Can’t Get Past Brother Sexually Abusing Me

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Hello, I’m 17-year old girl. I’ve been experiencing a slight incest-ish sexual abuse. One and the first of them was by my big brother who was 18 at the time. (we have two years of age gap so I was 16)

It was midnight or so, late nevertheless. I was watching a movie with him in his room, when suddenly he sat behind me and started fondling my breasts. I didn’t know what to say about it, I have a fierce temper so you’d think I’d tell him to stop, but somehow I was too confused. He had this playful attitude, like it was some game, so I decided to let him do what he pleases until he gets bored. He actually mentioned a few things what he thinks of incest, that just the society prevents it and he thinks it’s a natural thing.

Eventually I left his room since it began to make me really nervous. I got in my own room and started doing stuff on my computer. After a while, he came in and sat on my bed watching what I was doing. Then he again started touching my breasts and I finally told him to stop. He again had this ‘playful’ attitude, and just continued saying it’s not that bad. I decided to let it pass, because I was a bit tired since it was late. But then his hand went to my crotch. I grabbed on to his hand and this time irritated told him to cut it off. Again, he just said “come on”. I don’t know why I let him do it. He eventually started fingering, and I just tried to pretend I didn’t care and continued surfing in the internet. In the end he got bored, left saying “well, nevermind if you don’t like it.”

Next day I couldn’t look him in to eye, and when the other family was having a dinner in the downstairs, I spent my time crying in my room. I felt horrible and used. It has been about two years since it happened, but I can’t forget it even if I wanted to.

Our parents don’t know about this, and I can’t tell them. I don’t want to be a poor helpless victim and break the family apart.

A: I imagine you are feeling guilty that you didn’t scream at him to stop. I want you to know that your reaction is common. When someone is violated by a person they trust, the response is often disbelief, bewilderment, and confusion. The perpetrator takes advantage of that. Some even then try to convince the victim that she consented to the situation because she didn’t say “no.” Some rely on the confusion of the victim to enable them to continue the abuse.

You mention that the event was only the first of situations that make you uncomfortable. Please don’t let yourself minimize what’s going on. This is sexual abuse. It is not normal. It is not okay. It is not something your brother can justify by some notion that he knows better than society. Regardless of what he thinks, he lives in a society where there are social rules and laws that protect children and teens from unwanted sexual advances.

The upset in the family that is likely to come from telling your parents doesn’t make you the person who “breaks the family.” Your brother already did that. How will you ever have the same relationship with him again? Why would you want to come home if you know he might be there? How will you manage to relax at home if you are ever alone with him? His actions have already changed how you feel about yourself and how you relate to him and your whole family. Your brother is unlikely to “outgrow” his attitude. The consequences of what he’s done won’t just go away if ithe problem is ignored.

Your parents can’t help you – or your brother – if they don’t know there is a problem. You owe it to yourself to turn to the parents who love you to tell them what’s been happening. You need support. He needs psychological help. Your family needs to heal.

If you are having difficulty talking to your parents, it might be helpful to share your letter and this response with them as a way to begin. Tell them that I strongly urge you all to get involved with some family therapy to help you manage the situation.

It makes me terribly sad and angry that you’ve been dealing with this for over a year. I hope with all my heart that you will reach out to get the help you need.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 14 Sep 2012

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2012). Can’t Get Past Brother Sexually Abusing Me. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 26, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/09/14/cant-get-past-brother-sexually-abusing-me/