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Just recently, my closest friend's brother knowingly sexually harassed me just about a year after he previously forced a kiss on me. It never was too difficult to hang out with my best friend when he was around, as long as he kept a manageable distance of course. However now, I can't stand to be around him and I don't want this to affect my best friend and I's friendship.

My best friend (which we will call Alice) and I have been best friends for four years now, and I have no plans on that ending any time soon. Her brother (which we will call Dave) has always had a thing for me. Even though I am bisexual, I've never shared feelings for him. Nor have I ever been friends with Dave. I've always found him creepy. What he's done to me, even though I have made it clear that I do not hold any feelings for him at all, has sealed my opinion on him as being creepy.

What I want to know is: How do I tell Alice that I don't feel comfortable being around her brother, and how do I prevent it from affecting our friendship?

Of course, this will limit the amount of time we have to spend together when she's not able to make it to my place and her brother is there. I also want to know how I should tell her that her brother sexually harassed me.

  • 3
    Alice knows that her brother forced a kiss on you? – LinuxBlanket Apr 14 '18 at 7:44
  • There's three questions in here: How to tell her that her brother harassed you, and how to tell her that you're not comfortable around her brother and are no longer willing to be around him, and how to prevent it from affecting your friendship. I think that's a little broad. What do you mean with 'affecting your friendship'? Can you be a little more precise on the effects that you're trying to avoid, since your last paragraph seems to suggest you're okay with seeing her less? – Tinkeringbell Apr 14 '18 at 9:39
  • The first two are closely related enough that they can be in one question I think, but until we know about the kind of effect on your friendship you're trying to avoid, I don't see how that question is related to the other two. – Tinkeringbell Apr 14 '18 at 9:39
  • 3
    How close is your best friend to her brother? – Crafter0800 Apr 14 '18 at 9:58
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First of all, sexual harassment is not OK. It never is.

That said, to avoid this situation, you wish to see as little as possible of Dave as you can. Simply tell Alice, but do so in a manner that describes how you feel and not what your opinion of him is. This may or may not include your fears about your friendship with her.

Find a moment when you are both comfortable and relaxed, whether at your place or hers, obviously without Dave being arouund. Her place is best, because that is where she is probably most comfortable.

Listen Alice, I have to tell you something. It's about Dave. Or rather, it's about me. You know, I feel more than a bit uncomfortable an unsafe when he's around. I really don't want this to get between you and me, but I think Dave has a thing for me. I've told Dave that I have absolutely no feelings for him but lately it has been getting to the point that I feel a little stressed out whenever he is around. I may be looking at ghosts, but that's the way I feel. So could we please stop hanging out at your place whenever there's a chance that Dave is around? Maybe it will just fade away if we let it rest for a while.

There, nothing was said that could cause Alice to feel forced to take sides in the matter. You simply stated your wish and why it is important to you. You held back quite a bit of information to be honest but that's excusable as you do not want to get into a round of victim finding and blaming at this point.

Now we get to Dave. I'm assuming that Dave is a private harasser, that is his behavior towards you changes when you are alone together. If so, it is vital (for your own healing) that you confront him and assert your limits and do this in no uncertain terms. Don't be afraid, he has no power over you, he is just the brother of a friend. So, whenever you find yourselves alone with him and he does it again:

Look Dave, stop that! You are seriously crossing my limits here by [demeaning/insulting/entering my private space/intimidating/suggesting/harassing] me and you know it. And it's not like this is the first time. (Optional: I don't want you, never did, never will). Back off!

Don't threaten, don't leave it hanging with a question. Say it with gusto and quite a bit of anger. Any retorts are countered by simply walking away or turning your back and refusing to talk other than reiterating your viewpoint, even if it is a lame and possibly insincere apology.

It is okay for Alice to witness that you and Dave are at odds now, which you can explain with:

Dave and I had an argument. Dave [did/said] something I took offense to and I told him off. (Optional: he did not take that too kindly.)

No details, just the facts of the situation. Dave may downplay the argument when he is talking privately about what happened with his sister but there is nothing you can do about that. At the very least she now realizes that your feelings about the situation between you and her brother are sincere and still isn't forced by you to choose between the two of you.

Ultimately, she may want to know what is really going down between Dave and you. Then you face a choice, whether to tell her or not. The choice is a tough one because telling about sexual harassment frequently does not end well for the victim.

Not telling:

That's between me and Dave. Whenever you are not around, Dave [says/does] things I don't appreciate. Don't worry, I've got a handle on it now. I still don't feel comfortable or safe around him, though.

No details, just reiterate your wish to stay clear of Dave.

Telling:

Oh, I don't know. It is Dave's word against mine. Whenever you are not around, he [makes suggestive remarks, like ../comes sit next to me, like really close/calls me names, such as .../other observable behavior]. Because it concerns my sexuality and I don't want it, it is like it amounts to, you know, sexual harassment. I feel I did nothing to entice him to [do/say] these kinds of things. I have no idea whether Dave knows that this is against the law, but I don't want to press charges or anything. I've told him to stop it (optional: repeatedly), but he just won't back off. That's why I want to avoid him. I hope you understand.

And as an afterthought:

I don't want to become between you and your brother. He'll just say that it is all a misunderstanding and that I am overreacting. Maybe some of that is true, but I cannot help feel the way I feel about this, I just want it to stop.

I am afraid that it is up to Alice at this point on the follow up, if any.

One more thing, there is a risk that the confrontation with Dave leads to violence. Do not initiate or strike preemptively! Flee, defend or endure it. Do not counter attack! Afterwards, file charges immediately. As it turns out Dave is a real creep. That may well be the end of your friendship with Alice though.

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The context of mentioning your bisexuality leaves two options: either you are male (and don't really advertise that you also have a thing for men) or female and openly lesbian (and don't really advertise that you also have a thing for men). Your moniker would point somewhat more in the "male" direction.

Either way, your personal boundaries have been violated but the dynamics expected from your reaction and the sympathies you might be able to gather will be different. So it might be well worth clarifying.

How does your friend's brother know you are bisexual? Did it come up in conversation or may this be your friend's (likely innocent) fault of mentioning it and thus prompting him from trying out advances he can now excuse as not known to be unwelcome? Did you react unambiguously offended and/or have explicitly stated this to be the case? Does your friend know this? All of this is important in relation to the flimsiness of excuses he can fabricate for justifying his behavior to himself and to your friend.

It's also important because your friend will have significant contact with her brother to come and also be talking with him without you as reference, so you want the actual facts and actual things being unambiguously said to be solid: everything open to opinion is likely to be told differently by you and her brother even though he'd know it to be bullshit when talking to your face.

The one thing that's definite that you do not want any more interaction with her brother. If you tell her only that, she'll want to hear reasons, and if she does not get them from you, she'll get them from her brother. And he will first try to figure out what you told her, and then put out a version of his that is sort-of compatible with that. Which will likely amount to you acting hysterically and blowing things out of proportion. So the amount of things you tell your friend should be solid enough not to leave her with that interpretation and make her question her respect for you.

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