I grew up in a small family with a father, mother, and older brother. While growing up, my brother was my partner in crime and we were always getting ourselves into trouble. I always remember climbing up to the biggest hill behind our house in town and both quickly jumping into our little red rider wagon and shooting down the hill using the handle as our steering wheel- we were always up to things like that. I have a millions memories with my older brother, but the one that haunts me the most was the day he molested me. I was 9 years old. My brother walked me home after school like any other day and since school got out around 3 p.m. in our town, which is a very small town, we were old enough to stay home alone for just those 2 hours before my mom got home from work. I remember going to my room after school and my brother following me and closing the door behind him. I remember hearing “You better not tell mom or dad”, “You’ll get in trouble if you do”, and “I just want to show you what I learned in class” “Don’t be a little girl about it”. I was 9 years old, and I believed his every word. I was scared, but mostly confused. I didn’t know exactly what he was doing but I knew it was wrong. He was supposed to be my big brother, my protector. I remember being naked on my own twin sized bed with my favorite bright pink comforter and him laying his body on top of me and touching me. I remember starting to cry and eventually him getting off of me and telling me he was done. I stayed in my room until my mom got home. I remember trying to decide if I was going to tell my parents that night or not and all I could do was think about what my brother had threatened me with and even at 9 years old, I thought my parents wouldn’t believe me. Because we were brother and sister, we tattled on one another on a daily basis and I thought my parents would think I was just making it up to get him in trouble. The next day after school, I was scared to go home because I thought it was going to happen again. So instead of going inside the house, I played on our jungle gym in the backyard until one of my parents got off work- I probably did this for a week straight. Luckily, he never did this to me again and eventually I began to feel safe again.
My mind did some pretty unique things from age 9 until about age 17. I honestly could not remember a lot of those specific details until I was about age 17 in high school and it seems like I remember a little more and more as time goes by. My mind was able to practically erase what had happened to me growing up I guess in order to “survive” it. Even though, my mind could erase what had happened, I realize now that my body was showing so many signs of pain at such a young age.
At age 12, I was getting stomach ulcers. It was like clockwork for me; every morning around 10 a.m. before 6th grade gym class I would throw up. I remember the doctors would always ask me what was causing so much stress at 12 years old. I had no answers for them and neither did my parents.
At age 14, I remember having my first suicidal thought, starting to feel extremely sad about everything, and making two attempts to actually kill myself. I did not know why I was so sad and thought this way, but I did an amazing job hiding it amongst my teachers and classmates.
At age 17, I remember having a speaker come to my high school to talk about sexual violence and other teen issues- it was like an instant trigger for me and I had all of these bad memories of that day quickly coming back to me. That was a hard year because I remember trying to deal with it, not knowing how to deal with it, whether to tell my parents now or later, being so upset and resenting my parents, and ultimately feeling even more depressed than before. Later on that year, I ended up telling my four best friends and my boyfriend what had happened to me and I started to feel a little bit better about it. I still had not told my parents or had that conversation with my brother.
I came to Kearney in 2010 and became a social work major. My triggers were becoming even worse through every social work class I took it seemed like. I started to rethink my major or whether I would be able to get through this. But I stuck with it and extremely glad I did.
When I was 20 years old, in April 2012, I got a text around midnight. It said “I’m sorry I was never the big brother I was supposed to be and I am sorry for what I did to you”. I cried reading it over and over again in disbelief. I felt so angry because it took him 11 years to tell me he was sorry. I know most survivors do not get an apology their entire life, but I was still so angry. One month later, I told my mom what had happened. It’s like I needed that apology from my brother in order to get the courage to tell my parents. It was the kind of closure that I needed. At age 20, I was still dealing with the issue of whether or not my parents would believe me or not, but with my brother’s apology it helped me so much. Both of my parents were extremely supportive and were upset I never told them sooner, but they really did understand why I had a hard time telling them. Since then, I have found myself counseling and have been getting better day by day.
I decided to write this tonight because it’s “National Sibling Day” and as I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed, I looked at so many photos of my friends with their siblings and felt so happy for them and jealous that I had no photo to share. I have been wanting to type up my story for some time now, but I just felt like tonight was a good night.
I currently have no contact with my older brother and I really haven’t since I was 17 or so, other than seeing him at family gatherings, and I’m okay with that for now. I don’t know if our relationship will always be this way or if I will be able to ultimately forgive him and let him back into my life.