Becoming Visible

photo by patricia

Stevie, my one younger brother, emails rarely and does so in group form adding my name to the list with the other three remaining siblings including Tom. It has always bothered me as Tom is the worst offender due to the psychological abuse suffered after his crime which has never stopped even throughout adulthood. Family members seem used to his covert comments about me. 

An email came yesterday, innocent enough. Though I love to hear from Stevie, being in a list with Tom causes my inner core to fracture. It takes the rest of the day to feel restored. In the night after waking in the dark, sleep would not return. It is time to let Stevie know that including me in his group email causes pain and why.

I have been inclined to keep my thoughts to myself because I don’t want to add pain to Stevie’s life after the loss of his daughter four years ago. Becoming visible is very hard— crossing the taboo line that sexual abuse draws.  I dare to cross it, over, and over again. I must. If I don’t stand up for myself, who will? And Stevie is an adult who can handle hearing my preference and why. 

Hi Stevie,

I’d like to be left off emails that include Tom. It brings up a lot of bad memories that interfere with sleeping. He is the worst offender of all four due to the way I was treated all the years after he sexually abused me. I was only 9 when he crept up in the night and committed the crime. He was home from college. You were on the other end of the couch as we had been allowed to fall asleep watching the Christmas tree.

The way he treated me since that shattering moment harmed me more than all I have endured and suffered. He caused great damage that could not resolve because he never apologized or took responsibility. Even in middle age sitting at my table right here, he made remarks to you about how dumb I was when buying this house.

I sat as if invisible while he made the usual sly, cutting remarks and no one thought anything about it. It seemed OK to belittle me. And that is what he has done, albeit slyly, since I was a child… snickered cruel remarks that made me look bad.  

He is not safe for me. He has never shown sorrow for his crime or actions. To be in a group email that includes him causes deep pain as if I still don’t exist because all I went through is not being acknowledged.

Thank you Stevie,


24 thoughts on “Becoming Visible

  1. A very brace piece. Thank you for sharing. I hope you find solace and emotional reprieve for taking this step to ensure your safety and build strengthened boundaries.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, overnight I came to terms with whatever response I received knowing that I did what I needed to for myself.
      This morning I received an email with a true apology.
      I really love the way you put that, the wording—-” emotional reprieve for taking this step to ensure your safety and build strengthened boundaries.”
      It is a long, slow journey…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It takes courage to take your stance. I think that is wonderful. I wish I could do that more often. I really like the idea of becoming more visible. I am having a large gathering at my house this weekend and I do intend on being visible and my most authentic self. Thanks for the reminder.
    I always enjoy your pictures. They really connected me to the beauty and magic of nature.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is huge. That you set this boundary. That you spoke this boundary and made it clear!
    The loss of his child is horribly tragic but it really is a completely separate issue from him adding you to an email list that causes YOU great pain. It was definitely time. I’m so glad you did this and I really hope your voice is given respect

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bethany. Your words stuck with me all day yesterday and meant a great deal. The support here is not found anywhere else and there are so many times that it’s needed.
      My voice was given respect. He emailed back letting me know he didn’t intentionally do it to hurt me and apologized. I was ready for a nasty response, or whatever response came because I knew deep down I did what I needed to for myself. I have to take care of me and my sanity.
      But his response was a pleasant surprise. And a relief.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh my gosh how wonderful!!! You got a respected reply. I am just so happy for you. To set that boundary and to have it respected is reason to really celebrate. I would have been waiting too with the unknown and not knowing what on earth would come in reply.
        I’m so glad I could be supportive. I so agree that the support and understanding found here is rare compared to the people around us who just do not always “get” it.
        I’m truly happy for you. I cannot imagine writing that email was easy but you coming to a place where you knew it was time is just such growth and self love.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thank you Bethany!
          Imagine, being so relieved that respectful courtesy is given, something one ought to be used to.
          Being an adult from a family system where I was sexually attacked as a child, I’d hoped and longed for more. No one wants to know—not ever.
          A respectful courteous interchange seems miraculous.
          I’m glad he acted humane instead of some of what I’ve received or didn’t receive from others.
          A child survives trauma after trauma with no intervention, then as an adult she is re-traumatized by the same people that call themselves family.
          I have been rejected, denied, silenced, received silence, treated with disdain, and is if I were a bug to swat away.
          Maybe there is something worth saving with Stevie.


          1. It is profoundly tragic how a family can do this to you. Continual abuse. Continual dismissal.
            And yes, whenever I confront someone with a boundary now I am so shocked when they come back with respect and understanding it is as if a miracle has just occurred and THAT is sad that I have been conditioned to be shut down and berated for the truth. Same as you. Such similar families. The ending of my story was that no one came back. Everyone left and I have had 2 years without any of them. 2 years to be free of their abuse that I did not process was that bad until they were all gone.
            Just setting that boundary with Stevie and him replying with understanding is beautiful. It shifts the scale of abuse to a little bit of balance with some good. And I am truly happy for you that you finally got the good you deserve. I am praying that he remains respectful of you. You’ve had enough disrespect!

            Liked by 1 person

          2. Yes, very similar. Your family is missing so much. My hope is that some or all come around and that there’s a way to interact that feels safe and good for you.
            Stevie and I probably won’t interact much. Maybe next summer we will stay at the lake again and I’ll see him then but we don’t talk on the phone or email at all. I send chatty emails now and then trying to inquire about him but he rarely writes back. I email his wife occasionally and she always sends a reply, but I don’t that much either because she doesn’t want too much closeness either. I find that with friends, Samuel and my sons.


          3. I know my family will never come back. In my heart I know that and a few relatives have told me in the last few years. They hate me. They won’t be coming back if they hate. That is their choice. All of it. So i have to be ok with that and move on from them.
            The important thing is that you spoke your boundaries and Stevie respected them. That is a big first step in your body knowing you can protect it and getting a positive response from him is affirmation that boundaries with your family can be set and you can be safe.
            I’m really glad you have Samuel and your sons to give the love you deserve

            Liked by 1 person

  4. I know this isn’t an easy thin to do; to become visible, and I know it hurts to have to keep standing up for yourself, over and over. I’m glad that you know you are worth standing up for, and I hope that Stevie responds with kindness and understanding. 💟

    Liked by 1 person

    1. He did! Unlike Seth’s response which was cold and horrible. I expected the worst. Was prepared for it, and for total separation from him if that’s what might happen.
      I am relieved that he sincerely apologized and said he hadn’t meant anything by it.
      Thank you Alice…


  5. Acceptance and letting go of an ideal response or outcome can be difficult but sometimes it is actually lighter then the load of the expectation we desire. Yes, doing it for yourself is what is in fact the authentic motion needed.

    Thank you 🙂

    I just realised I wrote brace instead of brave. Damn the spellcheck on my phone!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I either didn’t notice the spelling or it didn’t matter because I knew what you meant.
      I just love the way you word your thoughts…”authentic motion”…
      That makes so much sense, to move forward with the surety of one’s decision no matter what the other person does—

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you 🙂 and again I enjoyed reading your piece. Very validating for myself as well as reading that you reclaimed your worthiness. 🌸

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Sometimes responses can surprise us, it is true that we gear ourselves up for a battle after speaking up for oneself. I am glad Stevie responded positively to you, this is also validation that you were right to speak your truth and to always believe and trust in it. Fair play to ye !

    Liked by 1 person

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