Thank you for trusting JustAnswer with your important question.
I am sorry to hear about your sister's abuse.
What you are going through is common. Many siblings and other family members can really question things when they find out about abuse. They worry about what they missed, why they weren't able to stop it, and like you they wonder if that means others were also hurt.
Sometimes we see "survivors guilt" when siblings feel like they should have also been hurt, or hurt instead of, their abused sibling.
Since you have no memories of abuse, then try not to panic. Most abuse survivors do maintain some of their memories of the abuse, even if they only remember a small snippet of a traumatic event, before they enter therapy.
And many survivors who don't have a clear memory of the abuse still have a strong feeling that something is not right, or that certain people are not safe, or have a strong feeling that they have been "running away from things" internally.
Right now you need to be there to support her, and deal with your own grief at learning that this has happened. You're going to have a lot of emotions, from depression to anger to fear to guilt. It's just part of the process of learning that someone you love very much had carried a painful secret that you didn't know about and couldn't help them deal with before now.
There is no guarantee that you weren't abused, given the frequency with this this happens to female children in our society. But the biggest damage we see is the damage abuse survivors do when trying to run from or avoid their abuse memories.
And you're not aware of that type of thinking happening inside of you, right?
I think it's human nature. We want to protect ourselves, and we want to empathize with the other person. So the first thing we normally do with bad news is try to see how it matches our own lives.
Kind of like when one kid gets lice and all the kids itch. Or when a friend discovers a lump and we all suddenly worry about breast cancer in our own bodies.
Then try to see the worry as a normal part of your grief process at hearing her news. Just don't get stuck there and don't beat yourself up. You're not selfishly making this about yourself. Your brain is just looking to see if you're in any immediate danger by reviewing your own environment and memories. They it will move on and be able to focus on her.
Yes, that's part of the survivors guilt.
You want her to be ok and you want her to have hope that she can be ok.
It's never too late to start trying to heal.
You're going to see a similar, but probably much stronger version, of this same thing when your mom finds out.
It's horrific, but it also makes us wonder "How did no one see those changes?" and "What could have been different if I had ____"
And you start grieving how differently her life could have been if this hadn't happened.
This type of secret rocks everyone to their very core beliefs.
That's ok for now, but at some point it will probably be something she has to do as part of her recovery.
Well, don't forget that even in healthy families siblings can be amazingly different from each other.
It's part of our personalities, and it's also part of us making choices to be different from our siblings.
That's good that she's happier :-)
That's another one of those secrets that keeping it makes you miserable.
If you have an Employee's Assistance Program or insurance, you may benefit from meeting with a counselor for a few sessions to process this.
So that you don't feel like you've been given this secret to now keep and shoulder.
And most perpetrators only abuse one child in a family, to reduce their risks of being caught (except when it's a case of a close/powerful family member).
And they are usually very gifted in seeming normal and coercing the child to keep the secret... which is how so much abuse goes unnoticed.
I'm glad she's getting help and that she trusted you enough with knowing her pain.
It's not easy to hear the news, but it shows a great deal of trust and respect that she has towards you.
Have you been happy with those decisions?
Then they were very good reactions ;-)
Everything we do is reactionary. But it doesn't sound like you've been repressing or running away from things. Those type of decisions usually leave us just as, if not more, miserable.
When did you find out?
re not feeling more settled and rational in the next 2-3 days when the shock wears off, think about seeing a counselor.
If your employer offers and EAP, they usually pay for 3-6 sessions.
If not, consider using your insurance, a church counseling services, or even a rape crisis and domestic violence agency in your area might offer free or low-cost counseling if you don't have insurance.
Most states offer a 211 service from landline telephones, which connect you with a call center than can help you locate free and low-cost help in your zip code.
But my guess is that in a few days you'll be feeling much more yourself.
Most counselors work with abuse, it's just so common of a problem.
Good. Now be sure to take care of yourself the next few days (sleep, nutrition, exercise, etc) and know that you may be more emotional the next few days just from the stress of this.
But it sounds like you've been a pretty healthy person psychologically and you'll probably navigate this just as well as you've tackled other issues in your life.
Have a good night.