Warning: the following column contains rape themes that may be a sensitive topic for some readers.
It’s time again for “Dear Wendy Updates,” a feature where people I’ve given advice to in the past let us know whether they followed the advice and how they’re doing now. Today, we hear from “Mad at Brother” whose brother blamed their sister for her marriage falling apart after her husband refused to believe she was sexually assaulted at a party. “I can’t believe he’s blaming our sister for what happened at the party and actively encouraging her husband to do the same. I’m mad that he’s not supporting our sister as she tries to own her mistakes and deal with the rape.” Keep reading to see how everyone is doing now.
The party originally in question was a very large catered affair with open bars on a larger property/house so I’m not really surprised not everyone knew what was going on at all times. I think the head count was 100+.
My sister is doing much better, I think. My guess is counseling has helped as well as just the passage of time. I still see her and her family often. My sister and her husband ended up reconciling, doing counseling and are trying to work things out. They seem to be doing better and I support her (and to whatever extent, them as a couple) in trying to live up to their marriage vows of “for better or worse.” I actually think her marriage might be stronger for having gone through all of this.
The best advice I heard was to just let myself be mad at my brother. I hadn’t really before. Not even for my stuff like when he told me I shouldn’t be upset my mom’s side of the family was still welcoming my ex and his new girlfriend for holidays. So I’ve let myself be mad at him. I eventually called him out his on behavior and actions, and he acted very surprised… We haven’t spoken as much and recently only at his initiation. I’m mostly polite and we might eventually get closer again. But it’s ok to recognize he’s not the “in your corner when things are messed up” kind of family member.
What I didn’t share in my original letter (and hadn’t with anyone until later) was I was dealing with my own rape from earlier that year. Even with a lot of training in sexual assault prevention and peer counseling, I wanted to pretend like nothing happened and to live in denial when it was I. I’m also in counseling now and feeling much healthier again. My sister called me out for reacting exceptionally emotionally to her situation. It was good to finally be honest with my family and a few friends about what happened.
All in all, I think I, and likely the rest of my family, will make it through this ok and with some of us stronger people and closer than before. I do realize my family has all sorts of issues – particularly with expectations and boundaries. But for the most part we try to be each other’s support systems and cheerleaders. All of us kids have turned out functionally well in terms of keeping jobs, not getting hooked on drugs, and living independently, so there’s always that.
To whatever extent I’ve left out information, I’ll try to chime in during the comment section. I didn’t participate in the comments the first time around because I was still learning how to chime in and I wanted to be extra careful to protect the people involved from knowing strangers were talking about them on the internet.
Thank you so much for sharing your update. I’m really glad your whole family — and especially you and your sister — are doing better and getting the counseling you need to help you process and heal from your respective rapes. You’re a strong woman and you’re only getting stronger.
If you’re someone I’ve given advice to in the past, I’d love to hear from you, too. Email me at email@example.com with a link to the original post, and let me know whether you followed the advice and how you’re doing now.
Painted_lady April 21, 2014, 4:26 pm
So glad I was helpful to you, LW. You’re a good sister, and I’m glad you’re getting to a place of acceptance. (And friends and family who can call us on our coping mechanisms without making it worse? Truly the best).
CatsMeow April 21, 2014, 4:46 pm
That comment section was so rage-inducing. I’m sorry you had to endure that.
iwannatalktosampson April 21, 2014, 5:48 pm
Seriously. I just read it again and it took me to like an immediate 8 on the rage black out scale. I shouldn’t have done it. I was having a particularly mild Monday, and that thread messed that all up.
Painted_lady April 21, 2014, 6:45 pm
YES. I got mad all over again this afternoon. Maybe we should make it a rule never to call someone’s problem fake? Though that wasn’t the most infuriating part.
Fabelle April 21, 2014, 7:54 pm
It was definitely not the most infuriating part, but I agree with you–I usually don’t call fake, but I have called fake before (while being like “I don’t normally do this buuut”, like a dick haha) & then I read something a commenter wrote recently about how hurt they were when they wrote in as an LW & people were speculating the letter’s veracity. So… yeah.
Painted_lady April 21, 2014, 11:12 pm
Ugh, yeah, I’ve definitely jumped on board the “FAKE!” train before, and whatever letter that was that the poster was like, “So, here’s why this sucks….” was sort of a punch to the gut. Just because, she’s totally right, that’s got to suck, and ultimately, we’re either hurting some well-meaning LW, or we’re letting some person who’s otherwise awful anyway feel like they’ve fooled us, which honestly doesn’t even matter. So, you know, lesson learned all around.
LW April 21, 2014, 6:33 pm
Some of the comments were difficult to read. I’d expected that given the topic but I have to admit I took a break from the site for awhile after the experience. All in all it was a helpful if bit of a rough process. And many of the comments were incredibly supportive . So thank you.
XanderT April 21, 2014, 8:22 pm
Good Luck to you, LW. Wendy is right. You ARE strong. One foot in front of the other. Hugs to you.
Cassie April 21, 2014, 9:38 pm
LW, I’m glad to hear things are going better for you and for your sister. Keep surrounding yourself with people who love and support you.
bethany April 22, 2014, 9:18 am
LW, I’m glad to hear that things are going ok for you. Or at least getting better.
Not to get back into the original letter, but the whole situation makes a lot more sense now, knowing the details about the party and everything. I know in my mind I pictured a get together at a friend’s house or something, and couldn’t wrap my mind around how that could happen. So anyway, I think it’s a lesson for all of us, that things aren’t always what we think they are.