The Hamilton Spectator

Inappropri­ate video causes family turmoil


My cousin witnessed my sister in a compromisi­ng situation that was caught on video. We are members of the Muslim community, where relationsh­ips deemed acceptable in the West are generally frowned upon. If news of the incident were to circulate, my sister would suffer significan­t losses.

My cousin spoke to my sister several times over 10 months and watched her closely on CCTV. She then decided to confide in me, though she and my sister are closer.

She knew my sister would feel betrayed. My cousin asked me to keep her confidence and enlisted my brother’s help in a concerted effort to talk to my sister.

I believed they would talk to her, that she didn’t need to know I knew, and they would sort it out.

When my sister discovered that my cousin had shown me the proof, she was incensed that I hadn’t told her. I apologized profusely. She said it was one incident and never occurred again. I told her I had seen several tapes on different dates.

That night, I received an email threatenin­g legal action against my cousin, myself and my cousin’s children regarding video clips my cousin took from the CCTV footage. My nephew received an anonymous email with a video clip attached. I then received messages from my sister’s children, accusing me of betraying their mother and being responsibl­e for the anonymous email.

Although I apologized to my nephews and niece several times, they refused to accept it. I explained I had seen the videos and was unsure why our cousin had taken them. My sister lied to her children and our brother, stating that my cousin made everything up. Upon hearing that I had seen the proof, she admitted it was a onetime occurrence, but that my cousin and I were trying to destroy and shame her. My sister continued to lie and convinced everyone of my betrayal.

My family now believes I owed it to my sister to tell her what my cousin was doing. In retrospect, I wish I had informed my sister, but I naively believed everything would work out fine.

Currently, my entire family has rejected me, and I’m devastated. My sister did something inappropri­ate, isn’t taking responsibi­lity and that’s OK. But I didn’t tell her what my cousin was doing, and I’m the bad guy.

Lies and betrayal

When it comes to cultural and religious beliefs and practices, it’s not my place to get involved. However, if we remove that part of the story, this could be any family, anywhere, dealing with lies, betrayal, secrets and scapegoats.

Assuming you’re telling the truth, and that what your sister did would be disastrous for her if it ever came to light, I get the feeling that the rest of the family is trying hard to sweep it under the rug. The only things stopping that are your cousin, your brother and you — and the video footage with proof.

Therefore, your sister’s “camp” is trying to stop that footage from getting out and attempting to shut you and your brother up. You didn’t mention him other than that your cousin enlisted his help. So let’s focus then on the last piece — you.

If they can distance themselves from you, pretend they believe your sister, then this incident could get washed away. You are now their scapegoat. I suggest lying low for some time. You said you weren’t that close with your sister anyway. Let time pass and the gossip fade. Reach out to those you miss — your nephews and nieces — in time. Apologize again but move on and let the whole thing fade. It’s not your business anyway.

But remember this time, and know where their loyalties lie.

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