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» Got Questions? Get Answers. » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Abuse & Assault » Just found out a young family friend is being molested by an older cousin.

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Author Topic: Just found out a young family friend is being molested by an older cousin.
Cadence350
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I've just found out that this fifteen year old girl that I know has been getting molested by her older cousin (my former friend and is 30 years old and engaged).

She told me what was going on via text today. Don't know how long it's been going on but she's afraid to tell anyone because he's so close with the family.

No point in sharing the details, but she's in trouble and I guess I'm the one who's got to help her. She's got a lot of close family friends, but I guess she feels so trapped by this situation that she came to me (she's got an older brother and two other family friends who are guys around my age). She's leaving to England tomorrow morning for 7 weeks, so nothing more can happen for the time being.

When she first told me, she made it sound as if she thought she was at fault, but we had a long talk and I think she realizes now that he's the prick. She mustered up enough courage to tell him to screw off via text. She thinks that is enough and doesn't want me to tell anyone, but I obviously can't keep it to myself. If something were to happen to her and she got raped or something (nothing like that has happened so far), then I'd hate myself forever.

Anyway, I really just needed to tell someone about this. Don't care if nobody reads this or responds, just feels good to type it out. I'll be calling my friend tomorrow and telling him about this. His family is basically best buds with her family, and he's the reason I've become friends with that family. She's basically like a little sister to me at this point, and I'm furious that this is happening to her.

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Heather
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Actually, one awesome thing the UK has to offer is a really great support charity for victims of sexual abuse. And when someone is feeling as faraid as she is about talking to someone, it can sometimes be a lot easier when one is far away from where it's been happening, so this might be her perfect chance to get started on getting some help.

The URL for them is: http://www.rapecrisis.org.uk/ They have a phone hotline, too, so why don't you start by passing that information on to her?

I know that someone else's truth like this can be hard to hold. But before you tell others, have you asked how she feels about that, especially since the person you're thinking of telling is a member of her family, and she's expressed she does not want to disclose within her family yet?

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Cadence350
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Well after I talked to her, she seemed to start to understand that it is not her fault and was able to muster enough courage to send the guy a text telling him to leave her alone (I don't think she had the courage to do that before), but she thinks she's got it under control now and wants me to keep it a secret.

She's leaving the country for the next 6 weeks to visit some family, so she's safe for now. I told her that I wouldn't tell anyone and that we'd talk about when she got me. She literally told me the night before she was leaving (last night), so I basically just let her talk and told her that she can and should talk to me if anything else occurs.

I've never dealt with anything like this, but I just don't see the benefit of keeping this a secret. I know it's wrong of me to tell her I would keep it a secret then go behind her back and tell her parents, but she's gone for so long that I didn't really want to wait until she got back to do something, but I also don't want to lose her trust.

Thanks for your helpful response, by the way.

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Heather
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The thing is, if you told her you wouldn't tell anyone, but then you do without her permission, that's a) pretty disrespectful (even though it's clear you mean well) and b) will make you just one more person she can't trust. Know what I mean?

Being sexually abused is isolating enough, and disclosing it is often really hard. Someone taking your power away from you and disclosing for you without your permission is pretty huge. And it can just wind up being one more place where you feel like people have power over you, even if they think they're helping you.

It might be more clear about why to be mindful of where one discloses if it was something that had happened to you, rather than her. I can explain more of why to you if you like.

So, how about we brainstorm some ways you can help her out that don't betray her trust or wind up being one more thing where she feels like someone is doing things TO her, taking her choices away, etc.?

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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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

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Cadence350
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That makes sense.

I supposed, for now, I can just sit on it and talk to her when she gets back. She left this morning, but we talked last night and she mustered up enough courage to tell the guy to back off and is feeling good that she talked to someone.

She said she doesn't want to tell anyone because this guy is so close with her family and is well liked by everyone, so she thinks it will cause unnecessary trouble, and she's afraid people won't believe her and will take his side over hers. I told her that he should have thought of this before he did this to you and also told her that I've been friends with him longer than I have known her, but I'm still taking her side over his and her family will definitely do the same.

But she agreed to talk about this when she got back from her vacation. I guess it would be bad of me to tell people while she is away. I told her that we'd talk when she got back and that she shouldn't worry about it until then.

How do you suggest I handle the conversation when she gets back? Before I posted here, I was basically going to convince her to tell someone in her family who can actually be there for her, because I'm just a family friend who maybe sees her once a month. This happens in her own house after her parents and siblings are sleeping, so it can easily be prevented.

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Heather
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One thing to bear in mind when you're trying to help someone like this is that a lot of people's ideas of the best ways to help, or the right ways, can seem sound, but often aren't. In other words, before you go in all gangbusters, not only do you want to talk to her, you might want to get some more help or information from someone who has background and education in dealing with this that you don't.

For instance, if this person still has access to her when she's back home, then telling her family might actually endanger her, since it's very, very common for families to deny abuse and thus, for victims to wind up in even more danger. Often enough, when families are in denial, as they so often are, they'll continue to allow an abuser access to "prove" nothing is happening.

But too, sexual abuse within families is SO loaded that often disclosures can create HUGE dramas and trauma in families that can traumatize a victim even more than they already are. Both of those are big reasons why a victim getting safe FIRST, emotionally and physically, but also being allowed to take the time they need to feel able to disclose themselves is important.

On the other hand, one thing she can do and look into when she gets back is talking to a specialized counselor or organization equipped to handle this and help her, and that's something you could be a support for her in. And in the meantime, like I suggested, you can connect her with that service in the UK, so she can start talking to someone qualified to help her.

Six weeks is a long time from now, so in terms of how to talk when she's back, how about we touch base when it gets closer to that time?

In the meantime, do YOU need someone to talk to who you can talk to about this privately? While this didn't happen to you, like I said, sometimes holding unto a disclosure like this can be tough on people.

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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

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Cadence350
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Yikes.. that is awful to hear about families sometime denying something like this. That is something that could very well occur here, though. This guy is very well liked among his family and peers and is basically best buds with her parents. I know at least one person did note that it was strange how much time he was spending with her (during family gatherings, they would disappear for a whlie, and he'll often go to their house to hang out with the parents, but get drunk and stay way late into the night when it's only him and her), but no one has really done anything probably because they are in denial. Hell, someone pointed it out to me a few weeks ago, and I just dismissed it as nothing, because I didn't believe it. I wasn't in denial, because, other than the fact they were spending a lot of time together, there was no indication of anything going on.

I'm really glad I posted here, because I was ready to just tell anyone who could take action, but I suppose I need to be more careful and smarter about this than I thought.

I don't really have any way to contact her while she is away, and I think she's feeling a lot better now that she's confronted him and told me about it, so I suppose it's okay if she just enjoys her vacation and we talk about it when we get back. I suppose I could ask someone for her contact info, but that right there would just seem odd.

As for me, I think I'm fine. I feel better now that I've written this out and since she's out of the country, I feel good knowing shes okay for now.

I was just so eager to tell someone because I didn't want to find out months from now that something awful had happened and that it could have been prevented if I had not kept quiet. I'm also concerned that she may not be the only one as well.

Thank you so much Heather for your concern and advise. You've helped me so much, and it's good to know that I can get help like this if I need to. I suppose now I just wait until she's back and find out how to proceed further.

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Heather
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Oh, of course. And I hope you know it's very clear you're trying to help here, and I don't think you have anything but the best of intentions. I also think it's wonderful that you were someone she felt able to disclose to, someone who believed her, and someone willing to help. Someone like that is invaluable.

She doesn't have a private email you could mail while she's away? Or a cell phone?

It sounds to me, then, like where this stands is that it's when she comes back from this summer trip, she's going to be living back at home where this person could have access to her to abuse her again?

You also have concerns this person who has abused her is abusing others or has?

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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

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Cadence350
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I feel good and bad about being that person for her. Previously the abuser was that person for her. She's got an older brother (20 years old) and two other really close family friends (20 and 23), but I guess she feels so trapped that she's turned to me. I do love and care for her a lot, I just know this must be hard if she couldn't go to her parents, any of her relatives, or her siblings for this. How terrible.

I don't think her cell phone will be able to be used overseas. Pretty sure she hasn't taken it with her. I suppose I could contact her through Facebook, although she'll be staying with relatives and around a lot of family, so I'm not sure if there is a way she could find help there without anyone knowing, but I suppose I could pass it along and let her decide. She still doesn't think this is a 'big deal', so I'm not sure if she would be willing to call a rape crisis hotline.

And when she comes back, she will definitely be vulnerable to this person. He's over there almost every weekend from what I understand. I don't know how often this is happening, but he's got the opportunity pretty much every weekend.

I have no reason to believe he is abusing others, it's just something, I thought, could potentially be the case. I know him pretty well and don't really know of anyone other people he has access to, but he kept this a secret for so long, so it's very possible he's got some other secrets.

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Heather
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How about sending her a message on Facebook that says something to the effect of you having a possible resource while she's over there about what she told you (saying nothing more than that) which could help her out, and that if she wants you to email it, she should drop you a note?

--------------------
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

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Cadence350
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Perfect. Again, thank you so much, Heather. I'm feeling a lot better just talking this out with someone. Expect another topic in about 6 weeks though..heh.
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Heather
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Happy to be of any help I can.

For sure, we can talk again before she comes back. One thing I can do then -- or now, if you want that now -- is to help you find local agencies to where she lives who can help her out with this in the best way possible, including making sure that anywhere she is staying is safe and inaccessible to her abuser.

--------------------
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

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Cadence350
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That's a good idea, but I'm not too sure how she can be somewhere safe while still keeping this a secret. As long as no one else knows, this guy will continue to come to her house. She's only 15 and doesn't really have much of a choice as to where she can live.
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Heather
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She does, actually, because there are social service organizations and systems which can get her placed somewhere else, temporarily or permanently, if her home is somewhere she is being abused.

There are also ways they can help her report his abuse without disclosing to her family right away so that he is investigated.

I'd make sure you're not assuming that because she isn't ready to disclose to anyone but you yet, she won't ever be. Often , once we disclose abuse to one person, they're just the first person, not the only person. (It also sounds like you weren't the first person, just the first one who believed her, right?) It just can take us a while, having some more information and support, before we disclose to more than that person.

Heck, it may even be that when she comes back, she might be open to disclosing to another family member herself with your support.

[ 06-20-2011, 05:12 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

--------------------
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

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Cadence350
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Oh ok. I think you're right about me only being the first of a few. She sounded like she initially regretted telling me and wanted me to keep quiet, but after we talked for a few hours, she felt much better about telling me so I'm sure she's much more willing to share now. I suppose it is definitely better that I don't go behind her back and tell others, as that would definitely be a step backwards.

I would love for her to be ready when she gets back. Maybe leaving her house and getting far away from him will help her. She seemed to leave on a relatively good note by telling him off and telling him not to contact her any more and also being able to confide in me.

[ 06-20-2011, 05:19 PM: Message edited by: Cadence350 ]

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Heather
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She may or may not be ready to disclose to anyone else yet when she gets back. But by all means, having a summer far away where she's safe, AND having been able to disclose to you and have you believe her are very likely to both be things that will help her feel more able to take some more steps in becoming safe.

--------------------
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

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