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Should I tell my distant cousin about our shared experience of sexual abuse

(4 Posts)
Calicocatlady Sun 02-Mar-14 10:36:48

Im new to mumsnet so apologies if this is in the wrong place.
As a child I was sexually abused over a sustained period of time by an elderly non-blood relative whom previously I'd looked on as a grandfather. I quickly developed a system where I managed to avoid situations where it was likely to happen (normally when we were left alone together) So the encounters became fairly infrequent and by the time I was 12, the physical contact had ended. I told my mother at this point but made her promise to do nothing. Rightly or wrongly she honoured this. Mum did tell me a vague story about my cousin who apparently reported similar experiences but was brandished a trouble maker and basically ostracised from that part of the family. I had very little contact with my cousin. She lived in another country and was quite a few years older than me.
The abuser died when I was 14 and I think i did really well in putting the episode behind me. Im happily married now with children of my own and I hardly ever think about that bit of my past.
I heard nothing more of my cousins encounter but occasionally have wondered about her and, if my mum was correct in her recollection, felt really quite sorry about the way she was treated by the family.
Out of the blue I suddenly have a contact for her (good old facebook). Now wondering if I should get in touch and perhaps tell her of my experience. She is still in the different country so would be difficult to arrange a face to face contact (which would be ideal). Should I get in touch? Should I leave it be? I don't want to open a potential can of worms for her. There may well be repercussions for the remaining elderly family members (which Im less concerned about). what would you do?

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 02-Mar-14 10:50:51

That's quite a dilemma and I'm sorry you had such a terrible experience. What I would do is develop the FB contact, get to know her, show interest in her life... create a friendship basically. If you get closer and cultivate some trust you might get to a place where you both feel comfortable talking about it. I wouldn't go in with this from cold, as it were.

Calicocatlady Sun 02-Mar-14 11:25:46

Thank you Cog. It's very difficult to see the trees for the wood (or is it the wood for the trees) when you're in a situation. Sensible advice re not going in from cold.

Gettingmeback Sun 02-Mar-14 12:02:17

Calico, I work as a counsellor with people who have been sexually abused. Connecting with someone in your family who has a similar experience can be very powerful and healing. You obviously have a sense of that because you have always thought of her. BTW I would suggest what your mother recalled was accurate. However, Cog gives you spot on advice. Because you don't have any relationship with her, you can't know where she is at in terms of dealing with the abuse. An FB PM disclosing what you know is extremely high risk to her. But, I would encourage as Cog has to friend her and start to build a relationship. When there is trust, disclose your own abuse without expecting anything of her. If she does disclose, it is then ok to share with her what you already new because she will appreciate your approach and no doubt your knowledge will help to fill in some gaps for her about what people know. You should be so proud of yourself you sound great.

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