When I was a child, my female cousin three years older than me, engaged me in sexual games/roleplays that were not age appropriate. She swore me to secrecy and praised me for keeping our secret. This continued for almost three years.
We’re now in our 30s. When I raised the child sexual abuse with her, she denied it ever happened. She asked, Do I hate her that much? Why am I making this up and fracturing the family with my allegations?
I told several family members, including her parents. Now I've been vilified because no one believes me. My therapist said that people won’t want to face the ugly truth about my cousin, so I’ll probably never be vindicated.
I suggested to my cousin that we have an in-person conversation to clear the air, and a follow-up with family members. She’s ignored my request.
How can I move forward? I feel twice-victimized - the sexual abuse, and then the denial and lies.
You’ve wisely sought counselling and bravely confronted your cousin. Now use that inner strength to start your own healthy process of “moving forward,” beyond victimization.
You were an innocent child, held to a secret. Now you’re a free adult who can decide how to face your future in the healthiest way possible.
Your cousin’s committed to denial. That’s her armour (and weakness) as she fears anyone recognizing the truth.
But you don’t have to keep seeking validation. You already have a clear conscience.
Further therapy may help ease the trauma of past abuse as will recognizing your many adult strengths going forward.
Dear Readers - Some questions sent to this column seem to have a life of their own. Such is the case with an original letter about in-laws who are constantly late for every family event (Sept. 10).
As readers’ responses and explanations still keep arriving, it’s clear that there are interesting, unexpected causes of tardiness, for which there are logical explanations:
Reader #1 – “I’m chronically late, but it has nothing to do with (dis)respecting others. As I race to my destinations, I’m so upset with myself for yet again misjudging my time.
“I have time blindness due to ADHD. While on ADHD medication, I enjoy the capacity to understand and manage my schedule. But without the meds nothing seems to work - e.g., setting alarms, etc.
“Not everyone who is late is being disrespectful. Some of us simply have brains that don’t access the executive functioning that includes time management.
“It’s difficult enough to try to function in a “normal” world, but it’s demeaning to be told that I’m disrespectful.”
Reader #2 – “Another cause is obsessive-compulsive disorder. My friend was always late because he couldn’t get ready because he spent time checking and re-checking things.
“For example: After turning off the tap he would stand running his hand under the tap checking that the water was off.
“Aside from obsessive compulsive disorder, he developed other issues and was committed to a mental health facility.
“He was aware that he was always late and told me that was how I became close friends with his mother. I spent time waiting for him by chatting with her.”
Ellie - More thoughts on this topic are welcome and here’s why: It’s about knowledge, other people’s valid difficulties, a better understanding of what are, sometimes, annoyances rather than blatant disrespect. It’s also about empathy, which is essential when you hope to have/retain close connections.
FEEDBACK Regarding a strained Ex-husband Relationship affecting son, 14 (Sept. 3):
Reader – “In some jurisdictions, children 12 and older can legally decide which parent they want to live with and even IF they’d visit either parent.
“Children eventually mature. At 14, life is very confusing. Eventually he’ll probably start “seeing reality” and asking meaningful and probing questions. Then the lies get revealed.
“Stay true. Stay engaged. Stay sincere. And DO NOT say ANYTHING disparaging about his father.”
FEEDBACK Regarding the husband who says his wife “overrides” all his decisions (Sept. 10):
Reader – “I was struck by how the writer used these terms: “my decisions,” and “my plans.” Perhaps he would have more harmony if he started with "my ideas."
“His spouse may be reacting to his "decisions" when she would like to have a discussion about his "ideas."
“Then the couple can move to talking about "our decisions."
Tip of the day:
Childhood sexual abuse can trigger traumatic memories. Consult a registered psychotherapist/child sex abuse specialist.