Our extended family lived together in one house, so there were always people around. But even though there were a lot of people around, they hardly paid my immediate family much attention. It’s like we had a family but didn’t.
My father wasn’t around much when we were kids, and my mom struggled with health issues my whole life. She was always sick. Therefore, as children, a lot of responsibility fell on our shoulders to help out. We had to grow up fast, learning how to take care of things and keep the household running.
Being just seven years old, I had to learn how to care for myself and my little sister. I already knew how to braid my own hair and do “corn-row” hairstyles, to the point where I was charging small fees to do other people’s hair.
My older sister was six years older than I was. Being six years younger, the normal thing to do was to idolize my sister, but I couldn’t. Because we were not under much supervision, she did some wrong things. This led to some dangerous situations.
At age 13, my sister was the breadwinner for my family. She worked while going to school to help put food on the table. However, whenever she got paid, there wasn’t much that came home to us. We often had to go nights without food, or just enough to fill a hunger gap.
We also did not have clothes or shoes to go out like regular kids. My sister was not responsible with money, and this led to other issues that played on my self-confidence up until this day.
The Friends She Kept
My sister had a lot of male friends. Some were fine, but others were dangerous and a bad influence. She was hardly home and spent a lot of time with these friends on the streets. At age 14, I think she was already doing things with men that she wasn’t supposed to be doing.
One night, one of my sister’s boyfriends came over. He was the main boyfriend, and he was in his twenties. She was not home, and I told him that. But instead of leaving, he started making sexual advances toward me. He told me some very nasty things and all that he wanted to do to me. I immediately got up, ran, and locked myself in our room.
Another incident was with another boyfriend. He was actually a fully grown man in his forties. My sister took both me and my sister to his house to sleep over for the weekend. The problem was that she left us there, went away, and didn’t return until the next day.
While we were there at night, he came over to our bed and started whispering to me. He was saying all kinds of nasty things and kept trying to touch me inappropriately. I felt extremely uncomfortable and afraid. I tucked the sheet underneath me and stopped breathing at times, pretending as if I were in a deep sleep.
He eventually gave up and went away. The morning came, and I didn’t go near him. We stayed in a little corner, hoping my sister would come for us soon. She arrived a few hours later. We are so scared and hungry!
A Nonchalant Attitude
When I told my sister what her friends had tried to do, she brushed it off like it was some kind of joke.
“Don’t worry, they were only kidding around,” she said. I couldn’t believe it. My big sister, who was supposed to protect me, didn’t seem to care that I had almost been assaulted at that tender young age.
Her nonchalant attitude put me in danger and completely betrayed my trust in her. As the older sibling, she should have shielded me from harm, not exposed me to it. I was devastated by her careless response and indifference to my safety.
She Kept Putting Me in Danger
My sister’s disbelief and negligence put me in a perilous position as a child.
Despite my vocal protests and warnings about the inappropriate behavior of certain men, she dismissed my concerns and left me vulnerable to their predatory actions. Her failure to protect me and my sister, especially given her role as your older sister, caused lasting trauma.
I don’t even know if anything happened to my little sister that she failed to mention. For years, I held onto anger and resentment over what she allowed to happen.
Those Dangers Shaped My Life
As a child, the traumatic experiences with my sister’s behavior caused me to become wary of others and retreat inward.
Her reckless actions made me hesitant to connect with people or try new things. I found solace in solo activities where I could avoid unpredictable social interaction. I was traumatized and saw every man as a potential danger to me.
However, there was one benefit that came out of this.
Being in constantly dangerous situations as a child turned me into a very alert and focused adult. Always having to be on high alert for potential threats taught me to be extremely observant and attentive to details. This skill has served me well in my career and personal life.
Though the events of my childhood were traumatic, I gained the useful ability to scan my surroundings, spot problems before they arise, and think quickly on my feet if needed. Every cloud has a silver lining, and this high level of vigilance and awareness was the unexpected benefit that came from an otherwise difficult upbringing.
However, my little sister now seems to have mental issues, and I can’t help but wonder if our childhood trauma caused them.
After many years, I began to understand why my sister acted the way she did.
I realized that she was also a victim herself due to her lack of parenting. She was just a child at the time, unaware of the grave danger she had put us in. She did not have the mind of an adult, and kids sometimes do stupid things without thinking of the consequences.
Our relationship has had its ups and downs, and though forgiveness came years later, the scars remain. However, putting aside our differences was worth it, especially for the sake of my mother, who is still sick.
My sister’s actions put me in real danger as a kid, but I found a way to forgive her years later. Despite the betrayal and hurt, I knew finding a way to mend our relationship was important for both of our well-being in the long run. While it wasn’t an easy road, choosing reconciliation over resentment was the right decision.
Sasha is a prolific writer with a passion for health and wellness, and organic farming. When not online, she loves to garden and spend time with her family. She's the co-owner of DreCampbell.com.