Brother and sister describe 20-year-long secret romantic relationship

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A man is opening up about a 20 year relationship with his sister. VICE writer Jennifer Tillman interviewed a man she calls “Tom” about his romantic involvement with his sibling “Lena” over Skype. He says that Austrian authorities would take away their daughter if they found out the truth. Tillman says she changed the names of the people she interviewed to protect their identities.

Tom was introduced to Tillmann through  psychotherapist Rotraud Perner. She says that being attracted to your sibling isn’t all that odd.

“From my professional experience, it’s not true that people don’t find their siblings attractive,” said psychotherapist Rotraud Perner. “Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. More importantly, relationships between siblings are defined by envy, rivalry, and admiration, along with the need to cuddle or have secrets from the rest of the world. All those things are linked to certain fantasies—some of them induced by pop culture and the media, others by their upbringing and family situation. Whether or not you make those fantasies a reality, depends on how good you are at evaluating that reality. People in incestuous relationships often lack that skill.”

Perner has been working on incest cases since 1975. She says that her patients are typically shy towards strangers. They were not allowed to meet up with other people as children because their parents are jealous or stern.

Tom and Lena grew up in a small Austrian village to what VICE describes as a normal family. Their mom was a housewife and their father a civil servant. Tom says he started to develop feelings for his sister during puberty.

Lena had her first real boyfriend at 17-years-old. Her boyfriend cheated on her after a three year relationship. She went to Tom’s room sobbing in the middle of the night. He was sleeping and woke to find her crying. He tried to console her. After a few glasses of wine Lena cuddled up to his shoulder.

The VICE article describes the scene:

In the case of Tom and Lena, their fantasy soon came to life: “I can still remember it like it happened yesterday,” says Tom. “She looked up at me and asked why other men can’t be more like me.” That’s when it happened; Tom felt sure that he and Lena were not just siblings. But before he could make a move, Lena leaned in and kissed him. Tom pushed his sister away. “What the hell are we doing?” he screamed. Lena started to cry.

A romantic relationship eventually developed between the two. They kept it secret for several years. At one point Tom became depressed and tried to kill himself. Something had to change.

They moved out of their parents’ home. They now share an apartment in Germany. Their new friends think they’re married.

In Austria, incest between siblings is punishable by up to six months in prison.       Read more about the repercussions for “Tom” in this article.

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