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Violence at wedding causes family turmoil

DEAR AMY: About a year ago, my sister got married in a wonderful elaborate ceremony. Around this same time, it was known within my family that I was struggling through a deep depression. Because it was my sister's day, I gamely attempted to play "happy" and be supportive of her. However, at this wedding weekend, my sister (the bride), my mother and my sister's bridesmaids took it upon themselves to viciously and maliciously attack my (then) girlfriend. The abuse was both verbal and sadly also physical, as a bridesmaid, apparently, shoved my girlfriend off the dance floor. With so many people at the wedding I had not seen in years, it was impossible for me to "guard" her at what was supposed to be a party. This vicious behavior exhibited by my family, coupled with my lack of responsiveness at the time led to our breakup immediately after the wedding. I have tried to move on from this event and continue in therapy, but I am struggling to rebuild any real relationship with my sister or mother and have no real desire to see them. They have never apologized and know how hurt I was by their actions. Am I supposed to just "forgive" and pretend it never happened the way they seem to have?

-- Suffering in San Jose

DEAR SUFFERING: Your guest was bullied by family members. Clearly, this is unacceptable on every level.

Bullies never want to acknowledge their own actions. They want to move through life without reflection or apology.

I assume you are discussing this in therapy. This episode requires that you do whatever you need to do to restore your own sense of trust and serenity.

Your family will not offer an apology, but you should ask for one. You should write down your thoughts, including an "ask." Make it as calm and neutral as possible and include the phrase, "For the sake of our relationship, I would like you to acknowledge your actions on that day."

Be prepared that your family may find ways to transfer the responsibility to you.

Your next task should be to reflect on how you can best move forward. It might be best for you to continue to avoid your family members until you can fully accept the reality of their flawed behavior and release your own anger. This is for your sake, not theirs.

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