Dear Annie: My grandfather molested me when I was a child, and I have been in therapy much of my adult life as a result. My entire family has a disturbing history of sexual abuse and incest, passed along from father to son.
My youngest sister was molested by two of my brothers, "Tim" and "Jim," when they were teenagers. She told our parents when it first occurred, but they did nothing and continue to deny our family history. She is in therapy, but her life has been one broken relationship after another.
Last summer, my sister sent letters to all the siblings disclosing what happened to her. Tim apologized, but Jim won't talk about it. My sister refuses to directly confront him. I'm not sure Jim's wife is aware he is an abuser. They have two grown daughters and four young granddaughters.
Our parents' actions encouraged an environment where inappropriate behavior thrived. It seems to me they should be the ones to tell their daughter-in-law, so she can talk to her kids. However, my parents haven't demonstrated responsibility in the past and probably won't now. Isn't there a possibility Jim may have molested his own daughters and granddaughters? How does incest end? What can we do?
- Dysfunctional in Utah
Dear Utah: There is more than a possibility that your brother has abused his daughters and granddaughters, especially since he is unrepentant about what he did to your sister. Although she should be the one to inform Jim's wife, if she is unwilling, we hope you will speak up. You have a moral obligation to protect those children.