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I found out my father was messaging underaged girls and I’m at a complete loss

As the title says I (22F) found out from my mother that my father was messaging underaged girls. Luckily, my father is dead so no further children can be harmed but to say this rattled me would be an understatement. I was sexually abused in school by a peer around the ages of 12-13 and I won’t lie, it really messed me up. Though my father made many mistakes the last few years of his life (abusing substances and leaving us penniless at times), I made peace with him and finally after years I was almost proud to have him as my father. I even got a tattoo to celebrate his life as by the end I thought he was a changed man. But this news has torn me apart, made me feel absolutely disgusted I share DNA with this man and loved him for years when he looked at girls my age like that. I know the pain of being abused and the fact my own father did that is unforgivable. I don’t know how I can move on in my life knowing this news and how I’ll be ever able to move past this with my mother. The fact she knew about this and didn’t do anything disgusts me as she knows I had been abused at a similar age haunts me. I apologize if this is wrong subreddit for this, but any advice or direction would be greatly appreciated.

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  1. Why is your mom telling you this now? There’s nothing positive I it for you.

    I’m sorry your dad may not have been the person you thought. I can’t imagine how you’re feeling about this news.

  2. Your mother’s moral compass doesn’t exactly point north. Neither do your siblings if they knew about it at the time.

    That’s guilt by complacency, and it’s something just as bad as the act itself. I see why you are so upset. And it also causes trust issues, as in whether you would trust them to deal with your sensitive information and personal well-being properly.

    I hope you find a way to move out soon.

  3. Does she have proof of this? I ask because I know my mom spews lies all the time, and I always had to ask for proof. I wouldn’t look at your dad as a scumbag unless you knew for sure this was true.

  4. This is such a horrible situation and some of these comments are just nasty. My deepest sympathies with you at this time.

    There are some great suggestions on here, the top priority I think though would be for you to seek professional help to help you navigate these feelings.

    I also think you need to restart your process of closure. Does your tattoo really bother you now?? Would you maybe look into getting a coverup or laser? Before making any rash decisions about it I would cover it with a bandage. Maybe starting a reporting process would help too. It’s up to you though.

  5. I’d get your tattoo changed, to something that makes you feel strong and proud. And I’d go NC with your mum. Sorry this happened to you. You deserve better

  6. Your mother is an enabler. You won’t get the right answer here on how to deal with your own personal experience with this other than … go to therapy immediately.
    This disgusts me so much as a mother.. that another mother would find out about that and not do anything significant enough for those children. She’s awful.

  7. Other’s here have made some GREAT comments. I just dropped in to suggest finding a good artist & having your tattoo covered. You don’t need something that could possibly act as a reminder of the trauma you’ve suffered

  8. To be honest? She should have just left it be, he’s in the grave, telling you didn’t do you any good, obviously it just messed up your perceptions even more, and put you right back into emotional conflict, telling you after he’s dead didn’t help anything, if she felt like she needed to talk about it she should have taken it to therapy rather than burden the family with it, and I’m often all for talking through issues with family but this is the sort of thing you don’t need to burden your kid with no matter what age your kid is, man is in the ground, let his sins lay there and die with him rather than carry on as pain in your heart

  9. Your feelings of disgust are 100% understandable but try not to blame yourself because you happen to share DNA with these people. You are yourself and not to blame for your parents’ disgusting choices, your mom told you this information for the sole purpose of spite-ing you, which only means that she hasn’t even learned from her mistakes and become better.

  10. I’m sorry you’re going through this, I can’t imagine how shocking and awful it is to learn about that about a family member. If possible, it might be a good option to seek therapy, this isn’t easy stuff to go through on your own.

  11. It is an awful thing to find out, if it is true, but I also think that a lot of the hurt you feel is also in the manner of it, not just the actual info. the intention to hurt you with it came from your mother, not your dad. a sensitive parent would know not to throw that shit at you and how to navigate that without putting it on you. it may be that your dad is no different than what you knew him. and i would not change my view of him on account of a vindictive abusive mother.

  12. Can I ask you – would you have rather not known? I ask because my mother best friend’s husband abused me often through my childhood. No one believed me until my mother saw me react to the news of his death. Then she wanted to tell his family. I begged her not to tell them because 1) he had JUST died. 2)he was dead, it was only going to hurt at that point. They had disowned his oldest daughter before her death and disowned her children because she disclosed her abuse at his hands. His daughter lost friends because of his abuse. No one ever believed it. Why try again after his death, ya know? I figured, best case – they finally believe it and now every good memory they had is ruined, their lives are ruined, they have to face what they allowed themselves to lose, they have to face the loss of his daughter and her children and they can’t get her back, I mean – nothing good happens. I get acknowledgement and they suffer, right?

    I can’t imagine a reason to tell basically. So do you feel like you’re better or worse for knowing? Sometimes I think his kids should know because once, his son was involved as a young toddler but never again. I don’t know if they were abused past that, but not with me. What if they were? But what if they weren’t? We aren’t close. I’m older than them and don’t even know how to contact the one involved. I don’t want to and I don’t think I ever would, but I think about it sometimes. It just seems like all it would do though is bring pain.

  13. That’s alot to deal with. I know some people are simply broken inside. Your dad is one of them. You don’t know what broke him. He may have been sexually abused as well growing up. It can be a cycle and would explain the substance abuse and unstable environment. I’m not excusing him. Some people aren’t emotionally strong and because of that, make self destructive, bad choices. It’s frustrating when we encounter a problem and fix it but others can’t seem to do the same. You were abused, learned how to best deal with that, and figured out how to live with it. He did not and it’s frustrating because you did so why can’t he? But at the end of the day, he couldn’t do it. That sucks. You can’t change other people, just how you react to them. It’s ok to love your dad and not like his choices.

  14. I’m sorry you’re going through this OP. At this point though, I think rather than dwelling on what could be true, I would look to focus on your present day and future. If your mom was telling the truth, then as shitty as this is going to sound, there’s nothing that can be done now. It’s not like you can ouiji dad and ask him to justify his actions or explain his side. Take what you know and remember of him, do some deep thinking on your relationships with your family, and move on. Even if he was truly abusive toward minors, there’s nothing you can do now. You can maybe try to help out other minors through programs and such, but the sins of the father do NOT fall on you. As long as you’re striving to be a good person and doing your best day-to-day, I’d say you’re doing plenty. Your mom sounds like a piece of work, don’t let her toxicity bleed into your life. You sound like you’re doing your best to be a good person and break the chain of abuse, power to you. Best of luck, OP!

  15. One on four girls will be abused, before 16. These are relatively stable, global statistics.
    I am a victim of, no less that 6, male pedophiles, from ages 3 to 13.
    One was a teacher. Married and with five children.
    I have, over the years, struggled with the reality of how married men, sexually active and hetero men, old and young alike, could also somehow be attracted to and abuse a snot nosed, flat chested, cartoon-obsessed kiddo.
    The only similarly between my abusers, they were male.
    Because some were single, unemployed, of different cultures as compared to professional men and so forth.

    The truth is, there are more men who are pedophiles than we would ever comfortably admit. It’s hard to face such a horror and especially when it’s your father. And knowing what you do, about its impact, it’s even harder.

    But, face it, you must. Sometimes such a reality can actually have a silver lining.
    For me, I formed a non profit, helping and educating schoolkids.
    For me, it helped my recovery too.

    I am heartily sorry about how your mum dumped it on you. I am sorry your dad was this way. But, none of that is your fault.

    I would suggest therapy- IFS abd EMDR worked well for me and , after you process this, you can decide what you what to do with it and no, it doesn’t have to end with you being bitter or hurt.

    Again, none of this is your fault or your burden. Big hugs to you lovely. I really feel for you.

  16. I’m sorry you have to hear this about your father especially after his death. Before my mother separated from my father she would always tell me my dad was a good dad after complaining to me how bad of a husband he was. I remember her saying this often because of how much she vented to me. To give some info. he didn’t cheat or anything. They just weren’t right for each other. What she said helped me figure out what’s the most important part of my relationship with him.

    Everyone has different roles in life like being a father, a labor worker, a friend, a sibling etc. Given this new information I think looking at your relationship with him is the most important thing for you. Everyone has different sides to them and sometimes we need to just focus on the role they are to us in our lives. Parents aren’t perfect, they are humans with flaws. I know your dads flaw is far from perfect but it won’t help to remember him in that way. also want to note that ppl’s sexuality are vessels meaning that ppl learn to associate sex from their experiences/encounters. Ppl are not just born this way because of genetics. More likely than not he probably experienced sexual abuse and/or had early traumatic childhood experiences that damaged his development and led to this. It sounds like your father probably had a troubled life & dealt with a lot of internal conflicting especially since he was abusing drugs. I’m sure he was struggling with something that occurred in his past. I wouldn’t be surprised if you didn’t know about any such thing. Ppl, especially men, are reluctant to share that.

    The most important thing to remember is the love he gave you, the things he did for you when he was healthy and in his right mind. He has passed now so he won’t hurt more girls. Again, I’m sorry your mom shared this one especially given your past. It’s not an easy thing to forget. You don’t have to let this information define your relationship with your dad. I recommend seeing a therapist to help you sort through this because information like this can be very impactful to your mental health. The therapist will help you figure out what to do with this information.

  17. Wait a minute. You only wrote that your mom said your dad was messaging underage girls, she didn;t say he abused them. Don;t overlap your stories with his and go to a dark place. Go to your mom and ask her to tell you everything that happened. She may have just said that for shock value for some reason. Get to the bottom of everything. Don’t let your mom make you hate him bc he messaged girls. Get to the truth first please.

  18. Now celebrate his death and be pleased he is dead, although he was your father, your life is much better without such a person. The fact that you don’t have to deal with him is a reason to celebrate.
    All you can do is move forward, put it in a little corner of your mind and forget about it. Will eventually fade.

  19. I’m not sure what kind of advice you’re seeing here. I’m sorry to hear that he did wrong and I’m sorry to hear that it bothers you. Just know that you are not responsible for his actions and neither is your mom. Of course to the victim, a witness is the same as the perpetrator. I’m sure you mother has her own reasons for her inactions, right or wrong. Take comfort in the fact that you do not owe her understanding. You are free to feel how you feel and your feelings are valid. It’s also understandable if you do not want to cut ties with her if you do not have to.

  20. Laser tattoo removal is expensive and painful, but there is an option for that.

    Plus, if you aren’t already, therapy may help.

    I’m sorry you are going through this right now.

  21. I’m so sorry. You don’t deserve any of this. I would get into therapy as soon as you can, and try and reduce contact with your mother.

    She weaponised this info to hurt you and that’s not OK. She doesn’t deserve you.

  22. This sub is the craziest shit on earth. What I will not read here for fuck sakes… sorry that you have to live trough that. Cover up the tattoo and try to move on pls try not to think about it if you can. Be positive, be positive

  23. First and foremost, hearing this for you, if it’s true and coming from your mom, is a method for controlling you. Your father is gone. Whether or not it happened is besides the point. You can always do a laser removal surgery for anything if necessary. The more important thing is to get into a healthy living situation for you to grow as a person.

  24. I’m so sorry you are going through this.

    I recommend exploring your feelings with your therapist if you have one. Because of your past SA and this new information it may be best to explore your feelings in a safe place with an experienced therapist.

    I also would recommend you examine the impact of your mother’s behaviors on your mental health to see if she is a healthy person for you to be around.

  25. I’d get that honourary tattoo covered up or lazered off, since there’s nothing to honour anymore.

    Cut contact with your mother, she’s not worth keeping in your life if she uses secrets like this as weapons. It says a lot about her own character that she’s even willing to keep a secret like that.

  26. If you have any way of getting therapy, please do so. Make a lot of calls – if money is an issue there are sometimes organizations that have fees on a sliding scale based on income.

    Regarding your father – it’s tough. It’s awful and it’s disturbing and a million other things as well. It sounds like he was disappointing in many ways, and all you can do is add this to the list and eventually try to make peace with it. Not “make peace” in the sense of accepting it or even forgiving him, but in the sense of acknowledging that he wasn’t a good person in many ways and there’s nothing you can do about it.

    The best thing you can do is look after your own mental health and maybe examine whatever impact your relationships with the rest of your family have on you. Take care of yourself and make that your priority. Take care.

  27. I agree with others here.. unless you have when proof , your mother could have an agenda for bad naming your father . Otherwise your punishing yourself for loving him.

  28. Going to be honest and i read your responses to other commenters op- go no contact with your mother and visit or find a psychiatrist if you dont have one to communicate this stuff, this is a topic isnt commonly experienced so finding support may be difficult, it can certainly cause trauma to you just from learning and even if it hasnt yet it still could affect your image of the world and aspects that are detrimental to functioning in healthy ways.
    If you are capable of reaching out to your siblings about it at ANY point it would be beneficial as a support system or simply fact finding as to if they also knew or potentially were on receiving ends or if they dont know.

    To expand on your mother: she needs extreme levels of therapy. If she wasnt direvtly involved in your fathers actions she was 100% complacent and actively enabling, she has learned extremely toxic coping mechanisms and her perspective of reality is greatly broken from the sounds of this post (everything unsuspecting but she knew and used it as a weapon on you). She really shouldnt have any close relationships because she is a danger to others- she actively participates in the abuse and mental manipulation of her children. Please protect yourself from anyone like this but if i may get clarification- do you know when your mom found out the information?

  29. Sounds like the sort of issue, where you might need professional help to sort out your emotions. I’d give further advice, but I worry I might know too little to feel confident in my assesment.

  30. Is there a chance that your mother is lying? It sounds like she’s emotionally abusive, and this could be a part of that.

    If she isn’t and you have verified this as truth from other sources, your feelings are totally valid. Just remember, DNA doesn’t make you who you are, it’s simply the foundation that you build upon. If this is all true, it may make sense of the drugs/alcohol and his past behaviour’s.

    There’s never an excuse for the abuse of a child, the compulsion and urge to do so are a curse that some people appear to be struck with, and getting them the help they need is near impossible because of the stigmatism that’s rightfully attached to that behaviour.

    I’m sorry you’ve had to find out this way, it must be absolutely awful, I’d recommend that you remember that those actions are not all that define your father and that even though he was doing something abhorrent, he still had good inside him.

  31. I’m sorry. You’re father was sick in the head, and going off just the information provided did enough sick shit, but sharing his DNA is not and will never be a reflection of your character. I understand where you are coming from. I was messed with. When I told his daughter she said he wouldn’t do something like that. I was furious with her for over a decade until dementia ate away her suppression. She would flip the fuck out and start screaming about him murdering the babies she conceived from him raping her in the basement. Which explains why we were sent down there as punishment. My aunt was his. This is the stock I come from. I was irrational and worried I would turn like him. It took a minute for it to dawn on me I don’t even like kids. I didn’t like them when I was one. I fell in love with Cathy bates when I was 11 and watched her in misery. I mean I have issues but his are not any of them.

  32. I went through something similar, and this is what my therapist and I often circled back to: it’s okay that you love the man you thought your father was. It’s okay to feel conflicted. He presented a person to you and you loved that person. If you had known all along what he was doing, would you still have loved him, made excuses for him, enabled him? No. So you don’t love the man who did those terrible things. You love who you *thought* your father was (by the end), and that is okay and doesn’t say anything bad about you. Also, it’s possible and okay to feel all sorts of emotions at the same time. You can grieve for the loss of your father, and miss him, while also still being angry and sick at knowing what he did.

    If you have access to therapy, I highly encourage you to go. It really helped me make sense of a lot of the thoughts and emotions racing through after finding out.

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