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Amy: Incest victim seeks some kind of closure

  • Article by: AMY DICKINSON
  • February 24, 2012 - 2:21 PM

Dear Amy: A close family member touched me inappropriately when I was in my early teens. I tried to keep quiet about it, but the experience was disgusting. I told my mother, who in turn confronted the man, who of course denied it.

He went to the rest of my family and spread vicious rumors about me and my mother, calling me a liar -- and this created a schism in a once-close family.

It took years to repair this, and I feel it still isn't normal. It has been six years since the incident, and I have not spoken to the man since. However, this still haunts me daily, and I feel extreme guilt over the entire situation. I feel I need some sort of closure with the family member before it is too late, though I don't want a relationship with him, and I don't know if I should apologize for something I don't think was my fault.

Amy says: You may never get closure with the family member who did this -- people who commit this kind of crime and then lie about it aren't usually respectful of the victim's needs -- but you should seek some resolution.

This incident has traumatized you, and talking about it with someone who understands how you might be feeling will help you immeasurably. You deserve to reclaim your dignity, and you can start by believing that this was not your fault. You have absolutely nothing to apologize for.

The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network is the nation's largest anti-sexual assault organization. The organization's website is an excellent source of information and support; it should be your first contact: rainn.org.

RAINN now offers an online hot line where you can communicate with a trained counselor, or you can call 1-800-656-4673, 24 hours a day. You also can find a local crisis center and counselor through the website. Please reach out to talk to someone today.

Can't force celebrations

Dear Amy: I agree with your response to the stepmother who complained that her adult stepchildren and grandchildren didn't contact her on her birthday or wedding anniversary. Celebrating birthdays is lovely but not when it is done under duress, and surely anniversaries are most commonly celebrated between a couple. That she stopped sending cards and gifts because her own anniversary and birthday were not recognized is extremely childish and suggests to me that her husband's children may be letting those dates pass unnoticed for good reason.

 

Amy says: I agreed that she was putting too much pressure on these family members to celebrate her milestone events in a way they obviously had no desire to do.

Conversation hogs

Dear Amy: Why can't people be polite? Lately I've noticed that if I relate an incident or describe a project I'm working on to a friend, the immediate response is not about my comments but about their own experience.

It brings back a memory of my young son, who complained when his friend continually responded the same way. I suggested to him that when someone tells him something, he should say at least three things in response before he relates his own experience.

It feels impolite when someone doesn't respond to me but immediately delves into talking about their own experiences or topics.

Am I being overly sensitive?

Amy says: This reminds me of something that happened to me recently.

Just kidding. I know exactly what you are talking about, but I don't know if people are growing more self-centered and self-reporting -- or if this tendency just seems worse because the person who has hijacked the conversation is usually also sending and receiving text messages at the same time.

Let's blame reality television, where the most outrageous camera hogs always steal the show.

The question is, how could or should a person respond to this behavior when it happens?

I like your lesson to your son about saying at least three things in response before launching into your own story. Let's call it the "rule of three."

Now back to me.

Send questions via e-mail to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Av., Chicago, IL 60611.

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