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Breaking the Silence
I finally told my family my brother molested me

Names have been changed.

One night changed my whole perspective about boys and family forever. For years, I kept the pain, hurt, and anger deep in my soul, hiding away. How could I tell my mother that when I was 11 years old one of my older brothers touched me?

My mother has nine sons and four daughters ranging in age from 35 to 10, so we are a big family. When I was growing up, all of my sisters were already out of the house. And two of my older brothers lived with my grandmother. I am the youngest of the daughters so I lived with my mother along with my other seven brothers.

Most of the time the house was full even with five rooms. I shared a bedroom with my brother Frank. We had bunk beds and I slept on the top and he on the bottom. I never thought much about sharing a room with my brother. It never felt strange because I’d always been with my brothers and they were my best friends. Frank would take me to school and help me with my homework. And he would tell me silly jokes and make sure no one was bothering me at school.

On the night it happened, I was 11 and Frank was 13. When I went into my room that night, my other brother Jimmy was sleeping on Frank’s bed. I was really tired and just wanted to sleep so I didn’t bother waking him up. I slipped on my nightgown, climbed on my top bunk and konked out.

In the middle of the night Frank woke me up. “Can I sleep in your bed with you?” he asked. I said no, and I told him to wake Jimmy up and get him off his bed. Frank told me Jimmy was already asleep and he began begging me to let him sleep on my bed. I was so tired so I said, “Alright, you can sleep on my bed but at the bottom, head to toe.” Frank said OK and I went back to sleep.

Powerless and Empty

The next thing I knew it was 4 a.m. and Frank was lying right up against me. I felt his hand in my panties and I could feel his penis inches away from my anus. I felt confused and numb. I was a virgin. I didn’t know what he was doing or even what he was trying to do.

After a few minutes, feeling came back to my body. I tried to move away. But he squeezed my waist and held me and began to put his hand inside my private parts. I felt his sharp nails scratch inside me as he moved his fingers rapidly. He tried to push his penis inside me but it never went in. He wouldn’t let me go and I started to cry. I couldn’t believe what he was doing to me. I felt powerless and empty. This went on for a half hour but it seemed like forever. He never said a word.

When he finally let me go (I hope after realizing what he was doing was wrong), I ran trembling into my mother’s room. “Are you OK?” she asked. But I was silent; I didn’t know what to say. I was so scared. I didn’t know how to tell her the things my brother had just done to me. Then out of the corner of my eye, I saw Frank leaning against my mother’s bedroom door with a look on his face that said, “You better not tell.” So I just said, “Yes, I’m OK,” turned off the light and slept at the bottom of her bed by her feet.

The Nightmare Was Real

I slept on and off in my mother’s room for the next two years until Frank moved out. I would either sleep in her bed or on a pile of blankets on her floor. “Why don’t you want to sleep in your room?” my mom would ask. “I’m afraid of the dark,” I’d always say. She seemed to accept this explanation and didn’t press me about it. I guess she thought I was going through some sort of drama stage. Every time I looked at my bed I would relive what my brother did to me.

My brother was no longer my brother. He was a monster to me. I grew to hate Frank more and more. He went to school as if nothing had happened. But I knew he knew what he did was wrong and it looked liked the guilt was eating him alive. Neither of us could bring it up.

He left me with all of the pain and a broken heart because I thought my big brothers were supposed to be there to protect me, not abuse me. I was way too upset to talk to him. And I felt if I had talked to him I would have tried to kill him and even that would not be enough for the pain he had caused me.

For years I wondered, “How could he? Why would he?” Even though he was always getting into trouble, he had always been good to me. How could he do that to his little sister? I couldn’t stand the sight of him and always kept my distance. He disgusted me.

No one knew what he did to me or the sorrow I felt. No one knew the pain and anger that constantly built up inside of me.

Ready to Reveal

image by YC-Art Dept

Five years went by and I gradually stopped feeling afraid. I wanted to tell. But I didn’t know who to tell and I thought about the consequences. I thought if I told my mother, she’d go crazy. I thought if I told my father, who lived about 20 minutes from my mom’s house, he would kill Frank. I thought it would bring chaos to my family.

When I was 16, the day came when I couldn’t hold it in any longer. I was visiting my older sister Jackie in New Jersey that summer. I’ll never forget that day. The two of us were in her car on the way to my aunt’s house. I had on white shorts with a pink top and I wore black shades. Jackie was wearing a blue and white romper with black shades. She was telling me her girlfriend’s boyfriend had inappropriately touched her daughter. Jackie said, “God forbid my child ever tell me that, I’m calling the cops no matter who it is. That’s why I always ask my kids, ‘Has anyone touched you? Teachers, friends, family?’ ”

I slowly lowered my head toward the car floor and started crying hysterically. “What’s wrong? You can tell me anything,” my sister said.

After I told Jackie her face sank, tears rolling down her face. But she believed me. Then she called my sisters, my other brothers, and then my mother. I couldn’t believe I had told but I was proud of myself for telling. I kept saying, “They have to check our little nieces and nephews including his own daughter, to make sure they have not been touched.” Frank was living with his girlfriend and daughter, and I was scared for her.

Truth With Consequences

Now my whole family knew about it and they all had the same question for me. “Why didn’t you tell me when it first happened?” I told them I was scared. I didn’t think my Mom believed me 100% because she called and said, “What are you doing? You better not be trying to start a mess, I got enough going on in my house.” I started screaming at her, “Your son molested me and when I get back home I’m gonna call the cops on him.”

Jackie’s phone constantly rang with our relatives and I had to keep telling my story over and over. Most of my brothers did not believe me and accused me of just trying to get attention. Word got back to Frank and he denied everything. During a phone conversation my sister had with my brother, I overheard him calling me all kinds of names like “slut,” “ho,” “skank.”

I was in New Jersey when all of this happened so I was scared to go home. I had horrible nightmares about how Frank would hurt me. During that time Samantha, another sister of mine, confronted Frank. “How could you do that to your little sister?”

“I ain’t do that, she lying,” said Frank.

“Why would she lie about something like that?” said Samantha.

“I don’t know,” Frank replied.

The Return Home

I stayed with Jackie for the rest of August. I was not ready to go home, but the new school year was about to start so I had no choice. When I came home I felt everyone looked at me differently. My other brothers whispered about me as if I was the bad person. I hated the vibe they gave off. When Frank came over he couldn’t look me in the face. My mom and my brothers talked to Frank as if he hadn’t done anything wrong. I hated witnessing that. I hated them. I was full of hate.

I even felt my own mother was against me because my brothers kept saying I was lying. The night before the first day of school I was lying on my bed and my mother came into my room.

“I can’t take this! I can’t stay here,” I told her. “You don’t even believe me. How could you believe him over me?”

“I’m not saying I don’t, it’s just that our family is already going through enough!” she said. My mother often felt overwhelmed because of all of us kids. To make life even more complicated, Frank was always in trouble lately. He’d been arrested and had violated probation. I felt so angry. I hated my mother; I felt like no one was on my side in that house. I was going to leave whether my mom liked it or not.

Finally Feeling Free

The next day I packed my bags and went to Samantha’s house in Yonkers and I went to school from there as if nothing happened. I stayed there for the month of September. I wanted to stay at Samantha’s house forever, but my mother made me come home. She gave me many excuses but I think she just really missed me. That weekend I went to church and I prayed about everything that I’d been through and I asked God to give me strength and help me to move on. My brothers gave me awkward stares but I ignored them. I was happy Frank didn’t live at my house and I paid no attention to him when he did come to visit. I felt stronger.

Now, it’s been one year since I told my family about what Frank did to me. Even though I still don’t feel comfortable living at home, I feel relieved that I got that off my chest. And in my heart, I know my mother believes me. A lot of the pain and anger that was trapped in me for so long has vanished. Now I can move on with my life and not feel bitter and full of hatred towards Frank. And although all of my wounds are not healed, I had to forgive my brother for what he did. It allowed me to focus on it less. I no longer spend so much time thinking and remembering. I realized hating him and always wondering why Frank did what he did was only hurting me and keeping me depressed.

No one should ever have that much control and power over another person. Speaking up gave me peace of mind. And although I still don’t know if everyone believes me, at least they are aware of what I told them. Telling was the only way to set my soul free. I only wish I was as brave then as I am today, and I had told the moment it happened.

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