Dear Annie: I am an 11-year-old boy and the youngest in my family. My sister is 22 years old and married to a bully. "Chris" is always mean to me when no one is watching. He punches and kicks me and shoves me into things. One time, he drove me to a friend's house and punched me in my arm six times in less than 10 minutes. He calls me names, including gay slurs, and makes fun of me for being small and having asthma. He says he is trying to toughen me up because I'm such a baby, and if I tell anyone he will take it out on my sister.
When we're around my family, Chris acts like my best buddy. He puts on a big show, and my parents think he's the greatest. I try to avoid him, but they live next door, and we're always around each other. My older brother comes home from the army at Thanksgiving, and I know Chris won't be able to get away with this then. But I don't know whether I can hold out that long.
I also feel really guilty because I find myself wishing that Chris would die in a car wreck or something. I know that's wrong, but I can't help it. — Your Friend
Dear Friend: Please tell your parents, your friends, your friends' parents and your teachers what is going on. Make sure Chris knows that every time he hurts you, you will inform your parents. And don't worry that he will take it out on your sister. Bullies pick on those they believe are too small, too young, too weak or too frightened to stand up to them and report it. Your sister will not be such an easy target, and if he tries anything with her, the entire family will know what he really is.
Dear Annie: May I post this for my friends and family members?
Dear Friends and Family: When I phone, it's because I want to speak with you. If you would like to speak with me, please do the same. Do not attempt to carry on a conversation by texting. We can get the same results in a two-minute phone call as in a texting session that leaves things out and takes way too much time. I also have to wait for your response. And I wouldn't dream of texting you back while I am driving.
I would love to hear from you, so please call. If I don't answer, leave a message. I will do the same for you. There may be times when texting is necessary, but I do not want that to be our principal means of communication.
Annie, am I asking too much? — Dorothy
Dear Dorothy: Of course not, but as much as you prefer a phone call, others prefer texting. It allows them to respond whenever they choose. We suggest you pick up the phone when you want to talk and ask others to do the same, but understand that they might text anyway. To each his own.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from "Mostly Over It in Vermont," who said her mother probably didn't recognize that some of her childrearing techniques were abusive. I'm sure that my dad was the same.
When my younger sister and I were to be punished, we had to remove all of our clothes while Dad sat on our bed and lectured us. The door to the bedroom stood wide open so anyone could walk by. Then he'd turn us over his knee and spank us.
This punishment made me ashamed to be seen in the locker room at school. I also believe it contributed to the fact that I fondled some of my friends when we were in grade school. It's taken me a long time to have a healthier attitude. I wonder how my life would have been different had I grown up another way. — Forever Free
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to [email protected], or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. 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.