Escape
brother (2)

I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, and my abuser was my older brother.

I have started off with this simple declarative statement as a reminder that what happened to me was abuse, even though I feel like I have to justify that to others and to myself.

Sometimes I think that it would be easier to deal with a history of abuse if my abuser had been an adult or a stranger, because most people more easily accept that type of behavior as abuse.

I first started to deal with my history of abuse at the age of 40, and I found myself feeling judged by people, as if what happened to me was something else, not abuse. I felt like I was being judged for calling this behavior abuse when it was really just some type of natural experimentation or a natural curiosity between siblings.

I even had a close family member call it “just fondling” and I was told that I was making too much of what happened because there was no real harm done.

Through a WINGS support group, I was able to connect with another survivor who described abuse from an older brother. I was relieved to find someone else who had experiences similar to mine. As we walked our path of healing and recovery, we were able to affirm for each other the true nature of the past abuse and we were able to see the real harm that occurred.

Now, years later, I have witnessed many examples of this same judgement regarding siblings as abusers.

You don’t have to watch TV for long to see someone make a funny comment about sexual activity between siblings. These same types of jokes are rarely told about sexual activity between an adult family member and a child. That would not be funny, yet somehow sibling sex is funny. These types of references and jokes are made in many forms of media, and they emphasize the lack of understanding of the true nature of sexual abuse perpetrated by siblings.

I believe that this lack of understanding is a result of a need to establish blame and identify the culprit.

When two children are involved in a sex act with each other, how do you know for sure who is responsible? Is the abuser always the older sibling? It is always the male?

In my case, I was the invisible victim. Members of my family discovered that my older sister and older brother were involved in sexual behavior. When this activity was discovered, my sister was removed from the house based on the assumption that she had seduced our brother.

Our brother, the oldest, was thought to be above reproach and could not have engaged in such reprehensible behavior if it were not for the bad influence from the sister. The blame for this behavior was clearly attached to my sister.

Of course, we never actually said any of this, but the communication of what had occurred and who was to blame was very effective.

Predictably, when my older sister was removed from the home, I was victimized more frequently. Maybe my brother got better at hiding it because no one in my family admits to having known about my victimization. More likely, it would have been harder to justify that both his sisters seduced him and, given my younger age, that story would have been more difficult to sell.

So we didn’t “see” it.

It is incumbent upon each survivor of sibling sexual abuse to stand firm on the fact that this type of treatment is abuse and it deserves to be “seen.” Through education and continuing to deliver this message, I believe that it will become easier for other victims of this type of abuse to become survivors and to heal.

I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, and my abuser was my older brother.

About the Author:

“Sheridan” is passionate about ending childhood sexual abuse as she travels her own healing path. She has worked tirelessly to start a conversation about this issue with her family and community.

Author Bio
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