I MARRIED A PAEDOPHILE'S SON
"It is a grave disservice to the heart, soul, body and spirit of a woman when she is given the subtle message that the truth of her own pain is not as important as the reputation of the ones who inflict it." Hilary McFarlane, Quivering Daughters.
I still cannot believe I married the son of a paedophile. Had I known when I was walking down that aisle at the tender age of eighteen of the horrors that lay hidden in that family of child molesters, I would have turned around and run like hell! But I didn’t know because child molesters don’t advertise it to the world and this particular family did everything in their power to keep their activities a secret. The family I married into comprised of a paedophile who molested his own and other children in the community and a so-called born-again Christian wife who knowingly fed the children to him to satisfy his twisted sexual appetite. Mine is a shocking and controversial story. It is only in recent years that I have come to a place where I am comfortable talking about my horrendous first marriage and the warped people I’ve had to deal with my entire life. I am sharing this story to illustrate how easy it is for young women to get sucked into abusive marriages. Fortunately I got out of this marriage and managed to move on with my life. But there are many women out there who are not so lucky, and for whatever reason they stay in abusive marriages. This is my story and I share it in the hopes that women trapped in abusive marriages will recognize the symptoms and get out.
I was sixteen years old when I met my husband, several years my senior. I was a high school dropout and living in a small flat in Grahamstown at the time. By eighteen I was naively walking down the aisle, like a lamb to the slaughter with no idea of the abuse, coercion and terror that awaited me in that marriage and family. Soon after the marriage I was subjected to ridicule, judgments and criticism from my husband’s family. If we had an argument he would take all the intimate information to the rest of them and they would deliberate about my guilt. My father-in-law was an aggressive and violent alcoholic with a history of physical abuse. One evening my drunken father-in-law kissed me and stuck his tongue in my mouth while trying to fondle me. I freaked out and went to find my husband, who was also drunk. When I tried to explain to him what had happened he just laughed and brushed it off. At the time I found the enmeshment and lack of boundaries of that family very strange, but I had no idea how deep the rabbit hole went!
Nine month after our marriage my daughter was born. My husband made it clear that I was not permitted to work because he felt my place was at home with my baby. One day my husband returned home from work and announced he’d just bought a house on a small-holding 5 kilometres out of Grahamstown. I was dumb-struck. I couldn’t believe that he had made such a major decision without discussing it with me! For the first 6 months of my daughter’s life I was often left alone on the 5 hectare small-holding with no transport while he went off on extended fishing and hunting trips with his friends. On one such occasion our small home was broken into by two youths. Fortunately my husband had left his pistol at home and I was able to defend myself against the attackers. I managed to apprehend one of the youths and called the police who took him into custody.
Our marriage was very turbulent. My husband never helped me care for the baby and was always out at parties and was often drunk and abusive. When I fell pregnant again my husband was furious and said the only reason I had had sex with him was to fall pregnant. It was at that stage that I came upon a massive pornographic collection which he had hidden high up in his wardrobe. The material was graphic, violent and disturbing and I left the house in a state. I left a note behind saying I had found his collection. He was furious and threatened to kill me. A friend had to intervene and calm him down before I could return home. The very friend he later admitted to being in love with! He would blatantly flirt with other women in front of me and often told me that I could never fulfil his sexual fantasies (I never dared to ask him what they were, especially after seeing the disturbing porno collection.) His mother and four sisters continued to interfere in our marriage and I became more and more hated and disapproved of. My father-in-law decided to retire from farming and asked my husband to take over his 115 hectare farm in Kenton-on-Sea. Only years later did I realize that the very bed we slept in was the same bed many children were sexually abused in by my father-in-law. Just thinking about it today turns my stomach. Around the time of my husband’s older sister’s marriage, some very disturbing news broke.
Our young niece had confessed to her parents that my father-in-law (her grand-father) had sexually abused her for years. Two of my husband’s sisters also admitted to being sexually abused by him their whole childhoods and my niece’s mother admitted to me that my mother-in-law knew about the abuse but never did anything to stop it. My husband denied having been sexually abused but said he distinctly remembered his father rubbing his erect penis against his back in bed when he was a child! I completely fell apart at this news because a few months previously I had been bullied into leaving my toddler with my in-laws when my husband insisted on us going away for the weekend with friends. Upon returning home and collecting my toddler, she was very upset and unsettled. When I tried to wash her genitals in the bath that night she cried and indicated she was sore down there. The next day I took her off to my GP who felt that my daughter had been sexually molested. When I told my husband he said I was crazy and imagining everything. So of course when the news broke of the sexual abuse in the family I raised my concerns that my daughter had also been abused as well and everyone violently gunned me down. I approached a lawyer as I wanted to sue the bastard and was told that I needed evidence and witnesses. My husband and his sisters told me that they would do everything to protect their father and would go as far as to lie under oath if I subpoenaed them to court. Things went downhill very fast after that. Despite the news breaking out about all the incest, my mother-in-law remained steadfastly at her husband’s side and things were conveniently pushed under the carpet. At that stage I was convinced that she was part of the sexual abuse, that she permitted it and even encouraged it, but of course everyone told me I was wrong, that she couldn’t possibly have known about it. My sister-in-law’s admission to me that her mother knew was also conveniently forgotten and I was branded a liar and a drama queen. But over the years the evidence has become overwhelmingly obvious. Yet to this day the family violently protects my ex mother-in-law. The Matriarch of a cultic family is very powerful indeed.
Soon after the news broke, my husband and I attended a friend’s birthday party on a nearby farm. I was heavily pregnant with my son at that stage and most uncomfortable. When I communicated to my husband that I was having severe back ache, he sent me to the car like a child and told me to go and have a nap. I took my daughter along and tried to get comfortable in the car, to no avail. After an hour or so I went back to collect the car keys as I wanted to leave and go home, and found my husband clutched in another woman’s arms and fondling her. I was furious. I grabbed the keys from him, jumped in the car and stormed off into the middle of the night, hoping I’d find my way home on the gravel back roads of the farm we were visiting. At two o’clock that morning he arrived home, drunk as a skunk and yelling abuses at me, followed by slaps and shoving me onto the floor where he kicked me in the back. I put up a fight and eventually he called his mother and told her that if she didn’t come over immediately, he would kill me.
Two months later my son was born and I knew that I had to find a way out of this nightmare family, or my own kids would become further victims of the sexual and emotional incest. I didn’t realize it back then, but I’d married into a cultic family of the most twisted kind!
Hilary McFarlane is the author of “Quivering Daughters”. I stumbled upon her work when I was researching information on cultic families. She describes a family cult as a high demand family group which operates by incorporating authoritarian control, thought reform, and other cult means with spiritual, emotional and often physical and sexual abuse. She further explains that family members trying to break free from the hold essentially get cut off from their very own blood. I recently saw this when my nephew spoke out about the incest in that family. His own mother completely cut him and his children off.
Living on a remote farm in Kenton-on-Sea in 1986 with neighbours far away was very stressful for me, as I had no support system and no friends to turn to. My husband’s family continued to interfere in our marriage and our lives and I could do nothing right in their eyes. My husband’s drinking escalated and things deteriorated very quickly. Weekend parties with copious amounts of alcohol and marijuana became the order of the day in our home, where my husband would get so drunk that he’d end up stripping naked and dancing like a maniac on the tables. If I tried to escape to the bedroom he would come and find me and force me out, saying I was an unsupportive and unloving wife. He would belittle and ridicule me in front of his friends and then relay stories to his family members on the Monday which were fabricated and exaggerated, and I’d face more disapproval. I lost count of the amount of times he hid away the car keys so I couldn’t get off the farm and I became more and more isolated. During these lock-down sessions he would also lock the telephone, so I couldn’t call anyone. I was not permitted to work and earn an income. If I ever needed anything of a personal nature he would give me money which he recorded in a ledger and ever so often he’d haul out the ledger and show me what I cost him.
On Christmas Eve when my children were two and four years old, we went out to a party to celebrate the season. As usual my husband got very drunk and abusive and accused me of having an affair with someone at the party whom he’d seen me talking to (I was periodically accused of having affairs). He hauled me to the car with the kids and drove us home in his drunken state. When we arrived at home he locked himself in the car with the kids as soon as I got out and threatened to kill them. I became hysterical and pleaded with him to open the car so I could get the children. Eventually, with a brick in hand, I was threatening to smash the car windows to get my kids out and he reluctantly unlocked the door. I grabbed my children and raced off into the house and locked the three of us up in the spare bedroom. Minutes later he was pounding on the door, threatening to kill us all. Eventually he gave up and everything became quiet. About 20 minutes later I heard a gun shot and was convinced that he’d shot himself, but was too afraid to leave the room in case he was waiting for me with the gun. So I waited for the morning until the farm staff arrived before coming out of the bedroom. I found him in the living room sleeping off his hangover, with the front door wide open. Outside were the ashes of a bon-fire he had made. He had taken all the Christmas presents under the tree and burned them in the fire, together with all the framed family portraits that were hanging up around the house. It was then that I realised if I didn’t leave he would kill me.
I waited a few days for the dust to settle and I went to see an attorney and instigated divorce proceedings. I had nowhere to go to, no qualifications, no supportive family and no money. But I knew that I had to make a plan or I was screwed. While I was plotting my escape, my husband wasted no time in finding a replacement for me and went to see his girlfriend Thayda every night, which gave me the space to get the ball rolling. Everyone in Kenton-on-Sea knew he was seeing her and he wasn’t shy about it. But I was actually grateful for the situation because it meant that he was focused elsewhere. Thanks to his girlfriend, I was able to leave with my children without a huge fuss and I couldn’t get away fast enough. At the time I was too naive to know what he meant when he said “I will make these children hate you.” I brushed off his threatening comments and eagerly drove off into the sunrise.
A few months later I was settled into a job in Cape Town and living in a small apartment with my kids. I was struggling financially but I was free. Free from the alcoholic abusive mad-man, free from the paedophile father-in-law, the zealous and false born-again Christian mother-in-law and free from the Poisonous Sisters. My soon-to-be ex-husband paid no child support as he felt that the car he had allowed me to have was plenty payment and said if I wanted to live on my own, I had to pay my own way. After leaving my husband and the incestuous family, I drummed sex education into my children’s heads day in and day out. I taught them about good and bad touches and encouraged them to be vocal if anyone ever tried to touch them sexually or inappropriately.
“Within a fundamentalist family cult, autonomy is the enemy, for if one begins to think and reason independently, the entire family dynamic is threatened. Cultivating co-dependency is an effective way to at least challenge the onset of autonomous behaviour; in addition, language such as "always""never" and others allude to extremes and reinforce co-dependency. Some refer to this as covert or emotional incest—the use of a child by a parent or sibling to meet psychological, emotional, non-sexual, or religious adult needs. As a result of co-dependency or enmeshment, lack of emotional and physical boundaries occurs.” Hilary McFarlane.
(The most disturbing photograph I ever saw: My ex- mother & father-in-law with their 5 children and 12 of their grand children. I know for a fact that there were MANY other children in the community and at Riet River that were molested by him too. How many shattered lives there are today because of that man we will never know. Taken at their Riet River Cottage conveniently called THE HAREM)
In 1994 I fell pregnant with my third child. My ex-husband was trying to get custody of my kids yet again and this time his zealous mother got involved. She wrote a defamatory letter to Child Services stating that I was a Satanist and I was visited in my home and put under severe and stressful scrutiny. Needless to say the Child Services Officer was satisfied that the allegations were false and left. In 1995 I found myself raising three children as a single mom and juggling career and motherhood. I didn’t know if I was Arthur or Martha and slowly sunk into a deep depression. With no child support from my children’s fathers, or support from my own family, I was pushed to my limits while trying to keep my head above water.
My ex-husband realized that I was slowly unravelling and put a lot of pressure on me to allow the older children to live with him. The more I refused, the deeper he dug his heels in and the bigger the promises made to my kids, including a horse and a motorbike if they agreed to live with him. Soon I had all three of them nagging me 24/7. Eventually I couldn’t stand the pressure anymore and I stupidly gave in. At the time I didn’t realize the extent of the evil in his family, nor did I consider that he’d try to make good on his promise to poison my kids against me.
When my baby was two years old, my older kids, who were nine and eleven at the time, moved to their father. And that is where the problems really began. At the time I was too depressed and naive to realize that I was letting my children return to a cultic family. It was only years later when I went into therapy and began my healing journey did I even begin to understand the dynamics of that dark and twisted family. Before my children left I sat them down to explain to them exactly what their grandfather was. I told my daughter what had happened to her when she was a baby and made them understand that under no circumstances were they ever allowed to be alone with him and why. My ex husband also promised me that he would never leave them alone with his father.
During the time my children lived with their father they were constantly told by my ex-husband and his family what an evil and neglectful mother I was, that I had taken my husband to the cleaners and caused him to lose his business, when the truth was that I had left with a few items of cheap furniture, the family car (which he later took back) and our clothes. I never asked for a cent in the divorce settlement and he hardly ever paid child support when they did live with me. During the years my children lived with their father they never informed me of the abuse and crazy behaviour. I suppose they were forbidden to discuss anything with me. I started hearing stories via the grapevine which were later confirmed by other distant family members and people who knew the family. These stories included my ex-husband chasing my son with a loaded gun and threatening to kill him, taking nude pictures of underage girls, sexually abusing his girlfriend’s daughter, taking drugs in front of and with my children, sexually harassing my daughter’s pre-adolescent friends and other hair-raising events. I was informed that he shared very intimate information about his sex life with my daughter, making her even more co-dependent. He also made the kids work for his seasonal pub on the Kariega River without any pay and once stole R8000 from my son. I also learned that there was never food in the house and my kids had to get fed by other family members often. Years later I connected with a distant family member of my ex-husbands who confirmed that my ex father-in-law had sexually abused her mother too, as well as several other children in the community. With my ex mother-in-laws full knowledge! Once again my suspicions were confirmed! Here was a paedophile being supplied with children to molest by his own wife! Whenever we tried to talk about or share stories about the sexual abuse in that family, huge walls would go up and threats would come spewing forth. They did not want anyone to know about the evil that they were covering and hiding. My ex mother-in-law is a so-called devout Christian. Imagine what it would do to her reputation if the truth leaked out into the community that she had fed all the children to her now deceased paedophile husband? My niece tried to sue her grandfather when she was older, but her mother dived to his rescue and the other sisters pressurized her to refrain from pressing charges. I battled to understand the reasoning behind all this strange behaviour until I came across Hilary McFarlanes book, Quivering Sisters, which explains cultic families and how they operate.
“When the one place where you should be safe and nurtured is in reality cruel, dangerous and toxic, members experience the full impact of dysfunction. Internalized, this can create numerous maladies, ranging from depression and PTSD to chronic fatigue, immune, and hormonal disorders, to name a few. The rejection of personhood by one's own blood is a debilitating yet all-too-common reality of family cults. Sharing and transparency, lack of boundaries, and exposing secrets are present in virtually every dysfunctional, cultic family. Siblings are encouraged—whether directly or through positive reinforcement—to keep mom and dad updated on activities, feelings, ideas, and any drama that may unfold. Extended criticism sessions, whether private or in front of family members, serve two purposes: to keep everyone on their toes, and to control behaviour through the "hot seat" experience.”
There were stories confirmed by the staff who lived and worked on my ex father-in-laws farm in Kenton-on-Sea. Apparently he would go into the huts at night in the staff compound and have sex with the young black girls. I think rape is probably a better description because I’m told the young girls were all terrified of him. During the period when the incest came out, my sisters-in-law told me that their mother used to lock her bedroom door at night, forcing my father-in-law to sleep with one of the children. He once sexually molested one of his nieces in his bedroom at the family holiday cottage in Riet River while my mother-in-law stood at the door watching. When he was done she had to cheek to ask her ten year old niece if she was now having an affair with her husband! Another time my very young niece was sexually molested at the Riet River cottage by my father-in-law. She had Chicken Pox and her parents were encouraged by my in-laws to go and spend the day up the beach and leave her behind. How convenient! Did it never occur to my sister-in-law (who knew her father was a paedophile)that her young daughter should never be left alone with her parents, given the history??? I wonder how many other children were molested by these two evil oxygen thieves?
Hilary McFarlane believes: “ Law over grace. Spoken or subtle, the message teaches that "You don't matter unless you conform to our beliefs." Or in other cases, "We won't accept or support you if you do not share our convictions." There is often more concern for submission to authority and to family values than for the individuals themselves. Children who do not conform to the cultic family dynamic are labelled, shunned, and treated as though they do not exist or are of little value. Love, affection, attention or approval are withdrawn until change becomes evident. Within an unhealthy family, where individualism is discouraged and privacy is little to non-existent, the lines which determine "this is where you stop, and I begin" become blurred and erased. Members essentially spill into one another while confusion, dysfunction, and toxicity increase.” Try to expose the truth of the incest and sexual abuse in that family and out come the big guns. Silence is consent. Many of the grand-children in that family are now adults and suffering from severe emotional problems. Only one spouse of the five adult children in that family still remains. The rest of us ran for the hills as soon as we realized what we were dealing with. The family influence over everyone is so strong and powerful that any individuals challenging the status quo become powerless.
My children are now grown up, but still deeply tied to the cultic family in every way possible. As a collective group they continue to protect the dark secrets of the family, still root for one another and still operate as one entity. The moment I left my husband I was branded a liar. My relationship with my older children continues to be turbulent, and I feel that there is a constant tug-of-war going on. For years I went out of my way to prove my worthiness to my children, to the point where I began to make myself ill from guilt and stress. I have now come to the point where I refuse to continue this battle. They are adults now and they need to make their own choices. You can have no peace or serenity as long as you are dancing to someone else’s tunes. When you continue to protect a shameful and evil secret that you have been trained to guard with your very life, the future does not spell freedom. True freedom comes from recognizing evil for what it is, standing for truth and not being afraid to speak out and break the silence.
And this is a picture of the rebuilt Riet River cottage after it burned down, officially called THE HAREM by the very people who sexually abused their own and other children over the years. How come nobody figured out what was going on all these years? It's quite amazing how strongly a cultic family will protect its secrets from the world. You may very well have walked past this cottage and never known of the horrors that were taking place inside, perpetrated by two of the most evil people I have ever had the misfortune of knowing.