My brother who sexually abused me as a child has died – why do I feel guilty?

My brother who sexually abused me as a child has died – why do I feel guilty?


DEAR DEIDRE: WHEN I was eight, I was sexually abused by my brother. He was in his mid-teens. I never told anyone – they wouldn’t believe me.

He was my mum’s favourite and always made her laugh.

He was everyone’s favourite, in fact, so I kept what he did to myself.

I got to believe it was somehow my fault.

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He died this year from lung cancer aged 50 and it feels weird.

I’m now a woman of 43 and never married, though I moved away from my home town 20 years ago.

I feel sad for Mum . . . but why do I feel guilty too?

DEIDRE SAYS: I’m sorry you have kept all the hurt of the abuse to yourself and even felt it was somehow your fault.

Sadly, abuse victims often do take the guilt on to themselves.

Now your brother has died, it is natural you don’t share the grief you feel is expected from you.

You are left with this terrible secret inside and you need help to accept it wasn’t your fault.

Find understanding through the National Association for People Abused in Childhood (, 0808 801 0331).

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