Dear Annie: I am 29 years old and the youngest of six siblings. My sister, “Jackie,” who is two years older, revealed a couple of years ago that she had been sexually abused by our brother, “Jim,” when she was 5 years old. The abuse lasted four years. Jim is seven years older than Jackie.
At the time she revealed this, Jackie told anyone and everyone, except Jim and his wife. Jackie’s therapist told her to confront Jim in order to heal, so last year, she had a long talk with Jim. From what Jackie has told me, they had a really good conversation, and Jim was willing to do anything – go to therapy with her, confront the family, etc. – to make sure she would get better. Jackie was very satisfied with his willingness to help her, but she told him there wasn’t anything for him to do and that she was glad to finally be able to talk to him about it.
Jackie told Jim she didn’t see the necessity of telling Jim’s wife but had no objection if he wanted to discuss it with her. As far as I know, Jim hasn’t told his wife anything.
I don’t know why I’m having such a problem with this, but I don’t think it’s right that our entire family knows about the abuse, yet Jim’s wife is kept in the dark. My real concern is that Jim and his wife just had a baby girl, and I want to protect her. I’ve considered sending Jim’s wife an anonymous letter, but then I think about Jackie, and I don’t want her to be hurt anymore.
I think Jim is getting off easy by not telling his wife about his past. Please advise. – Stuck in Phoenix
Dear Phoenix: You may have cause for concern, but try not to usurp Jackie’s authority to tell Jim’s wife. Discuss it with your sister and explain that you worry about your niece and that Jackie would never forgive herself if something happened that she could have prevented. It is a good sign that Jim is so willing to admit the abuse and get therapy, and we suggest she take him up on the offer.
Dear Annie: I am writing in response to the letter from “Concerned Grandparents,” whose grandson says he has times when he “spaces out.”
Please tell the grandparents that this could be a sign of petit mal epileptic seizures. Our daughter also had that kind of problem when she was 11. She eventually had a grand mal seizure, and that’s how we learned she had epilepsy. The mother of that boy needs to have him seen by a neurologist. – Vermont
Dear Vermont: Another reader also suggested a neurologist, saying the boy could have a brain tumor. We hope the parents will have their son examined thoroughly.