Family Ick
November 3, 2018 11:44 PM   Subscribe

My cousin said creepy sexual things to me (then denied it), now we have to go to a funeral together. How do I get through this without punching him, making it awkward, or upsetting family members?

My favorite cousin (male) and I (female) are right around the same age (mid-30s), are both single, and have always been very, very close. He lives on the other side of the country and we see each other very infrequently - probably once every couple of years - but keep in touch via text and such. About a month ago, he was drunk and texting me and started making very suggestive comments about me - implying that he masturbated while thinking about me and some other stuff with really sexual implications, wishing we were closer together, etc. I said, "Well, I never thought of you like that and I don't want to hear more along those lines," he told me my mind was in the gutter and he didn't mean it at all in the way I was reading it. I suppose it's possible I misinterpreted, and I certainly hope drinking while talking to me shut down his filter in a way it wouldn't otherwise be, but the point is that I don't feel comfortable interacting with him right now. We haven't texted since then.

A close older family member has passed away and we will almost certainly both be at the funeral (in my city) and involved with other family gatherings (in my city) around the same time. I love his parents and his sister; our parents get along really well; the whole family (except my little brother) will be at this funeral.

I don't want to make a big deal about things or draw attention to the fact that I don't want to interact with him, especially not one-on-one. I don't want to have a giant fight or some sort of showdown, and this funeral is not the time to air family dirty laundry. It's possible that I need to deal with this in a more upfront way, but a funeral doesn't seem like the appropriate time to hash things out, and I know that he's already pretty emotionally keyed up. I don't really want to drag my parents into things - we're all adults. My brother won't be there so I can't rely on him to be a Constant Companion. Is this a situation when I can just be distantly polite and chalk it up to grief? Do I pretend like it never happened because he was drunk and not in control of things?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Is this a situation when I can just be distantly polite and chalk it up to grief?
Sounds like a great plan! Don't pretend it is OK but don't engage.
Also, think about who in your family you can talk to about what happened without creating drama that you aren't ready for. Even if that person can't be your constant companion, it will help you to know that someone in the room is on your side.
posted by metahawk at 11:51 PM on November 3, 2018 [8 favorites]

Why the heck are YOU nervous about causing drama at a funeral? You hold allllllll the power. You have text messages. Right now he’s relying on your sense of ‘good girl’ to get away with the creepy incest bullshit.

Send creepycuz a screenshot of every single one of his messages and tell him if he turns up to the funeral/so much as glances in your direction (whatever your preferred option is) you’ll be sending out copies of his disgusting incesty love missives to your entire family.

He’s relying on your sense of shame and wanting to keep the peace to protect him. Once he thinks that you’re prepared to burn it all to the ground to expose him, this guy will turn tail and run.

If you really want to play hardball, and have anyone at all you can trust, start by messaging that person and your cuz one of the bad texts as proof you’ll do it. Then he’ll know you’re for real. Then you own him. Don’t protect creeps. You don’t actually have to blow this thing up though, you just have to make him think you will, then you’ll never hear from this guy again. I’m sorry you have to go through this.
posted by Jubey at 3:50 AM on November 4, 2018 [52 favorites]

It sounds like you think there's some possibility that you could have misinterpreted what he said, so ask a trusted third party (someone completely disconnected from your family) to look them over and confirm. Harassment can make you doubt your judgment and it can be helpful to have another person confirm "yes, that really WAS inappropriate." This will help you stick to your guns.

If you don't want to deal with it at the funeral, you could deal with it now. Tell him you'll be polite a the funeral for the sake of your family, but you don't want to talk to him other than that.

If you're not comfortable with that, then throw yourself into the caring daughter role and focus on your parents. Particularly if the deceased was close to your mom and/or dad, no one can fault you for sticking close by to support and comfort them. It's highly unlikely that he's going to try to harass you in front of someone else.
posted by bunderful at 4:07 AM on November 4, 2018 [9 favorites]

If you had misinterpreted (which is incredibly unlikely, btw) his reaction would still have been out of line. Even if he’d meant them innocently, “These sexual comments make me uncomfortable please stop” should have been followed by “I am so terribly sorry, I didn’t mean them that way”.

He would owe you an apology either way, don’t second guess yourself.

Keep your distance at the funeral. If anyone questions it you can even say you had an argument and this is definitely not the time or place for you to hash it out.
posted by lydhre at 4:24 AM on November 4, 2018 [25 favorites]

As Captain Awkward would say, return the awkwardness to sender. You get to act normal, avoid him like the plague and not acknowledge his presence. Act like he’s not even there.

If he does try to approach you, or if people ask why you’re not talking to him, tell them the truth. “He said some really awful things to me last time we were together, and then tried to deny it.” The more people push, the more truth they get.

As Jubey said, there is no obligation on your part to protect your cousin from his own actions. Let him deal with the shit.
posted by Autumnheart at 5:48 AM on November 4, 2018 [19 favorites]

Jubey is dead on.
posted by bile and syntax at 7:12 AM on November 4, 2018 [3 favorites]

I want to respect your stated desire to not make this a big deal right now. I recently went through something in which I had screenshots, and in my mind, when I reported, it was absolutely open and shut proven. People not familiar with the situation chose to believe his lie about how those things got accidentally sent to me (his login, his finger on the send button, just a big old oops!) and since he didn't have bad intent, according to them, there were no consequences for him.

I hope your family doesn't operate that way, but when it's one of their own, a lot of groups have trouble sticking to their values. I suggest hanging onto the screenshots, and getting through the funeral while paying lots of loving attention to your parents and any other family members you enjoy.

You can use the time to strengthen friendships with female family members who might be his prior or future targets. Just friendships for now, and when the time is right, you have the option to activate the whisper network.
posted by Former Congressional Representative Lenny Lemming at 7:37 AM on November 4, 2018 [6 favorites]

Is it possible to bring a close friend for support? Just having a non-family person there to have your back might help you get through it.
posted by instamatic at 3:19 PM on November 4, 2018 [2 favorites]

Go with Jubey’s plan. You need to play offense here, not defense.
posted by MexicanYenta at 4:34 PM on November 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

Just want to say I am so sorry you're going through this. Especially if he was your favourite cousin and someone you trusted, that's a loss that feels violating and disillusioning and enraging and painful. I've had similar situations and it hurts so much. Do whatever YOU need to do to feel comfortable and protected at the funeral, the fallout is his shit to deal with now.
posted by EarnestDeer at 8:15 AM on November 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

« Older A tattoo of a tattoo from Moby Dick   |   rent vs buy Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.