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Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5334
Experience:  Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology in private practice
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I found your site this afternoon and I'm very grateful. I

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I found your site this afternoon and I'm very grateful. I have a situation to share with you and hope you may be able to assist me with some information/direction.
I have recently married a man I went to high school with (I'm 48; he's 52). We have reconnected a year after he discovered his wife and mother of his daughter (who's now 22) has been unfaithful throughout the entire course of their 22-year marriage with over 30 different men that she could remember (he had a job that required travel 4 days each week). I have moved across the US to join him in North Carolina.
Upon doing so, I am learning some very disquieting things about his daughter (and recently, more about him). I worked in the public school system for 12 years, and this young woman is . . . . well, something's very wrong here. Let me start with his daughter.
Now, I do know that her mother raised her in almost abject neglect, teaching her nothing about even the simplest things in life (self-care, home care, work ethic, social graces, etc.). Her mother was constantly dumping this child off on babysitters so she could go meet dates while her then-husband was gone for work. But the things about this daughter that I now see because I live with her and her dad--frankly, I'm frightened for her. I am wondering if she's developmentally disabled from all the neglect, and the fact that her father was not home enough to really realize what was happening to his child.
Here is a laundry list of what I'm seeing. I have a 19-year-old daughter of my own in college, and the two girls are light years apart in development!! Again, this is a 22-year old--she lives, acts, and looks like someone half her age:
•She does not hold a job.
•She sleeps all day and is up at night. It has been this way since she graduated high school.
•She has not even the most remote interest in dating.
•She has only two household chores: Dishes and cleaning the cat litter.
•She is obsessed with anime' cartoons.
•She has the ability to speak intelligently about such things as politics, yet will go for days without bathing or dressing herself (she goes around the house in a t-shirt and underwear--often, the underwear are in dreadful disrepair).
•She has no interest in grooming herself (makeup, hair styles, etc.), nor will she clean her surroundings (her bathroom, bedroom, etc.).
•She often carries and sleeps with a ragged remnant of her childhood security blanket.
•Recently, two male friends of hers stopped by for a visit. She did not put on jeans or shorts, citing that it wasn't necessary to cover up because these friends were homosexual.
•Upon occasion, she will argue a point with her father, seeming to be in refusal to be wrong about anything, much like someone in pre-adolescence would do.
•She has a very 'elementary school-age' view of public displays of affection, stating that such things are "gross" or "sick".
She chews with her mouth open.
She and I have gotten along alright, but there's very little chance for any deeper discussions between us because she's awake all night/asleep all day. Her personality seems very avoidant of social connection, besides. Except for talking about cartoons (I'm an animation fan), such intimate types of connectivity have yet to materialize. Her dad is trying to be gentle with her following the trauma of finding out about her mother's titanic indiscretions, but I can't shake the feeling that there's *something wrong with this girl*.
Then very recently, I discovered something shattering. My husband has an internet history filled with pre-teen pornography, family nudist website visits, child model "no-nudes" sites, and even sites showing alleged incest.
I'm beyond frightened. I am 3,000 miles away from my home in the Pacific NW, my daughter, and my whole family . . . on my own with a man I thought I knew. My daughter and I had a wonderful home together, we were very happy, I had a great job, and we were finally healthy after leaving my daughter's psychologically-abusive father (marriage of 25 years; he's BPD/NPD). I'm nearly 50, and should be so much smarter than to have become wrapped in this. But it occurs to me that I never would have known ANY of this if I'd not moved here and become a part of this household.
Your impressions???
Looking forward to whatever light you can possibly shed. Prior to the discovery of the internet porn, I'd not spoken to my husband about the health of his daughter because I've only been in the family for about 7 months, but now . . . in your observation, does this young woman display the traits of someone who's been sexually abused??
Thank you.

Hi! I'll be glad to help you with this issue. Because you were offline, the system reverted to the question/answer format so I'll answer you here, okay?

I can imagine how distressing and, yes, devastating, this situation must be for you. You are clearly an intelligent, level-headed, caring and loving person. And it feels like you've stepped into a totally dysfunctional situation. I think your assessment is correct:

You have stepped into a dysfunctional family situation. How dysfunctional is not possible for us to diagnose here, nor for you to assess with the limited information you have. Let's start with the scariest things:

We don't know if she was molested, or if incest has occurred, or if there is any ongoing molestation, or anything like that. Your husband's predilections are worrisome--and to you scary for sure and I think rightly so--but not proof. These sites get many views, perhaps millions, and only a small fraction of the viewers are actually pursuing these activities in real life. They are expressing fantasies for most of the people addicted to them. But you have the daughter's behavior that could be explained by ongoing trauma.

That is the wild card here and is more definite:

Something is very wrong, indeed. You are intelligent and you can see this. You need not question yourself about this. We don't know if it is developmental, true. It could be something in the Asperger Syndrome type of spectrum, untreated and thus her "hit and miss" rules of life that she follows. Or, it could be neglect as you also suspect, though my training and experience doesn't quite support that so much. Neglected kids don't give that kind of cluelessness that you describe.

However, ongoing molestation and abuse do support the description you provide. That I have to tell you is a concern. So, you have two leading possibilities in terms of her situation: a developmental problem or PTSD with neglect.

So I've confirmed that your fears are not outlandish; now what?

I don't know if you want to take a trip to visit your family and think things through about your future in this family. I would certainly support your not making her problems your duty or responsibility.

You may want to schedule such a trip and before the trip schedule a heart to heart talk with him, confronting him with what you know about his sexual proclivities and how they make you feel. Not being accusatory, but being frank. And your concern that his daughter is seriously in need of intensive mental health care and you're not sensing he recognizes this. You are welcome to show my answer to him to confirm this. Then after the discussion you will have time away to consider your next moves.

Okay, I wish you the very best!

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Hi, Jen. Have you had a chance to consider my answer? Were my suggestions helpful? Or do we need to consider more options? Let me know,

Dr. Mar
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