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August 2010

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mohavedatura in advice_rehash

Old Wounds

Dear Annie: I am a successful and happily married 28-year-old woman. I have a good life, for which I am grateful, except for one thing.

When I was 15, a close family friend 15 years my senior was staying with my family. I considered "Shawn" to be like a brother. But one night, while my father was watching TV upstairs and my mom and older brother were out of town, he came into my bedroom and tried to force himself on me. Fortunately, when I begged him to stop, he did. He left the room, and I called my brother, crying. When confronted, Shawn admitted it and said he had asked forgiveness from God. Nothing else happened to him.

Shortly after the incident, I became sexually active, then promiscuous, and eventually started using drugs. I know now that a lot of my behavior stemmed from this incident. When I was 19, I moved 1,500 miles away and straightened out my life. Today, I am once again close to my parents and brother.

The problem is, many of my family members still associate with Shawn. Last spring, my father took him on an all-expenses-paid hunting trip. I told my mom how betrayed I felt. She agreed with me and said she'd talk to my father. But I just found out that my dad, brother and sister-in-law went to Shawn's for dinner last week.

Annie, how can I make it clear to my father how much this hurts me? He always says, "The past is the past," but I can't heal completely because I don't feel I was protected after this happened or now. Can I file charges against Shawn 13 years later?

-Betrayed in Missouri

Dear Betrayed: In Missouri, there is a 10-year statute of limitations for unlawful sexual offenses involving a person under age 17. Your father and siblings seem to be in denial about Shawn's character and are amazingly unsupportive of you.

You may not be able to get through to Dad if he doesn't want to face up to what happened. But it might help to discuss it with your clergyperson or doctor, or with a therapist who can also intercede with your family.

Sadly, I think this letter writer is being victimized by her family s well as Shawn. Imagine what the average man would do if he found out his buddy tried to force himself on his fifteen year-old daughter. Something like that is what should have happened here. I notice that the letter writer mentions that her life improved with distance from her family. It could very well be that she needs to keep that distance to stay sane.


I agree that she should stay the heck away from her family. I have a strong suspicion that the drugs and promiscuity were less about what Shawn did specifically and more about the way her whole family shrugged off this horrible experience as if it were no big deal. It's wonderful that the LW's been able to overcome that rough patch and I see no reason for her to make herself miserable on account of people who don't deserve to have her in their lives.

Yeah. I'm of the mind that her parents victimized her perhaps even more than Shawn did and are continuing to do it now. It has to be a very jarring thing for a fifteen year old girl to learn that she doesn't really have anyone to protect her.