Dear Annie: Many years ago, I suspected my ex-husband of sexually abusing our daughter, "Mary." There was opportunity and some evidence. I didn't actually see anything. In and out of denial, I didn't know what to do, and so I didn't do anything. But it's tormented me.
Several years ago, Mary told me she believed she was sexually abused as a child, but didn't know exactly who the perpetrator was. Her details were hazy, but the statements she made about the abuse confirmed my suspicion. Because she was going through a difficult time, I decided to hold off on telling her. That was a big mistake. Mary had just reestablished a relationship with her father after having been estranged for years.
Since then, she has read a book on sexual abuse and is trying to fill in the blanks. At her request, I also read the book. Now she feels she knows who it was, but the person she holds responsible could not possibly be the right one. I believe she is having false memories. But she feels she has worked through it and at times seems to be doing well. Other times, she still seems fragile.
My question is: Should I tell her the truth about her father or let her continue to believe it was the other guy? I have prayed about this. I believe the right thing to do is to tell her the truth, but I don't want to hurt her more. We live in different cities, so getting together with her has been difficult. I don't want to do this over the phone, and I'd rather do it at her place, not mine. Advice? — Anonymous
Dear Anonymous: We recognize that some parents, when faced with the possibility that a spouse is abusing their child, become paralyzed with denial. But this was a terrible betrayal of your daughter. You were supposed to protect her. Please don't compound your culpability by withholding information because you can't seem to find the right moment to tell her. Since you aren't sure how to approach this, please contact RAINN (rainn.org) at 1-800-656-HOPE (1-800-656-4673), and ask for help. Today.
Dear Annie: My 28-year-old sister has been dating a 36-year-old guy for two years. They have frequent breakups because he's commitment phobic. A month ago, he finally proposed, and she said yes.
Two weeks ago, she was invited to go overseas on a special program. Her fiance doesn't want her to be away for six months. I suggested she postpone the wedding and that her fiance could visit while she's there. My mother and sister were both dismissive of that idea. I said, "People who love and care about each other trust each other. Since he's been postponing the marriage for two years, I doubt another six months would hurt."
My sister was silent, but my mother got mad at me. I think everything I said made sense. Am I wrong? — New York Brother
Dear Brother: Your comments were valid, but that's irrelevant. This isn't your decision, and apparently, both your mother and sister think it's not your business. Your suggestions have been noted. Now, we strongly urge you to stay out of it for your own health and safety.
Dear Annie: I saw the poem "The Time Is Now" in your column. My singing partner, Ed, and I learned it from a recording by the great Oklahoma bluegrass duo Delia Bell and Bill Grant. Wanting to include it on our own CD, we researched and learned that the late, great Nashville songwriter Harlan Howard wrote the song and released it in 1978 under the title "Love Me Now." It is our most requested song during bluegrass jam sessions. — Peg Chase, Parma, Idaho
Dear Peg Chase: Thanks for the research. We are delighted to give credit where it's due.
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