Last week my sister told me that she'd invited a guy to her house to watch movies and that he forced himself on her. She said he ripped her clothes off and then forced penetration and — long story short — that he'd raped her and, by the sound of it, pretty violently. She told me that he made her promise not to tell anybody.
I told her I would take her to the police, but she refused because she wasn't sure about the exact details. My sister later told my parents that I was making it all up and that she hadn't said anything about being raped. I went absolutely off the handle at her! I think she got freaked out because the guy told her not to tell. To make matters worse, all of my family knows that I was raped when I was 15 (I'm 23 now), and reliving all of this has been really hard to deal with.
I'm not speaking to any of my immediate family. My boyfriend agrees that I shouldn't speak to any of them until I get a proper apology from my sister. She sent me a text message two days after I got angry at her for lying, saying that she hadn't done anything to make me relive my past and that I was overreacting. What should I do?
—In Disbelief Dara
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Dear In Disbelief Dara,
I don't think that you're overreacting at all. Rape is a really serious thing and nothing to joke about. It sounds like your sister really was raped, because I find it hard to believe that she'd make this all up for no reason. I bet she's just upset and scared about what might happen if she tells the police, not to mention what the guy might do.
I think you should be the adult here and talk to your sister, since ignoring her won't fix the situation. Try to get her to admit the truth, and if it turns out she really was raped, you've got to let her know that even if she knew the guy, or there was alcohol involved, it's still rape if she didn't consent to sex. Convince her that she needs to tell the police so this guy doesn't get away with what he did and doesn't do it to other innocent women. Assure her that she'll be protected from this guy after she tells.
If your sister won't listen to you, talk to your parents. Explain to them that you're concerned about her emotional and physical well-being. Tell them you're worried about what might happen if she tried to keep all her feelings bottled up inside. Maybe the three of you can convince your sister to talk to a therapist so she has a neutral outlet through which to voice her emotions. Tell her that from your own experience, you know she'll feel much better if she gets this off her chest. You can also call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE. I hope everything works out.