Saturday, November 28, 2009

Big problem with a husband making passes at other family members, so what to do.

Someone recently came to me with a problem and wanted my advice on how to deal with it. To me it seems a simple and clear cut answer. But it is not my family or my problem so it is easy to see why things are happening, and what to do about it. It is much harder when you are caught up in the middle of a potentially explosive family situation that could pull a family apart, and actually is.

The question presented to me was:

I'm the oldest of 3 daughters. I recently told my sister that her husband had been making passes at me for months. It's not the first time he's done something inappropriate. He tried molesting my youngest sister when she was 14 years old. This man at the time was 28-29 yrs old. I broke the news to her a couple years later but she forgave him right away and we had to pretend that nothing happened. My parents didn't want to rock the boat and all I could do is forget about it. Now he is 40 and made passes at me on several occasions. I'm 34. I was waiting to tell my sister when the time was right. She and he were talking about divorce for other reasons a couple months ago and I thought I wouldn't have to say anything since she was going to leave him this time. So I thought. She forgave him again, and I thought that it's now or never. So I told her about the comments he had made and how uncomfortable he made me feel. I expressed my concerns for my own daughter when she turns into a teen. My husband, mother and little sister all knew about this during the whole entire thing. My little sister would tell me that now I knew what she felt for so long while he and my sister lived with her, mom and dad. We are not talking anymore. My mother and little sister won't come out and support me in my points to my other sister. I don't know how to deal with this. They want to continue to pretend it hasn't happened. Any suggestions?

For me the response was clear and easy:

You are doing what you need to do, taking a stand even though it is causing problems in your family relationships. At least now it is in the open and you are not struggling with a lie, or pretending there was not a problem. Denying that there was a problem and living a in a “lie to protect someone else” is incredibly unhealthy for you.

Also a lot of people incorrectly feel guilt, even when they are the victim. Often they take on the responsibility or down play the importance of what was done or said. The number of rapes not reported every day is proof of that. They don’t want other people to know. So your little sister and mother want to keep the family secret in the closet and resent that you don’t and will not support you. They don’t want other people to know. Also if your sister and her husband break up they will feel it is their fault, not the husbands. Odd I know, but again it is why so many people get away with things like this.

If your sister forgave him the first time, she will keep forgiving him. It is either the “us against them”, “I can change him”, or “he will change for me” mentality. Either way she is going to keep on forgiving him almost anything and everything. Don’t expect her to change. I expect he will eventually get caught, and she will forgive him and nothing will change. She may even feel that it is somehow her fault; she was not enough women for him so he looked elsewhere. She will actually try harder to please him so it will not be her responsibility the marriage fell apart. If she cannot keep the marriage together she has somehow failed. Again, odd, but how some people respond to things like this.

Instead keep yourself and your daughter safe and away from him. Don’t expect your family to change, they want to keep their heads buried in the sand and pretend bad things don’t happen. It is more important that you do what is right for you and your daughter.

The real problem I have is that yet again a family is being ripped apart or damaged the actions of one person. That person is not even facing the brunt of the effects he is having. People are actually supporting him and punishing the only family member strong enough to say “enough is enough, this is not acceptable.” People wonder why things like this happen. Why someone gets away with things. This is why, the person willing to talk and take a stand is the one who loses.

Why don’t more people come out and tell someone that they are being abused, hurt or propositioned. They don’t want to be treated like this lady is being treated by her own family. If family is going to treat a person like this for telling the truth, how are other people going to treat them?

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