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How Do I Handle My Father’s Inappropriate Staring?

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From a young woman in India: Since the age of 23, 3 years ago, I noticed my biological father has started staring at my chest. The frequency of staring kept on increasing to the extent that he never missed a chance to gaze down there. I am 26 now. I have an elder sister who is very close to him; I am not.

We are a family of four — mother, father, sister and I. I don’t live with my parents. But, whenever I visit home and when my mother is not around, my father stares at my chest. It makes me so furious and uncomfortable in my own body. I always cover up myself very decently around him. I mean always.

He is an alcoholic who used to beat up my mother when my sister and I were young. When I was 17, I stopped him from beating my mother and he was very furious. He has cheated on my mother by having sexual relations with multiple women; this piece of information was told to me by my mother herself.

Coming back to his staring problem, I was very confused when it happened for the first time. I thought I am mistaken. But, it happened again and again only when he knew nobody was around or when he thought my mother wasn’t looking. I stopped visiting home because of his perverted behavior but I still have to visit to attend some family gatherings.

After giving him multiple chances to correct his highly inappropriate behavior on his own, I decided to say something in retaliation. When I was sitting alone in our kitchen, he came to talk and took a long gaze down there. I asked him, “What is the need to look down there while talking? Even if you’re not staring and it’s just me thinking that way, you ensure that I don’t even have to feel that way again.”

He gave lame explanations like; “No, I wasn’t looking down there. You are not well mentally.” And, then he quickly went on to talk about something else. Now, here I must mention that he was a little drunk when this incident took place. Also, I must mention why he very conveniently said that I was not mentally well. I had visited a psychiatrist because I changed my career line an year and was a little anxious about it. My family knew about this.

How Do I Handle My Father’s Inappropriate Staring?

Answered by on -

A.

Thank you for writing. I’m sure this is very upsetting to you. Please remember that you have nothing to be ashamed of. Your father has a history of inappropriate sexual behavior. You have probably become a target because you stopped him from abusing your mother. He retaliates by making you uncomfortable in your family home.

By confronting him directly, you were both courageous and generous. You gave him a chance to deal with the situation just between the two of you. Instead of apologizing and promising to stop staring, he tried to turn the problem onto you. This is not an honorable man.

Going for help for anxiety when you needed it does not mean that you are deficient. It means you are wise enough to get help when you need it.

You didn’t indicate why your mother has stayed with this man. She may be too dependent on him financially and emotionally to leave in spite of the way he has treated her. Telling her might give her the information she needs to finally separate from him. On the other hand, it might make things worse for her. I do not have enough information to advise you on this. You are in the position to look at the total situation and to assess what would be best. You might find it helpful to talk it over with a therapist if you can.

If you can’t get your father out of the house, then I suggest you see your mother and sister at your place or at a neutral place like a park or restaurant. You do not have to put up with his behavior just because others do.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

How Do I Handle My Father’s Inappropriate Staring?

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Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2020). How Do I Handle My Father’s Inappropriate Staring?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 23, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2020/01/03/how-do-i-handle-my-fathers-inappropriate-staring/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 1 Jan 2020 (Originally: 3 Jan 2020)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 1 Jan 2020
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.