DEAR AMY: When I was a freshman in college, 17 years ago, my roommate and I went to a house party. My roommate disappeared into a room with a guy. He locked the door. I banged on the door, but she didn’t come out. When she did emerge, she said she wanted to leave. On our walk back to the campus bus stop, she broke down sobbing, saying that he had forced her to have sex with him. At the time, I had no way of comprehending that this was rape. I am pretty sure I reacted poorly. I was in complete shock. I do remember saying that we should go to the clinic, and that we should tell someone. She didn’t want to. When we woke the next morning, she didn’t want to talk. We never talked about it. Given all that is now coming to light around rape culture on campuses, and the wisdom that comes with age, I am riddled with guilt. This must have shaped her college experience and her life in an awful way. I feel so ashamed and guilty that I didn’t help her. We are still friends and I really want to tell her I am sorry, but I don’t know how, or if I should.
DEAR ASHAMED: According to recent statistics gathered by the National Crime Victimization Survey and published by the National Sexual Assault Hotline, for female college students, only an estimated 20 percent report their assault. Your friend is in the great majority of women who do not report being raped.
Because you still have an active friendship with her, you should be open and honest now. Tell her how you feel about what happened, share your regret that you didn’t do more to help her and offer her your loving kindness and support.
She may say she doesn’t want to discuss this or that she doesn’t remember the episode in the same way that you do. She may ask you never to bring this up again.
Respect all of her choices, and remember the wisdom of Maya Angelou: “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”
DEAR AMY: I have been confined to the house after surgery. Friends have called and asked if I needed anything from the store. I’d like to put it out there, that what anyone not able to take care of themselves really would like is if someone offered to vacuum, or clean up the kitchen, make the bed, etc. I remember reading that after a death a neighbor came around and cleaned all the shoes for the funeral — that’s thinking outside the box.
Housebound in Santa Monica, CA
DEAR HOUSEBOUND: I’d add doing yard work, offering to drive for follow-up health appointments or dropping off a basket of books and DVDs to your list.
I also recommend Caringbridge.org as an easy (and free) way to share health updates and requests for help with your community of friends and family. People who care about you really do want to help, but often don’t know how.
DEAR AMY: I’m responding to “Left Out,” who was executor of her father’s will, only to learn that she had been left out of it. I perform this function for my father, age 92. I have access to his lawyer and with the exception of being somewhat at odds with my other siblings, the will is in the best order it can be. If I could give any advice to this daughter I would say that she needs to rescind her position as executor. To harbor the animosity she seems to have toward her father’s decisions makes it a very unhealthy situation for what she will be responsible for after his death.
DEAR DAVE: Good advice. Thank you.
DEAR AMY: “Totally Embarrassed in Defeat” was a chess player who was whining about losing. I wonder if he would have felt “so embarrassed” if he had been beaten by a man. I don’t blame the woman for rubbing his nose in the loss.
DEAR SUE: A good deal of sexual politics seemed to be in play in this particular match.