So, this week has been a tough one for me already. My oldest brother just found out about me being sexually assaulted in the past and it did not go well for anyone. To start with, I thought everyone in my family knew already because I don't exactly hide the fact that I've had these traumatic experiences... I mean I do have a blog online for anyone to read and they all know about the blog. But let's go back to a couple of days ago and work from there; I had just gotten home, and I was in the kitchen putting groceries away when my brother came up and started his inquisition about me being raped. I answered all of his questions frankly because it's been talked to death and I've moved on, even made peace with the perpetrator. My brother was visibly upset because he was the last to know and because it was way too late to do anything about it; the incident he was talking about happened 11 years ago. My big mouth didn't know he only knew about the one episode and started telling him about every sexual assault and harassment that I had experienced, but I shut up after I realized I'm telling him new information and we just went our separate ways.
Later that day, I asked my dad to check on my brother because I know how troubling it can be for men to find out that someone they were "supposed to protect" has been violated, and he said he would, and I thought that would be the end of that. I wish that were the end of that. Why couldn't that be the end of that? That would have been a lovely ending: brother finds out ten years later, it's too late to do anything, so he grieves for his sister, she doesn't know how to comfort him, so the whole family goes around trying to make each other feel better. That's a nice story. That's not my story. My story continued with my brother telling me "have you ever heard the phrase fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me?" Yep, I just got victim blamed by my brother for being raped and drugged. That was followed up with "if you don't tell us we can't do anything, but at least yours had a happy ending, you got married." I could not even wrap my head around the level of misogyny that was spewed at me in that one conversation; it was simply incomprehensible. As if getting married wipes my slate clean and makes me "pure." As if what happened to me in the past somehow makes me dirty. None of that defines me; I will not be limited by anyone else's actions. And I appreciate the sentiment that he was getting at, but I contacted the people who needed to do something; they're called the police, and they have the legal authority to handle the situation. And in some cases, I even called their employers to let them know what fine upstanding citizens they have employed at their establishment.
My mother taught me not to get my brothers involved in my problems because you don't know how they're going to react and I would feel guilty if anything started over me. I have three brothers, and they all reacted differently, but only one of them has tried to make me feel like it's my fault without wanting to get the details of how it happened or what happened precisely. It's just been a little bit of a personal hell since he found out. Every time he sees me around the house he yells at me to put on pants even if I'm wearing a nightshirt that comes down to the knees, and everything feels like its an argument over something that I processed and dealt with a long time ago. So, here is my advice to anyone who finds out that a loved one has been a victim of a crime:
It's okay to be angry (but know who to direct that anger at and how to manage it properly)
Don't force the survivor to tell you something they're not ready to.
Sometimes the survivor is more worried about how you'll react to the news than the news itself.
Do not prejudge; you were not there, you cant say what you would have done.
Each person is different, they will let you know what kind of help they need if any, but don't force it upon them. Sometimes people need space to breathe and think.
“Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”