Hi. This is a complex issue. But essentially my husband’s family recently learned that his younger brother suffered sexual abuse from a family member 10 years ago. I was in this family 10 years ago (though not married yet), but when they met to discuss the issue, they excluded me. My husband flew across the country to learn the bad news in person, and I had to stay here waiting to hear over the phone…
I care about these people, but I feel as though my feelings are being completely invalidated. I have known this brother since this incident happened. At minimum, I’d have liked to have been there to support my husband when he heard this news. Maybe I don’t understand my place? I am a firm believer that survivors of sexual abuse should only tell whomever they want, on their own terms, when they want, etc. But I definitely feel a little bit down about not being included when the ENTIRE family heard. And they basically told my husband “you can tell her…if you want”. We are going on a family trip next month, and I honestly don’t even know how to act. Of course my husband told me, which I guess they were ok with, but now what? Am I supposed to act like I really don’t care? Did I not get included because they think it doesn’t effect me? Even if it didn’t, it effects my husband, and I don’t even know how to be supportive at this point. And its his mother that said I shouldn’t come, not even the brother. Feeling very lost. (From the USA)
My best guess is that the family was deeply embarrassed. During these times people make decisions that grow out of shame and insecurity rather than out of good judgment.
I believe the correction is reaching out to your brother-in-law. As long as your brother-in-law knows that your husband has told you, and that it wasn’t meant to be kept from you by him, then you reaching out directly to lend your support short-circuits the dynamic of feeling left out.
I would also encourage you and your husband to talk about this. The main dilemma here is that your husband honored his family over you. I believe it is you when your husband that need to talk more about you not being included. As his wife, the separation from this process should’ve been something the two of you discussed prior to his going. But now it will be essential as an effort to heal your exclusion from the process — and work toward integration in the future.
Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: http://www.dare2behappy.com/. He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.
APA Reference Tomasulo, D. (2018). Left Out of the Family Circle of Trust. Psych Central.
Retrieved on November 20, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2017/08/15/left-out-of-the-family-circle-of-trust/
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 15 Aug 2017) Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018 Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.