On unburdening yourself

Dear Coquette,

A family friend used to molest me for years. I never said anything to my mom as I was afraid she wouldn’t believe me. Three of my friends who didn’t know one another had reported he had touched them, at three completely different times. My mom called all three of them liars, and would still ship me over to Uncle Perv’s house for unsupervised sleepovers for the weekend. It makes me sick to my stomach even typing this now, as it’s the first time I’ve even admitted to myself that this happened.

I’m in my late 20s now and have grown very distant from my family. Other than the obligatory phone call on birthdays and holidays, I avoid them at all costs.

My question is, do I tell my mom now? She is still close with this “uncle” figure. And, frankly, I don’t see how telling her will be a benefit. She can’t change the past and all it will do is make her potentially hate herself. I feel I am a well-adjusted adult, but I just want to completely cut all ties with my family so I never have to think about it again. 

You may be a well-adjusted adult, but that doesn’t mean you’re emotionally healthy. Your abuse is still very much an unresolved issue, and while you may have found methods of coping, you haven’t found any peace.

An emotionally healthy person wouldn’t want to cut all ties with her family to avoid processing her childhood sexual trauma. I’m sure you’ve got plenty of other reasons for avoiding your mom, but Uncle Perv shouldn’t have to be one of them.

It’s pretty clear your mother has a powerful mechanism for denial, and I think you’re afraid of it. I get the feeling that on some fundamental level, you very much want to tell your mother what happened, but you’re worried that her denial will allow her to somehow keep this man in her life.

In other words, you’re afraid that if you tell her, she’ll pick him over you.

Well, you’ve got to look past that. You can’t change what happened, but you can’t deny it either, and you’re not going to find any peace until you tell your mom the whole truth. She probably won’t handle it well, but that’s not what’s important. What’s important is that you unburden yourself. This is for you, not her. You deserve to move past this.


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