DEAR ABBY: I have an extensive history of childhood trauma. I was sexually abused by my stepfather for 15 years. When I turned him in, my family turned their backs on me. I was told it could have been handled within the family, and they blamed me for acting "sexy." My stepfather spent 10 years in prison and died a few years later.
I suffer from chronic mental health issues including PTSD, anxiety and suicide ideation, which have landed me in the hospital 10 times in the last two years. My mother wants to have a relationship with me, but she refuses to apologize or acknowledge the abuse even happened.
In some ways, the betrayal by my mother has hurt me more than the abuse. I feel guilty for not trying to work on a relationship with her, but on the other hand, I don't feel my heart can handle any more rejection from her. We live states apart. What should I do? — SURVIVOR IN WISCONSIN
DEAR SURVIVOR: If you haven't talked about this with a licensed psychotherapist, please do it before making a decision about something this important. I'm not a therapist, but I think it would be healthier for you to keep your distance from someone who prefers living in denial rather than facing reality.
At the very least, you are owed an apology for the way you were treated by "the family." You did nothing wrong. The person who should feel guilty is your mother. Blowing the whistle on the child molester she married was the right thing to do. ("Handle it within the family"?!) I can only wonder how many other young family members your stepfather may have abused in addition to you.
DEAR ABBY: My three sons are all engaged and plan on being married over the next three years. Their mother and I are separated and will be splitting the cost of the rehearsal dinner.
I told the first one to be engaged that while I will pay for the rehearsal DINNER, I will not pay for a bartender or alcoholic drinks. I have been in emergency services for more than 35 years and have seen firsthand the effects of alcohol too many times. I no longer drink socially because of it. Although I explained this to my sons as they grew up, they have chosen to drink socially as adults. It is their choice, and I accept it.
The fiancee of my second son to be married has sent us a price quote from a venue that includes costs for a bartender. (The total is more than twice that of the first son's.) I plan to discuss this with him, but I'd like your opinion: Am I wrong to make this stipulation given the fact that this is "their" event? — TEETOTALER IN THE SOUTH
DEAR TEETOTALER: You are not wrong. You made that stipulation to Son No. 1, and in fairness, you should do the same with Son No. 2. While it will be his and his fiancee's event, and you are generously paying for the dinner, you are under no obligation to pay for their booze.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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