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You Asked: My Sister Told Me She Was Raped

Dear Sugar,

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

To see DearSugar's answer

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.


Join The Conversation
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
did you expect your sister to thank you for spilling the beans? rape is very personal (as you know) and it wasnt your responsibility to tell them. If she ended up never telling them, again her issue, not yours. You should have just been there for her. I was assaulted by a boyfriend, didnt remember alot of it, and so i didnt say a thing. Mostly because it was so hazy, i did talk about it thought to people i trusted and they helped me come to terms with it.
onesong onesong 9 years
First, you need to apologize to your sister for telling your parents without her permission. It was her story to tell or not tell, as painful as that may be for you, and you need to beg pardon for overstepping your boundaries, no matter how well intentioned it was. Second, you need to be an adult and speak to your sister calmly. Tell her, after you apologize, that it was very difficult to hear that she had experienced something so traumatic and painful and you just want to help her. You need to express to her that whatever her choice is--to tell or not, to press charges or not--that you will support her 100%. Last, it sound to me like YOU need some counseling to recover from what happened to you. Please take the advice of the above posters as to how to find a counselor to help you work through the residual issues you have. Your sister will likely need counseling, too, but don't push anything on her right now. Just BE THERE for her. Hang out with her, talk about other things, and if she brings up the rape then try to listen and support her. Much love for the two of you. I'm so sorry to hear this.
Hannah-123 Hannah-123 9 years
I don't think your over reacting. What you did was rite and your sister won't figure this out untell its to late. Your sister is probably in denial. I think u should confront her about it and tell her this is more sersly then she thinks because she probably thinks that it will mess up her life if she says anything.Please try because the guy will probably do it again to anther girl.
nikodarling nikodarling 9 years
I can understand why you are upset but you have to respect her feelings. Everybody is going to handle these things differently. You want her to react a certain way and you are mad that she isn't acting the way you want her to. Cut her some slack -you know how traumatic this is. Yes she lied to your parents but obviously you broke her confidence by telling your parents without her permission. Some people don't want to tell, or have to tell when they are ready. You can't force it out of her. She also likely feels responsible considering the cirumstances and thinks she will be blamed. Don't try to force her to do anything let her do what she needs to do. Just be there for her. Please try to convince her to get some counselling. She needs a professional to speak to. You may think that you can help her because you've been there but you may be too close to this situation to be objective. You are clouded by your personal experience and this isn't helping. Please find professional help for both of you.
HelloKittyMini HelloKittyMini 9 years
Maybe you should be asking for your sisters forgiveness. You broke her confidence. If your sister was raped, it is her business, i.e. her decision who she tells/when/and if she prosecutes. NOT YOURS! If I were your sister I might consider not speaking to you after you aired my very personal affairs to my parents. Also, your the one making this about you. Your sister tells a horribly intimate detail of her life, and you turn it around and make it about how she is doing something to you. Sounds like you have some real issues, making someone else's rape about you. Maybe you didn't get enough therapy when you were 15 to deal with it. Also maybe you should ask your parents for forgiveness.At this point you have spilled the beans. You should go to them, explain that your sister did tell you she was raped, asked you not to discuss it with anyone, and you broke your promise. Therefore you are sorry for putting your sister in an embarrassing situation, and causing family strife. After doing that, I would turn my attention to my sister. What help does she need or want? What can you do for her? If she doesn't want to prosecute, you need to acknowledge that it is her decision, this is her life and not yours. For some prosecution is not road to recovery, sometimes therapy and meditation are what you need. I speak from some experience. I was sexually abused as a teenager. I did not want to prosecute, and I have never told my parents. My friends know. As an adult I went back and confronted my molester. After years of being angry, and emotionally distraught, I found a way to forgive him and move on. And that is what I told him. It was one of the most emotionally satisfying moments of my life. Forgiving meant he had no power over me any more. I don't say that as to encourage your sister to forgive at this moment. Just to say, there are different ways of dealing with this kind of thing, and everyone has to find their own path. Best of luck. I hope you are able to heal the relationships with your family.
karlotta karlotta 9 years
I actually think your sister is lying and didn't get raped. She could envy the attention and care you got when it happened to you. Maybe she wanted to feel close to you by pretending to live the same experience. Maybe she's just a liar - but I have this very strong gut feeling that it's not true. My best friend in high school told me a story like that; the details didn't quite fit together, there were some inconsistencies, and she didn't want to tell anyone. I dragged her to the police and made her give a statement. It took a couple of days to figure out she was lying. I hope I'm right; it's better to be a liar than a rape victim. In the meantime, good luck to you; keep your head up high and remember how strong and beautiful you are. You survived the rape - so it goes without saying that you'll kick its memory's ass.
GirlNinja GirlNinja 9 years
There are a lot of factors we don't know here that could be making a huge difference. *Who* this guy is, as in his relationship to her, her job, her friends, etc could make a huge difference in how she handles it. How old she is may also be a factor. She confided in you as a comrade. If you're not in a place yet where you can simply watch this play out for her under her direction, then you should ask to be excused from her inner circle on this. It isn't going to help anyone if it's just hurting you. It's no flaw of yours or hers. It's good that she reached out, and hopefully she will keep reaching until she finds someone within her comfort zone. Just because you've gone through your own trauma doesn't automatically mean that you're willing or able to guide or support anyone else through theirs. Best of luck to both of you in finding the help you need.
Emiily Emiily 9 years
My aunt was raped in February of this year, yesterday they finally caught the guy and he is in jail. She said it was so good knowing he is in jail and will pay for what he did to her and how she's been emotionally since the rape. I hope that your sister deals with this, I think that you are the one to help her. Embrace each other, and don't be too upset that she is apprehensive.
hotstuff hotstuff 9 years
The only thing I think your overreacting about is not speaking to your family! I'm so sorry this happened to you two. Please understad that your sister is very very afraid. She probably isn't as strong as you and she REALLY needs you now probably more than she will in her life! PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE forgive yor sister and just realize that she cant be rational right now. Your the most importat person in her life right now and that shows because she knew she could come to you. You have also been in her place. I hope you were not abandoned when you went through this, so you know more than anyone how much support she needs now. Even if your just the person she can talk to you need to help her anyway you can. Support her and try to convince her that she needs to turn this jerk in. Just understand that she may not be ready but you can help her. Make ammends with the family and let her tell them whe she's ready, she may never be ready without your help especially if she lied in front of them. Forgive her, this is too important!
RockAndRepublic RockAndRepublic 9 years
It's extremely f'up for someone to do that. Since she's denying it, forget her, your family should reach out to you. This is not something i could easily forgive someone over.
Lindsb Lindsb 9 years
I think that it sounds like your making this situation about you and your relived experience - this is about your sister. Maybe she isn't ready to expose her secret to the entire family - or maybe she would have liked to do it on her own.. I can understand why she'd be angry with you. But, I don't think there is any reason why you shouldn't be talking to your family. Talk to your sister and let her know why you are so upset - let her know the importance of reporting it. Most importantly, let her know you are there for her and support her instead of not speaking to her.
princess_eab princess_eab 9 years
I just want to say I'm sorry and I understand why you're so angry. Having your sister deny she was raped is like her saying your experience wasn't real, either. Still, that's how she's dealing with this. Try to explain to her that for you this is like the ultimate betrayal, that someone would not report a rape when it was something that was so horrible for you. In the end it's her decision but try to make her understand why you feel this way.
monks monks 9 years
I volunteer for a rape advocacy organization in Chicago, and I say this only to show that I've had formal training and (sadly) alot of experience in the area. One of the first things we learn is to follow the survivor's agenda, meaning do whatever they ask of you. If you truly support your sister, and I'm sure you do having gone through it yourself, you need to let her decide what's best for her... not what you think is best. She obviously trusted you enough to say something, but now she probably feels betrayed and very scared. So wait for her to tell your parents and offer to go with her to the police or hospital when she feels comfortable enough to go. But forcing her to do what you think should be done will only make matters worse. She needs to regain her power, and allowing her to make these decisions will really help. As for you reliving your rape, I'm so sorry. It's a terrible thing to go through it once, let alone a second time. Check out the website: on what you can do for yourself and your sister.
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