Dear Annie: I recently found out that when my daughter was 7 years old, she was raped at least three times by her 13-year-old cousin. She had been holding this in and finally had an emotional meltdown. The timing of these incidents happened when her father and I were going through a separation.
The cousin who did this is now 24. His mother spoke with him, and he said he recalled one of the instances, but not all three. The mother then told me, “We don’t know who might be lying.” She also stated they were both “only kids” when it happened and he didn’t mean to hurt her. She wants us all to discuss it together.
Annie, my daughter was 7 and he was 13 — a teenager who knew right from wrong and selected someone who could not fight back and was unlikely to tell. I am infuriated by his mother’s suggestion that we just sit down and talk. She is trying to minimize the rape.
My daughter was an upbeat, cheerful person who was involved in school and volunteer projects. Now that she is no longer able to hide the hurt, she is none of those things. Other relatives are being supportive and I have suggested counseling, but she hasn’t taken me up on the offer. What can I do for her — and what do I do about this cousin? If it were up to me, he would be arrested. — Heartbroken
Dear Heartbroken: We’re not sure what you can do about the cousin, since he was only 13 and it was 11 years ago. But it’s not too late for your daughter. Please contact the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (rainn.org) at 1-800-656-HOPE (1-800-656-4673), and ask how you can help her through this difficult time.
Dear Annie: My husband’s mother moved in with us five years ago, when both our children were young. I wasn’t wild about the idea, but I wanted to please my husband. We have a small three-bedroom house, and at the time, our kids were sharing a room, so there was a spare.
My oldest son now wants his own room. My husband’s sister has a larger house with a spare room, but she hasn’t offered to take Mom and my husband refuses to ask her.
Besides not doing anything around the house to help out, which drives me mad, the situation is putting a strain on our marriage. — At Wits’ End in Washington
Dear Washington: Is Mom capable of living independently? Can you look into nearby apartments, retirement communities or assisted living homes? Call the Eldercare Locator (eldercare.gov) at 1-800-677-1116 to see what resources are available in your area. It is a loving gesture to allow a parent to live with you, but if it undermines your marriage and Mom is able to live elsewhere, we see no reason to continue this arrangement. Discuss all options with your husband, and make it clear that the current situation is no longer working.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Concerned Sister,” who asked about speech-reading to help communicate with a sister who lost her hearing due to Meniere’s disease. She should look into implants.
I’ve been profoundly hard of hearing all of my life and have used hearing aids since I was 5 years old (I am now 43). Lip-reading takes a lifetime. I know. I’m quite good at it. But to try to learn at this stage of her life could be frustrating.
In 2007, I underwent Baha procedure cochlear implant surgery for one ear and was totally amazed. Cochlear implants stimulate the auditory nerve directly. Baha implants create sound through bone conduction. Many insurance companies will cover at least part of the cost. Please tell “Concerned” to look into this little-known option. — Sierra Vista, Ariz.
Dear Sierra Vista: Thank you for mentioning cochlear implants for those with hearing loss. Anyone who thinks he or she may be eligible should discuss it with an audiologist.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
Published in The Messenger 4.24.08