Summary: I'm a father of two. My son is 11 years old, and my daugther is 4 years old. My wife's younger brother (I'm gonna call him "Uncle" from now on) is a pedophile. I have asked for professional advice (medical, psychological, law enforcement), but none have helped me dealing with the biggest issues, which IMO arise from how toxic every argument becomes every time we touch this subject at home, and it has eroded any trust I have in my wife's ability to protect my children from Uncle.

I don't want my children any close to Uncle. But there are many other adults willing to let him approach them, my wife included, at least indirectly! My wife says she won't even let him into our home, but I've been married to her for too long to know she will eventually give in to one of her mother's many manipulative requests to come to visit us and bring her "little devil" along.

Detail: My wife's younger brother is a pedophile/abuser, but he was never caught or prosecuted for it because other people - enablers? - protect him and go as far as creating situations allowing him to get close to his victims unnacounted for. Uncle is 26 or so years old but he is very fond of young girls, to put it in less gory terms. Uncle has used money to pay for "favors" from a 9 years old a few years ago; he has abused (with the help of his parents and aunt, the child's mom) his own 13 years old cousin; he possesses young girls' pictures on this phone and stares at them like a wolf staring at his prey; he prays to "God" - loudly - on a daily basis asking "God" to give him a girlfriend; he is very violent - at least verbally - towards his mother (my mother-in-law); he generally tries to put himself in situations which would let him close to young girls. In fact that seems to be the only motivation he has for any social interaction with the "outside world".

My wife herself was neglected as a child, her father was an alcoholic, and her mother has always been an enabler to whatever behavior her husband displays. My wife was also abused when she was 8-years old, by the ex-boyfriend of the same aunt mentioned above... My wife is well-aware of the manipulative behavior of her parents/relatives, and she tries to be as far away as she can, but she still likes them or maybe she wanted her relatives to be normal family... I don't know.

My wife's mother has beeen an enabler to Uncle's pedophilia as well. She went as far as hiding from my wife the fact that Uncle was using a monthly allowance my wife used to give him to pay a 9-year old girl's favors... Uncle is physically disabled, but his parents use his condition to claim - without any medical diagnosis - that he likes young girls so much because he has the mind of a 10-year old boy or something. But I know it is simply not true. He doesn't display any childish behavior at all. He is just very interested - sexually - in young girls... But hey! Even if he had the mental age of a child that wouldn't imply it was OK for him to have sexual interacts with little children! Today the entire bizarre sitation makes me think that those other adults are as immoral/wicked/awful/perverted as Uncle is...

Added: My wife's father is as much of an enable as Uncle's mother. He has given Uncle money to travel to a nearby city and live with his 13-year old cousin like in a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship. My wife's father find it normal that his sexually perverted son is fond of little girls, because he claims he's got the mental age of a child. Honestly, I think my wife's father is even proud of his son because he perceives his son's predatory behavior as a sign of masculinity.

What I have tried so far: I have made it clear to my mother-in-law that Uncle is not welcome around my children. So far she has only taken it as a joke or something... When she talks privately to my wife she keeps asking her to take the children to visit her (to the same house where Uncle lives); she wants to bring Uncle to our home to "play videogames" with my 11-year old son; whenever she finds we're going to travel she insists she could come home to take care of the children - bringing Uncle along, of course!; she wanted to bring Uncle over to our Christmas dinner last year; she wanted to bring Uncle over a few weeks ago when she came here to get her prescribed medicine - she is a cardiac patient - we buy her every couple of months; in the last few weeks she's been privately inviting my wife to take the children to visit her and see her "avocado tree"... Anyway, she finds every excuse there is to expose my children to a dangerous situation related to Uncle's predatory behavior.

I went as far as threatening to resort to physical violence should Uncle ever gets close to my children. But none of the adults mentioned seem to believe I would really give Uncle a good beating.

I have to travel for extended periods of time and maybe I'll even have to move to a 1000km/620mi away city for work-related activities in a few months... But the stress I get from all of the situation I'm describing kind of puts me off. I wants to protect my children, and I know I cannot be around them 100% of the time, and I know there are adults willing to let a pedophile close to them.

More info: We have considered reporting his offenses to law enforcement, but every adult close to Uncle try their best to shield him. While among his family members it is a well-known fact that he is a pedophile, there is no proof whatsoever of his wrongdoing. So getting a a restrictive measure in court is out of question. Honestly, I live in a kind of messy country and I really doubt our judicial system would even work...

What should I do? How can I make it clearer to any person that there is a line they cannot cross and that I will take any mean necessary to protect my children?

Added 1: We already have a somewhat distant relationship with my wife's mother. And it is getting worse and worse. They never have had a good relationship to start with, as my wife was neglected as a child, mostly due to her mom's fault. The children are safe as long as they don't have contact with mother-in-law and Uncle. My wife seems to agree with it, but keeps contracting herself and putting all the blame on me and we always end with fighting whenever her mother (who knows Uncle is not allowed near the children) keeps insisting on it.

Added 2: After the answers I got here (thank you all!!!) I messaged mother-in-law and made it clear I knew she was talking privately with my wife about visiting us with Uncle and told her, without threatening them, that uncle is not allowed here and will NEVER be, no matter what. I also told her we don't want her to ever get back to the subject of uncle's visiting the children, and told her that if she really loves or cares about her grandchildren she will have you abide by our rules.

Added 3: I am new to this website and English is NOT my native language. Someone tried to edit my original post saying that calling Uncle (and every other adult person around him) degenerates as I did is unacceptable because Uncle is disabled... As a non-native English speaker I reject any claim of prejudice and any attempt to correct my post for such a reason. I said all of them are degenerates, and it is related to Uncle's pedophilia and bad/harmful behavior in general, not his physical disability. I will NOT stop calling that degenerate a degenerate. Thanks!

Added 4: I cannot just go to the police and report Uncle.Even if I went to the police they wouldn't do anything. In the country where I live law enforcement will NOT act or investigate anything that is not clearly happening in front of them. It is extremely unlikely that Uncle will ever be caught red-handed. Problem is, there is NO proof against him, as he is a pedophile/abuser who fits that family abuser profile. He does everything in a very very subtle way and he is protected by the other adults (his mother, father and aunts) around him. I cannot remember the last time I talked to him, and every pedophilia fact about him I mentioned on this post was told either to us by his mom (my mother-in-law). Maybe if he sees me in the streets he won't even recognize me, so my biggest concern is his mother coming to my house and bringing him over.

  • 1
    I'm sorry for the situation you find yourself in. I'm struggling to come up with a good answer for you. Not sure if it is quality enough to actually be an answer, but this would definitely be a "no second chances" situation for me. I would make sure my partner knew, in no uncertain terms, that our child was never to be left alone with this person. If my partner violated that, I would be gone with the child.
    – Kevin
    Commented Feb 19, 2021 at 15:56
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    Personally, I would consider taking my children and moving far, far away - although emigrating might be harder in the current covid climate. A nice vacation where I totally forget to take the plane and go back home. Oops.
    – Jack M.
    Commented Feb 19, 2021 at 19:18
  • Related question: parenting.stackexchange.com/questions/12197/…
    – Jax
    Commented Feb 20, 2021 at 19:15
  • i dont think there is any problem with your use of English and did not read any denigration in your comments about any disability that Uncle might have, my wife had a similar early life to your wife and actively makes sure that the same does not befall our daughters. Her family protected her abuser and denied to Police that she was telling the truth . She has had her life screwed up by her abusers and deserves none of it. We have nothing to do with any of them, they are dead to us. I commend you for protecting your kids as you do. Your wife is following a common pattern for abuse survivors Commented Mar 11, 2021 at 11:45
  • +1 for eventually moving far way with your wife and kids. Sending prayers 🙏🏼
    – mavzolej
    Commented Feb 21 at 4:58

8 Answers 8


I have personal experience with nearly the same situation: family members who protect and prioritize a criminal rather than children. The difference between yours and my situation is that the creep is my relative, not an in-law, and he’s my uncle, not my children’s. Nonetheless, my husband and I faced the same challenges: my mother and her sisters all thought that being “family” gave him a free pass to access our kids. That somehow it would shield them from his disgusting fetishes, when, in fact, he had abused his own son so it was clear that he knew no limits.

The other major difference between our situations is that my husband and I were untitled in our efforts to prevent uncle from having access to our kids. The way we treated my family members was different however, and was a huge source of friction in our marriage. By that I mean, my husband felt as though I should tell them all to f— off and never speak to them again after all that had happened and since they “must be lowlife good for nothing scumbags if they choose to associate with a pedophile!” I didn’t agree. I was disappointed, confused, angry, anxious, and ashamed that someone like this existed in my family, that my relatives were behaving this way, that they were willing to risk my children’s safety, and, that my mother had in the past put ME in harms way (since he had a history of abuse going back decades!! all the way back to when I was a child!) Anyway, I felt that those were feelings I had to deal with, not run from.

Anyway, here is what happened and what we did, which worked, mostly (he did see my children more than I anticipated or wanted) until he finally went to prison, and then after once he was released.

My mother has 4 siblings. 3 sisters and a brother. My mother was never very close to her brother. So, when his wife divorced him (very shocking, seemingly out of the blue) and my mom let him move in with her I was surprised. She claimed “no one knew” why they had split up, and she also claimed that he had to live with her because he was “old fashioned” and couldn’t live in his own. He needed a woman to cook for him and do his laundry. My mom said it was grandma’s “dying wish” that she take care of her brother. My mom is divorced also, and lived alone at the time, mainly because she is a feminist and a loner. I thought it was strange and illogical.

This arrangement went on for a while and my mom would come by my apartment with him and take my then 4yo son with them shopping, or bring him to her house. She would offer my uncle’s help when I needed something heavy moved, handyman work, or someone to be at my apartment while I was out to let repairmen in. He had been a volunteer firefighter, but since he got divorced wasn’t doing anything at all. He was in his 60’s so I thought nothing of it.

About a year into this situation, my mom started complaining about not having any money bc she was spending it all in my uncle’s legal fees. I asked her why on earth she was paying for his divorce and she said that my (former) aunt took all his money. I also started hearing stories about how he was estranged from his son and grandchildren. “It was [Aunt]’s fault. She’s turning everyone against him.” That really didn’t seem right to me. I didn’t know her well, but this kind of behavior was very out of character. I started asking more questions because I had become suspicious of the circumstances of his divorce, etc.

My mom became very defensive, and her stories got weirder and weirder and more incongruent and unrealistic. I knew she was lying about something but obviously had no proof. Then, one day I came home from work and my husband was enraged. He would barely speak to me. I finally got it out of him: he had gotten a call from his father because he read in the paper that my uncle was facing charges of molesting his son (my cousin) and attempting to solicit young girls online.

My father in law (who is a toxic, mean, manipulative person by the way, who had just been released from prison) convinced my husband that I must’ve known and was keeping it a secret. It took me days to convince him I didn’t know. Meanwhile I asked my mom one more time why uncle had gotten kicked out of his home, marriage, family, and job (this time knowing why) and she continued the lie. I was deeply deeply hurt and felt totally alone. I couldn’t turn to my husband for comfort, my mom was a liar, and the rest of my family (aunts etc) were all accomplices as well.

I finally confronted my mom with the truth, and with the knowledge of her lies. She made a million excuses, brought up the promise to grandma, and never expressed any remorse at all for lying to me, lying to grandma (who died never knowing why her son was in trouble to begin with), and most concerning, for putting my children at risk. I had unknowingly left my kids (I had had another child since this all began) with a pedophile. I felt incredible guilt, and anger, and sadness that this this has eroded my husband’s trust in me, despite my constant reassurance I had NO idea. I also worked with my mom, and had to face her everyday at work, and remain professional. It was agony.

Once the truth was revealed, we made it immediately known that he was to have NO CONTACT with our children. None. We didn’t even want him to look at them (lest he get ideas in his head.) My mom felt this was unfair bc “innocent until proven guilty,” and he hasn’t been convicted yet. However, I dug into the details to find out for myself how much of a threat he really was. I was appalled at what I found out.

He had begun his predatory behavior when his son was a young teen (age 11, actually.) He had “taught” him to masturbate, exposed him to pornography, and even went so far as to do this to a friend of my cousin. I found out that this continued through his teen years, and it eventually involved my cousin’s girlfriends. He liked to watch teens having sex. My cousin finally reported him to the police, as did one of his friends and my family swept it under the rug. He was a firefighter and had some influence in town and the police believed that it was just a teenager being angry and trying to cause trouble.

Years later, my cousin, with the support of his wife, got therapy and again reported his crimes. This time, he laid out all the disgusting behavior, and was able to convince the police to look into it. Since the dawn of the internet, my uncle had access to all kinds of lewd, illegal content and my cousin knew it. He knew it had only made him into a more dangerous person. He didn’t want his kids anywhere near his father as they approached the age his abuse began. The cops believed him, got a warrant, and found he was telling the truth. His hard drive and internet history was damning. My aunt, now convinced and sickened as well, kicked him out, and that’s when he moved in with my mom.

During his time awaiting trial, he was caught AGAIN attempting to solicit underage girls. He was at a public library, on camera, using a computer while he was not supposed to be doing that at all, and then, the “girl” he was talking to happened to be an under cover cop. It was coincidental, but it blew the defense the attorney my mom hired for him (she cashed out a retirement fund for this) had prepared, which was that his computer had been “hacked” and all those files were not his. Well, now he was caught red handed. That’s how he ended up in the paper. His attorney at that point told him to either plead guilty or she was out.

Meanwhile, despite the very clear rule (no contact) my mom continued to expose the kids to him by bringing them to her house when they were supposedly out shopping or at a restaurant. So, we restricted her access/visitation to our house only. She’d show up at my house with him. She’d show up at other relative’s house with him while my kids were visiting. She’d act like it was no big deal. She’d accuse me of just “following my husband’s orders” which made him suspicious of me. She’d also tell my husband that I had said this or that (involving the uncle) was ok, when I had not. She’d purposely leave out details so I would say Ok to something.

No matter how specific and clear we thought we made it, she’d try to manipulate the situation or find a loophole. Eventually, we had to resort to an ultimatum. “If you cannot agree to respect OUR decision as parents to prevent any access by uncle whatsoever to our kids, regardless of your personal feelings of how right or wrong it is, then you cannot see them AT ALL. You must choose which relationship is more important. Either your dysfunctional, codependent relationship with your brother or the relationship with your grandkids and daughter.” I told her that she owed me an apology for the lies. Even if she couldn’t do that, and was willing to give up on repairing things with me, I’d still be willing to work out some way to see the kids if she could PROMISE to keep him the hell away from the kids and could on some level see why we weren’t willing to risk their safety. She said she wouldn’t apologize, and she refused to follow our “rules”. She said that if we didn’t trust her completely then this was “our problem, not hers.”

I walked away from my own mother at that point. We became completely estranged. I had to continue to work with her, and while I swallowed all my pain and anger and behaved as if she was no different than any other coworker, she told everyone about how I wouldn’t let her see her grandkids “and didn’t know why.” I got cornered in elevators and bathrooms by strangers and friends alike to be berated about how awful I was. Some people were outright angry. People who didn’t even know the circumstances, because I wasnt the only one she was lying to. I NEVER engaged. I just kept repeating that our personal and family affairs was none of their business and that I refused to discuss the details but rest assured, you don’t know the whole story.

He ended up getting convicted. Eventually others in my family distanced themselves from him and my mother because of her behavior towards me, but others tormented me with angry phone calls and slander on social media. He continued to attempt to solicit minors right up to his trial. He was sent to prison. While in prison he wrote me a letter, but sent it to one of my aunts since he knew I’d just throw it out. My poor aunt (who was only one that was on my “side” from the start and wanted nothing to do with him) said she was nauseated by it and it brought her to tears. In it, he detailed how I was actually the “criminal” because of how I turned my back on my family and that his attraction to 14 yo girls was normal for thousands of years due to their “innocence, purity, and virility” and it was a matter of natural selection. Further, teaching children to have sex was “healthy” and “not shameful at all.” I turned that right over to the parole board. It prevented his release twice, but eventually he was released.

I have another post here from the time when he was due to be released. It was a very very tense time because as bad as things were in my marriage, and with my family, and at work, and, with my mother, it did get better once he was gone.

My mom did eventually see the error in her ways. She saw how he took advantage of her, financially. She saw how her older sister also manipulated her and was culpable for some of the strife between us. I’m still not speaking to that aunt bc she’s a miserable hypocrite. She arranged for my uncle to live in the house behind my mom, which displaced my brother (he was living there and she convinced the landlord to evict him) and placed him literally in her backyard. When I confronted her about how this arrangement would harm my mom, my brother, my kids (who had been able to return to her house), me, and the neighbors who all had children (there’s also a beach just yards away where dozens of kids swim) she preached “forgiveness.” I told her she should have him live with her then to which she replied “I couldn’t do that bc then my granddaughter wouldn’t be able to visit.” Classic hypocrisy and “Not in my back yard (NIMBY).” It mattered not. She set it up w/the parole board for him to live 100 ft from my mom. He still lives there now.

So, now that you know all the intimate details of my family and experience, which I don’t mind sharing so people know the full extent of the pain and suffering these people (pedophiles) have on society (not to diminish the victim’s experience, of course!) This quite literally ripped my family apart. Both my family of origin and my chosen family. It set my career back (since I refused to reveal the details of our issues, I still have coworkers that are suspicious of and have a rather unfavorable opinion of ME. She said some really awful things about me including telling folks I was bipolar.) It causes continuous strain in our relationship, my marriage, etc. My in laws think I must be “tainted” and have tried to get my husband to divorce me and take my kids away from me. I lost friends who upon discovering I am related to a pedophile just cut me off. Others stopped speaking to me bc I became estranged from my mom and couldn’t understand that decision (there must be something wrong with me: who could do that to their mother!?)

So, what do you do? You prepare yourself for the unfortunate fact that you may very well have to endure suffering, ridicule, isolation, guilt, shame, anger, sadness, judgment, and loss. Basically every bad thing we avoid as humans. You will have to decide if your children’s well-being and safety is worth stepping away from your marriage, your family, and anything else that sets them up for exposure to their uncle. YOU decide what is in their best interest and YOU stick to your principles. You will be forced to face your own values and priorities, perhaps turn your back on tradition and cultural norms. Does this sound harsh? It is. Believe me. This is so hard, and no one, no one except someone who has had to o it can understand how gut wrenching this predicament is. You need to find allies. People who understand and support you. You will need it. Even with them you may feel utterly alone at times.

You need to sit with your wife and set clear expectations of not only what can’t be allowed, by her, her relatives, or anyone else but also establish what the CONSEQUENCES will be. “You do this, that happens.” You need to establish boundaries, and stick to them. No excuses. No exception. Make a pact, together (for now). Write it down so there’s no going back on it, or “he said she said.”

As I mentioned, my husband and I had differing opinions on how to handle this. He had a knee-jerk reaction and wanted to just cut off all contact with my whole family. You may feel that way too, but while you “stick to your principles” balance it with your wife’s needs, feelings, and respect her decisions, even if that means you have to “let” her maintain relationships you don’t understand. You must start this out with her as your partner. Make sure she understands this. She is in an awful place to be: stuck between her two families. As someone else mentioned, she needs counseling. She does. I did too, although I didn’t get it I should have. As abusive and messed up her family is, remember it’s her “normal” and there are very strong cultural pressures to behave a certain way towards your family. She feels this pressure, coupled with her love for her mom, etc, AND her kids and you. She needs strength she probably doesn’t have (based on your description) to resist all that pressure and use her logical mind. Be her strength, as long as you can. If it has to be you that slams the door in uncle’s and mom’s face when they show up together, so be it. Just make sure your wife is aware this is what will happen, and everyone else. You said you have talked about what’s not allowed, but please please understand you need to follow that with explicit consequences.

It’s terrible that you don’t trust your wife, but I do understand. This is very sad, and something hard to overcome in a marriage. Truthfully, it’s not entirely resolved in mine because my husband is still wary of how I will react/respond to my mom in certain situations. Now, it’s not because he thinks I’m an idiot who doesn’t see dysfunction as it was before. He gets that it’s due to the fact that I’m human and am attached to my mother despite everything that’s happened and it’s bewildering and frustrating for me too. However, its still exhausting to keep having to “prove” myself. I keep in mind it’s not easy for him either, and it’s not just about him it’s also about me: he fears my well being will be harmed by her antics, and he fears he would have to do the worst-leave me, take the kids-if “push came to shove.” This I understand too, bc I would absolutely do the same if my kids well-being were truly in danger because of his inability to prevent harm. This is our common ground in this matter and we use it to remain “team focused.” It’s about the kids and it gives us strength. It’s like those stories you hear of parents lifting cars and breaking down doors, running through fires and floods, to save their kids.

Now, if your wife can’t (and it may truly be a “can’t” not a “won’t”) get on the same page as you, you will, alone, have to enforce the boundaries you have set even against her. This should be a last resort. But, rest assured having limited contact with their mom, while traumatizing, is LESS traumatizing than rape or sexual assault. You will be teaching your children that their safety and health are top priority, not dysfunctional, unhealthy relationships. This is such an important lesson, especially in a family that has an abusive element. You are breaking the cycle of victimization. Try to do it with your wife (get her out of the cycle as well) but if you can’t, save your kids.

You mention a move. I’m never someone who “runs” from a problem, but, I think perhaps some distance between you and your wife’s family would be beneficial to your family. It would give your wife a break from the constant pressure and enmeshment with her mom and brother, etc, and give your family some peace and privacy. We also moved at one point to create some distance and get a “fresh start.” It helped a lot. It’s very stressful, sure, and can be expensive, but if it will relieve some of the strain and anxiety that proximity to these toxic people creates then you should pursue it. You have to choose between lesser evils at times.

WHATEVER YOU DO DON’T PHYSICALLY ATTACK THIS PERSON! unless you kill him, you will go to jail, and your kids will be alone with your wife and her family. Even if you DO kill him, you’ll still be gone and your wife and her family will raise your kids. None of this is a good solution!! I mean, if you catch him in the act of harming someone, use the appropriate amount of force to make it stop and subdue him until the police come but still, don’t do anything more than necessary for the reasons stated above! Perhaps this all seems obvious to those outside this situation but believe me, the thought seems rational when you are face to face with someone who might prey on your children.

Report the pervert to the police. No matter how ineffective you think it will be-do the right thing. Unless you are at real risk of being accused of slander, defamation or whatever (not a lawyer, and I have no idea where you are or what laws exist) you should do this to at least establish some record of his deviance. If at some later time there IS evidence (let’s hope not) or someone comes forward to make another accusation, it will show a pattern of behavior. This is what got my uncle into trouble-repeated violations that combined couldn’t be “explained away.” He’s also now classified as a level 3 (the worst of the worst, a probable reoffender) sex offender which has certain restrictions (not enough in my opinion) associated with it that other levels do not.

As another has stated, you need to teach your children how to specifically protect themselves from this type of harm, how to identify inappropriate behavior, and make it clear to them that no one-NO ONE should have access to their bodies that they don’t want, even family, and that’s final. I would be careful how much burden you place on your son however, because if something DOES happen, the guilt he’ll feel will be crushing and damaging. No child should have to bear that much responsibility. Teach him to wary, vigilant, and to speak up, but not that it’s HIS job to protect his sister. It’s too much to ask to pit him against a manipulative adult.

I may have missed some aspects of your question or not addressed some situations/concerns directly but I hope that my experience and insight can be of value. I intended to convey that you CAN do this. It will be hard but it will be worth it. See past all that stands between your family’s well-being and do what you must to get them there.

  • 3
    I forgot to add that you should get some books about abuse for your wife to read. It was in these kinds of books that I finally saw the SAME tactics my mom and other family members used and identified with the feelings of guilt, shame, self blame, worthlessness, and dependence coexisting with love, loyalty, and familiarity of family. It was a wake up call and changed my perspective completely. Your wife is a victim here too. It doesn’t excuse her behavior but knowing why helps change it.
    – Jax
    Commented Feb 20, 2021 at 19:20
  • Thank you so much for your answer, Jax. Your related question was how I found this website in the first place! My wife keeps saying she agrees with me, and we reached the conclusion that mother-in-law (as the enabler) is as bad as Uncle himself. The children rarely see him, but my wife says meeting at a restaurant wouldn't hurt. Mother-in-law treats her son as a child and will try and take him anywhere she goes, including our home. She knows he's not allowed into our home though, but keeps insisting on it.
    – daddan
    Commented Feb 20, 2021 at 19:41
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    I’m glad you are looking for help (even if it’s internet strangers.) Talk with you wife and find out why she thinks a restaurant is safe, and why she wants to go through the trouble of maintaining a relationship with her mother, etc, and why she feels it’s important for the kids. It’s really about them. In the end, we decided that the risks outweighed the benefits, and stopped contact. It’s hard on the kids, depending on how close they are. We were able to resume contact later, with conditions, and it’s still a strained relationship but the time apart was a strong message.
    – Jax
    Commented Feb 20, 2021 at 19:46
  • My wife suffers a lot because as the older sister she used to take care of her brother when they were kids. She has a hard time acknowledging how dangerous her brother is, and her mother thinks I AM the one person not allowing her to have "normal" contact with her brother... The way I see it, if I didn't exist Uncle would have free access to my children no matter how dangerous he is, my wife would certainly allow it.
    – daddan
    Commented Feb 20, 2021 at 19:46
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    ...and if you decide the reasons for attempting to continue to let your kids see these people (not the uncle!!) be prepared to be inconvenienced. By that I mean, if he shows up at the restaurant-leave. We had to do similar things. Once, we drove up to a relatives house for a holiday get together and we saw his truck in the driveway and we didn’t even stop. My mom called and said where are you going? I said “home.”
    – Jax
    Commented Feb 20, 2021 at 19:49

Apart from the other responses, I would like to answer a specific part:

You say that you talk about bounderies and that they laugh it off or downplay it. In my experience (in another subject, but I wanted to make sure they understood what my stance was) they will keep doing that for as long as you allow it.

I suggest you get offensive, but to exactly a limit: If they do not break the rule (of Uncle not being allowed to your children), there is no problem.

I've found that very black/white phrazing works best. No room for arguments, no discussion, just stating. Both to Uncle, the parent and Wife (ofcourse you can be a little more communicative to her).

I do not want Uncle to be around my children. Not when I'm with them, not when I'm not there. This is not up for debate.

They will not be allowed to WifesParents as long as he is present. If he is not present, and comes home, my children are to be brought somewhere else ASAP. This is not up for debate

Uncle is not allowed in my house. Ever. This is not up for debate

You can end each with "Do you understand what I just said?" and make sure they reply. Force them into acknowledging.
If you really want, you can follow with another "Do you understand that this is not open to interpretation"?

Those last two do not need to be agressive/hostile. What you're going for is a 'this is a fact, from which we do not deviate' kind of vibe.

I expect them to laugh or downplay it. Expect that and go full force with confrontation (not threats, but):

Why are you lauging? Do you think rape is a funny subject? ... No? Then why are you laughing?

The mind of a child? Lets assume that thats correct, does that justify rape?

The mind of a child? So you're saying you're responsible and held acountable for what happens? That means you handle his disease if you think he can't.

That forces them into a position where they must defend rape. Dont let them downplay it.

Something a bit more... untrusting:

The next part is up to you wether or not you think this is a good idea and how much you tell other (eg your wife) about it. I always try to be as trusting as I can, but this requires your own insights:

There are multiple GPS devices available for children, like watches with build in trackers. You can place a tracker in a backpack, or give them a nice watch. Especially your 11yr old might be told to keep it on when they leave the house.

  • 3
    Unfortunately, I suspect they will not laugh, they will just ignore you. And as long as the wife ignores it, with the support of her family, none of your boundaries will be respected. The wife's whole family is sick. All of them would rather be angry with you than angry with their pedophile family.
    – swbarnes2
    Commented Feb 22, 2021 at 21:35
  • 2
    Let them be angry. Better angry because they're forced into understanding the rules, than the (possible) alternative
    – Martijn
    Commented Feb 23, 2021 at 9:47
  • You actually described something that REALLY pisses me off whenever I have to talk about the problem with Tony wife's mother. She will break into laughter as if I was telling a very funny joke. She definitely doesn't take it seriously. But yeah, I think that the strategy of getting them angry at me might work! :)
    – daddan
    Commented Feb 23, 2021 at 15:51
  • Haha that is not the goal. The goal is to confront them to the point they either have to agree (or get angry because they cant) or say out loud that rape isnt bad. And the latter isn't something anyone (sane) would say
    – Martijn
    Commented Feb 23, 2021 at 15:55

Have you tried to bring your wife to therapy? Maybe a third party telling her that it's not normal for a parent to be so nonchalant about their children being sexually molested will convince her to protect her children. You might have your kids meet with a therapist, to make sure that the uncle hasn't done something already.

Second, I'd warn your kids. Tell your 11 year old that he needs to never leave his sister alone with the uncle. That if there are no other adults around, he needs to take her into the bathroom and hide with her until another adult comes back. (Maybe hide a cell phone in there, so he can call for help?) And that yes, it sucks that an 11 year old has to do that, it should be the job of his parents to do that, but clearly his mother doesn't care if her daughter gets raped.

Also, start teaching your daughter. She needs to know some things like: No adult should ever ask her to keep a secret from you. If any adult asks her that, she needs to break any promise and tell you. In the same vein, no adult will ever give her a gift without checking with you, so if an adult does this, she needs to tell you. If any adult other than her doctor asks to see her crotch, she must say "no", and she needs to tell you. No adult should ever take off their pants around her either. If this happens, she needs to tell you. And the general 'if any adult talks to you or does things that make you feel uncomfortable or that you don't like, talk to me so I can help you understand' (And make sure you tell her to tell you, not her mom)

These lessons are of course good for both your kids, but getting them in her head now and over the next few years might help her to recognize if her uncle tries something.

And honestly, you need to talk to a lawyer, and find out your options and odds with regard to getting your children away from your wife; they will never be safe while she has access to them. You married a broken women who was raised by sick parents who think that women are worthless, and she clearly thinks the same of herself and her daughter.

  • 1
    Thank you for the answer! Yes, my wife started therapy. The problem is, as far as I know, she doesn't talk much about her parents and brother with her therapist. Whenever she does, from the "advice" she mentions the therapist has given, I understand that when she mentioned her brother's wrongdoing she kind of put it in a good way, as not to make him look as bad as he is. The therapist came to conclude that mother-in-law is an enabler, and a very manipulative person, but she thinks Uncle is actually a person desperate for a girlfriend, but not a pedophile.
    – daddan
    Commented Feb 20, 2021 at 19:28
  • You could ask your wife if she can set up an appointment for the both of you (or possibly just you alone).
    – Martijn
    Commented Feb 22, 2021 at 12:45
  • 1
    "Bring" your wife was to imply that you go together. That way you can make her give an honest description of her brother's crime to the therapist. I'm sorry, but if your wife thinks that normal people "desperate for a girlfriend" prey on 9 year olds, your wife is sick.
    – swbarnes2
    Commented Feb 22, 2021 at 21:10
  • Thank you again! That won't happen. She gets very defensive about it and she won't let me ever go together with her to therapy. In fact, from what I can tell she doesn't like to talk about her parents or brother during therapy... I won't even insist because that would ignite a big fight... Honestly, I believe therapy is not helping her at all.
    – daddan
    Commented Feb 23, 2021 at 15:46
  • @daddan it might taker her time to talk about that.Its often easier to start with "now". She might have blocked some of the bad parts of her own childhood; these will probably get set free, whether or not she wants them to be free , and just so you are aware things might get worse before they get better. At least she is going there, that is a huge step for a survivor like her. Commented Mar 12, 2021 at 10:44

I'm very sorry for your situation and for the victims of your "Uncle". I don't think you can be 100% safe without extreme measures such as moving far away or cutting off all contact with your wife's family. And since there seems to be no proof of Uncle's crimes, if things came to a head with a divorce [which as I understood you don't want to happen anyway], you would be unlikely to get sole custody on the grounds that your children are in danger with your wife.

Have you considered trying to get Uncle to agree to therapy? This won't give you foolproof security for your kids, of course, because AFAIK, pedophiles can't be cured, but they can learn to manage and redirect their urges. This would help protect not just your children, but all other children in the reach of Uncle.

Suggesting trying to help your "Uncle" instead of trying to convince your wife's family that he's a monster might make it possible to get the family to cooperate, especially if they are also involved in therapy so they realize that what "Uncle" is doing, even if they think that it's just "wishing for a girlfriend of a mentally handicapped person" or "being masculine", is actually deeply hurtful to the children he preys on and must be stopped.

I know it's probably too difficult for you to see "Uncle" as a sad, poor person in search for a "girlfriend", the way his relatives do, since you know about his victims and are scared for your own children, especially your daughter. But maybe you could at least pretend to start seeing Uncle in this light when talking to your wife's family, to make it more likely they'll listen when you suggest therapy. You should still require that Uncle never gets close to your children, of course - but frame it so they think that this isn't because "Uncle" is a monster - it's because what he did to the other kids is very damaging to them, no matter how "harmless" his intentions were.

Maybe your wife's relatives, if they refuse therapy, might at least be willing to read about child sexual abuse and it's consequences for the victims, which might get someone to rethink their position. I realize the chances of this working are slim, since your wife's family sounds like something coming straight out of a horror movie, but I really can't think of anything else that might help short of the extreme "move to the other side of the planet" solution.

Of course this would still leave you with the very real problem of not letting Uncle near your kids, but I don't think you'd be worse off than you are now, and it's at least a way to reduce the risk, if not eliminate it.

Besides that, I fully agree with all the other answers who suggest teaching your kids how to recognize abusive behavior and protect themselves / get help if it happens. Your daughter is probably too young, but your son is old enough to understand a lot, and could also help in protecting his sister by not leaving her alone with "Uncle" if they are every brought into his presence, or call you immediately when he suspects his sister is alone with Uncle and his grandma. That's a lot of responsibility for an 11-year-old, but if I was in your situation, I would do everything I could to reduce the risk.

I don't know how much research you've read about child sexual abuse and how abusers work; if you haven't; I'd suggest you do so. The more you know, the better you can prepare your children (abusers have lots of different strategies to get children to agree to the abuse and keep them from disclosing it, and if you tell your kids what they are, they might notice when they're used on them) and recognize when they exhibit symptoms of having been abused. See for example The seduction of children by Christiane Sanderson.

Edit: Maybe report to the police anyway?

You said reporting Uncle to the police won't work.

Consider informing the police about what you know anyway, even without proof. This will hurt your chances to get the family on your side if the family ever hears of it (or if the police comes by to question them), so you'll have to think about whether to do it (maybe when the therapy idea won't fly?)

I was recently involved in a very strange situation that wasn't abusive in itself yet, but a lot of red flags went up. I talked to a friend working for the police inofficially and he told me that it's good when the police hears about stuff like that, not so they can stalk the guy in question or try to entrap him, but so that when a child comes forward against Uncle in the future, people at the local police station will remember that there were others who said the same thing, and this will make it more likely that CPS and the police will act swiftly instead of disregarding the case and waiting for more proof.

Reporting Uncle without proof won't help you and your kids, but might help other victims and keep other children safe. If nobody ever reports Uncle because nobody has enough proof, and Uncle doesn't change his ways, children will continue to be hurt.

  • 2
    Regarding trying to get the Uncle to agree to therapy, this might be a useful resource: stopitnow.org.uk
    – forest
    Commented Apr 27, 2021 at 23:31

There are some great replies and personal stories here already. While you have one identified threat you don't know who else may enter your children's lives as they get older. So it is a good idea to do what you can to ensure that your children have the tools to recognise inappropriate behaviour and suggested actions to protect themselves as much as possible.

The NSPCC, a UK-based children's charity have a simple set of age-appropriate guidelines for younger children called the PANTS rule. Put simply it says:-

Privates are private

Always remember your body belongs to you

No means no

Talk about secrets that upset you

Speak up, someone can help

The NSPCC also have a range of resources including printable posters, books, and talking topics at https://www.nspcc.org.uk/keeping-children-safe/support-for-parents/pants-underwear-rule/

Then you can have a conversation with them, don't mention uncle, and explain that they should come to you straight away if anyone breaks these rules and if there's anything that makes them uncomfortable to come straight to you, even call you at work and they'll never be in trouble for talking to you about what makes them feel uncomfortable - even if they think it's silly. Make sure to reinforce the rules whenever you are going away and when they might be in a situation where uncle might be around.

Also make sure to call your wife while you're working away, also speak to your children. Take an interest in what they got up to, have they been out to anywhere interesting or seen grandma? If they did then ask who else was there - then you can have a conversation with your wife about that. If they didn't do anything interesting, that's fine, just listen to what they have to say and they'll appreciate you taking an interest in them.


All you can do is just do what you're doing as a good father and cover all bases. Dont let Uncle get near them.EVER. Watch over them like a hawk. Your children are only gonna be kids once and dont let Uncle ruin their childhood .

Parents are supposed to stand guard to their kids.

  • While I like your enthousiasm, OP stated that he's sometimes away for periods of time for work. Watching will become more difficult
    – Martijn
    Commented Feb 23, 2021 at 9:49
  • 1
    The last time I had to travel I had a big argument with wife as she wanted her mother to come to our home for the time I was gonna be away. I almost cancelled the trip because of that. The GPS thing is not necessary because as long as I'm near they'll unlikely to go anywhere without mother's consent, and my wife doesn't have the best of the relationships with her parents. She tries to avoid them a lot. My biggest concern is her mother insisting on coming to our home and bring uncle along.
    – daddan
    Commented Feb 23, 2021 at 15:54

When you choose to marry, you're not just marrying an individual person, you're marrying into a family.

I have to say I just don't understand why you would have chosen to marry into that family. Did you only find out about Uncle after you were married perhaps?

Your wife does not support you in this, so this makes it much more difficult to ensure that this person does not get close to your children.

You're correct that the police will not be able to help you. I believe that people who are sexually interested in children, should not be allowed to be free in society, whether they've actually committed a crime yet, or not. However the law does not work that way, and the police will not do anything about Uncle until he has actually harmed your daughters.

What I would do, is ask your wife if she would consider re-locating to a different city/state/country. You could sell this to your wife as being better for your career, or better living standards, better schools etc. Of course, don't tell her that it is to get away from her family.

If she will not consider moving, I would suggest you consider divorcing her. First though you need to get advice about whether you may be able to be granted primary custody.


this may be a far-fetched and difficult idea, but, given that you know what his preferences are, and how explicit he is despite being protected--get in touch with those organizations that trap pedophiles on Dateline (Google "To Catch a Predator"--the show was done in collaboration with watchdog groups that used adult decoys to trap pedophiles). They ought to be willing and interested in helping because I would think the optimal goal is to really arrest and imprison this guy. EDIT: I just saw you're not living in US. Ok, does the country you live in have a strong influence of any religious authorities? If you approached whatever dominant religion's minister you could trust, would they involve themselves? There ought to be independent groups re protecting kids who could entrap this guy.

I myself was raised by a parent with pedophilic inclinations but one who never, as far as I know, acted on them. However, she has an obsession with endlessly watching (innocent) videos of very young girls and stalks famous girl children online. She has even gone so far as to strike up relationships with parents of young girls in order to get close to those girls somehow.

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