|(I'm posting this on behalf of a friend here who needs to remain anonymous. If you have advice to offer beyond what you feel free to say here, then if you like e-mail me [email protected] and I'll immediately forward): Should I expose our family secret? I grew up near my father’s family that were not JW’s so I was never really close to them. So when my brother and I got the opportunity to spend a month with some cousins from my mother’s side out of family, we jumped at the opportunity. My mother being very protective didn’t want to let us go because were we only 10 & 12, but due to pressure from all sides, she finally decided to let us go. I thought I was going to have the time of my life. They had four kids. The only girl was my age, 10; they had a boy my brother’s age, and then two more sons, 7 and 15. So we spent our month there, and I’m sure I had fun, but my memories are almost gone. I recall my cousin E, that’s the girl, was always crying and borderline hysterical. All of the time! As a 10 year old, I thought she was just a brat. She used to get spankings everyday, and I never understood why she wouldn’t calm down. I also remember coming home a different kid than the one that left.. I had to sleep with my door shut and locked. . .and I had to be wrapped in a comforter. I know that’s a weird thing to remember, but it has always remained fresh in my mind. A while after we returned home, my mother received a letter from my aunt. Held within the letter were things that no aunt could handle well. For some reason, my mother confided in me the contents of the letter. My aunt told my mother that her eldest son S, had been having sex with his sister E. My aunt had walked in on them on various occasions and that’s how she knew. My uncle was also aware (did I mention he was an elder?). Turns out S had been molested when he was a very small child by his grandfather (what was done about this?), and had since turned on his sister. But, in case you missed what I wrote, the parents knew what was going on, and in essence allowed it to happen by never separating the two of them or getting psychological help for the two of them. This was all very shocking to me. I was only 11 or 12 so I still didn’t totally understand the mechanics of “sex”, but I knew that only married people did it. Also, I should include that I was molested years before, but I hadn’t told anyone. Anyways, I was still shocked at the revelation, as was my mother. S was her favorite nephew, he had been in her wedding. I didn’t ask what was going to happen. I honestly was ignorant about therapists or jail or any other type of “help”. I just assumed that whatever needed to be done would be done. A while later. . maybe 2 years later (making me 13, 14) my mother reveals to me that my cousin E thought she was pregnant. By this time my understanding of sex was greater because a couple of my friends were doing it. The shocking part was that the suspected father was her brother! I was totally disgusted! He still had access to her after what my mother told me before?! But it made sense if you think about it. . .my aunt and uncle had known for years before they even told my mother about what was going on and did nothing! Even after all of this I thought that surely things would be taken care of. Soon after, S gets a girl pregnant and he gets df’d. The girl I believe was studying. S gets reinstated, married and then goes off to the military and gets df’d again. His wife separates from him and S comes back home and moves back in with his family, including his sister. Now even if the abuse had ended years ago, having him in the same house would be psychologically damaging to E. My uncle stepped down as an elder at this point, not because of keeping the incest a secret, but because he allowed his df’d son to live with them. He felt obligated. Fast forward to 4 days ago. Amazing posted a thread requesting that people get in touch with a lawyer about pedophile cover-ups within the JWs. I hadn’t thought about my cousins much for the past ten years, but then all of the memories came back full force. I had spent SO much time thinking about my own abuse that I hadn’t thought about what went on in my aunt and uncle’s household. So many things make since now. My cousin E’s behavior was typical of an incest victim. My lack of memories and nervousness could mean that I saw something. . .or maybe . . something happened to me too. The scary thing is that S has a daughter, maybe more kids by now. I fear for her safety. The amount of guilt that I feel right now for never telling is incredible. What if he has molested her?! I am in essence an accomplice by not ever telling. I found out when I was ten or so, but that’s no excuse. . .I should’ve done something. I feel obligated to do something now but I have no idea what to do or how to do it. That is why I am sharing my story. I need opinions, I need advice. Things to consider: -My knowledge is third hand (but I did see the letter my aunt wrote to my mother) -This happened about 12 years ago so my recollection may be off -My cousin S was abused first, his behavior was learned, so that should afford him some sympathy -E never told the authorities as far as I know and she is now married with a child -This would cause an uproar throughout my family -My parents are pretty much shunning me as it is, so they might not help -I’m poor in case any if this would cost me money -I have no proof that he has abused his daughter Despite all of this...there is a small child that is in jeopardy and I am willing to do whatever it takes to make things right for her. Even if S has never touched her (which is statistically unlikely), he should be known as a sex offender. Your advice, please!|
Need your advice, please!
First things first
Just because you don't remember some of what happened that summer doesn't mean something happened to you. It sounds like you were traumatized by watching your cousin get a spanking every day and being the same age would be enough to terrorize most children especially if you had never seen anything like that before. If something did happen please don't go looking for memories. If they are there they will surface when they and YOU are ready for them. Sounds like you have enough to deal with anyway.
Second, as a child you were not responsible for keeping this secret. You are not an accomplice. Who is going to listen to a 10-year old when all the adults who knew are involved in a conspiracy of silence?
I suspect that if you never told anyone what had happened to you earlier that somewhere somehow you knew you might not be heard if you disclosed or it would cause a lot of problems in the family that you could not have dealt with at the time. Kids are a lot smarter than we think.
As for why your mother told you about the contents of the letter - she may have wanted to find out if something had been done to you too. By talking about your cousin maybe she was hoping you would tell her if it had happened. She may have wanted to let you know that your cousin's behavior had a reason/explanation. She may have wanted to let you know why she wouldn't send you back (if she diidn't)
What to do now?
Priorities. You have information. You suspect a child might be at risk. If you report it some people might be angry. Can you deal with that? If later you find out the child was abused and you continued the family silence how will you feel? Only you can answer how you will deal with it?
Personally I had to tell everyone who had contact with my father about his abuse history. He too was abused as a child but that cannot let him off the hook. In my mind the defenceless children in the family had to come first. I have one brother who will not speak to me (25 years later) because I told the whole family. At the time we had no registry (Ontario where he lived before he died now has one and I would have made sure he was on it). People were warned though and they believed me. But this is me and my life.
Only you can decide what you can live with. If there is a registry contact them. If you have to contact family services. They can investigate and make sure the child is OK. You could talk to your cousin also (the child's mom). If the family won't talk to you then find someone who will listen.
I found out when I was ten or so, but that’s no excuse. . .I should’ve done something.
What were you to do our friend? Go to the elders? You might have ended up being questioned or cast in a bad light, which would have been much more deliterious for a child of such tender age. Don't be so hard on yourself. If the abused is willing to speak up and nail them all to the floor then help her all you can. Don't hold yourself responsible for the failures of the the adults you had to exist around. If I did that I would be forever guilt ridden. It isn't worth it and frankly is just plain counter productive and not the intelligent choice. I hope all is well with you and you please decide not to be hard on yourself. Help the innocent, but don't sacrifice your sanity to do so. Much love from the Texas Branch.
So you know where I'm coming from, I am a survivor of an incestuous family. When I was 26 I could no longer keep the secret and I told anyone and everyone who came near me what I had been through and what my ministerial servant father had done. I was instantly ostracized from my family and I've not talked with any of them since.
Now then, should you tell? That's ultimately up to you. I'm telling you what I did, but we each must answer to our own conscience. I will say it's a tough question, and whatever you decide is not easy. Are you in a position to talk to your female cousin? It might help if she remembered what your aunt wrote in the letter. It is also possible that she has information to fill in your memory gaps.
I think that somewhere deep inside you know, or suspect, about your own experience. I'll leave it at that, as it is a door you must be willing to open yourself.
But let me say one thing about proof. In the real world, there is no requirement for two eyewitnesses to an act of abuse, nor is it requird to have the whole act on videotape. But I understand your feelings. I still struggle with this part of my abuse, even though I've had several relatives confirm what happened to me.
What should you do? Listen to your heart and you won't go wrong.
Have sent you a PM - if it does not work let me know and I will email the contents
core, ty! I got it, and forwarded it.