Dear Abby: Is there such a thing as nonphysical sexual abuse? When I was young, my father would fondle my mother when I came to sleep with them when I had a nightmare. (She would rebuff his advances.) He would also watch porn in front of me.
As I matured, he made comments about my figure. He would barge into my room without knocking and insist he didn't have to knock. He'd tell dirty jokes or talk about sexually inappropriate things. (The day after my wedding he asked my husband how our wedding night had been.) But with all of this, he never touched me or assaulted me.
His actions affected my self-esteem and relationships because as I grew up I thought the only thing I had to offer was being sexy. Thankfully, therapy and my husband helped me to see myself as a fully dynamic person.
I recently began seeing a new counselor who thinks my father was just a dirty old man — nothing more. Was I abused? Any information you have would be appreciated.
Wondering in Wis.
Dear Wondering: When a parent attempts to initiate sex or watch pornography in front of a child, it is sexualizing behavior and it could also be considered "grooming" behavior. Your father's actions were so far out of the normal boundaries that they were off the charts. And yes, it WAS a form of abuse. My advice is to change counselors.
Dear Abby: After working 15 years for the same company, I was let go. I have called my former co-workers/friends just to stay in touch. I don't dwell on what I'm going through; I just want to enjoy some companionship.
I have asked if they would like to meet for coffee before or after work. Only two ever seem to want to get together. It hurts, because we always shared birthdays, happy hour outings, etc. My phone rarely rings, and I am now seeing a doctor for depression.
Abby, please let your readers know that those of us who have lost their jobs are still trying to maintain relationships. It's hard enough not having a job, but it's harder realizing friends have turned their backs on you.
Dear Forgotten: I know you're going through a difficult time and am glad that you talked to your physician about your depression. Take from this experience some valuable insight: The people who get together with you are your true friends. Those who no longer want contact may fear that unemployment is a communicable disease and were only acquaintances. And now you know who's who.
Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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