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Molested by my cousin

Valerie wrote:

I was molested when I was in elementary school by my cousin who is 8 years older than me. I'm 21 now, and it's starting to bother me.

He would perform oral sex and do other things, he never penetrated. It would always happen at night and I would pretend like I was sleeping beause I didn't know what to do.

I never told anyone. It stopped all of a sudden a couple months later, thank god. I had to maintain a good relationship with him because no one else knew what happened.

My family loves him to death because he is the only one in our family besides myself to make something of themselves.

I used to blame it on the fact that he was a teenager, and that he had raging hormones. I still hope that was the case because I would hate to think that he had done this to any other children.

What concerns me most is that he is a lifeguard for a very popular beach. Should I be concerned that he may be doing this to others? Secondly, should I tell my boyfriend what happened? He and my cousin have a good relationship and if this really was just a phase thing than I would hate to ruin his relationships and reputation that he has worked so hard to establish.

I have forgiven him for everything that happened, I hold no grudges or anything but I am worried about what he may
do to others if it is still happening.

Dear Valerie

There are two separate issues here; then and now.

What happened to then you was wrong - but exactly how wrong depends on all sorts of things; the issue is how mature he was at the time (I'm not clear exactly how old he would have been) and whether he knew what he was doing.

But you were wronged, in any case, and as you say, it's starting to bother you - and no, you have not forgiven him (and I'm not saying you should have). You need to find someone to discuss this with, probably a counsellor or someone else not closely connected.

Unless this matter is directly affecting your relationship with your boyfriend, I can't see that he needs to know right now.

As to 'punishing' your cousin after all this time, that's for you to decide, as only you know the cirumstances and his intentions and state of mind.

"Now" is a very different issue. With you, he had access, and this may have been, as you surmised, a 'hormone thing' - that doesn't make it right, but it does affect the level of risk, if any, that he now presents to others. Does he have access; does he have those intentions? You've told me nothing about his current relationships with either sex, other than his 'good' relationship with your family and your boyfriend.

I'm very much a realist; I'd say if he's no risk to others - and you can really move on - then leave it. Not because that's right, but because there will be plenty of hurt to go round.

But if you are paralysed by these memories, and cannot move on - or if you believe others are at risk. Then you must act, and soon.

Whatever you decide, I'd very strongly advise you to discuss this in detail and depth with a qualified advisor outside of your daily life. Someone who can listen, and allow you to focus your feelings.

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