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How Do I Resolve Childhood Abuse by My Sister?

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From a young woman in the UK: When we were younger we spent time with my cousins and they used to do sexual stuff to each other – they made me do things so they would leave my brothers alone (I was 8 my brothers were 4, 5 and 6) – my brother told my mum and we were never allowed to be alone with them again but I didn’t talk about it and now it’s on my mind as an adult – I am 25

When I was about ten my sister took me into the bedroom and forced me to perform oral sex on her. I am an adult but keep thinking about it. I love my sister but hate her for doing this. What kind of sibling does this? I can’t talk about it . I don’t know what to do or how to deal with it – please can you advise me. I am anxious all the time and can’t live a normal life how can I get over it.

How Do I Resolve Childhood Abuse by My Sister?

Answered by on -

A.

Thank you for writing. You don’t need to be haunted by this for the rest of your life.

My guess is that your sister was also abused by the cousins. She probably didn’t like what was happening and may have known it was wrong but her body responded with pleasure. How does a kid reconcile those conflicting things?

Children, like maybe your sister, often try to resolve confused feelings by copying a disturbing behavior in an attempt to figure it out. This is termed a “behavioral reenactment.” The child isn’t consciously aware that that is what they are doing. It’s an instinctive effort to come to terms with a traumatic experience.

Further, many victims of childhood abuse go on to have abusive relationships, either as a victim or as a perpetrator. The reasons are very complex but, simply put, they often ratchet between the two roles because they don’t understand that physical pleasure can happen without abuse being part of it.

Let’s remember that you were both children who were being exploited by the cousins. The two of you were and are in the same boat. You were both victims. Chances are, you are both still reverberating from the experience. It’s possible that she is as anxious about it as you are and that she also doesn’t know what to do about your mutual history.

Instead of hating her, talk to her. Approach her with compassion, not anger. She may be feeling guilty. She may have tried to minimize or push away things that happened during that time out of confusion, shame, or fear. She may be relieved to be given the chance to clear up any tension that exists between the two of you as a result.

If it feels too difficult to you to initiate such a talk, seek out a family therapist who can help you. Start by going to sessions by yourself to talk about your experience and to rehearse how you will talk to your sister. The therapist will provide you with guidance and support. In your case, the conversation with your sister isn’t a “confrontation”. It as an effort for both of you, together, to resolve a childhood experience that never should have happened.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

How Do I Resolve Childhood Abuse by My Sister?

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Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2020). How Do I Resolve Childhood Abuse by My Sister?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 1, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2020/04/03/how-do-i-resolve-childhood-abuse-by-my-sister/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 2 Apr 2020 (Originally: 3 Apr 2020)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 2 Apr 2020
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.