Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.
DEAR READERS: I have stepped away from my column for a few days. Please enjoy these "Best Of" columns in my absence.
DEAR AMY: I am 15, and there is a man at my church who makes me feel harassed. At a concert, he started to give me a shoulder massage. My dad was there and saw it but didn't do anything. This man is 30 years my senior and just went through a divorce. Lately he's making any excuse to give me a hug or touch me. He is a doctor and is respected. I'm almost afraid to tell my dad because my dad wouldn't believe me. How can I either avoid this man or confront him? Being in the same room with him makes me uncomfortable.
DEAR TROUBLED: You're smart to pay attention to your gut. Do not be in the same room with this man if he makes you uncomfortable.
That means if he comes into a room, you leave it. Always have a pal with you or make sure you're part of a big group. If he attempts to touch or hug you, no matter where you are, tell him, "I don't like that." Be very, very clear.
Tell your dad about this. Even if he doesn't believe you or doesn't see it as a problem, he needs to be educated about sexual harassment and he needs to know how you feel.
Everyone might tell you that this is nothing to worry about. However, I would stress that you should always pay attention to your own instincts -- over anyone else's, including your dad's. (March, 2007)
DEAR AMY: I have been married to my wife for four years. We have a wonderful 10-month-old daughter. I love my wife very much, and I think she loves me too. However, she is very hot-tempered, and when she is arguing she gets so agitated that she doesn't care how her words and actions hurt me. While she usually calms down within a few hours, some of the things that she has done have left a permanent scar. Two weeks ago, during a fit of rage, she told me that she would call 911 and say that I was abusing her. She proceeded to actually dial 911. Luckily she came to her senses and hung up before the call went through. However, this is the second time in two weeks she has done this. I feel that her behavior crossed the line. Is this something I should continue to ignore as a temper tantrum, or should I be concerned?
A Concerned Husband
DEAR CONCERNED: Not only should you be concerned, you should be alarmed. If your wife is capable of threatening and abusing you in this way, I shudder to think what she might do when your daughter reaches the toddler stage and starts to trigger her temper. Have you thought about the effect all of this will have on your girl? You need to take immediate steps to interrupt this cycle of abusive behavior. You should do whatever is necessary to force your wife into counseling and also to protect your daughter. I suggest seeing a lawyer immediately to get advice on how to properly document this behavior and perhaps prepare to remove your daughter from the home.
Your wife is ruthlessly willing to accuse you of abuse to punish you. I don't think you fully realize what a world of hurt that accusation will visit upon you if she follows through. (June, 2005)
DEAR AMY: I really like this girl. I think she's perfect in every way. She has just come out of a two-year relationship, and she told my friend that she just wants to be single when he asked her out. We get on really well, and whenever we talk there seems to be something there. People have noticed her flirting with me. Should I ask her to get with me or not?
DEAR DAN: Before you make your move, I want you to look in the mirror and practice asking a woman out in a way that's respectful.
"You wanna get with me?" doesn't cut it. (April, 2004)