Trigger warning: sexual assault
My brother and I had been close. Some would even say we were best friends at one time. We were attached at the hip when he left his most recent wife, and we talked about everything. At least, I thought we talked about everything. I thought he told the truth about why he left, and I thought the things he said about his wife were mostly truthful. I believed there were two sides to every story, but I also believed that you stick to your sibling’s side no matter what.
I was so wrong.
I told my brother about my experience with sexual assault. He knew I worked past it, and I had better days than others. He knew how I felt about it, yet he never said a word. He never told his own family that he was being court martialed for the sexual assault he committed against two innocent female sailors. He never told us that he fought it for as long as he could and then pled guilty to both counts in the end.
I never knew it was possible to feel such grief for a person that was still alive. I couldn’t believe that someone I loved and stood by through thick and thin, my own blood, could commit such an atrocity. I also could not believe that when he found out I knew, he would not apologize. He said I had to come to him first, as if I had done something wrong.
I haven’t talked to him in more than six months.
These last six months have been tumultuous. More lies have come forward; he’s done more things to hurt my family—our parents, his daughter. What has hit me the hardest, though, is that I haven’t seen much outcry from the family of sex offenders. It’s like most families are ashamed and just don’t want to believe their child/sibling/parent/cousin is actually capable of these things.
I am a victim of sexual assault, but I feel it in two ways—from my own traumas, and the disgust of what my sibling was capable of. So let me be one of the first family members to say: What has happened to you is not okay, and the lack of response from family members is not okay. When they stay silent, it belittles your hurt, fears, and traumas.
I am a victim in two ways, and neither of those are okay.