Posted: Thursday, March 18, 2010 8:01 pm
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 younger than 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 clergyman or doctor, or with a therapist who can also intercede with your family.
Dear Annie: I was with my boyfriend for a while and became pregnant. Unfortunately, I had a miscarriage.
I had a hard time getting over the loss, and he promised to be there for me to the end. However, he has since informed me that he was sleeping with another woman during and after the pregnancy. We broke up, and I am slowly trying to get over everything. To say I am hurt is an understatement.
How do I begin to forgive when I haven’t done anything to deserve this? How do I forget the betrayal? — Depressed in Seattle
Dear Seattle: You are suffering from two major losses. And keep in mind, pregnancy causes changes in your hormonal levels, which may still be affecting your mood, making everything more difficult. It’s no wonder you are depressed. Talk to your gynecologist about some short-term counseling, and contact Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support Inc. (nationalshare.org) at 1-800-821-6819.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Tennessee,” who doesn’t believe his daughter is his biological child because she doesn’t look like anyone in their family.
As our son grew up, he didn’t resemble anyone in our family. At some point, we were given a family Bible. While looking through it, a photo fell out. The person looked exactly like our son, right down to the mustache and beard. The picture was of his great-great-great-grandfather.
I hope reading this will give the man some peace. — Canada
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045. 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 3.18.10