DEAR AMY: I was sexually assaulted by a man at a party when I was 17. I didn’t report the assault because of the circumstances (underage drinking, etc.). I am now 23, and although I am fine, I run into him every once in a while — at the college I attended, at Walmart, at a local restaurant and he recently came through the drive-thru at my workplace. I always do my best to stay as calm as possible and to not pay him any attention, although it is very challenging to not break out into a full-blown panic attack. I think it’s too late or a lost cause to report it at this point, but I have to do something, so it doesn’t eat at me every time I see him. My question for you is — should I confront him? If so, what do I say? If not, what do I do about running into him?
Stuck at 17
DEAR STUCK: I can’t tell you to confront this person — or to avoid him. I can only tell you that you must do what is best for you.
It is not too late to report this assault, and it is not a “lost cause.” Your cause is never lost, because you are here, struggling mightily to cope.
You have survived a sexual assault. And although you say you are “fine,” I don’t think you are fine. I think you’re unsure, hurting, and anxious — all very natural reactions.
I shared your question with a spokesperson at the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN.org), the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization. They want to assure you that there is no one right answer for how a sexual assault survivor should cope to move forward. You can call and talk to a counselor at the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE; they can listen to your story, review your options now and also connect you with a local counselor and support group. RAINN also has an online “chat” feature available, 24/7.
It is vital that you receive help and support. An answer for what you should do concerning the man who assaulted you will emerge through talking about it. Please don’t bury this or discount what happened.
DEAR AMY: My son recently got married, and although I hosted a nice reception dinner and was appropriately dressed for the wedding, I was not invited to participate in any of the wedding photos. Not a single one. I was herded away to the reception room with the rest of the guests and it was only afterward that I realized the photos had been taken without me. My son claims he was so nervous he never noticed I wasn’t there. My new daughter-in-law seems indifferent about the whole thing and acts like I am making a big deal out of nothing. Recently they delivered a big fat wedding album to my house full of photos of the bride, groom, and all of her parents and family, which I politely declined to accept. I had not met the bride’s family prior to the wedding, but this just seems an incredibly cruel thing to do to me. Am I wrong?
Mother of the Groom
DEAR MOTHER OF THE GROOM: Whether your son and his wife were deliberately exclusionary, or merely incredibly thoughtless when it came to photos, your reaction — to feel hurt and angry — is completely justified. They owe you a sincere apology. I assume if you received one, you would accept it and do your best to move on.
Your son’s explanation is almost — but not quite — believable. This is also a rough way for your daughter-in-law to kick off a relationship with her new mother-in-law. After outright refusing to receive this album (an understandable, but not really generous reaction), a gentle conversation where you honestly describe your feelings is called for. I hope they find a way to flip this script.
DEAR AMY: “Protective Daughter” described her concern over her mother’s decision to become a caregiver to an abusive ex who now has cancer. I am a therapist who has had clients ready to leave an ex-partner who has faked cancer to get the partner back. It only worked for a while, but caused chaos in the well person’s life. I say, confirm this diagnosis on paper, but better yet: RUN!
DEAR SIRI: Great point. An unscrupulous person could use a cancer diagnosis to emotionally manipulate a caring individual. I agree that “Protective Daughter” should urge her mother to confirm the prognosis.