What I want you to know about making amends with my abuser

What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest post is Anonymous.

When I was a child, I was sexually abused by an older sibling of mine, and I kept quiet about it. It was during a very tumultuous time, as my parents were in the process of separating. I had hope that they wouldn't split after all, so I felt I had to keep this secret to myself. Also, my brother was the type of kid who gave my parents a lot of trouble already - with behavior and in school. I was the A-plus smart kid who was perfectly behaved. I didn't want to add to anyone's stress level.

Well years later, I felt prompted to deal with this issue. We are talking 20 years after the fact. That deep, dark secret I hadn't told a soul was finally released into the light to my close friend and later, to my boyfriend. I was a falling-apart mess. I was going through major Post Traumatic Stress Disorder with suicidal feelings and intense anxiety. I sought out a counselor and started going to weekly sessions. Over time, I decided to confront my brother. My therapist helped me construct a letter and I sent it. I received an instant response. It was not what I expected. My therapist had prepared me that most abusers do not acknowledge their actions or feel remorse for what they did. But my brother's response was different.

He was sad, even heartbroken, over what I was going through. He said it was the biggest regret of his life and he would do anything to make it better. He sent money for my therapy and he wanted things to be instantly okay between us. I was not at that point where I could have him in my life just yet. I worked through all of the steps with my counselor and over time, I was able to heal and even forgive my brother for what he did to me when we were children. I was able to understand what started the process because he told me something had happened to him also and that had made him act out to someone else (me). He decided to seek counseling as well.

We now have a great relationship and there is nothing between us except love, forgiveness and understanding. Some days I am still filled with anger at him and what happened to me, but I think that is normal. I shouldn't have had to endure what I did. No one should.

I really did not want to write this. I have put it off for a long time. But I know I am far from alone in being a victim of sibling sexual abuse. And what I want you to know is that making amends is possible. And the healing I went through has been life-changing. I still go through periods of anxiety, but I am in a much better place after dealing with the hard stuff. If you were sexually abused and have not talked with a counselor about it, I urge you to get help. You have a whole life to live and trust me, it is a million times better on this side of the healing. It's an uphill battle but one worth fighting. I am grateful every day for how far I have come.

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