Dear Annie: I was repeatedly molested by my older brother when I was a child. Like most children in those circumstances, I lived in fear and told no one.
Therapy finally helped me realize that living with the secret was killing me. Having to see my brother on the holidays and pretend to be happy in front of everyone was more than I could handle. So I made him confess to our parents. Their response? They said, “He never abused anyone else and never will.” But, Annie, I am concerned for his wife’s young nieces. They have no idea what he is capable of.
I have forgiven my brother, but I’d be crazy to trust him. And even though he said he was sorry, it doesn’t mean he is cured. He abused me even after he married. My parents don’t want his wife to know because “it will ruin their marriage.” I suppose it’s possible he will never touch another person, but I also don’t believe it is fair to place innocent children in his path to find out. I want those around him to be aware that this is an illness you cannot turn your back on.
I know my parents’ response is not unusual, but it breaks my heart. I have become the black sheep in the family because I cannot let it go. What should I do? — Prayerful in Pennsylvania
Dear Pennsylvania: By protecting your brother, your parents are putting at risk all young children he is close to, including future grandchildren. Tell your brother that he must admit the molestation to his wife or you will tell her. He might want to do it with the assistance of a counsellor or clergyperson.
Dear Annie: I am a senior in high school. My boyfriend and I have been together for a long time, and we love each other very much. We are attending colleges that are about 30 minutes apart. We want to get an apartment between the campuses so we can live together. This would be much cheaper than paying for room and board.
I’d like to talk to my parents about this, Annie, but they are so protective that I’m afraid they won’t allow it.
I will be 18 and can do what I want, but both my boyfriend and I prefer not to strain my relationship with my parents. What do I do? — Senior Needing Help in Kentucky
Dear Senior: We’re going to ask you not to do this. We know you love your boyfriend. But the first year of college can bring tremendous changes to both of you. By living with your boyfriend, you are cutting off opportunities that may expand your horizons and develop your character. Please consider doing the room-and-board bit for your first year. If you still want to live together after that, you will be in a better position to talk to your parents about it, and they are less likely to object.
Dear Annie: I’d like to comment on the letter from “Eating on Me,” whose wife is slovenly and doesn’t shower regularly. He says the scent is noticeable.
I, too, do not shower on a daily basis. Many Americans and most of the rest of the world do not, either. A quick soap-up in vital areas between showers is sufficient to allow close proximity to others without broadcasting unpleasant odours.
“Eating on Me” may have trouble getting his wife to pick up after herself, but I’m willing to bet she would not want to stink. He surely can find a tactful way to advise her that she needs to wash certain areas daily whether or not she takes a shower. She may be happy with an easy out that does not require getting drenched every single day. — How Dry I Am
Dear Dry: Some people have stronger scents than others, and for them, more frequent showers may be necessary. But your suggestion to wash the “vital areas,” whether showering or not, is a good one.