Parents have shut me down over abuse
Waitingonadream · 11/04/2021 20:32
My brother abused me as a child. For years he would make me touch him and kiss him whenever my mom wasn't there. He was 3.5 years older. I tried to tell my mom about it at the time but she just told me to go away and stop being silly. Because we were smacked a lot as kids and mom didn't seem bothered I was too scared and confused to tell her again. He carried on for a long time after, always with coercion telling me he'd tell mom something about me (to get me into trouble) to get me to do what I wanted. It only ended when I stood up to him after he tried to make me do what he wanted on a petrol station car park when mom went to pay for the petrol and I was so embarrassed as well as everything else I felt and I think I had become old enough to realise I didn't have to do what he said anymore.
It's only recently I have started to be able to deal with this and try to stop it hurting inside in some way. I just don't want it to affect my life as much as it does anymore.
He tried to absolve himself at a family party a few years ago in front of his new partner by saying 'do you remember what we used to do when we were little?' I was floored as it made it real and couldn't believe he tried to make me implicit in it as I had never wanted to do those things.
I told my mom and dad by email separately what happened and how I wanted to try and deal with it in some way. I got a brief reply from my dad acknowledging that I must be feeling bad and that he'd call but he didn't. Mom called me after a day or so but didn't talk about it at all she started talking about another issue of how I felt they were giving the kids too many sweets and it was affecting the kids health. After that nothing. Knowing my parents as I do my mom had probably given my dad a vague confirmation that she had 'sorted it' and then tried to bury it, and he believed her.
They still keep organising family events with my brother and asking me to come.
I feel utterly abandoned and betrayed by them and feel like my feelings don't matter at all. I have tried to talk to my husband and a couple of friends and a therapist about it and every one of them has avoided the issue. Once I have mentioned it a couple of times I feel like I can't mention it again and I'm so embarrassed to think I've exposed this part of my life that I kept buried successfully for so long.
Now I feel completely estranged from my parents and they have taken to ignoring me except to ask about the kids and give the kids presents. I can't talk to anyone. I feel so alone just because I have tried to deal with this issue. Sometimes I feel like I make progress and feel a bit stronger but then I have to interact with either my family or people I've told again and I feel like I'm crumbling inside again.
I suppose knowing what I do now I don't really expect a reply and know no one will help me. I just wanted to write it down and put it out there. Catharsis and all that. I just don't understand the premise that if you come forward you can get help. I have found the complete opposite to be true and I have lost friends and family because I have tried to tell my truth. I had few friends before and now I feel I have ruined what few friendships I had because I have told people. Thank you so much for reading and I hope you are safe and well.
Mintjulia · 11/04/2021 20:45
By telling them what happened, the detail, you have forced them to confront the fact that they failed you. That they should have believed you & intervened.
They also know that you could go to the police. That you could report your brother. Your brother also knows this which is why he tried to deal with it by minimising it.
However, your dh needs to step up now! And you need to find a therapist who listens and supports you.
I'm so sorry this happened to you. You are absolutely right wanting to talk.. You absolutely have the right to be believed and listened to. I admire your bravery
dementedpixie · 11/04/2021 20:49
Have you tried seeking therapy?
It's crap that noone is showing you any support, I'm so sorry for you as a child and for you now trying to deal with it
Hothammock · 11/04/2021 20:57
How old were you both when the first abuse took place?
This may be part of the reason they find it difficult to know what to do or say.
Waitingonadream · 11/04/2021 21:02
Thank you all so much for the replies. I tried nhs therapy but it was very scripted and every time I tried to talk about the abuse he would change the subject.
I can't really remember when it started but I think I was around 9 when it finished.
Thanks so much.
Waitingonadream · 11/04/2021 21:06
I have never thought about going to the police before. I have no evidence whatsoever.
I'm also not entirely sure what I want achieve by trying to tell people. I just want it to hurt less and to feel validation somehow.
Waitingonadream · 11/04/2021 21:08
I know my husband should have helped me more and that really hurts and he has never been that bothered about my health. In fact I am lying here now with a leg injury and he hasn't even offered me a pain killer. It's hard to accept but I don't have his support and don't think I ever will.
picklemewalnuts · 11/04/2021 21:13
A friend with a similar family situation had a lot of therapy and concluded her brother was also a child. She decided to view it in that light, that he didn't understand the gravity of his behaviour.
It's possible your brother still doesn't recognise the gravity of what he did, or alternatively wanted to open the conversation with you, when he said what he did.
I'm sorry for what happened to you, and the damage and distress you are still experiencing. It will take time for you to process what happened, and decide what you want to do about it.
picklemewalnuts · 11/04/2021 21:14
And so, so sorry that your family aren't supporting you as you need.
LouiseTrees · 11/04/2021 21:17
That doesn’t sound a healthy relationship with your husband there OP. But regardless you can confront your parents again and say why do they make you sit in the same room with him? He would have been 12.5 then at the time so perhaps they are doing that thing where they say he didn’t know what he was doing on account of his young age at the time, sort of burying their heads in the sand that he wasn’t bad he was just confused. I think you need to tell them it’s not been dealt with. Get your father alone from your mum on a walk if you can and ask him why he never phoned you like he said he would.
jellymaker · 11/04/2021 21:23
How old was your brother when it started and when it finished?
Waitingonadream · 11/04/2021 21:26
That's an interesting conclusion that he was just a child but because it was always so calculated and I protested and he coerced me it feels like I shouldn't give him that grace. I think because he tried to make me implicit I can't face talking to him about it as he had seemingly spent 30odd years convincing himself he was not to blame. I'm still so embarrassed about it all I can't find the strength to start another conversation about it but I also know I need to somehow or just try and forget about it. But I already tried that and it ate away at me. Maybe I should just put it down to us both being kids and make my peace personally. However, as I have tried to tell people and they have really stepped away from the relationship I really feel like more things are broken now.
Thank you so much for the replies.
JackieWeaverFever · 11/04/2021 21:41
This is a really fucked up but common phenomenon I have who clue why
I think it's an awkward truth people struggle to face so to protect their brain from the ugly truth that blank it out.
What is also disgustingly common is families making the victim the excluded black sheep while welcoming the offender with open arms (almost doubling down on the betrayal)
The real betrayal lies with your parents and your brother.
I would 100% get some therapy (is private an option?) and I would also be reducing contact with your frankly toxic parents right now and then considering/ eventually going, NC with your brother and parents.
In my case what was very difficult and something that I had to come to terms with is the fact that you won't get closure or resolution from them in the way you want. It won't be a movie style realisation of wrong doing and happy ending. It will be totally unsatisfactory with no real end point.
In my case it was a same, same, different family thing and making peace with the fact that I would never get the acknowledgment or understanding I'd been horribly failed and wronged by a trusted adult was the hardest bit. However the good newd is I am much more at peace these days.
What really helped was leaving it in my rear view mirror and focusing on my own family and my new life.
I have now boxed it up and "it's in the attic". My general view is while you do need to process it, you can also drag it over the coals for too long. I refuse to let it define me or block me from being happy
picklemewalnuts · 11/04/2021 22:01
"What is also disgustingly common is families making the victim the excluded black sheep while welcoming the offender with open arms (almost doubling down on the betrayal)"
While this is true, I think it's more nuanced... the family accepts the person who is able to pretend things are fine. It's not a calculated rejection of the victim and support of the abuser, it's more a desperate preservation of the family by accepting those who can behave as though all is well.
As Jackie says, the reality is that your family unit allowed this and isn't prepared to face up to it. You may be best served by choosing to prioritise yourself and your dc. Turn your back on the rest, or perhaps just do the occasional duty contact that doesn't involve your brother. Whatever works best for you.
Re his age, as your older brother you will have seen him as more adult, knowing, than he actually was. He was a child, his parents should have seen his behaviour, punished it and stopped it. They should have protected you.
Waitingonadream · 11/04/2021 22:05
Thank you so much. You're right on all counts thank you. I really need to accept there will be no end point. You're right no one in my circle is suddenly going to make me feel vindicated and appeased and I need to accept that and move on.
I think I'm also annoyed with myself as I felt I had it boxed up too and this worked for me for a long time. Trying to deal with it has exposed ugly truths about how my family deal with things and how little value they place on my well-being if it means they're in the wrong in any way. You're right it hurts so much that they're not who I built them up to be. So pleased to hear you have come out the other side and I hope you can keep it behind you. I think I'll make one final attempt at therapy then do the same. I can't change anyone into suddenly caring enough to help me through it and I need to stop hoping, wishing and trying to do that.
I just want to say thank you again to everyone I feel better now than I have in months.
Waitingonadream · 11/04/2021 22:11
Thank you. It's so hard to accept that they didn't listen and let it happen. There was a lot that happened that highlights how unwilling they were to protect us if we were 'being silly/stupid' in any way. It's hard to accept that I was failed and how much emotional energy it has taken up over my lifetime. I think I will try and shift focus now onto me and the kids and try to always listen to them when they need me. Thank you so much. X
JackieWeaverFever · 12/04/2021 07:02
@picklemewalnuts that's fair actually and i agree it is more nuanced.
@Waitingonadream reclaiming your life is the best thing you can do.
And yes! It's the hoping against hope that was so draining! Giving it up and accepting it just wouldn't happen really helped me. The sheer amount of wasted emotional energy is unreal.
Personally, I never found a decent therapist so had dribs and drabs then gave up/boxed it up.
One thing i found helpful (which i know sounds slightly nuts) is I detached emotionally/gave up expecting anything from the family members who (for various reasons) i had see from time to time. The way I did this was by treating them as if they were a "fictional character" in a novel / tv show. Any behaviour is just the character. Anything offensive, upsetting etc is their ad-libed lines and nothing to do with me. I go visit, let them "act", nod smile and leave and give no thought or care to any of it afterwards.
To give you an idea of how successful this method is for me: my DH had to gently point out it was odd a "close" family member announced 2 months ahead of our wedding they would not attend (no actual reason or calendar clash) and for the wedding itself sent no card, didn't call and gave no gift. Perhaps most bizarrely they didn't ask about the wedding day or honeymoon or offer congratulations but did demand photos (which we were expected to print and frame and deliver) to display in their home to guests.
Context: This relative often professes their "love" and "care" and states they think of me and my sibling as "their children too" 🤮
When my sibling got married they got 10k cash in a card. (& good for them! 😂)
I was actually really happy when DH pointed it out as I hadn't really noticed beyond rejigging the seating plan so it meant I'd truly reached "boss level" of zero fucks given.
I live a good life by my own rules these days.
picklemewalnuts · 12/04/2021 07:24
That's both hilarious and shocking, Jackie! And yes, I 'silo' my family in a similar way. It's saves so much emotional energy dealing with them. It is what it is, I don't fight or try to change it. Part of the 'Grey rock' technique, I suppose!
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