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Because of my Situation, should i tell someone i was raped?

By Anonymous August 1, 2009 - 6:38pm
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When I was 12, I was raped by my cousin. Because my family is EXTREMELY close, (and because i was scared) i never told anyone. Im 17 now, and living with this secret is really hurting me. i have nightmares because of it and lately i havent been getting any sleep because i recently moved in with my grandma, and my cousin goes there all the time and I dont feel safe. ive also become very self-conscious of my body and its preventing me from even wanting to be with any guy. The problem is that my family favoritizes, and i am pretty much the black sheep of the family. And my cousin that raped me "does no wrong." If I tell someone, my entire family will be torn apart, because some people might believe me, but most will think i am insane and believe my cousin. Then there will be a huge commotion between the people who believe me and who believe my cousin. eventually my family will never talk to each other again and it will all be my fault for saying anything at all... What should i do? Should i even worry about it at all since it happened almost 6 years ago?

Also, ive always wanted to remain a virgin until marriage, but does being raped technically mean im not a virgin? please help me answer these questions. ive been wanting them to be answered for years now...

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EmpowHER Guest

Anon2 here again. I'm sorry things didn't go as smoothly as you had hoped, Anon1. It sounds as though your family is trying to be supportive in some way (even if it feels like they're messing it up). Maybe you could explain to them that it's very difficult for you to share this information, because they know who this person is, and see how they respond to that. Ask them what they would do if you told them it was someone close to them. Someone they knew. As you have decided to leave your family, it might not make matters much worse to tell them. And at least you'd get it out in the open. As alison b suggested, you don't want to let fear (of what unpleasant thing might happen) drive you into a corner. It's hard to stand up for yourself and put yourself out there when you feel so vulnerable; but there is something to be said for just coming out with it, and let whatever happens, happen. You do have the strength to get through this, either way.

I didn't get the supportive reaction I was hoping for from my parents; but I didn't/wouldn't want to leave important things unsaid. I don't regret telling my parents. Their reaction was difficult for me for a while, but in a way, it was my freedom. My family had many other issues that influenced their response. Telling them and letting the situation play out helped me see that. And it got me out of years of pretending. You may decide not to tell your family after all, but I agree there is some value in letting them know why you're taking the steps you're taking. There may be some relief in refusing to carry this burden alone. You didn't do anything wrong, so why should you be ashamed? If they don't see that, it's their problem. If they act like jerks, it's on them. Try not to take it personally.

I definitely agree a counselor would be very helpful to you as you try to sort things out. She could help you come up with a plan for telling them, if you decide to go that route; and as alysiak said above, help you understand and deal with your fears surrounding the whole thing.

As you consider having a relationship in the future, you will have feelings to sort out (both from the rape, and from your invasive family experience). You mentioned your friend is interested in having a relationship later on down the road. I think it may be best to do some work sorting through your feelings before embarking on a serious relationship, though. The decisions we make when we are fearful or in emotional pain are sometimes different from the ones we make as happy, healthy people.

Give yourself lots of time to adjust from this situation. Your friend may not fully realize what space and time you'll need. I say this from my own personal experience, which may not be like yours, but I'll share it anyway, in case it's helpful--it's best if you feel "free" to grow and recover from this, instead of obligated or dependent. Personally, I went from one unhealthy family relationship to a fairly troubled romantic relationship. A lot of this trouble came from needing to learn what a healthy relationship is, since I had not seen it modeled in my home (the family relationships I had seen were dependent, manipulative, and even abusive). I thought I knew what a loving relationship was--but I didn't. I didn't even realize my view of relationships was so skewed until I went in to counseling. Just saying, give yourself plenty of time before you jump into anything serious. When you feel the loss of family, it's easy to rush to replace it with someone else--but the people we choose to have in our lives when we emerge from a healthy relationship are sometimes flawed in ways similar to our family. Again, this may be more related to my personal situation than yours. I just recommend giving yourself lots of breathing room as you sort things out.

Take care.

August 31, 2009 - 10:47pm
EmpowHER Guest

Its me, Anon 1. after thinking it through, i had decided not to tell anyone what happened. i moved in with my friend, like i had planned, and i was doing better... but just before i moved out of my grandmas house, three of my aunts and my grandma searched through my room, like i mentioned before, and when they did, they found a letter that i had written a while back, which said everything that had happened in full detail. the only thing the letter didnt mention was my cousins name. (i wrote the letter to get everything off my chest without telling anyone.) i thought i threw it away, but i didnt, and while invading my privacy and going through all my stuff, they found it. and instead of keeping it to themselves, they ran their mouth about the letter and now everyone in my family knows. they're threatening to tell my parents if i dont go to a councelor, and all day long everyone keeps calling me and texting me wanting me to tell them who it is. everything i thought would go wrong has gone wrong. everyone knows, and now they are blackmailing me because of the information they know. i dont wanna have anything to do with my family anymore. they are so two-faced and hypocritical and now they are turning against me because i wont tell them who it is. they have alienated me and i dont know what to do anymore. just a few weeks ago i asked the question of whether i should tell anyone, and now everyone knows. its crazy how things can just go wrong so quickly.any advice?

August 19, 2009 - 3:27pm
(reply to Anonymous)

I'm so sorry you're going through all this. On one hand, it sounds like your family cares enough about you to want you to get counseling. On the other hand, I can't blame you for feeling "cornered."

I'm sorry you feel you can't tell your parents. Personally, I think you need to talk to someone neutral, like a counselor. By not holding your cousin responsible for his attack upon you, it's letting him get away with it. Who knows if he'll do the same to someone else. However, who knows how your family would react, if you did tell them about your cousin. A counselor could help you work out your feelings and fears.

Wishing you well and resolve.

August 19, 2009 - 5:14pm
EmpowHER Guest

Please keep us updated on your progress. We can certainly help you in any way we can to help you through this time in your life. Your not alone and there are certainly people here that will listen and help give you building blocks. Take care of yourself.

August 16, 2009 - 9:15am
EmpowHER Guest

Thank you all for helping me with choosing the right thing to do. i really appreciate your opinions and your time...

August 16, 2009 - 9:03am

I wanted to say how sorry I am that this happened, and to add another perspective.

I agree 100% that the best thing to do is confide in either an adult who is a counselor, a family or a teacher at school. You should not be put through the stress of seeing your attacker on a continuous basis; this is not safe.

My other perspective: what if the story you came up with in your head, regarding how your family would react, would be different? I'm sure you can relate to this, as many of us have done this: created this detailed story in our minds about other's reactions, only to find out that we were completely wrong and we are surprised by their reactions. Does this sound familiar? If so, I would find one close, trusted family member and open up to them (you may do this after you speak with a counselor at school; I still think your main priority is to get out of a situation where you see your cousin).

Please, at least consider the possibility that your family will react in a more positive and supportive manner...unless you have many concrete previous experiences that tell you otherwise. Please talk with a trusted adult TODAY, as you are right---you can not continue living this way. I am so sorry.

August 15, 2009 - 8:05pm
EmpowHER Guest

I can't offer any practical help myself, but I strongly suggest you do speak to a counsellor as suggested above.

What your cousin did was a crime. You don't explicitly say he attacked you more than once or how old he was at the time but both of these affect how likely it is he will (or has) hurt others and a counsellor will be able to give you a clearer idea and hopefully reduice any guilt you may be feeling from worrying over that. They will also be able to understand the nature of your cousin's "reminder" not to tell anyone - whether he knows he did something wrong and is afraid of you, or if he is acting more negatively

My only comment is that by your silence you are protecting him. It's up to you to judge whether it's a good thing or a bad thing or if that has further implications. Again, a counsellor will be able to help you understand your motives for silence.

I'm glad you have a male friend you trust. It's a very positive step towards building trusting sexual relationships

August 15, 2009 - 2:48pm
EmpowHER Guest

Anon1, this is Anon2 again here. My family did the same thing--accusing me of taking drugs, even accusing my first serious boyfriend (who helped me break from the family & abuse) of drugging me. For some reason, they wanted to believe this was the reason I was with him. I was an A student, no drugs at all! I think they do this kind of thing because they need to create some sort of "reason" for the problem other than the REAL problem. The REAL problem shows that the family is flawed, and it's too much for them to accept. I didn't understand that for a long time, but now I see how it's related to their own insecurities.

I wish you the best on your new path. My road has had its share of bumps, as I guess many roads do; but it has shown me my strength and integrity, and I do not regret doing what I think was right for me. It was a powerful step. I was protecting myself, and advocating for myself in the way I wish I'd been protected and advocated for. We expect that other people will do that for us (because they should); but we can learn how to do it for ourselves, if they won't or can't.

The other day, a friend told me she was impressed by what I had survived, and it made me feel good at what I had accomplished. She's right, I finally found my spirit again. There was a strong young woman under that mess after all.

So keep trucking: pay attention to those instincts, keep thinking about what you want out of life, strive for that healthy perspective, have patience with yourself through this process, remember that bad stuff happening to you doesn't mean there's anything wrong with you, and just keep taking it one day at a time.

Like me, you have a cheering section you didn't even know about. :)

August 14, 2009 - 9:53pm

Hi, Anon, and welcome to EmpowHer. Your question is heartbreaking, and I'm so glad that you found us.

Anon 2, thank you for writing so honestly and generously about your experience. I know that what you wrote will not only help Anon, but will help others who read this thread and have had similar experiences.

To both of you, I want to say this: I'm so sorry this happened to you. It was 100% wrong, wrong, wrong, and neither of you were to blame. It's so sad to me that your cousin and your brother basically got away with this horrible act and the two of you are the ones made to suffer. You have each been victimized twice -- once when it happened, and a second time when you realized how your families would see it.

Anon1, you do need to tell someone, and I hope that writing here was your first step. It sounds, however, like the first person you tell should perhaps not be in your family. You are 17; does that mean you're in high school? Are you a junior or a senior? What would happen if you told your grandmother that you really need to see a counselor but that you don't yet want to talk about why?

I am assuming that the fact you are living with your grandmother means there are big family issues. Do you feel like your grandmother is someone who would listen and believe you?

Yes, it happened six years ago, but here's what will happen if you just try "not to worry about it" -- it will come back, again and again, in your mind, until you have been able to deal with it in some way. Twelve is an incredibly important age in the lives of young girls, and yours was traumatized. There are all kinds of way that that affects you in the years after the event.

One way you can talk to someone now is by calling the National Rape, Abuse & Incest National Hotline. If you call 1.800.656.HOPE, you will be connected to a person who knows what you are going through and is trained on how to help you. It's totally anonymous and confidential. Their website also gives a lot of information about them:


They also have an online hotline -- someone you can chat with on the web, live. Again, it's confidential and anonymous. You just click on a link that connects you to the live chatline and it's like instant-messaging someone:


And on the question of whether you are a virgin or not -- I believe that yes, you are, in all the ways that count. Rape isn't about sex. Rape is violence. Your hymen may have been broken, but many women who are virgins have hymens that have broken -- through sports, for instance. You were a victim of forcible rape. That's not sex, it's violence. Remember that, ok? When you ultimately find someone you trust and you want to have sex with them, you may choose to tell them that at a young age you were abused by a family member and you still have some confidence issues because of it. But you don't have to go into it any further than that if you don't want to.

Does this help a little? I hope it does. You have been through something no girl or woman should ever go through. But it happens to about 1 out of every 6 women. That means there are a lot of girls and women who have been through what you are going through. You're not alone, even though it may feel that way in your family right now. You can work through this, OK?

If you'd like help finding a counselor where you live, you can click on my name at the top of this question (Diane P) and send me a private message telling me the city and state you're in. I'll be glad to help you in every way possible. Diane

August 3, 2009 - 8:54am
EmpowHER Guest

I'm so sorry you're in this situation. My brother molested me when I was young (under age 10), and I too lived with shame for many years. I was 17 before I told my mother. My brother is like your cousin--he was adored in the family and could do no wrong. My mother was sympathetic to me at first, but later came to blame me. She called me a liar, and then she said I tempted him (I know, it doesn't make sense, but it's what she said). It was horrible. My family's solution was to ignore it, even to the point of forcing me into situations where I would be around my brother, which they knew would make me uncomfortable. "Get over it" seemed to be their attitude. That bothered me so much I broke from the family, ended up in a not-so-great relationship (somewhat as an escape from them), then went into counseling, and now I am okay; but I don't have a relationship with my family anymore. In my situation, it just felt wrong to pretend it all didn't happen.

If you want your abuse revealed:
Has your cousin admitted to YOU what he did? Or does he just pretend it never happened? Is it possible to get him to talk about it, with a trusted relative hiding somewhere nearby to hear him confess to it (and also for your own protection). Could another one of your cousins have been raped by him as well? Can you ask them vaguely if he's ever done anything strange around them, and see if it gets them talking? (If they don't volunteer the information that he did something to them, you can play it off--just tell them forget about it, nevermind.) What he did to you was wrong. And it's even worse if this is his pattern of behavior within the family--sometimes it is. It may be an opportunity to protect other young women in your family, as well as yourself, to make it known this is what he does.

Even if he does admit it, you're right--there's no telling how the rest of the family will handle it. My brother did admit to the abuse intially, but somehow the situation was twisted over the years to being my fault as a "temptress." (An accusation which is crazy, by the way--that's just not me, especially after what I went through.) I'd encourage you to seek resources to help you deal with their response--rape crisis centers, your local women's health center, or counseling. Some will let you seek services anonymously.

If you want to keep it to yourself:
I guess that's okay, if it's what you want to do. I obviously did not choose to do that--so I must confess it seems a little unhealthy to me, but I understand that each person's circumstances are different. I just felt like I wanted to get it out there. You have to do what is right for you.

I think I'd only use "not telling" as a coping mechanism for getting through the next year or so until you move on with your life. Then get some support from a counselor--don't keep it bottled inside. Personally, I needed to get it "out there" and process it in order not to feel creeped out by men and dating. I went through a long period of feeling mistrustful and just weird around guys. Not to mention, I had a lot to sort through, emotionally speaking, regarding my family's response.

You are the best judge of what to do. Just consider that if your family doesn't know, and doesn't protect you from him, it might put you in a dangerous situation with this cousin--you'd want to avoid him as much as possible. However, as you said, some families actually turn on the girl in this situation. I watched those news reports of that little immigrant girl who was gang raped by boys from her home country with disbelief at the news reporters saying her family's desire to disown her was related to her home country's attitudes--I wanted to shout out, "It happens here, too! It's not just something that happens to people from 'foreign' places with 'foreign' ideas. It happened to me--my family has been here for centuries." It's really unfair.

I don't know how else to advise you except to tell you to take care of yourself. Do whatever you need to do to be okay. You aren't alone. It's not your fault. And as someone who was made a "black sheep" by my situation, I want to tell you that it will be okay. Just because they don't treat you right, doesn't mean you're not deserving of being treated with love and respect. If anything, it reflects on what kind of people they are.

As for being a virgin, yes, I think you should consider yourself a "virgin" at heart. Before you have sex with another guy, I'd recommend you go to a gynecologist and get yourself checked out (tell them what happened, and that you just want to make sure you're okay), and get some counseling to be sure you can identify a healthy relationship (sometimes, when we're raped as kids, we get to feeling like we're damaged or somehow less--and it's just not true, NOT TRUE, at all--but we risk ending up with people who'll treat us bad again). Don't feel like you have to tell anyone what happened. If you're healthy, that's all that should matter to them. Personally, my first sexual experience was with someone I did feel comfortable telling (I kind of went into "full truth mode" after I confessed to my mother--I'd been hiding things so long). He understood--only I DID NOT like when he asked about it further. He was kind of nervous and stupid about it. I think it was only important for me to share it because I was still really dealing with flashbacks when trying to make a connection with him. If it wasn't on my mind at all, I probably wouldn't have mentioned it to him.

I wish you the best. It can be a tough road, but please know that you're not alone, and this is not your fault.

August 1, 2009 - 7:55pm
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