If It Smells In Public, It’s Probably Rotten In Private

by admin on March 31, 2014

Let me relay what happened at a Confirmation I attended in the spring of 2013.

For those who do not know, a Confirmation is when someone (in this case, a 13 year old girl), acknowledges their beliefs in the Catholic Church. It consists of a ceremony at Church, followed by a lunch/dinner/party etc.

My fiancé and I (now husband) attended the Confirmation for a girl named “Jane”, whose parents and grandparents are family friends of my in-laws. To give a little background, Jane comes from a family where family members believe in incest – her grandparents were originally uncle and niece and decided to get married, and cousins marry each other etc. (This is important later).

Anyway, the ceremony at the Church was nice, and it was followed by a dinner and some dancing at a local banquet hall. After dinner, Jane’s uncle, who is a DJ, played some music, and everyone was pretty much having a good time. That is, until, another one of Jane’s uncle’s and her male cousin called her up to the dance floor.

A chair was placed in the middle, and she was forced to sit on the chair. All of a sudden, a song began to play, and Jane’s uncle and cousin proceeded to give her a lap dance and grind her, right on the dance floor and right in the middle of everyone! I looked around; a few people were as horrified as I was, but Jane’s family seemed to think it was very funny, and applauded and cheered and laughed. Her uncle and cousin took off their shirts, belts, and nearly exposed themselves to her (and everyone!) in the room. Did I mention that there were children and elderly people at this party? Being forced to watch this was bad enough, but the fact that they were all family made it even more creepy!

Poor Jane just had her eyes covered with her hands, and was asking her uncle and cousin to stop. She was clearly embarrassed, and I felt really bad for her. Mercifully, the song ended. Only Jane’s family cheered and laughed, while the rest of us were totally and utterly miffed by what had just happened. I looked around for Jane’s mom, who was nowhere to be found. People who were not family had to pick their jaws up off the floor, and try resume to whatever it was they were doing before the “show”.

A little later, Jane decided to entertain everyone with a song she wanted to sing. I cannot remember the name, but she sang it a capella, and everyone cheered for her, as it takes a lot of courage to do something like that in front of a crowd. When she finished, just as everyone was about to applaud, her cousin, who gave her a lap-dance and grinded her on the dance floor, shouted out: “Take off your dress,” to poor Jane. The room fell silent, except for Jane’s family, who laughed and cheered.

That was my first time attending a Confirmation. When I tell this story to people, they look just as horrified as I did when I witnessed it, and I can honestly say that that party was the most bizarre I have ever attended. 0328-14

This family’s behavior has nothing whatsoever to do with a Catholic Confirmation. The event is merely the stage upon which their collective lack of decency and kindness is displayed.

When you witness behavior of this nature, it means the consciences of the family has been seared and they no longer recognize what is unacceptable talk and behavior.   If their inhibitions are so low that this type of behavior towards a 13 year old female of the family is acted out in a public place amongst neighbors, friends, etc., imagine what happens in private.    I remember years ago watching a few episodes of the game show “The Price Is Right” and being appalled at Bob Barker, not once but twice, tell a winning audience member (women) to take off her clothes.   It came as no surprise then when Barker was sued by a former “Barker’s Beauties” and two production assistants for sexual harassment.    If something stinks in public, it’s doubly rotten in private.

If we were to witness a 13 year old girl getting slapped by her uncle and cousin, there would be no question what most of us would do to intervene. Yet when it involves sexual victimization of a 13 year old girl, most people freeze in confusion as to what to do as evidenced by the reaction of the guests to this.   This is a THIRTEEN YEAR OLD GIRL….it’s not a 19 year old Miley Cyrus getting twerked by Robin Thicke.   We freeze hoping a responsible adult (like Mom or Dad) will step in and stop it and the seconds tick by as the debacle continues.   Instead of jaws scraping the floor, why did guests not start booing the “dancers” to counter the cheering of the family?  I’ve turned my back in protest to overly sexualized wedding reception “games” between consenting adults but faced with the OP’s dilemma, would I have the presence of mind to think on my feet to find some clever resolution to this?

After ascertaining that neither the child’s father or mother was in the vicinity and knew what was happening, I would probably walk to the child in her chair with me in between her and the men, take her hand, tell her her mother wishes to see her and lead her away to my group of friends/family who would close ranks around her.   I can’t stop the men but I could intervene to remove her from the situation.  I’m old enough to handle pervy men and take the boos her relatives may vocalize.  And if they wanted to escalate, I can threaten to call the police and have the family explain why a 13 yar old child has been placed in this sexually harassing predicament.

 

{ 135 comments… read them below or add one }

Justme March 31, 2014 at 3:53 am

Yes, If the family thinks this kind of behavior is fine in public, can you imagine what is going on behind closed doors?! I am not one to threaten a family with Children and Youth Services, but in this case I would call ASAP.

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just4kicks March 31, 2014 at 3:57 am

My jaw is on the floor. That poor girl! I am embarrassed for her. Talk about no boundaries! Actually, I would classify that as child abuse. Who on earth yells at a 13 year old to “take your dress off!” Even more horrifying it was a family member. I’m very frightened for what happens to that girl at home, if the family cheers on a lap dance and strip tease in PUBLIC! I realize the confirmation is not the issue, but it’s supposed to a very holy and solemn occasion, not a disgusting free for all. And I’m not saying that would be any more appropriate at a birthday or other occasion.

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Sammy March 31, 2014 at 4:26 am

This… “What did I just read” describes my feelings quite well. I don’t even know where to start. Who thinks that lap dance is appropriate “event” during Confirmation (or it’s after lunch)? What next, baptism strip tease??? Who thinks that lap dance in appropriate thing to do to a 13 YEAR OLD! Or ask her to take off her dress. That being said, it’s not appropriate to woman (or person) of any age, but to shout something like that to a children.

Is there a child service you (OP) could notify about this? If family thinks that cousins marrying each other is a thing to do, so be it. I might not understand, but it is legal (at least here) and adults may choose for them selves. But sexual harassment of child is not to be allowed. As admin said, if this is the public behavior, there is very real risk that these children might be abused. Actually, I do think that the lap dance already crossed the line of being abuse.

I agree with admin. It’s far too easy for others to freeze in the situation like this. Especially if you are in a group. As admin said, first you hope that mum or dad will step up. And then you hope that somebody else will step up. And as the seconds go by, sometimes you start to question yourself. After all, everybody else seem to be fine with it. It actually has been researched that people are less likely to help when there are lot of other people around. It’s easy to turn the blind eye because you can assure yourself that somebody else will do something. If you are alone, you can’t do that.

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JKC March 31, 2014 at 10:02 am

Agreed. The idea of first cousins marrying each other is something I personally find…bothersome, as I grew up in a close-knit family and my cousins were more like siblings. However, there is a world of difference between two consenting adults choosing to be in an unconventional relationship and the public assault of a minor by men who happen to be her relatives.

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Thistlebird March 31, 2014 at 11:33 am

It’s not just assuming someone else will do something–there are deeper, more insidious psychological blocks as well. Short version, we humans instinctively imitate other people… to the extent that the abnormal and horrible can become “normal” if enough of the people around us act like it is. So in a situation like this, the creepy uncle & cousin start acting like this is normal–just a dance to honor the girl–and it creates this cognitive dissonance in people that confuses the heck out of them, so that people who would have jumped to her assistance if they saw someone creeping on her like that in the street are paralyzed by confusion. And then when people see that no-one is making a move, that paralyzes them further–they reflexively look around for cues, and end up all imitating each other by staying frozen in their seats. It’s subconscious–you don’t even realize that’s what you’re doing–but it’s very powerful.

Cults and other manipulative groups use this psychology to control people. I wouldn’t believe the power of it if I hadn’t experienced it myself (not in a cult, just a weekend “retreat” that turned out to use any number of subtle manipulative methods but especially this “the crowd defines the new normal” technique.) Admin, I don’t know if you allow links but I think this is such an important topic, if you would please allow these? You can learn about these psychological techniques and how to resist them at these two sites:

http://undermuchgrace.blogspot.com/ (religious)
http://www.lucifereffect.com/ (non-religious in its analysis, though the author is himself religious)

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Kry March 31, 2014 at 4:32 am

I agree with admin. Behaviour like that in public can, and often does, be an echo of what happens in the home.
Don’t be afraid to call in reinforcements if you need to. The police and children’s services take these things very seriously.

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Just Call Me J March 31, 2014 at 5:38 am

Thirteen years old is way under the age of consent in every state in the USA. Never mind the fact that this thirteen-year-old *child* wasn’t consenting in the first place.

What you’re describing is sexual abuse, not an etiquette issue.

Do not threaten to call the police. Actually call them. If there’s photo or video evidence of the “grinding” send it along. It will help get a conviction, or at least let these “people” know in no uncertain terms that such behavior is not acceptable.

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Guin March 31, 2014 at 12:13 pm

Absolutely! If she is being treated this way in public, and her family is cheering, I would bet my life that this child is being sexually abused by one or more of her relatives. And she probably would not feel safe about approaching anyone about it. Call the police, call child services. Do you remember seeing her parents at any point during this whole affair? Can you, your husband and your in-laws speak to the child’s parents about this?
Speaking as someone who knows, sexual abuse infects your entire life. Step in and help this child who cannot speak for herself.

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Kimberly March 31, 2014 at 5:55 am

I agree with the admin. You should have called the cops and CPS and all children should have been removed from this “family”.

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Shaw March 31, 2014 at 5:57 am

Robin thicke danced with Miley. Not his dad, Alan thicke, although I would have lol’d at that!

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admin March 31, 2014 at 9:20 am

Thanks…I’ll change it.

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Shaw March 31, 2014 at 9:44 am

Also, this story deserves a big what the heck and a call to children’s services. Grooming indeed.

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Bibianne March 31, 2014 at 1:55 pm

Also Milly did the twerking to Robin… not the other way around ;-)

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SororSalsa March 31, 2014 at 10:35 pm

@Bibianne, yes. Robin stood there and was twerked upon. That was all Miley!

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lkb March 31, 2014 at 6:30 am

As a devout, practicing Catholic, I feel compelled to affirm that the atrocious behavior at this party in no way reflects the Catholic faith. I have never heard of anything so awful. I am praying for the poor girl, that she may heal of whatever scars this leaves on her emotions. I am also praying for her relatives that their eyes may be opened, that they are truly sorry for what they’ve done, and that they change their ways.

Again, that was NOT the Catholic faith.

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Thistlebird March 31, 2014 at 11:20 am

Well of course it doesn’t. (Reflect the Catholic faith I mean.) I’m assuming the OP’s point in mentioning what the occasion was is that this makes it even more shocking. I would hope that even non-religious people would understand that an occasion where a young girl is publicly affirming something so important and personal as the faith she chooses to follow for the rest of her life–well, it’s an important and emotionally vulnerable moment for her. The treatment she received would be awful any time, but even worse at such a moment.

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lkb March 31, 2014 at 3:20 pm

@Thistlebird:
I understand what you mean but with the scandals that occurred in recent years, I’ve encountered many comments by ignorant people who would take this as an opportunity to “bash the Catholics” again. (i.e., “Well, of course this happened at a Catholic event. You heard about their priests, didn’t you?” (Nudge, nudge. Wink. Wink.))

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Cat March 31, 2014 at 9:04 pm

Canons 1091, 1092, and 1094 make this post impossible. Sick April Fool’s joke.

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MK April 1, 2014 at 4:28 am

Cat, either I’m not getting the April Fool’s joke or you’re assuming too many things. Whatever the discrepancy, your argument does not make this story, “impossible”.

Ancient canonical laws do not dictate contemporary secular behavior.

They may be Catholics. They very well could be married to their relatives. They sure are disgusting. They most certainly deserve to be reported. None of that is, “Impossible”.

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Julia April 1, 2014 at 3:22 pm

Not to pick at nits, but… Canon Law is contemporary. It was last revised in 1983 – that feels like a long time ago to me, but it’s pretty recent. 1091 deals specifically with who is allowed to marry whom (with regard to uncle and niece),

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SV April 2, 2014 at 8:56 am

But the OP states that the Uncle and Niece marriage were her grandparents, so presumably the marriage predated 1983.

The Elf April 1, 2014 at 7:37 am

I hope so, Cat. I really hope so.

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Enna April 3, 2014 at 12:16 pm

I though there were laws about who could and could not get marreid dating back from 100+ years ago. I do know that European royals had a lot of problems when getting married as they were so inter-related they had to get special permissin on some cases: sometimes it was granted sometimes not, sometimes it was ignored sometimes not and sometimes men would use it to end a annul a marrige if they wanted to.

Maybe they lied when they got married?

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La March 31, 2014 at 6:43 am

Oh gods that poor girl.

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The Elf March 31, 2014 at 6:47 am

I have no words. I truly do not.

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jen d. March 31, 2014 at 6:52 am

This behaviour sounds a lot like grooming. A thirteen year old girl should not be treated like a sexual object, least of all by her family! I know it happens, but it doesn’t make it acceptable. Ugh, I know this is totally unsolicited advice, but it’s not too late to call CPS or Child and Family Services (depending on where the OP is from). Nothing will likely be done, but it starts a paper trail and it could support any other claims made in the future. This family sounds awful.

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Green123 March 31, 2014 at 7:00 am

The OP’s story descibes persistent and unacceptable child abuse. I don’t know the OP’s location but certainly in the UK a child treated in this way would be removed from its family and taken into local authority care, and its parents prosecuted.

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coralreef March 31, 2014 at 7:01 am

I… I… WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE!!!! That whole family needs a psych evaluation (and maybe jail terms in some cases.)

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DGS, March 31, 2014 at 7:08 am

What happened to Jane was sexual harassment at the very least, and possibly, “grooming” for sexual abuse. Given what transpired in public, there are probably much worse things going on in private, so it is entirely possible that the child is being victimized. Police should have been called regarding this horrific incident, and Child Protective Services should have investigated this incident. This is not an etiquette issue; this is a potential symptom of a crime. I am not sure that booing the “performance” would have been sufficient response. This is not a question of taste, but that of a child being victimized.

Further, what transpired at this reception had nothing whatsoever to do with Confirmation (and for the record, Confirmation is a name of a ceremony not only in the Catholic church but also in other Christian denominations and in Judaism, as well (in Judaism, a Bar or Bat Mitzvah takes place at 12 for girls or 13 for boys, and a Confirmation takes place at 17 or 18, when a child graduates religious school). I am not sure what the occasion for this gathering had anything to do with the story in question.

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Library Diva March 31, 2014 at 10:27 am

I think the occasion for this gathering just makes the story worse. Religious ceremonies are dignified occasions, and usually the celebrations that follow mirror the dignity of the event somewhat. If this is how these relatives act at post-Confirmation party, I would hate to think what the family’s barbecues are like.

I’m an agnostic atheist, but my mother’s family is Catholic and I have attended many a Communion and Confirmation party in my day. I can indeed affirm that this is not a normal practice — for Catholics or for anyone else.

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Sherri March 31, 2014 at 12:10 pm

Confirmation is only in Reform Judaism. It isn’t found anywhere else in Judaism nor has it ever been.

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clairedelune March 31, 2014 at 7:31 am

Oh, dear. OP, please contact your state’s child protective services agency. What you witnessed was the public sexual abuse of a child by her family, and the evident family-wide pattern of same. Please report exactly what you have seen, and encourage others at the party to join you in reporting. I’m not sure whether or not these particular actions will be enough for Jane to be removed from her sick and unsafe home, but this family needs to be visited by a social services worker and to know that they are being observed accordingly. This was not an etiquette violation, this was abusive.

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AMC March 31, 2014 at 7:36 am

That is so messed up.

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Stella March 31, 2014 at 8:05 am

What did I just read.

I hate to get all knee-jerky but OP, could you possibly consider trying to spend some private time with Jane (take her out for ice cream or to a zoo) and make sure she isn’t being sexually abused emotionally or physically? This is just. Really messed up.

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Mya March 31, 2014 at 8:06 am

Having grown up in a Catholic family I’d like to echo admins statement that this behaviour has nothing to do with the religion at all. In fact it is the very opposite of catholic values. I think if I’d witnessed this behaviour I’d have left. Whilst we all have good intentions, in reality many of us know that the end result of intervening in situations like this can be violence so we don’t want to get involved. A discrete call to Social/Child protective services might not have been remiss though…

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Meegs March 31, 2014 at 8:06 am

Reading this literally made me feel sick. I’m not sure what else there is to say. I hope SOMEONE who witnessed this called CPS.

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Shawn March 31, 2014 at 8:16 am

Wow, just wow. I’m a middle-aged male, and I don’t think I could have stood by while that happened either.

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Cherry91 March 31, 2014 at 8:27 am

This story actually made me feel a little ill…

As said above, this was the victimisation of a young girl. The fact she was covering her eyes made it very clear what her thoughts on the situation were.

Without getting into legal discussion, I have to admit that I’d be heavily tempted to report a tip to Child Services on this. It’s difficult to evaluate as the parents were absent (and they may have been rightly horrified and furious), but as Admin said, if this is what that family thinks is appropriate in public, I’d be concerned as to how that Uncle and Cousin think it’s okay to treat Jane in private…

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MamaToreen March 31, 2014 at 8:29 am

I would have placed a call to Child Protective Services.

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PM March 31, 2014 at 8:37 am

This situation is so creepy it makes me want to vomit. I understand that the LW was unsure of what to do “in the moment.” It’s classic bystander syndrome. LW didn’t want to make a scene at the family’s party, so he or she didn’t speak up. But s/he should have reported it immediately afterwards. Shame on these creepy, self-serving male relatives for objectifying a 13yo and turning what should have been a treasured memory into trauma. Shame on the family for fostering an environment where this sort of behavior is “safe” and encouraged by cheers and laughter. And shame on the parents, particularly the parent who married into this mess, for not protecting their daughter.

I don’t think it would be possible to take the 13 yo from the party, to some sort of intervening agency without creating legal problems. (kidnapping, etc) But you can bet your sweet patoot that the moment I left that party, I would have driven to the police station and reported the behavior. Or at the very least, I would have called every child abuse hotline I could find until DCFS took the situation seriously.

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PM March 31, 2014 at 8:38 am

^^
But I will admit that as the wife of a law enforcement officer, I am far more comfortable walking into a police station and talking to officers than most people

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GleefullyMacabre March 31, 2014 at 8:45 am

Best thing to do now is offer that poor girl a safe place to stay! If this is an example of the family’s public face, no way is home safe for her.

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Phoebe161 March 31, 2014 at 8:56 am

I have read quite a few “jaw-droppers” on E-Hell, but this one… Oh My Goodness — takes the dubious prize of one the worst. That poor girl.

I am thinking that child welfare/protection (whatever the government agency is called in OP’s area) needs to intervene. The child is not being protected by those who should.

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Alicia March 31, 2014 at 9:14 am

Wow that has nothing to do with Catholic Conformation. ( my confirmation party was a lot of italian food and a few toast to my living a good life and my grandmother giving me a gold saint medal necklace) I’ve been to many others and they tend to be a lot like mine was, innocent.

I’m not sure I would have the presence of mind that the moderator claims to have but even now I would consider going to the social services and try to get this girl help.

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Wendy B. March 31, 2014 at 9:21 am

If you did nothing, you are part of the victimization.

Call child services NOW and tell them what you witnessed. You can do it anonymously.

If she hasn’t been forced into something by now, she will be.

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inNM March 31, 2014 at 9:31 am

I am echoing the call of those who came before me: call your local CPS/police immediately.

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admin March 31, 2014 at 10:02 am

Calling CPS/police, even while watching it occur, will have not resolved the immediate problem the girl was in. As I suspect, most readers have no idea what they woud have actually done in the moment. I think we would all like to think we would react with determination, resolve and specific actions but the reality is that social science has shown that people tend to not take action in a crowd situation in the belief that there must be someone else in attendance with more authority to address the issue. Posts such as this and the discussion that ensues plants the idea in people’s minds of what kind of response could have been used so that, should a similar situation occur again, they are better prepared to handle it.

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Margaret March 31, 2014 at 2:28 pm

This is exactly why I like this website. The outrageous stories are entertaining, of course, but I can get that on other websites. I would not have known what to do to help that child in that situation — I would have been frozen too. But — take the child by the hand and walk her off the stage — OF COURSE!

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inNM April 1, 2014 at 12:50 am

While I agree with what you are saying, I think that you may have misunderstood me. I meant “immediately” as in the present time frame, like today. The OP has asked and is getting a clear consensus that this is not normal and a strong reaction that this should be investigated by CPS. While the OP may have been stunned into a non-reaction before, now that the shock has worn off, the OP can either ignore it, assume that someone else will report it, or make an anonymous call to the authorities.

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Zellie Crescent March 31, 2014 at 9:38 am

I would have walked right up to them shoved them away from her and very loudly (so everyone could hear) asked get away from her, what the hell is wrong with you she’s 13 and quite clearly she hates what you’re doing. That is wrong and disgusting and the “take off your dress” comment I wouldn’t hesitate to call the cops, please call CPS like everyone else said if that’s what they do in public I don’t even want to know what they do in private.

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MichelleP March 31, 2014 at 2:07 pm

Everyone knows what they would do when they aren’t in the situation.

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Hemi March 31, 2014 at 9:57 am

Oh, dear Lord, that poor child. If her “family” thinks that is acceptable behavior, I don’t want to imagine what might be happening to her in private. That these people had what should have been a solemn, yet happy occasion first, then publicly abused this child in a sexual manner to apparent enthusiasm and cheering, makes me want to vomit. I’ve never heard of a religion that would think this was an acceptable celebration.

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Cady March 31, 2014 at 10:00 am

I assumed OP pointed out it was a confirmation celebration to illustrate that even at a solemn religious event, these people don’t see the inappropriateness of sexualizing a child. Not that the behavior would have been appropriate in any case, but this would have been an inappropriate way for consenting adults to behave when celebrating a confirmation of religious faith.

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Kovitlac March 31, 2014 at 10:02 am

“For those who do not know, a Confirmation is when someone (in this case, a 13 year old girl), acknowledges their beliefs in the Catholic Church.”

For the record, Confirmations are by no means Catholic only. Lutherans do them as well (I’m not sure what other denominations do them as well, but I’m guessing it’s not just those two). Anyway, I want to agree with everyone who is shocked that something like this went on. That poor, poor girl. I hate to think of what else she’s been forced to put up with for the last 13 years. It makes me sick just thinking about it.

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bloo March 31, 2014 at 10:15 am

I, too, am positively sick to my stomach after reading this post. That poor kid. I like to think I would have done something to protect her while it was happening.

One of the prouder moments in my life was when I was 17 and two of the popular jocks were playing a lewd joke on our Marketing teacher (class had 40 or so students) and I was the only one that stood up, went to the front of the class, reamed the two jocks (shutting them down completely) and sat back down. No one made fun of the teacher or me and the two jocks were embarrassed.

I had no negative social consequences, though I wouldn’t have cared if I did, so I learned it wasn’t the worst thing in the world to be the center of attention and go against the grain of people behaving disgustingly and those who stand by silently while it occurs.

I wonder if anyone took video on their phones or tablets of the incident?

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Lisa March 31, 2014 at 10:17 am

It’s all well and fine for us to say what should have been done, what we would have done, etc., but as admin said, when something this bizarre is unfolding in front of you, it’s hard to stand back and observe as an unrelated spectator.
I work next to a nail salon and the whole office heard this baby crying for what seemed like 20 minutes straight. We finally went outside to see what was going on only to find the baby alone in the car while the mother was getting a mani/pedi. Finally the ‘mother’ came out and I told her to get the baby out of the car or I was going to call the sheriff; what I SHOULD have done was to just call the sheriff right away.

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Pam March 31, 2014 at 10:18 am

I just want to agree with many of the above – call and report this. Yikes.

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EllenS March 31, 2014 at 10:25 am

Intervening is certainly the right thing to do, and I should hope I would have the presence of mind to do so, but honestly I have been in some situations (not like this, but also shocking/unbelievable) and have expereinced this type of paralysis first-hand.
It’s as if your mind is telling you, “this cannot be happening, I cannot be seeing this.”
It’s very difficult to shake that off and take action, and I agree with PP who says discussions like this make people more able to collect themselves and respond appropriately.

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Cora March 31, 2014 at 10:26 am

The fact that this already happened doesn’t change the fact that CPS needs to be called. Even if her mother was somehow “lured” out of the room so the neanderthal cousin could do his thing, I find it difficult to believe that the mom doesn’t know what kind of things these people are capable of — and she’s not protecting her daughter. It doesn’t matter if it was nearly a year ago; it doesn’t matter that it’s “only” a cousin — she needs CPS help NOW.

Also, for the worriers, no one thinks that this is a “Catholic” thing; no one is going to assume that lots of Catholics do this or that the church condones it.

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Lisa March 31, 2014 at 10:50 am

I want to reiterate that this has nothing to do with a Catholic Confirmation whatsoever.

I am so disgusted by this and ashamed for that poor girl.

Please, please, report this behavior.

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ohboy March 31, 2014 at 10:55 am

OP should NOT have sat there and watched this happen, I know you may think this is a stretch, but sitting there watching thishappen to a teenage girl is irrepresensible in my book.

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admin March 31, 2014 at 3:05 pm

And decades of social science research says you are just as likely to do nothing as well in the same situation.

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honoria April 1, 2014 at 7:07 am

Thank you for pointing that out.

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Rachel April 1, 2014 at 7:35 am

I know this may be pedantic, but I’m going to say it anyway. “Irreprehensible” (which is what I think you meant and made a typo) is not a word. If it were a word, the prefix “ir” would indicate that the root is being negated. Therefore, you would be saying that watching this happen would not be reprehensible. The use of “irregardless” (a more common mistake) has the same problems.

Also, to keep this more on topic, the admin is spot on in her reply to you. Most people know what we should and should not do in hypothetical situations, but if we are faced with them a lot can go out the window in the heat of the moment.

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Yet Another Laura March 31, 2014 at 10:59 am

That poor kid! Even before you got to her reaction, I imagined it would be just as you described. She needs a protector.

Are you close enough friends that you can take her under your wing and let her know that if ever she needed a sympathetic adult that she can call on you? Knowing that there’s at least one adult in her corner is huge. It’s worth a try.

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Lera99 March 31, 2014 at 11:14 am

It is so easy to freeze in the moment.

This family isn’t even part of the letter writer’s normal social circle.
The family is part of her husband’s family’s social circle.

In that situation it can be easy to feel like “someone should stop this” but also NOT wanting to be the person. Because you don’t want to cause a scene that might reflect poorly on you in the eyes of your husband’s family.

Also, people who act so inappropriately in public are the first ones to start shouting things like:
– It’s just a joke
– It’s all in good fun
– Don’t be such a prude
– Don’t be so uptight
– Don’t be so “high and mighty”
– You just don’t have a sense of humor

So I can understand why the letter writer froze.

I think the Admin’s advice about walking up and removing the girl from between her two male relatives is sound.

In defense of a 13 year old girl, I am perfectly happy to be the “party pooper” who “ruined” the confirmation celebration by stopping what was happening.

I am perfectly happy to be that awful woman who stopped everyone’s “good time” when their “good time” consists of publicly sexually harassing a 13 year old.

That poor girl. I hope someone gives her a safe place when she needs one.

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Rebecca March 31, 2014 at 11:19 am

Personally, I’d be hesitant to intervene directly, not necessarily out of cowardice, but because I’d be worried about making the situation worse for Jane. I’ve always heard that it’s a bad idea to confront perpetrators of physical child abuse directly because the abuser will blame the child and take their anger at being caught out on them. We don’t know the specifics about Jane’s home life; for all we know, something similar would have happened to her.

I would have definitely called CPS, though. That’s a no-brainer.

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Calli Arcale March 31, 2014 at 3:36 pm

That went through my head too. You don’t want to embarrass the abusers about it in a situation like this, because they will blame Jane for the embarrassment. And then there’s the fact that once they know they’re being watched, they’ll start hiding the abuse to avoid losing their kids. Maybe the right thing to do is to collect evidence and get it to the authorities, start a paper trail. And I like the suggestions to try to stay in touch with Jane, be a safe person she can talk to, so hopefully if and when she decides to leave, she knows she has somewhere to go.

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Ashley March 31, 2014 at 11:24 am

It’s a good thing I work in a ground floor office because my jaw hit the floor so hard it would have gone THROUGH it if there was another set of offices below mine…

I’d be on the phone with anything resembling CPS that I could possibly find. Based on the fact that OP wasn’t married at the time and is now, it’s hard to tell how long ago this happened and what could still be done, but if that’s how they behaved at RELIGIOUS event with non family guests present, I can only imagine what still might be going on behind closed doors.

If you still have contact with these people, do what you can to help Jane. If I were 13 and that happened to me I wouldn’t ever want to see those people again even if I were related to them

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TeamBhakta March 31, 2014 at 11:33 am

I am confused why the OP’s family stayed friends with Jane’s family even BEFORE this incident. Niece and uncle getting married = we aren’t inviting Woody Allen & his child bride to bridge club anymore, kwim

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Kirst March 31, 2014 at 11:46 am

Where is it legal for uncles and nieces to marry? It’s legal in the UK for first cousins to marry, but definitely not uncles/aunts/nephews/nieces. How can her grandparents be uncle and niece?

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Bunny March 31, 2014 at 8:32 pm

@Kirst, I have a second cousin who is the same age as one of my first cousins. I have a Great Uncle who is the same age as my Mom and only 4 years older then his Nephew, my Dad.

It could be that the Uncle was a late life edition and the same age as the Niece.

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Angeldrac April 1, 2014 at 5:45 am

Bunny, the ages may correlate, but that doesn’t actually make it legal.

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Bunny April 1, 2014 at 7:37 pm

Angeldrac, I wasn’t giving how it could be legal, just how it could be done.

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The Elf April 1, 2014 at 7:29 am

I think it’s legal in some states in the US, I think. I’m pretty sure that in Maryland the only banned degrees of affinity are parent/child and sibling. I know cousin marriage is allowed in Maryland but (ironically) not in West Virginia, so laws vary.

Let me state for the record: Ewwww. But I could understand, if the uncle/niece were not raised as family (i.e. someone was adopted, or there was a big estrangement), and especially if the ages of the two weren’t a full generation apart, how two biologically related people could fall in love and perhaps not even realize they’re related until after they’re together. However, that doesn’t sound like what happened here.

Biologically, a single close relationship marriage is not much of an issue. Even if they have children, the odds of getting Charles II (Spanish Hapsburg King) only increase after generations of inbreeding.

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Beth F April 1, 2014 at 9:05 am

I’m not a Canon Lawyer, but most Catholics would know that marriage between an uncle and niece would be invalid, due to degree of relation, regardless of age.

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Mya April 1, 2014 at 10:31 am

They may not be blood relations or they may be ‘removed’ – I have second cousins around my own age (both my Mothers cousin S and my father’s cousins G and S) but we refer to them in the family as ‘cousin’ because they are closer to us in age. Especially my mothers cousin S. Family demographics can be weird and it was common in older generations to have larger families and so consequently there are MORE relations of various ages with various ages of children in some of the older generations. On my mothers side alone my Grandmother had 6 siblings the youngest, My mothers Aunt S had a daughter who is actually younger than me (Cousin S), the oldest, Uncle J had a daughter who is now into her early 70’s. My Grandmother and her younger sister E each had 3 children and the other siblings have various children in between. My grandmothers children are in their 60’s and Aunt Es children are in their late 40’s and early 50’s so in my mothers generation the ages of the first cousins range from 70’s to 29. That’s a 40 year span in one generation. In our generation the oldest is Cousin A at 36 and the youngest is cousin D at 20 so our generation is closer in age. But I can easily see how an Uncle might be of a similar age to a niece and it may be a marital relationship rather than a blood relationship. My Uncle K, for example is married to my Aunt P, and I am his niece but we share no blood as the blood relation is Aunt P, Uncle K just married in.

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Enna March 31, 2014 at 11:47 am

I think this needs to be reoported: sexual harrasesment is a crime, even more seirous when it involves a minor. I do find it strange that the girl’s grandparents were uncle and niece, surely that’s illegal? Cousins marring does sound wrong to me – unless it is 2 distant cousins. Just think, one of Jane’s parents will have a cousin for a mother and a great uncle for father. I do not think this bodes well for te rest of the family.

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Mae March 31, 2014 at 11:51 am

What the h-e-double hockey sticks is wrong with these people? That is completely inappropriate and disgusting to do to anyone, let alone a 13 year old girl. To make it part of a celebration of her confirmation is even more icky, if that could be possible.

OP says this family is “family friends” of her in-laws? I think I would severely limit any contact with these folks and definitely not let possible future children get too close to them.

I feel sick. Literally sick thinking about what that child might be going through. Would it do any good to make a report to CPS or the police?

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Lenore March 31, 2014 at 11:52 am

Speaking for myself, I would have videotaped the whole thing, and then taken it into a CPS type facility to show them what exactly happened. What with every single phone being released having a pretty good camera, people record _everything_, and probably would not have looked twice at OP video taping an event.

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viviennebzb March 31, 2014 at 11:58 am

This is the most repulsive accounting of events I’ve ever read.

Speechless.

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