Is My Nephew Making False Claims of Abuse Just to Get Attention?

Reader’s Question

I have a nephew on my wife’s side of the family who lives with his aunt and has been tossed around throughout his childhood between two of his mother’s sisters. His Mom does not associate with him, nor does she want to, because she has married again and has other children. She also has three older kids whom she does not associate with; two are in another country.

This child has had all kinds of problems in the past with drugs and school attendance. He has made an effort to change and he now believes in God and goes to Church regularly. He is now 20 and because he is trying to give himself to the Lord he’s been making amends and asking forgiveness for things he’s done. Most of our family members don’t believe him and think he just wants attention, but he’s told each one of us that he molested one of our children. We know he has separation issues and never really bonded with anyone and feels like an outcast. But to come up with a bizarre story like that to get attention seems really twisted. My question is whether someone would make up a story like that if it was not really true. I need to know, because he claimed to have molested my own son before he was saved. My nephew was a teenager at he time, and my son is now 13, so my son might have been 8 or younger. My nephew claims that he molested four children, one from each family member, and he told all the parents and asked for forgiveness. I asked my son if he remembers being molested or touched by my nephew, and he said “no,” but my nephew says he did it while my son was asleep. Please help me with this issue.

Psychologist’s Reply

While there’s no way to give a definitive answer to your question, you should be aware of some facts.

Although it’s common for abuse perpetrators to lie about their misdeeds, it’s very rare for them to falsely admit that they molested someone. It would be highly unlikely for him to acknowledge such embarrassing behavior for the sole purpose of “attention.”

Although most young persons who molest don’t grow up to be serial molesters, many of the more serious adult molesters began their problematic sexual behavior patterns as children.

It’s not uncommon for both children and adults who molest to have many victims before their behavior comes to light.

For children to be molested while they are sleeping or in a relatively incapacitated state (so that they don’t report) is also not uncommon.

It would probably do you well to take your nephew seriously, and whether he is “saved” or not, report his behavior, and secure him the appropriate professional help.

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