My brother abused me, and my mother. At first I didn't think of it as abuse, and years later it struck me as obvious, but I still have struggles and doubts sometimes. When I started realising it, I wrote e-mails to both of my brothers.
That disclosure was ten years ago now, and a very difficult time for me. As I try to remember it, a sense of confusion returns.
Neither of them agreed that Mom was abusive, though they both gave stories. One talked about Mom looking at him naked; another of Mom pinching the hair on the back of his thighs and talking about how sexy boys' hairy legs were.
The abusive one denied he'd ever been abusive; saying he would never hurt me. He also said some really strange things, though, including an offer to reenact things if that would help me.
The other one questioned how it could be true, but stopped short of saying there was no way it could have happened. What he made very clear, though, was that talking about this could split the family and cause irreparable damage that could never be undone. Nobody in my life has ever meant more to me than him. My wife and sons mean just as much, but not more. He was warning me not to talk about this, and showing, in a way, his disapproval that I had brought it up at all.
My mother is dead now. I don't really miss her, even though there was more good in our relationship, and in her, than bad. Maybe she died at the wrong time: after these things and surfaced in me but before I could sort through them all (Will I ever be able to say that I've sorted through them all.)
My mother is no longer a threat to anyone, and I don't think she was, after me. I wondered about my sons, and I guess I might wonder now were she to have unsupervised time with them, but it never became an issue. Besides, what could I say if both brothers deny things. Their warnings to me were very clear. I would not have been backed up. It's scary to think about, and I take comfort in the fact that I do not have to worry if by keeping silent I am enabling anything. For the longest time, I didn't know what she did to me was abuse. As I was working through it, I didn't have enough confidence to report. Legally, I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt. I'm not even sure I'd have been within teh statute of limitations. Now she's dead, so it's not an issue.
What about my brother? He's got four daughters. He works with people of all ages. Do I have to expose him to keep people safe? Again, neither brother will back me up. In fact, although I thought I had e-mailed them in confidence, at least one of them spoke to Dad about it. (He and Mom were divorced.), and Dad offered them a nice rationalisation about why I was creating those stories, so no back up there.
Ok. This is hard. Here I am listing all these people I love; people I know to be people of intelligence and integrity. And none of them agree with me or would back me up. I have to ask myself, again, if I am crazy. This is not what I wanted to post on this thread.
As far as whether he is a threat to others; I tend to think not. I know I am not an expert. He was a teenager when he abused me. I think he can still be a jerk, but I don't think he would sexually abuse anyone today.
I sometimes wish I could write articles or a blog as a survivor, but that would mean exposing my family, a family which I am sure would not back me up.
Am I chickening out? Sure. Am I putting kids at risk by doing so? With Mom definitely not. With my brother I just don't think so. What would I do if I found out he WAS abusing someone and I had to ask myself if I allowed that to happen by not reporting? Well, that would be terrible. I just don't think he is a risk anymore, and I don't think I would stand up to any reporting of cross-examination well anyway. In other words, I don't think he needs to be stopped, and I don't think I can stop him.
"This is not my shame, this is their shame." Mona Eltahawy