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Question
Posted by: Suzy | 2007/06/21

Advice

CS, my sister has 2 daughters, from 2 different men, the age gap is 10 years. The older daughter (then 15) phoned us to say she's going to commit suicide or run away unless we fetch her because her stepdad abuses her mother, and "fiddles" with his own daughter (her younger sister). My mother (the granny), my other sister and I went to their house to see how we can help. My sister (the mother of the 2 girls) refused to let her older daughter come with us, I then phoned the welfare, and the counsellor spoke to my sister (the mother) and asked if her husband is molesting their daughter to which she replied no. This all happened more than 10 years ago, and today I don't believe there was any sexual abuse with the younger sister at all, I believe it was a "weapon" (lie) the older sister used as a desperate measure to get her mom to leave this man who beat her so badly (they're divorced now).

Over the years, this sister (the mother) has been very bitter towards our mother, my other sister and I for wanting to take her daughter away, and for phoning the welfare.

I'm not much in contact with this sister because of her bitterness about every little thing from the past. Out of the blue yesterday I received an e-mail from her, abusing me for what happened all these years ago (I have apologised before but she didn't accept it), saying that I "invented" this molestation story and she wants to get to the bottom of it now. (This problem surfaced again, I just discovered, because the older daughter told her boyfriend that the stepdad sexually molested her, and the boyfriend recently told my sister about it).

I responded to her mail, apologising yet again for what happened more than 10 years ago, but she replied with a lot of venom and I answered, saying I have apologised twice, I cannot help you any more.

Our mother passed away since this incident, and the other sister has been completely forgiven.

Did I do the right thing? Should I have handled it any other way?

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Our expert says:
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Its hard to be sure what exactly happened in the previous episode you describe. Certainly some people make false accusations of abuse in order to win a squabble or to get back at someone they have other reasons to dislike ; and also there can be situations where abuse definitely does occur and the mother is unaware of it or doesn't want to face up and admit it. Anyhow, it does sound as though the guy in question was abusive towards the mother, if not the child.
Your sister needs to recognize that you and your mother acted responsibly by having the situation properly assessed by competent authorities, and that it would have been the height of irresponsibility for either of you to have ignored the accusations. The mother was not serving her children's best interests in remaining with a man who abused her, herself, and exposing them to witnessing that abuse.
If her daughter is again telling someone that her stepdad abused her ( and it seems even less likely to be a tactic on her part at this stage, as the man is apparently out of her life now ), iot may very well be that she was telling the truth all along. The welfare counsellor was naive if she decided that there was no abuse on the mother's say-so, especially when the mother herself was hiding her own abuse by that man.
The daughter should be advised, whatever happened in the past ( then she said her sister was bein abused, tnow she says it was her ) that she herself ought to see a personal counsellor to work on dealing with whatever was then going on.
And your sister should be told that her personal bitterness towards you is unjustified and will not be accepted, and that no further apologies will be forthcoming. She chose to expose her daughters at the very least to witnessing her own abuse a the hands of an abuser, and should not blame others for having tried to protect her daughters when she apparently failed to do so. And until she has something conciliatory and useful to say to you, let her no that no further communication will be accepted.

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Our users say:
Posted by: aNNa | 2007/06/21

I find it interesting that the older daughter is still speaking about the molestation - if it were a lie she would surely have dropped the story by now?

Also, unless I misunderstood, she originally said that her sister was being molested and now she says it was her?

As hurtful as all this is, and even if it ends up just being a story, so many children get hurt and die because no-one believes them - I would rather err in believing a manipulative child than in ignoring a suffering one.

Reply to aNNa

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