How do you deal with a secret that you wish you didn't know about?


My mother who is 81 has begun showing the early signs of dementia. Today while we were waiting for her doctor, she told me that my grandmother was raped while she was in a nursing home 20 years ago, as was her room mate at the time. My mother told me she choose not to say anything to anyone and just let it go.

Just a few weeks earlier she brought up an incident when I was about 5 years old where a male babysitter molested me. It was an incident that was never talked about after I told my parents and I have dealt with it and had not thought about it in years. I don't know why she thought now was a good time to tell me about the rape and talk about the molestation.

I have 3 sisters and we are all involved with her care and are helping with getting her into a good assisted living facility. I don't know if I should tell them about the rape incident or leave it for her to tell them?

I am hurt and confused that she would treat her mother this way. I knew that they had a contentious relationship, and I often saw my mother berate and in someways mistreat her.

Is this just part of the dementia and is just less able to filter what is appropriate to share. Any information or help will be appreciated.

This information about my grandmother has left me feeling bewildered and angry that should could be so callous and uncaring while her 4 daughters are going through hops to insure that she is well taken care of and safe.

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I believe this is part of the dementia - she is living in the past - not the present - and she may even be getting different things mixed up together.
At any rate, this is painful for you - even more so considering your tragic background. You may want to talk to a professional counselor for a few sessions just to help you cope. This is bringing up a lot of issues for you, and it's not likely to get easier.
As to whether to tell your sisters or not - that would depend on your relationship with them. Again, you may want to ask a professional counselor about this, as it's way beyond the norm of what most people have to deal with.
Take care of yourself, please.
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I think the dementia, whether she wants to or not, is making her drop all that guilt ... and hopefully bring you two closer together. If a NH is in the forecast for her, however, she might be making the rape up so you don't put her in one. The secret is out, so if you think other need to know leave it up to her to tell the story. If she doesn't, tell her you're going to. In a nutshell, don't be manipulated and don't let anyone rent space in your head. Good luck.

-- Ed
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interesting subject . i suspect 10 out of 10 girls have been molested in their lifetimes . i suspect 5 out of 10 of them let their own curiosities get them into a compromised situation . we are all humans with hormonal urges . i say this because a neighbor girl and i played " doctor " when we were quite young . no one was molested and no one ever complained . theres just some things we wanted to know about each other .. when im old and demented ill swear " glenda " molested me ..
not a laughing matter . pervs go to prison now days . a high five to mankind . weve progressed .
not that long ago a woman took me for a fun spin one night . she got the attention that she craved then busted me across the head with a veto stamp when things got real . i despise her , she used me , a prick tease .. a little male perspective here .. ladies , wear brass knuckles but put some clothes on and carry yourself with respect .. draw a line in the sand but dont move the line around at your own sole disgression . both genders have the responsibility of treating each other with respect ..
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Thanks Eddie, she has definitely "rented space in my head" so I'm taking Mindingourelders advice and looking for professional help also.
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do you think your sisters were also raped by this babysitter? perhaps you can find a way to ask them without divulging anything. if they were it could and I emphaze could be very helpful if it was out in the open for all of you, However don't do anything until you have had professional advice. I don't know what your mother's motive was at this time. maybe unloading her guilt, reminding you as a punishment who knows. But she sure did not help you at this time. When this happened it was usual to keep these family secrets under wraps because it brought shame to the girl and her family. If everyone knew she could be labeled as "damaged goods" or just a bad lot. there is no way of finding the truth. Did it happen to grandmother who knows, did she make it up is Mom making it up. Deal with what happened to you in whatever way is most helpful and let the rest go. things happen in N/H which we wish could be prevented just as they do in the outside world.
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My mum was always a very unhappy woman bitter and negative BUT a good mum caring etc.... 2mths ago she told me that she was molested several times by different people when she was younger she told me in a matter of fact way and it was never mentioned again. Yes this is the dementia we had no idea and are grateful that NOW we can explain her unhappiness so sad to think that she had to keep this to herself all her life. She told me she never told anyone until now. I cried so much after but we are releived to be able to understand why my mum was the way she was and can now just feel for her although we never mention it whats the point?
I agree that although your mother said this about the rape she could be just trying to scare you into not putting her in a home OR this actually happened. Personally I wouldnt go there its in the past leave it there. As for what happened to you? I cant really answer thats personal and it seems you have dealth with this. Yes dementia can open cans of worms that we may or may not want to hear. I was so shocked when my mum told me but have decided not to go there its too late for her and whoever was responsible I dont think any of her family knew but maybe someone did? I dont want to think about it if my mum has opened up years ago she may have had a better life? in those days things just were not discussed thankgod people are more aware now and that there is help it must have been hell for my mum to have lived with this until now 76yrs old now. How awful but we now understand her and that means alot to us.
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I am the primary live-in caregiver for my 94-year-old grandmother (and I’m a 39-year-old man). My job allows me to work at least 75% of the time from home and I can also reduce my work load or take weeks off as needed. My mom is an ‘only’ child, so my sister and I are the only grandchildren. My mom is a sweetheart in so many ways, but she just isn’t caregiver material. So I had to step in a few years ago and do what she couldn’t.

My sister and I took care of our other grandmother, my dad’s mom, until she died in Feb 2012. My sis lived less than a mile away, so she checked on her at least once every day. I live about 30 miles away, so I went every other day and stayed for several hours or more with her for the last year or so. She was diagnosed with terminal cancer on Thanksgiving Day 2011 and the oncologist gave her 8-10 weeks, at best. Both of us moved into her house that night and stayed for the next three months until she died. (My dad is also an only child but he wasn’t in the picture at all).

I knew this would be tougher with my mom’s mom because we were never as close as I was to my dad’s parents. My mom’s father died of pancreatic cancer before I was born. Knowing what I know now, I’m glad he’s dead and I hope he suffered….and I mean that with all sincerity, so please don’t lecture me about forgiveness or anything of the like!!!

My mom was a few weeks shy of her 16th birthday when she married my 21-year-old father. And no, she wasn’t pregnant. They dated for less than a month before eloping to Wallhalla SC (first town across the GA/SC state line) to get married. Everyone just thought my mom was running away from my Nanny’s (grandma) strict religious beliefs as an act of rebellion.

My Nanny is a sweet devoutly Christian (Pentecostal) woman but she is also incredibly passive and has avoided any sort of confrontation her entire life. My mom is the polar opposite. She was incredibly overprotective of me even into my late teens. My teachers, coaches and even my middle and high school principals were TERRIFIED of her! If anyone even looked at me the wrong way, she was like Mama Bear on Crystal Meth!!! A teacher once called me a ‘brat’ to her face and It took three grown men to pull mom off of her….you get the idea.

My mom has always had a strained relationship with her mother. Again, I just chalked it up to religious and personality differences. But after I started living with my grandmother, she would say odd things once in a while that I didn’t understand. She and my mom would get into an argument and Nanny would say something like “I know you think I was a horrible mother” or “I know you will always hate me but I just didn’t know what to do”! Finally, I cornered my mom about two years ago at her house (away from Nanny) and basically forced her to tell me what the hell they were talking about….
My grandfather and one of his sleazy drunk friends started molesting my mother when she was only nine years old! Mom was crying so hard that she could hardly say the words and when she told me, I LOST IT! I put my fist thru a wall then again thru the glass window pane….I wanted to do the same to my grandmother at that moment!!!

I called my neighbor and asked her to go next door, pick up my grandmother and take her for a ride or to the DQ or something for about 30 minutes. I promised to call her and explain everything later that evening. She picked her up, I went into the house and packed both of my large suitcases with most of clothes, my laptop and a few other important things and headed directly for the Atlanta Airport 65 miles away. I called my cousin/best friend/rock who lives in Los Angeles while I was driving, crying and screaming simultaneously to tell her I’d be there on the first flight out. Her name, fittingly, is Cousin Joy and all she said was “I’ll be waiting for you at the airport”- no questions, just come on.

I stayed in L.A. with her for a month, mom told Nanny that I knew everything and none of us knew if I was ever coming back. I didn’t speak to Nanny at all during that month and only called mom a few times. I told Mom that I hated Nanny for not protecting her and getting her out of that situation and she said she had forgiven her and asked me to try to find a way to do the same. I came back and told Nanny never to speak to me about any of it-and she hasn’t. I do love her and it has gotten easier over the last two years, but sometimes it all comes back to the surface and I want to scream and swear at her until I lose my voice….but I walk away, take a Valium, call my cousin, go into the basement where she can’t hear me and break a stack of old dishes…anything to get the anger out without having a stroke!

Knowing what I do, I will never feel the same about my Nanny, even after she’s gone. But it gives me SO much insight into my mom’s crazy head and explains so much about my childhood. Hey, at least I knew I was loved because my mom was willing to attack for me! =)
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Wow IgoZoom, what a story! And what a good lesson that there may be reasons why people (like your mom) act the way they do, you just don't know what they are. I'm glad you have the truth and can deal with it in your own way.
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My mother told me of an incident in the car last year.... she mentioned that when she was about 8 or 9, an uncle in the family gave her a ride in his car. She remembers this like it was yesterday. Apparently in the old days the "family" shared tenants and borders. This man was one in my mom's house with my grandparents. She told me he gave her a dime, and then while driving, he pushed his hand under her dress and felt around there. She didn't know what to do but was frightened. She told Grandpa when she got home. After that the man was never treated the same way again. I don't know if they got rid of him or what, but this molestation stayed with her for over 80 years in her head.
I find it noteworthy that many elderly ladies come out with tales of rape or molestation in their younger days. Personally I believe my mother. She wouldn't make something like that up. Additionally, my father, who was of sound mind his entire life, once mentioned something about this to me when he and I were alone years ago. I never knew if it was true or not, but suspected it was. Perhaps that is the reason some of our elderly loved ones are so afraid of strangers. I know my mother doesn't want to get too close to people outside family she has known for generations. She is afraid and fearful until she feels she can trust them. I think that could be a pointed reason why many of them are afraid of paid staff "helping" care for them in NH or ALF situations.
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Just considering this -- maybe the story of your grandmother's abuse is NOT true. When a parent has dementia, I think it's important to begin letting go of our quest for facts and truth (I've had to do it myself--it's crazymaking). Your mother be understandably anxious about being moved to assisted living. In the past, she may have been a skillful manipulator, and now, it's not so easy for her. My mother brings up traumatic events (her inflicting on me) in a strange way now, and it's very puzzling and upsetting. I'm left wondering if she is hoping for forgiveness, or if she's checking to see if I have any memory of the event. I act like the events are inconsequential in order to avoid further discussion (we're not close, never have been), but of course I DO remember. Is she relieved to be getting off scott free? Probably Does she feel any remorse? Probably not.
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