Parents, do you know what your children do to each other when you’re not around? The truth might shock and horrify you.
The closest thing my husband had to a sibling was his teenage aunt. They practically grew up together. While Rhys’ single mother worked long hours, she entrusted him to the care of her younger sister.
It started with rape. Rhys’ sister/aunt raped him repeatedly when he was four years old.
That horrible act was just the start of years of abuse by his ‘sister’. When raping ceased, physical beatings began. While the beatings continued, the abuse and neglect became more creative. More imaginative. More inhumane, yet less noticeable.
Surely he was safe. She was his ‘loving, older sister’. The perfect baby-minder. She wouldn’t let any harm come to her little ‘brother’.
What no one realized was she WAS the harm.
Much of the abuse is hidden in dark corners of Rhys’ memory. Occasionally a door opens. A memory escapes from oblivion, each one more shocking than the last. Then the door closes again, his young years again hidden in their protective suppression shroud.
There was the day Modryb left Rhys on a roof. Watching him was an inconvenience for her. She had other plans. So she pushed him out onto a roof and left him there.
Burning for hours under a hot sun with no food and no water, little Rhys had only two options. Wait for Modryb to return and rescue him from the rooftop or jump the 1 meter gap to the balcony next door.
‘It took me hours to screw up my courage to jump’, he told me. But he made it and lived to tell the tale.
‘Another time she took wet rope and bound my torso from waist to armpits’, Rhys told me sadly. ‘When the rope dried, it shrunk. I couldn’t breathe.’ But there were no broken bones.
Which was surprising considering that her favorite trick was to chase him, drag him to the ground and kick him unmercifully until she was too tired to kick anymore. ‘I curled into a ball for survival’ Rhys says, shaking his head. ‘She kicked with all her strength and the bruises lasted for weeks. That may be why my kidneys are so weak’.
Why didn’t he tell someone, I can hear you say.
Because he wasn’t stupid. To tell on Modryb would have upped the ante. She might have killed him in her rage.
Yes, she too was an abuse victim. Yes, she too was raped. By her father. Her actions are understandable in that context, but no less heinous. She grew up to be an abusive mother who beat her children unmercifully.
This story has a shocking codicil. Unbeknownst to Rhys, his children carried on the legacy of abuse. While they hid it from him, they openly beat and sexually abused each other in front of me. I tried to put a stop to it but something tells me my concern as a step-mother only fanned the flames of their rage and sibling abuse.
Parents, do you know how your children treat each other? Can you trust older siblings to care for their younger brothers and sisters? Do you know what’s going on? Do you really?