. She also has a problem with not telling the truth. I believe this comes from the ex and all the lying and keeping things from us. The 9 year-old is the one I have the real issues with. She is honestly scary. She is the type of child who could be profiled as a child killer. She has serious issues with violence and inappropriate touching. I am very scared when she comes for the visits because I have a 2 year-old. The younger child is very abusive towards my toddler. This started when my toddler was just a few months old. I learned very quickly never to leave my baby in a room alone with my step-daughters even for a second.

We have consistently tried to get them help. In the past, they would take the girls to a counselor and then the second the counselor would document anything or ask that my husband and I be involved, the ex and her husband would pull them from the counselor. We were involved in a very horrible and lengthy custody battle. The outcome was not what we had hoped or expected. Several months before the hearing, the ex got scared and actually divorced the abusive alcoholic. However, after just a month or two, she couldn't stand things on her "own" so she moved him back in. During this time, she allowed him to drive the kids around and made some very poor decisions. At one point, the ex-husband was involved in a DUI crash with injuries. (Not to the children, thank God.) The courts ruled that if the ex kicked out the ex-husband and abided by a court-ruled restraining order, that the girls could remain with her and she would be awarded sole custody. We were STUNNED!

My question is if I have any rights to protect my toddler from my step-daughters? How would I even go about changing the visitations or requesting supervised visits with the 9 year-old? I do not worry about the 12 year-old hurting my toddler. Although, a few times she did hurt my toddler in the past. I do not believe that she really meant to hurt her. She is just extremely clumsy and careless. The 9 year-old has physically hurt my toddler, as recent as this last visit, and has extreme emotional issues. A few months ago, she had an "imaginary friend" that she would yell at and swear at. This alarmed us tremendously. She would have fits of rage and lash out. She is very underweight and refuses to eat much of the time, but she is very strong when she wants to be. She fights constantly with my toddler and takes her toys away, hits her, pushes her, and yells at her.

In the past, I have caught the 9 year-old touching my toddler inappropriately. When my toddler was an infant, an incident happens which still haunts me. My husband and mother in-law were talking while my husband was changing our infant. The 9 year-old came over and got down on her knees to lean over our baby. My husband took off her diaper and started to put another diaper under her. The 9 year-old reached out and touched our baby on her private area. My husband and mother in-law immediately told the 9 year-old that it as not okay to touch her there and never to do it again. More recently, I was folding laundry while also watching the kids. I turned for a second, and when I turned back, I saw the 9 year-old touching my toddler inappropriately. The 9 year-old has also tried to touch me inappropriately. On several occasions, we will be sitting watching a movie, and the 9 year-old will reach over and pull my shirt down and try and put a toy down my shirt. At the same time, brushing her hand against my breast or other things of that nature. I have talked with her numerous times about it and explained to her that it is inappropriate and it is NEVER okay to do that to anyone. The 9 year-old just laughs and thinks it is funny.

I am now unwilling to "babysit" the 9 year-old and I am completely freaked out by her actions. She constantly talks about sex and makes up stories. The 12 year-old can't stand her and is also freaked out by her behavior. Of course the ex is unwilling to do anything about it and I am just not sure what I can do about it. My biggest fear is that the 9 year-old may turn it around on me or that the ex will someday get angry about something and try and make up lies. I am seriously petrified. My husband has to work about half of the time the girls are here. That leaves me to watch them by myself. I honestly feel that I have to protect my toddler and myself. What should I do? Any help would be GREATLY appreciated. I am newer to this whole step-parenting thing and I have never been a step-parent before this. I am also a newer mom and my instincts are really kicking in. My husband doesn't really know what to do either. It causes a lot of fighting in our marriage because he feels obligated to take them for the visits and, of course, he wants to see his kids. At the same time, he also feels that he has to protect our toddler and me from all of this. Please help!

epgr's picture

JMO.. you have to do what you have to do to protect your child.
If BM isnt willing to do anything about it, then you should probably take her to her Dr. and explain the situation, her dr. can refer you to somewhere, do whatever you can when you have them.. if BM isnt going to do anything to help out make sure that it is documented that you at least got the ball rolling, BM wouldnt keep it rolling. Your sd is seriously emotionally disturbed, and needs help NOW.
As far as your baby goes, when his kids are there, then he needs to be there.. if he can not be there then he should find someone to watch them.. consistantly putting your child in danger is not an option.
If you have no choice but to watch them, limit the areas of the house they can be in, what they can do and make sure there are clear consequences for their actions.. dont let the tail wag the dog..
do not let them out of your site for one minute.. your husband is gonna have to help with laundry and cleaning when he gets home from work, because you spent the entire day making sure your babys was not sexually abused.
Please get these girls some help.. start at the family Dr. she can tell you where to go, tell BM AFTER you take them to talk to the dr... then she will have to follow up.. if she does not she can be held responsible... and possibly court ordered to do so..

tnbadboy1965's picture

This is a very good way for dad to lose any visitation with the children or have strictly supervised visitation. It is never a good idea for a step parent to take a child to a doctor without the parents consent. Especially if you are talking about getting a referral to a specialist.

This is up to dad to do and a judge will seriously consider this step parent interference.

OP, you need to tell the children's father that he needs to do something and if BM won't agree to counseling then he needs to go back to court and have it ordered.

Also when the child is in counseling no one should be involved in that counseling excpet the biological parents. Neither you nor BM's husband should be present during counseling sessions.

StepKidto3Momto3's picture

Call CPS and report the child's sexualized behavior. They have trainded investigators.

skylarksms's picture

Maybe schedule counseling on your visitation weekends? That way the BM cannot decide to take them out of counseling at her whim?

tnbadboy1965's picture

This could seriously backfire on the step mom and the dad. Even with joint legal he needs to have the BM consent to it.

I understand that step parents want to be involved and to protect their own children but please do not advise someone to do something that could cause dad to lose what visitation he does have.

If the child needs counseling the best way to get it is to go back to court and have it ordered by the judge.

hismineandours's picture

Please do something. I would not allow the 9 year old to visit if dh was not home-or maybe not at all-dh can go to her take her out for the day and spend time with her. Or take her to counseling appts. My ss had a detailed plan to kill my bs when ss was 9 and bs was 8 (3 years ago). We did hospitalize him, but I allowed him to come back into our home-he lived there at the time-he moved to bm's a few months after this. But i have never got over this-ss also had a lot of aggression and would hit, choke, and was verbally aggressive to my two younger kids. I have always regretted that I did not get him away from my kids sooner. My bs has to live with the fact that his stepbrother wanted to kill him and bullied him throughout his youth. I wanted to help ss (we had him in counseling and on meds)but realize now that i should have protected my kids first. It was MY job to protect MY kids and it was dh and bm's job to take care of ss.

cjsali's picture

So what would you have done differently? About 10 mo ago we got emergency cust. Of ss. He also has problems from his bm. We take him to 2 therapy apts a week and an apt once a month for meds. It seemed to be helping but last week my bio son 3, told their dad and I brother put his mouth on his private parts... and some other things I don't want to get into. Now my son has to go to counceling. Cps is involved but not doing much. My poor husband has soo much guilt about it all and I do love him but my gut tells me to take my son and leave. I'm so confused, stressed, worried, angry and depressed. I need more help than ALL these councelors seem to be able to offer.

imamess's picture

I dont have proper legal advice or anything but I have to say Please do everything you can to protect your toddler from that child. On one hand, I do feel sorry for the 9 yr old cuz she's seems to be showing symptoms of sexual abuse such as hypersexuality but whatever it is, Do not ever allow your own darling baby to be abused in any way and follow in that cycle and pattern of the 9 yr old. I feel sorry for you to have to feel so petrified for your own safety and your baby's cuz u're left alone with the skids. But good luck anyway and I really hope you'll find some solution somehow.

ddakan's picture

it is not normal for a 9 year old to act so sexual. EYES ON YOUR CHILD AT ALL TIMES. never leave your child out of your eyesight. never go to sleep in the house unless your child is with you if she is there.

Steppin_OnUp's picture

This isn't just about your daughter - it's about your stepdaughters, and the fact that they have obviously been through enough trauma to cause serious problems. Your husband needs to stand up and take control here. Those girls deserve treatment, and they deserve to be free from sexual, physical, and emotional abuse. Please talk to him about getting his girls some help. In the meantime, do not ever leave your child alone with them.

Rags's picture

You have every right to protect your toddler from abusive people. Even your toddler's half sibs. Put web cams throughout your house and get footage of the 9yo abusing your kid. Then call 911 and have her ass hauled off to foster care and push for a PO keeping the 9yo away from your toddler.

The webcams will also be a good CYA tool for you to have in the event that your DH's X tries to make false accusations against you.

That ought to take care of the issue. Be supportive of getting the 9yo counseling and help but protect your child.

I am sorry your child has to experience this but it is time for the abusive 9yo to go.

IMHO of course.

Best regards,

Steppin_OnUp's picture

"I am sorry your child has to experience this but it is time for the abusive 9yo to go."

I firmly agree that OP needs to protect her toddler, but this? This statement is gross. This abused child is not a piece of garbage to be thrown away, she needs HELP. If her mother won't help her, then her father needs to step up and do so. If necessary, there are residential programs for seriously disturbed children, but having her hauled away by the police and thrown into foster care? It's not your right to make your husband discard his first children because they aren't what you want them to be.

Rags's picture

Who said anything about discarding children? I said remove the abusive 9yo from the home. I said nothing about discarding the child.

Of course the parents need to help the 9yo child. But, the safety of the toddler has to take precedence over the 9yo if the 9yo is a danger to the toddler.

A residential therapy program is definitely an option. Foster care is an option. A children's home is an option. There are several options for getting this kid the help she needs to overcome her violent abuse of an infant.

It absolutely is my right to protect my young child from anyone who does them harm, including my spouses first children. If that means removing them from my home, so be it. If my spouse did not do everything possible to protect our youngest child then I seriously misjudged my spouse as a quality partner.

Fortunately I don't have to deal with this issue in my marriage and in my family. My SS is an only child in our home. If he were not an only child in our home and were he to abuse an infant or toddler of ours, my wife would be the first one to remove him from our home and get him help to insure he was no longer a threat to our younger child.

In the case of the abusive 9yo, helping her may not mean leaving her in the home to continue abusing her little sibs.

Steppin_OnUp's picture

You're talking about this 9 year old child as if she is a 250 lb biker ex-boyfriend with domestic violence issues. She has been abused, she needs help, and having her "ass hauled off" by the police sure sounds like DISCARDING to me. There are appropriate ways to protect everyone involved, starting with a complete psychological evaluation by the nearest psychiatric treatment center, if indeed she is an immediate danger to herself or others. She's 9. Get a grip. She is acting out abuses that have been perpetrated on her, and now your advice is to hurt her further by leaving her with strangers in a broken social services system in which children are abused and molested every day? Yes, I'm sure that will help her immensely.

Rags's picture

I'm good with getting her whatever help she needs. In fact if she were mine that is exactly what I would do for her. However, until she was no longer a danger to my toddler, she would be out of the house. The father in this situation has to protect BOTH of his children. Since he is not, the mother of the youngest has to protect HER child.

We have friends whose 8yo son used to beat up on their 2yo son. Eventually the 8yo ended up giving the 2yo brain damage by sitting on the 2yo's back and forcing his face in to a leather sofa. Loss of oxygen caused brain damage. CPS removed the 8yo from the home for several months and was constantly in our friend’s home checking up on the 2yo and invaded their home for years after the 8yo returned to the family. The wife used to aggressively protect the 8yo when dad would attempt to discipline for hurting the 2yo. Now she is the one who pushes the former 8yo away when he tries to get hugs and cringes when he is close to her. Dad works with the former 8yo and with the now disabled former 2yo. Fortunately the injured child will be able to function independently but he will always deal with the permanent damage caused by his brother.

There are two children to protect in this situation. One is no danger to the other. The one who is the danger to the infant/toddler has to be removed from proximity to the one she is abusing until she is no longer a danger to her younger sib.

It is not fare, it is not pleasant, it is not easy but it has to be done. As a father I would have no qualms about putting my 9yo in to the system if it protected my 2yo. No qualms at all.

Even abused people know right from wrong and should be held accountable for their actions. Even a 9yo.

All IMHO of course.

mommylove's picture

All the more reason why these parents need to step up and get help for their child, because if they don't and it's left up to me to choose between my child and theirs, well that's a no brainer! The parents can do what they want to help their child, so long as they keep their child away from me and my children!

poisonivy's picture

OP, as a parent it is your responsibility, not just your right, to protect your child from harm. Have this conversation with your DH. Let him know that this child needs to see a doctor and start some type of pschotherapy treatment...immediately. And, yes, remove the threat from your home. There are many acceptable ways to go about this as have been mentioned before. But, the bottom line is that your baby deserves to be safe in your home.

AND, I have personally never heard of a parent losing visitation rights because he took his child to a health profesional. I don't think you need to worry about that.

Mumme's picture

i feel sorry for the step kids they've obviously been through it and its going to take someone some serious work to help them. It sounds like its almost gone to far to help them.

i can imagine it will be hard to say to your husband i don't want them round our child cos surely he just wants happy families.

but your baby is your baby. you need to work out a way to protect her/him. I'm sorry i don't know how or what.

janeyc's picture

At the end of the day your responsibility is for your children, you need to tell your partner that if this "bullying" dosn't stop then you will have to remove youself and your children from the house, those 2 girls are severely unbalanced, the product of a terrible Mother and an ineffective Father, maybe these kids cannot help their behaviour but you can stop them from hurting your children, I know what I would do, now its up to you, hopefully if your threaten to leave that will be enough.

Naturel's picture

Sweetheart, this child was sexually abused. You need to tell DCF. Keep your child away from her for Christ's sake. I am not meaning to be harsh but do you really need to ask us any of these questions? She molested your child and will continue to do so. The only good thing here is that she isn't a boy. Goodness. What a nightmare. Kids don't do those sorts of things unless it happened to them, first. Ask any professional about her behavior and see what they say. They will tell you the exact same thing I am telling you. Her stepfather could very well be the issue.

sadstep1's picture

:? Your story is very similar to what I'm going through. I have a 5 year old of my own and a hostile 13 year old step son. He has been molested during one of his mother's many marriages and has touched my son inappropriately! I brought this up to the Clinical psychologist that was used as the courts witness during my husband's custodyy case and he told me to never leave them alone together.

We went through a 4 year long custody battle with my husband's ex-wife to try and remove the 13 year old from the environment he is currently in but he wants to stay with his mom and there nothing we can do to help him. The mom is currently in relationship with an alcoholic that she frequently starts fights with, but then calls the police and blames him for the cause of the fights. She has had him arrested once and taken out 2 Orders of Protection against. Those are the ones we know of, but who knows what else has happened in that household. For what ever reason, after the Clinical Psychologist told the judge that he needed to be full time with my husband, the judge allowed the son to remain with his mom! This past school year, the son was arrested for threatening to kill 5 other kids at his school! Gee Whiz, I wonder where he learned this behavior from?

He tells lies about me and my husband all the time and it seriously scares me what this kid is capable of. I have started recording every second of every day that me and my little boy are left alone with him when my husband has to work. I sleep in my 5 year olds room when the 13 year old comes to visit because I'm scared of what he might do my child. The ex-wife has breed jealousey into her son and I can see the animosity he feels towards my son!

I have just under 5 years left to deal with this kid and I will do what ever I have to to protect my son and myself from this nightmare kid. I do feel bad that the 13 year old is being raised in a horrible environment and he is being brain washed by his mom because of the hatred she feels towards me and my husband, but my child has to come first! If the 13 year old ever threatens me or my son, I'm calling the police! I know it will piss off my husband, but too bad. I'm not taking any chances.

If those two little girls do anything else to hurt you or your little one, call the police and have them put in juvenile. Step parents don't have any rights when it comes to step children, so let the law take care of it.