Sexually abusive brother-in-law


Sexually abusive brother-in-law


your avatar   Nicole, 19-year-old woman

For a while now, my sister's husband has been trying to get with me. What I mean is, when I get out of the shower and he's home with my sister and nephew, he will come downstairs and push me onto my bed and try and get me to have sex with him. I tell him no, but I can't say it loud enough for my family to hear because I don't know what my brother-in-law will do if I do that.

One time while I was watching TV he called to say he was coming over. I told him that my sister wasn't home - he said that he didn't care. So he came over anyway and asked for something, and when I went downstairs to get it he followed me and pushed me against the wall and started going down my pants. I couldn't stop him because he had my arms up against the wall and was using the other hand to do things to me that I didn't want him to. He tried going further but someone came home, so he pulled up his pants, ran upstairs and left me there.

What am I supposed to do? I don't know whether to tell my family because I don't think he will admit to doing it. I mean, I have told them before but my family doesn't believe me; they only think I am making it up. What can I do if my family doesn't believe me? I am scared to be around him, even when my family is with me.


    Jef Gazley, M.S., LMFT, LPC, LISAC, DCC

Dear Nicole,

Nicole, you are in a very difficult and delicate position. My guess is that you have been trying to figure out a way that you can get him to stop his inappropriate behavior, without anyone getting mad at you. I am sorry to say that I don't think that is going to happen. It should happen, but often people get angry at the messenger, even if that messenger is the victim.

Any sexual advances that you have made clear are unwanted constitute sexual abuse. There is nothing you can do legally, unless he has raped you or been forceful enough to charge him with assault and battery. What you can do is get angry. From your email you sound scared, but also guilty and apologetic, as if it is your fault. If you have said no and you have refrained from flirting with him, then you have nothing to recriminate yourself with.

You wrote that you have said no to him and told your parents, but they don't believe you. Although abuse is never the victims fault, there are some common characteristics of people who get victimized often. Often, they are rather passive, and have an attitude that either conveys to people that they are guilty of something, or that they will put up with poor treatment because they don't feel worthy enough to fight back.

If you are displaying these traits then your brother-in-law and your parents will not take you seriously. Yes, if you say something, your sister's marriage might break up. Given this guy's behavior, it sounds as if that would be no great loss for your sister.

Remember, you have been the one who has been mistreated. Get angry and forceful enough that they have to believe you and don't be afraid to make a scene or have people get upset. They should be upset, and there should be a scene.

Still, if no one believes you then make sure that you are never in the room alone with this guy again. It doesn't matter if no one understands or gets angry at you. It is better to be abandoned by another person than to abandon yourself.

Good luck and I hope that they listen.

Jef Gazley, M.S., LMFT

This question was answered by Jef Gazley M.S. Jef has practiced psychotherapy for twenty-five years, specializing in Love Addiction, Hypnotherapy, Relationship Management, Dysfunctional Families, Co-Dependency, Professional Coaching, and Trauma Issues. He is a trained counselor in EMDR, NET, TFT, and Applied Kinesiology. He is dedicated to guiding individuals to achieving a life long commitment to mental health and relationship mastery. His private practice locations are Scottsdale and Tempe, Arizona. You can also visit Jef at the internettherapist, the first audiovisual mental health online counseling center on the net.For more information visit:

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