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Author Topic: Abusive Brother and Wedding Guest list
daisylove26
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Member # 79215

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I am going on 27 and my fiance and I have been dating for almost 3 years. We recently got engaged while backpacking in South America (happy times!...well, mostly)and as its already come down the nitty-gritty of explaining to my family that "NO", my oldest brother who I feel physically and sexually abused me as a child will not be invited and is not welcome at our wedding. Me refusing to see him altogether, let alone on holidays, over the past two years was tough for them, but it seems like me excluding him from my wedding is about more than a "grudge," as they feel my feelings towards him to be. So they're more or less freaked out, and its up in the air as whether or not they'll even attend, which in both me and my partners eye, will basically will too disappointing for us not to all but severe ties with my side of the family.

When I first came out (well most directly, though it wasn't my first attempt) about the abuse 2 years ago, I thought I was on the verge of loosing my family/ being ostrasized/cut-off. While it seriously challenged my relationship with my mom and dad, ultimately, I had felt, at least up until now, that they really did love me "no matter what." I have an extremely supportive fiance, counselor/therapist that I have been seeing for over 3 years now, and some very good friends. So, I have a support system and I know I'm not completely alone in this. All that said, this wedding stuff and my family's (parents and other older brother)reaction is really weighing hard on my mind, body, and soul, as its stirring everything up on both sides of the issue.

"What really happened?" is being challenged again by them....and I've been starting to doubt myself. I am currently living and working abroad, so a lot of the communication between my family and I has been via email...which comes with both pros and cons: in some way I feel it gives me some emotional safety to get out more clearly the messages that I need to communicate, i.e. be assertive; but on the other hand, its less personal and words can be mis-construyed on both sides of the aisle.

So I guess I'm writing today to reach out for additional support on many fronts.

FIRST: Is there anyone out there that has dealt with a similar situation (wedding and guest lists when it comes of abusive former intimate partners?) that has words of wisdom/advice/support for me?

Is there anyone out there that knows they were abused but because it wasn't "bad" or "gruesome" "enough" constantly doubts calling it "abuse" sometimes? Despite validation and support from love-ones and trained professionals??

For example, my brother never raped or performed oral sex on me, ect., but I have memories (beginning age 5 through 18) of him doing things like watching me shower, make sexualized comments about my body or appearance, ask me to kiss him, lingering hugs, and often just constantly invading my personal space and boundaries. I often felt "icky" around him. He was often my care-taker, especially during the summers, and he himself, as I learned for certain just a few years ago was sexually abused by a babysitter at around the age of 4/5/6 and then went on to sexually abuse a boy (who was my age) who he babysitted that lived up the street. I have memories of my brother sort of laying on me and "grinding"/rubbing me, if you will, but my memories are vague. Since childhood I have had nightmares about him sexually assaulting me or more other brother in a more severe manner. The whole reason I even came out to my family was that I was concerned for my nephew, my oldest brother's son, and his physical, sexual, and emotional well being, as I had continued to see some "red flags" or warning signs with my brother's behavior. To be more specific, my brothe got (yet another DUI), and actually served time (3 months) this time, and for me it was a huge wake up call that NO, he hadn't grown and healed, and if he still hadn't grown and healed, I became harder for me to ignore my concerns/worries for my nephew.

My brother was also extremely physically and emotionally abusive, but it wasn't like I was always covered with bruises and he didn't beat me with a belt.

My parent's marriage, as I have come to realize, was also abusive...but then again, too many, it might not seem all that abusive. My dad "only" hit my mom twice, even though they fought daily and said emotionally abusive stuff in front of the children all the time. My dad also used to get in physical fights (as in throwing fists and blows)with my oldest brother when he was a teenager. Both my brother and Dad used to punch walls and doors and create holes.

So again, does anyone out there have an experience of abuse that might be more in the "grey" if you will? Is there anyone out there that survived a similar cross-roads with family over the exclusion of an abusive family member from a special event, like a wedding? How did you handle it/cope?

Thanks for reading.

Posts: 2 | From: southern US | Registered: Sep 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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daisy: if no one else hops in tonight, I can absolutely dig into this for and with you tomorrow.

I'm sorry to have to make you wait, but I've just hit my max for the day in terms of the workload I can handle.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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Hey there. So, first things first, I'm so sorry to hear that you've been experiencing some unfortunately typical dynamics in families where sexual abuse has happened. This kind of denial is incredibly common, and all the more so when other kinds of abuse are already part of the family, or when parents themselves grew up with abuse and feel it is "normal."

I don't hear you describing anything "grey." The idea that only intercourse or oral sex creates or "proves" sexual abuse is a deeply dangerous misconception that puts people at higher risk of being abused, having it escalate further, and certainly makes healing from it a lot harder. I also think that if your family is acting as they are about what did happen, had those things also happened, they'd likely be behaving the exact same way. People still deny abuse when those things happen too, all the time.

It sounds to me like -- again, this really sucks -- you are kind of in the position of having to potentially choose between having your parents attend your wedding and having a wedding where you feel safe, something that is obviously likely to be important to you. You no doubt also don't want to start a huge, potentially happy part of your life and have an important ritual with someone you did you harm in your face.

Personally, I'd suggest taking a hard line here. In other words, you make clear to your parents that whatever ideas they have about what happened, you know you were done real harm and do not think it is unreasonable to exclude anyone who you know has harmed you or think might from your wedding or any part of your life. You can tell them you really hope that they can get on board with that as you need their support and also very much want them to be a part of your wedding, but that you're not budging with this, just like you wouldn't expect anyone else to in the same position. You could express that you are sure they can find some way to make this work with those limits, but if they can't, let them know that while that will be tremendously disappointing to you, you would accept it.

Does an approach like that sound like something you'd feel right about and feel capable of doing?

(Just so you also know, the "did it really happen" stuff is so, so common amongst survivors, likely in large part because of cultural denials and obviously compounded by interpersonal ones. I know it's hard to keep other people wanting to deny things for their own comfort out of your own process, but I'd encourage you to keep trying to do that, putting your truth first.)

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
daisylove26
Neophyte
Member # 79215

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Thanks for the support Heather. Things have gotten worse since I wrote the post above. My dad isn't speaking to me and my mom recently told me that she had concerns about my "state of mind" and that she was worried that my therapist had "brainwashed" me. About a month ago my mom began requesting to interrogate me, more or less, about "what really happened." I even offered to write up a "summary" for her, but she insisted she wanted it to be in person and that she had a "right to know"--as if i had never told her about the abuse. At first she said she wanted to "know more" before deciding whether or not she was going to come to my wedding and or help with it financially, but then after I kind of called her out, she responded by claiming she had already made her mind up anyway to come even though it was going to be incredibly hurtful for her and the rest of the extended family. But as things continue to unfold, I am more and more convinced that maybe I don't want them there or even in my life. My family has always been a bit messed up, but I never thought it would come to this. I know its been hard for my mom and dad as parents, but I thought that at the end of the day they love me and wouldn't even bail on me like this or put me through this sort of witch hunt. What's worse is that all this is happening while I am abroad. Again, thanks for the words of support. I am starting to feel like I can take my stance and not look back. Thanks
Posts: 2 | From: southern US | Registered: Sep 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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I'm so sorry to hear this. [Frown]

Do you need any more help in managing all of this? Hopefully you already know that there aren't rights or wrongs for you here, just what you do and don't feel comfortable with, whatever limits or boundaries you need, and what you really want.

As well, hopefully you also know that even if you do decide you want some distance from your family, that's not a choice you can only make once, and then it's made ever after. If you feel like you want some space, then weeks, months or years down the line, you feel differently, you can always contact them and see how they are and are feeling at that point.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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