My husband and I have been married eight years. He works with his brother—they’re pretty close, although they’ve drifted apart over the years thanks to his brother’s hard-partying lifestyle. (My husband and I have a family.) Before we got married, my husband and I had an on-again/off-again relationship. During one of those times, his brother and I remained good friends, and he set me up with a co-worker of his. This co-worker ended up drugging and raping me. It took me a long time to accept that this happened, and I never filed charges. We had been dating for a few months; I’d met his mom and daughter, we’d been intimate many times. It just didn’t make sense.
Now, years later, my husband tells me he overheard his brother bragging to guys on their crew about how his friend would date a girl, then drug her and videotape himself raping her to show others. He also informs me he’d seen this tape of his previous assaults many years ago (his brother had a copy) and never told me. For years I wanted to believe my brother-in-law didn’t know his friend was going to hurt me. Now knowing he practically orchestrated it is tearing me up. The fact that my husband saw this video years ago and never told me has been a crushing blow.
I want to confront my brother-in-law so much and being around him at get-togethers is painful. The problem is he has spiraled in these years from playboy to drug addict and is increasingly self-destructive. If by confronting him I tip him into an overdose, not only would that cause me more pain, I don’t know what would happen between my husband and me. That’s my other problem. This puts my husband in a very tangled middle. I want him to do something but then I don’t know what to expect from him. He carries on like nothing has happened and when I told him it makes me feel worthless that someone can do this to me and not even be confronted, he responds that I’m not going to put a wedge between him and his brother. What should I do?
—Not So Secret
A: I am so sorry that you have been assaulted and betrayed by not one but three men you believed you could trust. Your husband is not in the “very tangled middle” of anything. He and his brother have both known for years that the man who drugged and raped you is a habitual, unrepentant predator who makes a habit of recording and boasting about his crimes, and neither of them have done anything either to protect you or to prevent him from raping again. That he would accuse you now of trying to drive a wedge in between him and his brother by objecting to his continued silence beggars belief. Moreover, if you spoke to your brother-in-law you would not be in any way responsible if he were to later overdose. What your husband and his brother have done is so far beyond the pale of acceptable human behavior that any sort of reconciliation is not only impossible, it’s undesirable. You should not have to spend another night in the same house as a man who saw a video of your rapist’s assaults, knows the same thing later happened to you, and said nothing until now. Your husband is not a good man. His brother is not a good man. Neither one of them deserve your love or your trust. They are not the men you thought they were.
I imagine that right now you must feel disoriented and completely without support. Please consider seeing a therapist who specializes in sexual assault and trauma. You deserve the chance to talk about this with someone who doesn’t try to convince you to “get over it” or keep the peace in the family. Then, at some point you can decide if and how you’d like to contact any authorities (it’s possible you would not be the first to say something, should you choose to). If you need to speak to someone now, or anytime, please call the National Sexual Assault Hotline (1-800-656-HOPE)—it’s free and confidential.