Relationship My older sister is terrified of me nowadays, because of the way I reacted to her rape.

Thanks everyone, for your comments. Sigh. I'm full of remorse and sadness these days. I can't imagine how hard it is to be my sister right now. I want to be the one she can depend on.
If you want to be the one she depends on, you have a lot of learning and growing to do.
Do you now see that:
1) she can wear as much or as little as she wants. It doesn't invite rape.
2) the only thing that stops rape is people not doing the raping.
3) that you re assess your language and your empathy.
4) that you learn about the impact of rape to help you with reassessing your language and empathy
5) that you don't make people do things against her will
6) that you learn how traumatising reporting rape to the police is
7) that you learn and understand about her right to autonomy, and anyone else's.

You have a lot you need to address about yourself here before she can even remotely relie on you. And you need to do some deep work and take absolute responsibility for your actions. Anything less and you're doing her a disservice with any apology as it won't go deep enough to repair the damage you did to the relationship.
 
I think you are getting a lot of stick here. Fair play for coming on here any saying I know I didn’t get it right, I want to work on it and for hearing the criticism.

You know you didn’t react well. I don’t know anyone here who reacts perfectly in any situation. Especially not that one. There’s a reason officers/rape crisis centres get lots of additional training in how to handle it.

I get it with the clothes thing, I really do. Yes women should be allowed to wear whatever they want. Yes the only person responsible for rapes is the rapist BUT when you are in a sketchy area with sketchy dudes you gotta do what you gotta do to make it *not be you*. And that includes all the shitty stuff women have to do just to be safe. It shouldn’t be so, but it is.

I get you were angry but you misplaced it from the attacker onto your sister. I get that you wanted to preserve evidence for justice but you just went about it in a way that did cause harm to your sister.

I would recommend therapy for yourself to help you process your feelings & maybe help you find healthier ways to cope under stress.

I think your sister is going to need lots of time. Have you properly taken responsibility for your reactions & apologised and spoken to her, or is she not in a place she can do that? I would maybe suggest after some time & some therapy for you, ask your sister if you may possibly write her a letter, so she has time and space to process, to apologise & let her know you know you didn’t go about things the right way, how much you care for her and basically a proper apology. She is going to need a lot of time, and she might need a lot of space from you and you need to give her that.
 
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I know it’s probably been harped on too much at this point. But there’s other who share the same view of the clothes mattering and personal responsibility. I agree that personal responsibility should always be a thing and to not deliberately put yourself in certain situations.

However, it wouldn’t have mattered what she wore and I think everyone needs to remember that. She wasn’t chosen because she was sexier or anything like that. She was chosen because she fit the demographic the man was looking for and she was at the right place at the right time. It wouldn’t have mattered if she’d been in a sweatshirt and jeans, it still would have happened because she fit his mold and was right there for him.
 
I am an adopted child. I am ethnically Okinawan, and I was adopted by a Japanese-American family. My adoptive family is the best family I could ever ask for, and I’m so grateful. I have sibling, an older sister. Up until recently, she has always been so kind and compassionate to me, and we got along so well. I love her.

A few months ago, my sister was visiting my city, and she stayed over at my apartment. She’s a very athletic girl, so she used to frequently go out on runs. She used to go on her runs wearing the most provocative clothes, like tank tops, sports bras, short shorts, that kinds of stuff. I happen to live in a rather sketchy part of the city, so every time she went out running half-naked, I used to worry a little bit for her safety.

One day, near the end of her stay at my apartment, she went out for her run wearing nothing but a low-cut spaghetti strap sports bra and short shorts. She went out for about two hours, and when she came back, she was crying hysterically, and she was sweating so much that I thought there was something physically wrong with her. She tearfully told me that while she was out on her run, somebody tripped her and raped her. I was crushed when she told me this, but at the exact same time, I was so angry at her for dressing up so provocatively. She told me that she was going to take a shower, but instead, I told her that we were going to the hospital right away. She whined that she felt “so disgusting” but I wasn’t hearing any of it. She begged me to at least let her grab a shirt to wear to the hospital, but I told her that in order to preserve as much physical evidence as possible, she was absolutely not allowed to shower or wear a shirt or change out of her sports bra and shorts. I grabbed her arm and dragged her down to the car, and we went to the emergency room. She couldn’t stop crying during the entire drive and the wait at the hospital. While we were waiting to see the doctor, she whined that she really wanted a shirt to wear, so in the heat of the moment, I bluntly told her that this was all her fault, and that she made her bed and she ought to lie in it. When I told her this, she just whimpered. Looking back, I really regret saying this to her.

Nowadays, she acts as if I’m the one who raped her. She is terrified of me, and she cries so much in my presence these days. The tough, tomboyish, cheerful sister that I have always known is gone. She is currently in therapy for her trauma, but every time I am in her presence, I can tell that she's doing her best not to cry. How do I get her back?
You don't get her back. You give her agency to choose what SHE wants.

And clothes are not "provocative." I can understand why she is upset. Do what is best for her and let her choose what she wants. Sit with your feelings, as uncomfortable as they are.

I think you are getting a lot of stick here. Fair play for coming on here any saying I know I didn’t get it right, I want to work on it and for hearing the criticism.

You know you didn’t react well. I don’t know anyone here who reacts perfectly in any situation. Especially not that one. There’s a reason officers/rape crisis centres get lots of additional training in how to handle it.

I get it with the clothes thing, I really do. Yes women should be allowed to wear whatever they want. Yes the only person responsible for rapes is the rapist BUT when you are in a sketchy area with sketchy dudes you gotta do what you gotta do to make it *not be you*. And that includes all the shitty stuff women have to do just to be safe. It shouldn’t be so, but it is.

I get you were angry but you misplaced it from the attacker onto your sister. I get that you wanted to preserve evidence for justice but you just went about it in a way that did cause harm to your sister.

I would recommend therapy for yourself to help you process your feelings & maybe help you find healthier ways to cope under stress.

I think your sister is going to need lots of time. Have you properly taken responsibility for your reactions & apologised and spoken to her, or is she not in a place she can do that? I would maybe suggest after some time & some therapy for you, ask your sister if you may possibly write her a letter, so she has time and space to process, to apologise & let her know you know you didn’t go about things the right way, how much you care for her and basically a proper apology. She is going to need a lot of time, and she might need a lot of space from you and you need to give her that.
I'm not blaming the victim, but ....

And i know for a fact I'm not in the top three of people hurt by reading this.

That wasn't the point of why I wrote it. But just on that note...as a man, I've always been slightly embarrassed by my older sister's tendency to show off as much skin as possible. It's unnecessary. That's just my opinion.
Then don't be around her, if she embarasses you.
 
Nowadays, she acts as if I’m the one who raped her. She is terrified of me, and she cries so much in my presence these days. The tough, tomboyish, cheerful sister that I have always known is gone. She is currently in therapy for her trauma, but every time I am in her presence, I can tell that she's doing her best not to cry. How do I get her back?

You are never going to have the same relationship with your sister that you had prior to this. Even if you apologize. You have demonstrated that when push comes to shove, your sister cannot be vulnerable around you. Or act in a way that you personally disapprove of, or that you consider "wrong" or a "mistake." You have shown your sister that you only care about your own emotions, not about hers, even when something egregious and horrific happens to her.

In your attempt to be remorseful, it was mostly about the fact that you regret that your sister doesn't "look up to you" any longer. This is not good enough, and I wonder if you have expressed any degree of contrition to her at all? Maybe, if you dedicate time and effort and energy to bettering yourself as a person, and committing yourself to the process of restorative justice, maybe you can develop some kind of rapport again.

But how it was before? The cheerful, happy-go-lucky, trusting person you knew? You're not going to know that again. Because of you, your sister is dealing with an unfathomable degree of blame, shame, loss of personal agency, and loss of dignity. That is why she is crying. That is the damage you cause when you react to rape in a way that is almost as traumatizing as the rape itself. This is not really something that you can wish on a star to fix.

Sometimes the damage you do to other people is permanent. If nothing else, let this be a lesson to you going forward.
 
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Sufferers, this is the supporter section. If it triggers you, scroll on past. If you cannot be helpful to the supporter asking questions then this isn’t the place to post. There is the whole rest of the forum to browse.
 
Do you have a therapist of your own?
I just want to clarify this question.

I mentioned in your introduction that you may have been traumatized yourself, and in this thread it seems more like it, at least to me. You were there day of, you wanted to help, and now both of you have a drastically different relationship.

Regardless of the clothing discussion, I think I'd like to reiterate that you did experience criteria A trauma according to the DMS-5:
Learning that the traumatic event(s) occurred to a close family member or close friend. In cases of actual or threatened death of a family member or friend, the event(s) must have been violent or accidental.
source: Exhibit 1.3-4, DSM-5 Diagnostic Criteria for PTSD - Trauma-Informed Care in Behavioral Health Services - NCBI Bookshelf

And, in a moment like this, whether you were prepared to act perfectly as if you were a trained crisis counselor or not, it's not surprising that you feel so bad about this to me.

Which is why I'm wondering if you have a therapist to help you through any of this.

If it's any consolation, I've been assaulted multiple times and got different reactions from different people. Most were negative reactions. Some of those people I still love and know they didn't mean to harm me and just wanted to help. I have since worked through those feelings on my own and am no longer angry or unforgiving towards them, though the other person did have to earn my trust again, AND I had to go through the work to forgive on my own.

Point being, it's not a lost cause, even if your dynamic is different. You have a chance to form an even stronger bond now.

And, I'd like to reiterate a second point, which is that unless we go through rigorous training, we do not know how we'll react. I HAVE had moment where I reacted "perfectly" to others' trauma.

When my sister got raped last year, though, despite having a "good" reaction and being supportive afterwards, it was not only difficult to do that while I was so angry that she wouldn't agree to going to the rape crisis center, but when I initially found out, I was panicked about it. It's a lot different when it's someone close to you.

I strongly feel that the anger you were showing wasn't about your sister, even if you think it was. Feel free to correct me always, but it seems from my perspective that you were reacting to the trauma as well, and were dealing with the utter helplessness that comes with this sort of trauma.

Which could have led you to worry that it was something she had done, like wearing the wrong clothing despite your direction, or to take enough control back by soothing your own anxiety in a way (taking her to the ER)

If anything, it's possible she thinks you're ashamed of her. It's not too late, now that you've calmed down, to at least write her a note and let her know that you wish you had reacted differently, for example.

Yes, there were better ways to react, and it's terrible that it went poorly, but you are just as human as your sister. I'm sure the entire family is broken hearted about this, not least of all you and your sister.

So, do you have a therapist or do you plan on getting one? You may need one just as much as your sister does

ETA: I don't mean to say you definitely have PTSD or that your sister does -- in fact the amount of support in the moment and throughout may help to treat your traumas before it gets to that point. I'm no doctor and don't mean to appear to be diagnosing anyone, but just wanted to make sure you at least know that it WAS trauma as, as we know, we don't always know how we'll react in such situations
 
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Looking back, I really regret saying this to her.

How do I get her back?
Oh my, you basically blamed her for being the victim of a crime. It sounds like you realize the error of your speech (and hopefully line of thinking). If this is the case, you can probably help her a lot by saying that you remember that you said this, and that you did some reading and learning and reflecting and now see how that was the worst and most wrong thing you could have possibly said and you see how damaging that could be (extremely, deeply). Then you need to explain what makes it so wrong, to show that you really understand. And then you validate her feelings, saying that you understand why she would be really traumatized by those words and that you totally understand if she doesn't feel safe around you. Tell her you love her and that you are terrified and upset by what happened and so angry at the person who did this and that it was definitely NOT her fault, no matter what she was wearing (make sure you really believe that, too). Then you give her space and agency to decide if she wants to talk to you again, and you respect her wishes.

Importantly, you also grieve. You grieve the sense of safety that you both felt and that has since been shattered, and you grieve the fact that someone did something so violent to someone you love.

People generally don't just move on from rape and resume their former personalities and sense of safety. Her personality may come back slowly, like a spring that is refilling with water, but it's a slow process. I definitely encourage you to read about rape trauma syndrome (you can look it up on Google) and how people heal from rape.

Don't forget to take care of yourself and consider how this affected you in terms of your own sense of security and safety in the world. Definitely get therapy, if you can. This wasn't her fault, and it wasn't your fault either. When someone hurts a person the way this rapist hurt your sister, they also hurt the people who love the victim (including you).

Importantly, if you really did blame her, you wouldn't have preserved evidence and taken her to the hospital. Your actions show that you really care about and love her and understand that this was a crime and not her fault. You clearly want the perpetrator to be caught and for there to be justice. You did all that while saying something that was hurtful and inconsistent with the logic conveyed by your actions, which says to me that you were really deeply distressed and probably still are. This was traumatic for you as well and I really hope you can get good support. So glad you are in this forum. You are in the right place.
 
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