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SIL was molested as a child

(60 Posts)
Orlando512 Mon 07-Sep-20 14:27:22

A few years ago my SIL (DH sister) told me she was molested by her cousin when she was a young girl. She didn't go into too much detail, but I'm under the impression it lasted a few years. I'm the only person in the family that knows about this. I was horrified and shocked when I found out, but told her I would never tell anyone as it was her story to tell, but that I will always be there for her if she ever wanted to talk about it. I tried to encourage her to tell DH, but she said she didn't want to do that, so I haven't pushed any further. The cousin is a part of our lives still, but a once a year type relationship. I haven't seen him since I was told this information and to be honest don't want to see his face ever again. My problem is I feel like I have this big secret for dh. He and his sister are close and I know he will be devastated if he found out. I would never tell him and break my SIL's trust, but am scared one day he will find out and not forgive me if he knew that I knew and never told him. I just wanted to get this off my chest to be honest as I've never told anybody before...

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BernadetteRostankowskiWolowitz Mon 07-Sep-20 14:29:40

Do you or SIL have kids?

picklemewalnuts Mon 07-Sep-20 14:31:32

What's the age gap between them?

Orlando512 Mon 07-Sep-20 14:32:53

No, she does not have children. Age gap is 5 years, so I believe she may have been 5 and he 10 approx.

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Orlando512 Mon 07-Sep-20 14:34:57

Yes, I have DS age 3

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Orlando512 Mon 07-Sep-20 14:38:01

My son has never and will never have anything to do with the cousin

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Martamaybe Mon 07-Sep-20 14:39:22

I think you should actively encourage your sil to tell her family and officially report this to the police as there is a huge risk to other children. That is the important thing here. I don’t believe that anyone should share other people’s secrets with their spouses as a matter of course ( I’m aware that some do) but that is clouding the issue here as a dangerous person could be still abusing children.

DifficultPifcultLemonDifficult Mon 07-Sep-20 14:39:23

Is your dh the type of person who would make someone's abuse all about him?

There's nothing to 'forgive' you for. Someone told you a painful secret, in confidence, and you've kept their trust.

I would absolutely be keeping my child away from this cousin though.

Orlando512 Mon 07-Sep-20 14:44:57

My Husband is not that type of person at all. He is a very supportive and understanding person, but I do think it would break him as he would see it as not protecting her.

Yes, this cousin has children of his own, which worries me very much.

My DS will never come into contact with this person. I would never allow it and my SIL wouldn't either.

I just can't help but think if my DH knew this about my sibling and never told me, I'd be horrified :-(

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Orlando512 Mon 07-Sep-20 14:46:20

My MIL is very much a person to make it about her. Hence why my SIL will not tell her parents

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picklemewalnuts Mon 07-Sep-20 14:46:46

Thank you for the extra information. I wanted to check how old the perpetrator was. A younger child, or less of an age gap and I might not hold them responsible.

If he were to find out and then attempt to blame you for keeping it from him, I'd tell him sharpish to stop making it about him. SiL's history is her own, and he has no right to be angry about who she chooses to tell. He should respect your integrity and honour SiL's choices.

Of course he will be upset when he hears, but about his sister not about you.

TeeBee Mon 07-Sep-20 14:47:50

No, the priority is not for your SIL to report it; her priority lies only in recovering herself. She is not responsible for anyone else in that regard. She is not the person causing hurt; she is the person trying to recover from it. Please do not ever put pressure on someone recovering from sexual abuse to disclose information before they are ready to do so. It can be incredibly traumatic.
I also believe that as she has trusted you enough to confide in you, your responsibility is to only support her. Your DH can be all sorts of upset if and when he finds out but it is not your duty to tell him, it is hers, only if she wishes to.

picklemewalnuts Mon 07-Sep-20 14:50:10

Perhaps with the knowledge you now have you can occasionally draw his attention to news or tv, emphasising the importance of respecting the survivor's wishes. It's common for people to feel shame and not want others to know. Particularly common for women not to want men to know that they have been abused in the past. And he may be her brother but he is also a man. Her feelings trump his in this situation.

DifficultPifcultLemonDifficult Mon 07-Sep-20 14:51:11

My Husband is not that type of person at all

Then you don't have to worry about him forgiving you, which is great.

You could possibly look at ways to support him, if he ever did find out, I understand he would feel a certain amount of guilt (no reason he should at all, this wasn't his fault) so maybe some research into what to say, how to help etc would make you feel less stressed about the possibility of him finding out.

You already sound lovely and supporting of your SIL.

Orlando512 Mon 07-Sep-20 14:52:36

Thank you all for taking the time to reply to me. I feel a lot better after getting this off my chest. I would never tell my Husband and would never put pressure on her to tell anyone. I have told her that if/when the time comes that she is ready then I will be beside her.

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BernadetteRostankowskiWolowitz Mon 07-Sep-20 14:53:39

The fact that he has children is worrying.

Did your SIL disclose to you the ages of her and cousin at the time? I'd be tempted to speak to NSPCC about it over the phone as there could be cause for concern over cousins children.

Orlando512 Mon 07-Sep-20 14:54:06

As I said above, I haven't seen the person in at least two years, but there will be a time when a family do is arranged and he will be there. I will not want to attend, especially if DS is there, but how do I tell DH and his family that I don't want to go without them asking questions? I would have no obvious really not to.

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Orlando512 Mon 07-Sep-20 14:55:35

She didn't disclose fully, but I got the impression she was around 5 and that it went on for a few years.

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RoseTintedAtuin Mon 07-Sep-20 14:57:42

You’re doing the right thing by keeping her confidence. I understand it’s hard but if it ever becomes an issue your DH will understand that you needed to support her in that situation. He will be hurt but any hurt directed at you is displacement. I have been in a similar position (although no with the abuser) and the truth has never come out. In a perfect world of course you can support people to come forward but in reality reporting is traumatic and in historical cases with no evidence I can see that it causes the victim more harm than good and I know families have been destroyed by such things if it goes wrong.

BernadetteRostankowskiWolowitz Mon 07-Sep-20 14:57:51

How incredibly sad for her. She must realise you are a good person to make the disclosure to you only.

RoseTintedAtuin Mon 07-Sep-20 14:58:21


BernadetteRostankowskiWolowitz Mon 07-Sep-20 14:58:29

Unless she actually subconsciously wants your dh to know but can't bring herself to say anything? Maybe she has assumed you will tell him?

Orlando512 Mon 07-Sep-20 15:01:46

@BernadetteRostankowskiWolowitz I did wonder this once, because when she first told me she was under the influence of alcohol and I asked her if she wanted to tell him and she said she did. We agreed we would do it together, but the next day she changed her mind (when she was sober).

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BernadetteRostankowskiWolowitz Mon 07-Sep-20 15:02:32

Maybe ask her if she would like you to tell him?

Martamaybe Mon 07-Sep-20 15:06:23

Reading back my post I think I’d retract what I said about encouraging your sil to report as @TeeBee is spot on with her post . It made me think again . It’s just such a terrible thing

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