Should I Tell My Dad and Brother that I’m a Survivor?

Lately I’ve been expanding my support system. Nearly all of the people closest to me know what happened. I even told my mom recently which was a big step. The only people that I am closest to who don’t know are my dad and brother.

My dad almost found out today. As we watched the news together, there was a story about campus sexual assaults. Our conversation led me telling him about a large survey done on my campus last year which revealed that, consistent with national statistics, one in four students on campus are survivors. He didn’t know it was so common and was pretty horrified by that.

“Please tell me you’re not the one in four,” he said.

I paused. It was so spur of the moment. I wasn’t ready to tell him. I hesitated. And then said no. It was hard to lie to him, but I’m just not ready to tell him.

Why not?

My reasons for keeping this from my dad and brother are pretty much the same:

I’m not very close with either of them.
It’s pretty hard to open up to someone who you don’t already have a good relationship with.

It would be a ridiculously awkward conversation.
How do I even bring it up? What if I start crying? I know they’ll get super uncomfortable, too. The whole thing would just be a painful experience, I think.

They won’t handle it well.
My dad will be speechless and then spew generic responses because he doesn’t know how to talk about anything with emotion (“This is so sad.” “I’m so sorry.” on an infinite loop). He will also, understandably, be horrified that six people could do this to his little girl.

I’m afraid of them saying something stupid or insensitive.
“Were you drinking? Did you fight back? Did you report it? What exactly happened?” These are all questions I wouldn’t be surprised to hear from them.

They might ask who did it.
They know most of my exes and might ask if it was them. I don’t want to discuss those details with them. They know three of the six people who assaulted me and two two of them were in my brother’s boy scout troupe. Nope. They don’t need to know.

It could change the relationship.
What if they look at my differently? Think of me differently? Stereotype me?

They don’t need to know.
Really, what’s the benefit? I see none whatsoever. I don’t see it bringing us closer together. The only good it could do is to open their eyes about an issue that neither of them know much about.

But maybe I should do it anyway.

My boyfriend is helping me realize more and more that not telling them is essentially lying by omission. He makes a good point, but frankly I have no problem with not being entirely open and honest with them. I’m not obligated to tell them. I should, sure, but I don’t have to. There’s a small possibility that I’ll tell them someday, but chances are they’ll never know.

Have you told parents/family members about experiencing sexual assault? How did it go? What were the pros and cons? Any tips in case I change my mind?

Thank you for reading this article. You can find my full backstory here.


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