I am looking for some gentle ways to help my mother in law who is an adult survivor of incest. So, if anyone on here is a victim of sexual abuse, and in particular incest, maybe you can give me some pointers on specific issues.
Some background (sorry if this gets lengthy, but it is messy). My mother in law was sexually abused by her father growing up. The evil and toxicity of it permeates every pore of the family's current existence. Her father died 26 years ago, before my husband and I were even born, but my MIL keeps him alive in her actions.
The sexual abuse is a huge secret and only certain members of the family know, including me, which makes it extra delicate. I actually have no idea if my father in law knows. I suspect that he does not because he allowed my MIL to give her father unrestricted, unsupervised access to their daughter up until he died (when she was 8 or 9). Scary. And my father in law is very no-nonsense so I really doubt he would let this happen.
My husband I only found out about the abuse 2 years ago. My mother in law constantly talks about her father in a loving way. She always talks about how handsome he was especially. She is obsessed with his features and her kids having his features. She is very romantic in the way she talks about him. My husband always thought this was weird, but chalked it up to her missing him since he was dead. She basically lets him rule her life from beyond the grave. Unfortunately he was also very anti-Catholic (he got excommunicated for something she will not say)…and she carries that legacy on and insults me constantly.
Now something that is odd is that my mother-in-law is obsessed with blood relation. I think this probably goes back to her being brainwashed by her father. But essentially, she really dislikes family members who are not blood related to her and does not trust them (such as the people her kids married, or her own in-laws). She does not think her kid's spouses are really family because they are not blood related, she will not say it often but it slips out every so often (like telling my husband’s brother that his wedding day was the worst day of her life). Her grandchildren ARE important to her, she is obsessed with them "sharing her genetics". When my brother in law and his wife had a son, my mother in law insisted he looked just like her father! She was giddy over it.
She expects her kids to have a loyalty to her over their spouses since they are "blood" related. She really never bonded with her husband, as is obvious to their kids. I think she was just never able to un-bond from her father because of the psychological issues he put her through. Needless to say, she was very emotionally incestuous with her kids. My husband did not fully realize this until he got out of the house and looked back.
Now, for any of you that have been victims of incest, especially from a parent, was this something that you struggled with? Of feeling bonded only with blood relatives because of the nature of the abuse? Or were you trained not to trust non-blood relatives as a technique of the abuser to keep you quiet? I am trying to make sense of her obsession with shared genetics and an indicator of true connection. Was there something that helped you get over this? I want her to be able to trust and love her entire family.
She will never go therapy for this. We only found out about it because it slipped during a breakdown. She is forever protecting her dad's image. But I hope there are some ways I help her.
Also, just in general for anyone reading this - say a prayer for my MIL.