DEAR ABBY: When I was in sixth grade, my 19-year-old brother, "Ray," came into my room and fondled me late at night. I pretended to be asleep so I didn't have to deal with the situation. I told my mom afterward. She told me not to tell my father and bought a lock for my door.
Years later, when my sister found out what happened to me, she told me Ray had also done it to her. She told Dad and confronted Mom. Neither one ever said anything to Ray. They told us it was "in the past" and to leave it alone.
Because my sister is openly confrontational about it, she isn't invited to family events that he is attending. I am invited because I just ignore him, but it's uncomfortable knowing my parents took his side over that of their two daughters. I won't let my daughter be alone with him -- or with him and my mom, because I don't trust her anymore.
Should I tell my parents I don't want to hear about my brother and no longer want to be around him? -- WRONGED IN GEORGIA
DEAR WRONGED: Yes, if it will make you feel better, by all means do. That your parents would ignore your brother's predatory behavior is appalling. By protecting him, your mother betrayed you and your sister.
You are also wise to be vigilant if he is anywhere around your daughter and to restrict contact with him to a minimum. No child is safe around your brother.
If you and your sister haven't had counseling to come to terms with what happened to you, please consider contacting the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN). The website is www.rainn.org, and the toll-free number is 800-656-4673. Nothing you say to the counselors will shock them, and they will be glad to refer you to someone qualified to help you.
DEAR ABBY: I think my in-laws want my husband to divorce me because I have Asperger's syndrome and bipolar disorder. Sometimes I innocently say things that other family members take offense to. My mother-in-law then calls my husband, tells him what a "nut" I am and how upset "so-and-so" got. This results in huge fights between my husband and me, and it's hurting our marriage.
I have offered to educate my in-laws about bipolar and Asperger's, but they say I'm just making excuses for my behavior. I would like to explain to them that my thought processes aren't the same as everyone else's, so I am going to make mistakes in what I say to people.
I am hurt by their judgment and lack of tolerance. I don't do "bad" things often -- maybe once or twice a year. But instead of overlooking it, they make a big deal out of it because I'm different. They should focus on the good. I do a lot of charity work and would help anyone in need. Their lack of understanding is ruining my marriage. I'm 25 and we have been married for five years. I don't want to throw that away. What do I do? -- AM HOW I AM IN ALABAMA
DEAR "HOW YOU ARE": That your marriage has lasted through five years of your mother-in-law's attempts to undercut it tells me the bond between you and your husband must be a strong one. Does he understand how Asperger's and bipolar disorder affect the brain? If not, then the doctor who prescribes your medication should explain it to him so he can explain to his parents that what they are complaining about is not your fault. And if they don't "get it," a behavioral specialist should explain to them that they should be more patient and understanding with a member of their family.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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- Family & Relationships