DEAR AMY: My fiance, my sister and I are planning a trip to my old hometown for Labor Day weekend in order to visit my oldest friend "Erica." Erica just bought a house with her husband, "Paul." Erica tends to avoid conflict. She just sprung it on me that they don't have room to host us in their home. What? We've always slept on floors and couches when the need arises. I told her I knew something was fishy, and she fessed up. As it turns out, her husband has stated that I am not welcome in their home. Frankly, I don't want to be around him, either. I believe the reason is that Paul and I have never seen eye to eye politically. Also, he sexually assaulted me about six years ago, while he was drunk. He thinks I have wrongly accused him. I never pressed charges and have since decided to push that aside because I don't want to lose Erica. I was thinking about staying in a hotel, but that defeats the purpose of us taking an affordable trip. I haven't seen these friends, nor have I been to my hometown in three years. I've been exiled from my best friend's house because my aggressor is victim-blaming me. I don't know what to do. I feel that if I stay home, I'm ruining the others' vacation. But if I go, it's not much of a vacation for me. I'm worried I'll never visit my hometown ever again due to this feud. Should I stay away and wait for them to visit me? How should I handle this?
Exiled and Torn
DEAR EXILED: It is hard to imagine why you would want to bring your fiance and sister to stay in the home of the person who assaulted you. You also say that even if he hadn't assaulted you, you wouldn't want to spend time with him, anyway. So why do you want to stay with this couple? Are you so desperate for cheap vacation housing that you would expose yourself, your fiance and sister to staying with this creep?
You say that you have successfully "pushed this aside," but you haven't. As is often the case with victims, you are still being — and are certainly feeling — punished.
Your friend can't have you stay with her because she has decided to stay with her husband. She has chosen him.
I think you would mightily regret it if you let this keep you away from your hometown. Look for alternate housing (with other friends or family), consider tent camping, or spring for an Airbnb in the area.
DEAR AMY: My 30th high school reunion is soon. I'm looking forward to seeing my longtime friends. My best friend in high school and post-college is going to be there. We were quite close, until she got married and moved out of state. But there's something she's said, and keeps restating, that really bothers me, about how I was "never there," at school. I have never responded when she makes the remark. I've tried telling her about my anxiety, depression and migraines, but she has no base in knowledge of any of it, so I feel like she's never going to understand how much this comment hurts my feelings. It's like she's more interested in making the quip than she's concerned about my feelings. Do I have to go into depth explaining my unstable family structure and how I basically hid from the world to cope? Should I continue to bite my tongue and roll my eyes? And if I confront her, what should I say? I don't want to yell at her for being so careless.
Frustrated and Misunderstood
DEAR FRUSTRATED: Your friend seems to think that this is something of a running joke between you, because you've never told her otherwise. Don't blame her for being clueless, when you've neglected to clue her in.
Do not wait to bring this up until you (and she) have had some reunion cocktails. You should contact her beforehand, and face the momentary awkwardness of calmly explaining yourself, in depth — one time.
DEAR AMY: "Knows too Much" was complaining that her friend "Curt's" wife trashed Curt in their first meeting. I am very relieved that you pointed out that Curt might actually be the monster his wife was describing. You wrote: "Many people operate comfortably in a duality..." I'm a survivor of just such a relationship.
DEAR SURVIVOR: Most abusers don't show that face to the world.