Before I begin, I want to ask a couple of things: please understand that I am talking to you guys because I can't talk to anyone else about this. My hands are tied. I have been asked to not say anything because the people who are aware are need-to-know only. Please don't pile on. I have complicated feelings about this, and these are only my thoughts. I'm only here to get them out. Please don't judge, just know that I readily admit that some of these thoughts I have are gray.
My cousin is being accused of sexual assault. I know about this because his lawyer is going to be contacting me to talk. Why? Because the night of the alleged assault I was with my cousin and the young woman for the several hours before this allegedly took place.
Guys, I don't know how to feel. I am at a crossroads because it is a clash of two very real parts of me and my world. The part of me that doesn't believe in victim blaming, and that fights for justice for victims/survivors, and the part of me that is sad that more victims of assault are not taken seriously in colliding head on with the part of me that believes and wants to protect my cousin who I know to be a good man. He is respectful, he's a veteran, he worships his mother and sisters. He's funny, he's smart, he's a damn good soldier, he's compassionate and he loves his family fiercely with all he's got. He's everything you'd want a good man to be. But then so are so many people who are rapists and predators.
I am feeling so many things. I don't want to believe this young woman is making this up. Of course I take her claim seriously. But by believing her claim, am I saying my cousin is lying? Because I believe him too. I believe him when he says he helped her home because she was fucking wasted (she definitely was) and he was her ride to where we were in the first place. But I also believe him when he says he doesn't remember much about what happened between him getting her home and him getting back to his own place.
When we were at the bar she was complaining a lot about her husband. About how irresponsible he is. About how quickly they got married. About the pressure from their families. About the doubts she had. About how possessive he could be. And I know this isn't an excuse for anything my cousin may have done that night. But I know that while the three of us were together, he was nothing but the gentleman I know him to be.
I'm kicking myself because I almost offered to take her home that night, because something about her vibe seemed off, but I didn't know her, my cousin did. And besides, he's nothing but a good man, right?
And so now I'm stuck between my deeply held belief that all victims should be taken seriously, and the very real feelings of love, sadness and support for my cousin. The hurt in his voice... It broke me. And I can't talk to anyone about it. There will be a trial, he wants it to go to trial. But I am so sad and scared. Part of me hopes she is making it up, because it means that I get to hold on to the man I know. But then it is only ammo for those who believe all victims are full of shit anyway and a disservice to those men and women who need the most help after their own trauma. And so I'm torn to pieces over this. Because I am only human.