Abuser Uncle

28 Oct

Dear LetterBalm: My daughter is 22 and recently told me that my brother sexually abused her when she was very young (she thinks she was about four or five). I was horrified and wanted to report my brother to the police, but my daughter begged me not to. She told me that she kept it a secret because she was confused and didn’t want to get my brother into trouble. We talked about it several times, and I apologized to her that I couldn’t help her at the time. But now, what do I do about my brother? I’m angry and repulsed by what he did to my child. He has a wife and children of his own, too.

–Enraged

You have every right to be enraged. Your brother committed a monstrous act and took away your daughter’s innocence. You are doing the right thing supporting and believing your child now. According to statistics, approximately one in five girls under 16 has encountered sexual abuse during childhood, and most of them keep it to themselves at the time. Ms. L.B. says there are many organizations and resources online to give you the tools to help encourage your daughter to report your brother’s crime. When you and she are on the same page, have a private conversation with your brother and his wife. Stay calm, don’t overexplain and be ready for serious denial and pushback. Your brother and sister-in-law may never speak to you again, but you will have been your daughter’s champion:

Joshua and Anna, this is the most serious and difficult conversation we will ever have, and I need your careful attention. Megan told me recently that when she was a child – no more than five years old – Joshua, you sexually molested her several times in her room when you babysat her at our old house on Cameo Street. She told me she kept it a secret because she was confused and didn’t want to get you into trouble. Don’t deny it, Josh. I believe Megan, and I’ve encouraged her to report what you did to the authorities. Anna, I suggest you do some hard thinking about Tony and Sasha because your kids may have been abused and may need help. Josh, there’s nothing you can say to me that will justify any of this. And, it will take a long time – maybe never – before I can forgive you for the monstrous thing you did.

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4 Responses to “Abuser Uncle”

  1. afternoonofsundries 10/28/2014 at 4:06 am #

    And be prepared for family denial from your mother and father as well. Especially if he’s their golden boy. Stick to your guns though, believing your daughter is the most wonderful thing you can do for her!

    • Ms. L.B. 10/28/2014 at 7:07 pm #

      We certainly should have cautioned her to expect anger and denial from the whole, extended family, depending on who knows and how much the situation is discussed among them. Thank you for your invaluable counsel.

      • afternoonofsundries 10/28/2014 at 7:10 pm #

        I just have a 8th grade student going through this, half her family believes and the other half is going to the extremes with denial. She’s had to move and her family changed numbers its so bad. I never thought family could do such a thing, but now I know!

  2. Ms. L.B. 10/28/2014 at 7:21 pm #

    This is appalling — we’ve never heard of such a horrible, extreme situation. We hope she and those in her family who believe her have a support network.

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