Hi, I'm really in a bind and I have no idea what to do.
When I was a kid, my older half-brother sexually assaulted me repeatedly. The details aren't particularly important here. After a couple years of hell trying to figure my way through it, and heal, etc. I feel a lot better about it. Doesn't go away, doesn't hurt much less, but it's workable. I no longer feel like it's the defining feature of my life.
He hasn't lived at home for a long time. Right now, he lives across the country. Early on, I used to get threatening phone calls from him a couple times a day, and I stopped answering long distance phone calls. I guess he got tired of it, and I haven't heard from him in a long time.
I got a phoen call from my mom the other day. "Oh, by the way, your brother's coming home for Christmas". She knew I wasn't going to be happy about it, but I'm furious. I feel so betrayed. She's like "Oh, well, you won't be alone together. He'll sleep in the basement, you can sleep upstairs".
I feel like I should be being more mature abotu this, but I feel like, well, you couldn't and didn't protect me the first time, why do you think you can do it now? Even the idea of the sight of him makes my stomach turn.
She gave me a call today,a nd told me that I do have to come home for Christmas because it's my "duty to the family" and that it's making my little sister upset that I don't want to come home. She's been really focused on that because my sister was just diagnosed with bad ADD, and that seems to be a big split in the family (she's in grade 10 now) She figures that for stability's sake, I need to "suck it up" and be happy about him coming.
Is there anything I can do? At all? How can I face that?
Not a pleasent situation. However, your "duty to your family" does not include puting your safety or emotional health in jeapardy just to please a family member.
You will have to tell your mother that your brother's presence is unacceptable and be prepared to forgo a family Christmas if that is what it is needed to keep you safe. Your brother has committed several criminal acts against you. In no way should you have to endure his presence in any way. Your sister may also be at risk from your brother.
You should contact your local Children's Aid Society for advice on how to protect her.
A difficult situation with no easy answers, I'm afraid. But your brother belongs in a penitentiary rather than at a family gathering.
------------------ We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.
do you think you could sit through the day with him for your family then go to a hotel at night or something? either that or bring a friend with you if possible? i think it is a family holiday and a chance to catch up with your family a bit, but if you feel that uncomfortable, you can't stay there. check and see if you can get a hotel room in the area. i hope it all works out.
Posts: 21 | Registered: Dec 2004
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Just to address more than the practical logisctics.
Cupcake, you have, absolutely, positively, EVERY right to feel betrayed right now. I say that, because I know it's all too easy to fall into the victim trap of thinking things are one's own fault, that you aren't entitled to certain things, that things aren't as big a deal as you think they are.
Even when you know better.
You do NOT have to go home if you don't want to. Your mother, I'm sorry to say, is being incredibly inconsiderate and terribly thoughtless. You would be completely within your rights to say something to the effect of, "No, I do NOT have to do that, and I certainly do NOT have to put myself in a position where I am around someone known well to be incredibly dangerous to me. As well, I would expect that per familial duty, it is my family's duty not to suggest I PUT myself in a situation which is certainly emotionally dangerous and possibly physically so."
There are ways to face an abuser. But in all honesty, there really IS no healthy way to do so when you're not in a situation with thoughtful, supportive people around you who are being intensely considerate of the trauma you went through. I really wouldn't advise an abuse survivour put him or herself into a situation like this. Many people who haven't survived abuse have a hard time imagining what it is like to not only have t be around your abuser, but even TRY to "make nice." It is no small thing at all, and it's an awful place to be, one no one has any right to ask of you to enter, especially like this.
Have you talked about the abuse with your younger sister? I suggest that because sounds like she's old enough, and that could not only help her understand where you're coming from in not slighting her, but perhaps get things more open in your family.
My sympathies, honey: this stuff is so incredibly hard to navigate in a family, and I can say from experience that unfortunately, it's generally a lifelong process that often has a lot of fumbling invlved on everyone's part.
Do you have a therapist or counselor who perhaps could help you with this, maybe even in talking with your mother?
Well it's nice to know I'm not being totally unreasonable on this, as I was beginning to wonder.
Unfortuantely, as much as I would like it to change, this issue isn't going to get any more open in my family. Without tearing it completely and utterly apart, and I think I've hit the point where I it's not worth it to do that. I think understandably, my mom isn't exactly going to be too upfront about her eldest son being a child molester. She went through a long period (from when I was about 6- when it happened and when she knew about it-until I was about 14) where she didn't even acknowledge that she believed me at all. About 14, I asked her why, and she said that acknowledging would have hurt my brother's self esteem. I used to hate her for it, and not see how I could forgive her. But as I've gotten older I've stretched that a little bit, and begun to understand that while she did really screw up, she's human too and thought she was doing the best she could. While being horribly wrong.
I really do appreciate the kind advice though. I'm finding it's not nearly as easy as just saying "Look I'm not going to come home", but I'm sort of trying to juggle both extreme emotions. Don't know how well I'm doing, but I guess we'll see.
I don't actually see a therapist at all anymore- I went through alot of up and down experiences with them a few years ago, and finally said, dude, this just isn't working. A lot of work went into makign me as... level-headed about it as I am now, but I'm okay with it being a long process (that I'm not entirely sure will ever be over)
My mom and I talked a bit, and a TINY inkling of a deal has been worked out- mainly with me having unrestrained access to the car for as long as I need it, which means a built-in escape hatch for me. I think the most frustrating and underminign thing is just not being able to make her understand that this is NOT cool, NOT safe, NOT fair, and that there's more to this aversion than just "not liking him".
But I really wanted to say Thank You for the help- it's very thoughtful, thank you.
I agree totally with everyone who has said that you absolutely do not have to do this if you don't want to, but I also understand it is a difficult decision.
I have one more suggestion for you. When it is really difficult to talk to someone about an issue, it can be helpful to write them a letter instead. It means you can take time to think about what you want to say, you can amend it until you are happy with it, and you can say it all without interruption. The other person can also read and re-read it and think it over.
Good luck and stay safe. Maybe you could arrange to spend some time with your mother and sister over Christmas without going to the house, maybe meet them for a meal out restaurant or invite them to your place. That way you would be spending some time with them without having to be in danger. What your mother is doing amounts to emotional blackmail, she has no right to insist that seeing her at Christmas means staying in a house with your abuser.
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