I feel obligated to come forward

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This topic contains 7 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  anita 12 months ago.

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    So this post talks about sexual abuse so if you don’t want to hear about that, click off.


    Anyway, when I was in about 2nd grade, and my brother was in about 8th, he sexually abused me. However, the events that happened didn’t traumatize me. I’ve never been scarred by what happened. I eventually forgot about it, but when I got into 7th grade, I started to remember the abuse.


    I was horrified, not because of the events that happened, but because of what this meant. I felt like I had to tell my parents. Did I want to? No. But I felt like I had to. That’s what I had heard my whole life. But I didn’t feel like telling them would help me move on. I wasn’t traumatized at all by the actual abuse that took place, but the thought of telling my parents horrified me because I knew it would completely break them, and I wouldn’t be able to live with that.


    My brother recently left on a two year trip with little to no contact with family, and emails and everything  else are monitored by the organization he’s with. The day before he left, I finally confronted him. He broke down apologizing, and he told me that he did what he did because he was abused the summer before at a camp he went to, and it messed him up and completely scarred him for life. After what took place, he abused me because he was so messed up and was attempting to make sense of what happened to him. He said that he was so stressed and traumatized that at one point his hair started falling out and he was suicidal. He told me over and over how sorry he was, and I forgave him.


    After he left, I started to feel anger at him again sometimes, understandably, but I had a little more empathy for him.


    Now here’s my main problem. I wasn’t traumatized at all, and I would be able to completely move on if it weren’t for one thing: the thought that I’m taking this secret to my grave. I have no need to tell my parents what happened in order to be happy with my life, and I’m all honesty, it would be better for all of us, myself included if I didn’t, I feel like I’m hiding something, and it’s eating me up inside. I just want to be able to be completely open with my parents, but is it possible to be open with my parents if I’m not telling them about my brother?


    Telling them wouldn’t help me in any way. It would make them extremely distressed and they could possibly try and hurt themselves. It’s unlikely they would do that, but it is definitely something that would be a possibility for them. If I told them though, I am 100% certain that my brother would try to kill himself. While what he did was incredibly fucked up, you’re just gonna have to take my word for it when I say he isn’t a bad person. I couldn’t live with myself if he tried to hurt himself. If I told my parents, their reactions would traumatize me more than the actual abuse ever could have.


    So the point is, I don’t want to tell my parents about what happened, but I also don’t want to take this secret to my grave. I feel like I’m hiding things. It’s really been eating up at me lately and I need advice.


    My brother is still on his trip, and I can’t talk to him about this without everything being monitored. I think it would help to talk to him, but I won’t be able to do that for two years.





    Dear NamesAreOverrated:

    I have to questions in effort to understand your situation and state of mind better, questions that may possibly lead you to better understanding.

    1. You wrote: “I just want to be able to be completely open with my parents” by telling them about your brother having abused you sexually when you were in about the second grade in school. My question: are you open with your parents about everything else, is this second grade incident the only thing that is hidden in you, that you didn’t reveal to your parents?

    2. You wrote: “Telling them wouldn’t help me in any way. It would make them extremely distressed and they could possibly try and hurt themselves”- how do you think they may try to hurt themselves, have they tried to hurt themselves before and do you think your brother shared this fear of yours (that they will hurt themselves) and that is why he didn’t tell them that he was abused in that camp he attended?

    I wonder if he too thought it wouldn’t help him if he told them that.





    Dear NamesAreOverrated,

    Anita’s email contains good questions. Also, you state a few times that you were not traumatized at all by your brother’s actions. I do not mean any offense, but sometimes when someone repeats a statement like that, they may not be sure whether on some level they are feeling effects of what happened. It would be understandable if you were.

    Other than your brother or parents, is there a trusted friend with whom you could discuss this?




    The abuse isn’t the only thing I’m currently hiding from them. I’m hiding my sexuality and the fact that I don’t believe in their religion from them, which they won’t take too well because they are very religious and a little closed minded. I know I’ll be safe, they aren’t going to kick me out or anything like that, but I know it will hurt them badly. I just wanted to be able to be fully open with them after I come out, and the fact that I’ll probably be hiding that secret forever messes with me. I just don’t like the idea of taking secrets to my grave, but I know that the consequences of coming forward won’t be worth it.


    My brother doesn’t want to tell anyone about his abuse, but he probably needs to at least talk to a professional, because unlike me, he was completely scarred by what happened. I say my parents are at risk of hurting themselves because they are extremely erratic and impulsive, and are in no way able to handle news like that. My brother’s already unstable, and I know that revealing what he did would push him over the edge. He won’t be back for two more years and we can’t talk to each other about what happened, so he doesn’t know how I’m doing and I don’t know how he’s doing, and that makes it worse.





    Dear NamesAreOverrated:

    I re-read your first thread as well as your latest response here. Your parents are “extremely erratic and impulsive”. Having grown up with parents who are that, no wonder you and your brother suffer from anxiety and are struggling, individually.

    Your parents are not the authority over right-and-wrong. They are not qualified to be the ones you confess t, open up to with secrets. Being “extremely erratic and impulsive” means they are not a place for anyone to turn to seeking resolution of any distress.

    There is no solution or resolution possible to achieve by turning to your parents. And you know it, you stated it yourself, in other words. The urge to “come forward” to them is probably similar to your other OCD urges. Those urges urge you to do things that in reality, you know will not bring you any positive results.

    Your anxiety, OCD urges, this is what you will have to heal from and manage best you can without turning to your parents.





    I know the feeling of wanting to confess these things to people, especially those who are close to you. However I do think you have made the right chooses so far in that you have really thought through the implications of what telling others would do.

    The fact that your brother is so remorseful is really what tells me that this is something you should work out between yourselves and not involve your family, if it were the other way around and he was at risk of further continuing his destructive behavior my advice would be to tell, but it isn’t.

    I think it’s great that you’re able to look past his negative actions and see him for who he really is, such insight and compassion is a rare quality to have. however  I do think that you need to talk to a therapist even if it’s just to fully understand and internalise your emotions. A good therapist will also help you really step outside yourself and truly understand why the feeling you are currently having are hurting you so much. When you do you can work to move past them and the past events will become of smaller and smaller significance in your mind.

    Keep in mind that you can be open and honest while still withholding some information. Sounds contradictorily, I know, but in reality being “too honest” may not necessarily be the best idea.
    It’s a good idea to be honest about things that on-going, your sexuality being one of them, but issues from the past that are not going to make further issues in the future may be best just left there in the past.

    I think at the moment you’re suffering from a fair amount of cognitive dissonance (where you hold two opposing views in your mind). On one hand you know that telling your family is going to cause more hurt than is potentially necessary, on the other hand you feel that this is going to eat you up inside and that you’re living a lie if you don’t.  This is something that you need to talk to a therapist about, they will help you really come to terms with, let go and move on. As for your brother, given his reaction and remorse,  I would feel optimistic that this 2 year trip will help him grow as a person and will be able to work out his issues with a professional when he comes back.




    Thanks for all the replies. I feel a lot better now. Last week I felt like I was completely losing it, but I feel like I can get a good focus on my life now.



    You are welcome, NamesAreOverrated. Post again if you need or want to.


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