How can I help my sister deal with abuse at the hands of our brother?
November 25, 2009 7:19 AM Subscribe
I recently discovered my brother was sexually abusing my sister and how the hell do I deal with this over Thanksgiving weekend?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (38 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I recently found out that my brother was sexually molesting my younger sister from the fifth grade until she was a sophomore in high school. The details became clear when she opened up to me a few weeks ago. Last spring, after he was arrested, I’d been given vague descriptions from my mother (‘he messed with her covers’) and veiled allegations from my sister – (‘I’d like to talk to you abut this, but in person, and not when you are here on vacation, but there are things he did.’) Our family is stoic, repressive and completely ignoring this situation.
I was the primary caregiver from the age of 11 while my mother went back to school until I just flat-out left them all when I turned 16. Yes, I have massive, massive guilt about this.
It came to light when the SWAT team was called on this brother because it was thought at the time that he had his roommate’s girlfriend at gunpoint; he was saying he was going to kill her and then himself. My sister confessed everything to my parents that night because she felt another woman might be in danger. It turned out it wasn’t true, the girlfriend wasn’t even on the premises, he was drunk, and had been drinking a fifth of vodka each night for at least a year. He spent 30 or so days in jail and has been working off his community service/debt/sentence (felony menacing was what he was prosecuted for) since then at part-time jobs and whatever he can get. It’s obvious he doesn’t want to go back to jail and he’s been doing his part to stay clean and comply with his sentence.
This, however, doesn’t explain or erase the harm he did to my sister. She is traumatized and has a very hard time spending any time my parent’s house. My mother completely minimizes her experience and says she’s being ‘difficult’ and ‘dwelling on things.’ I was also was subjected to sexual abuse when I was younger (non-familial) which was ignored, so I understand what my sister is going through and want to help her. Hers is far, far worse since it was at the hands of her brother – he’s three years older than her, she is almost 21. I can’t imagine her pain and I love her so much. We are the only rational people in this family and I have a hard enough time dealing with my own unresolved issues, but I need to help her, she’s beautiful, strong and has an amazing spirit.
The questions are: how can I: 1) help my sister deal with this, 2) convince my parents that what happened was WRONG and 3) make my parents okay with her not staying at their house? Right now they don’t see why she doesn’t want to sleep in the bed her brother molested her in. I asked her to make plans to stay with a friend over this weekend but she is afraid of offending them (she is in college and lives a few towns away). I told her to do it anyway. She’s young and doesn’t understand the benefits of therapy yet, since it was ridiculed as part of our upbringing. If these questions seem rather cold it’s because I am completely out of my depth and have no idea how to approach this holiday weekend where we will all be together.