Dear Thelma: My brother molested me and I need to talk about it

Dear Thelma: My brother molested me and I need to talk about it
PHOTO: The Star/Asia News Network

I'm a 20-year-old girl. My brother did something terrible to me when I was 13. He molested me.

I'll try to recount what happened to me at that time.

My brother is easily influenced and has been that way since he was young. When he did that terrible thing to me, he was greatly influenced by my neighbour's two sons. Those two boys were very disrespectful towards their own sister. They used to peek under her skirt and at times, they would even touch her private parts. Their parents were busy so the boys performed these evil acts without anybody noticing.

My parents worked full-time, so during working hours they would send us to our babysitter. During afternoon naps, we would sleep in the same room at the babysitter's house.

My brother groped me one day when we were napping. He touched my private parts and put his body on mine so that I couldn't move. That was only the first time; he continued to molest me until I was 14 or 15.

That's when I stopped having naps for fear that my brother might molest me again. I became an introvert. I didn't want to tell my parents as I was afraid that they would cover up his act.

Nobody knows this story of mine. For years I have been keeping this secret. I suffered from slight depression and an eating problem after the molestation.

My brother hated me when we were growing up. He tried to shut me up whenever I spoke. I believe that he wanted to stop me from speaking so that his evil acts would not be discovered.

I cannot bring myself to tell anyone about this because I think I'm too kind. Things happen, I believe, because we have to repay the karma of the past, and since my brother is studying in college and doing well, I always feel that I should keep this secret. I don't want to ruin his life and my parents' expectations of him.

I have no love for my brother. When I get older, I will break ties with him.

I'm quite good at erasing bad memories. However, the image of my brother molesting me always pops up in my mind whenever something bad happens to me. And during those times, I try to tell my parents but just can't bring myself to do so.

Should I tell my parents? Who can I seek help from?

Thanks a lot for listening.

Molested

Dear Molested

I'm so sorry this awful thing happened to you but I'm glad you're reaching out because it's a good step towards healing. I think you have several things here that you have to work through.

First, when you are stressed, your mind flips back to that awful time. You also say you used to have an eating problem and depression too, but I can't tell from your letter whether you have addressed these and fixed them or not.

I think you should go talk to a mental health professional. They will help you sort out what's going on, and then plan for you to work your way to positive change.

You asked what kind of person to look for. I suggest you opt for a therapist with at least a Masters degree in Psychology or Counselling, who has experience in dealing with incest.

Second, about telling your parents. I can see two extreme scenarios here. At best, they accept what you say, call a family meeting and work through this while supporting you. At worst, they don't believe you or maybe even accuse you of worse things.

Parents should be loving and fair but as they are just people like everyone else, they may not be able to cope.

Talk about all the possibilities with your therapist, and make sure that whatever you do, you understand and have thought out ways to manage whatever consequences there are.

Third, you plan to cut your brother out of your life, and that's fine. Except, if you choose not to tell your parents what happened, then cutting him out will raise a lot of questions. So, add that to the list of things you should think through properly.

Also, may I suggest an extra point? When this happened, you were 13 and it went on a year or so. How old was your brother?

Children can do terrible things because their moral compasses aren't fully developed. If he was just 14, for example, it is possible that he later realised what he did, and that this is why he is so frantic about shutting you up.

Of course, he may also be a thoroughly bad hat - I really can't tell. But when you talk to that therapist, do consider if it's worth confronting him. At worst, you cut him off for life but at best you may be able to forge a new relationship.

Again, I'm so sorry this happened to you. Do get proper help and know I will be thinking of you.

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