My brother-in-law (I’ll call him Tom) has always been flirty with me, but not in a gross way – just normal guy stuff. I knew him before he knew my sister (who I’ll call Heather), I’m 37 and he’s about 5 years older, she is 2 years younger than me.
I own a multi-family home with Heather, I live in my apartment and she rents out her apartment because she and Tom and their son have a single family house about a half mile away.
I recently moved back to this house because I got out of a tumultuous relationship. I had also just had a miscarriage (with the ex’s baby, so nature made the right decision for me) literally about 4 days before moving.
I was happy to be home with my son. I felt safe. I felt calm. I felt like I could heal there.
One day about a week after I had moved, Tom texted me to tell me he was going to be at the house to cut the lawn and to clean out the basement a bit. When I got home with my son, Tom was there and had definitely been drinking. He’s not a big drinker so it was a little strange that it was a weekday afternoon when he started on the beers. But I attributed it to a rough day and he wanted to relax.
At the time, I was still smoking, and I was outside on the porch having one and he came up to me from behind and pushed himself against me. I could feel it. I moved away, laughing nervously and said “OMG stop!!!” Like I said, he had always flirted and he’s very sarcastic and jokes a lot. He came up to me again and talked into my ear about how bad he wanted me and just wanted me to let him touch my butt. I again said “no” and moved away, the ‘whispery’ type voice in my ear was creeping me out.
My son was inside the house playing in his room, so when I went in shortly after that, Tom came in to say hi to his nephew. I was in the kitchen when Tom grabbed my hand and pulled me into the bathroom. I said “What are you doing? Stop”. He closed the door behind us. He continued with that creepy voice, reached up under my dress, yanked my underwear down and put his hand on me, rubbing it around. I was in shock. I said “Stop it! No, this isn’t right, come on!”
At that moment I felt like I was outside of my body. My brain was going “Is this really happening”? and simultaneously thinking “I’m probably still bleeding from the miscarriage, is he going to hurt me?” The only thing I remember next is him pushing my head down towards the sink and saying “Come ON!”, he took my hand and made me touch him. I held it for a few seconds in fear but then let go. I was mortified. This is my SISTER’S husband. I said no, I said stop, I did NOT ask for this.
Because I had been in a physically abusive relationship before, I automatically start to panic when the tone of voice changes, and his “Come ON!” scared me. Would I have been able to physically push him away from me? Probably. Why didn’t I? I HAVE NO IDEA and it is killing me. I remember thinking “Oh my god, he’s going to rape me!” WHY didn’t I fight back? I’ve never physically hurt anyone nor have I ever had to fight anyone off me.
I also knew my 5 year old son was in the next room. I didn’t want to scare him. I heard him yell to me “Mama! Where are you?” I took advantage of this moment, knowing that Tom wouldn’t want my son to know he was in the bathroom with me – and that my son could easily open the bathroom door (it doesn’t lock). I said “I’m in the bathroom, just peeing – I’ll be out in a second!”
I was able to get Tom’s hand out from my underwear, but he held me against the sink until he finished on my back. I cleaned myself off and got out of the bathroom. Tom kept saying “obviously we can’t tell anyone about this” and it’s as if he thought the only “wrongdoing” was that he cheated on his wife with her sister.
He went into the basement and I locked my door.
I got texts a few days later asking how I was and he asked if I liked it. I wrote back telling him that I will NOT talk about this anymore. I told him I felt extremely violated and ashamed, and that I felt like he took advantage of my vulnerability from my breakup, and from the miscarriage.
He still didn’t seem to understand. He thinks “we” just had a little affair. I think he sexually assaulted me. I have not told my sister. I am struggling with this. I want her to know because I would want to know of my husband of 9 years did this. But I also don’t want to be the cause of her family breaking apart and uprooting EVERYTHING. I also believe that Tom will vehemently deny this, or at least deny it was forced.
I’m terrified of the effect this would have on Heather, her son, my entire family, and everyone that knows us. I’m terrified that Tom would be enraged with me. I’m terrified that people would blame me for not fighting back harder. I said no, stop, no, stop – over and over. I never once invited this. I froze in the moment and just let him do his thing as I closed my eyes to keep the tears from coming out. I didn’t push him away physically. Why? WHY didn’t I fight back????
I plan to see a therapist about this, just haven’t made the call yet. This happened in July. It’s the end of September. I struggle with guilt and “why didn’t I fight back?” every single day.
I struggle with whether or not to tell my sister.
This has caused me to avoid family gatherings. My parents do a lot with Heather and Tom. (Vacations, day trips, etc.) I don’t have as much in common so it’s not unusual that I’m not with them. But it’s going to be harder around the holidays. I have a hard time even looking Heather in the eyes, never mind being around Tom. The guilt is horrible. Why do I feel guilty when I did nothing wrong? Could I have physically fought him off? I don’t know. But I didn’t try – and that’s why I feel so guilty.
I don’t know how I’m going to move past this.