Abby: Family split by repercussions of an assault

Dear Abby
Jeanne Phillips

Dear Abby: I am estranged from my sister, whom I love dearly. The reason goes back many years. When I was 13, her husband got me drunk and molested me. While I never forgot, I did repress it — possibly due to my age.

Time went on, I thought I had moved on. Well, five years ago the trauma erupted inside of me. My therapist thinks that possibly what triggered it was becoming a grandmother.

I cannot talk to my sister’s husband, let alone look at him. The sight of him makes me physically ill, which is obvious to everyone. Exposing him would devastate my sister, her family and our extended family.

I am praying for guidance and the strength to forgive him, but it’s not working, and neither is therapy. I am now regarded as the “bad guy” and left isolated with no one except my amazing husband. My own kids are skeptical and think I am destroying our family. Advice, Abby?

So Lost

in The Midwest

Dear So Lost: Because keeping quiet and talking to a therapist haven’t helped you, I will suggest another route for healing. Call your family together. Tell them exactly what happened when you were 13 and that you can no longer keep quiet about it.

At the same time, contact a rape crisis center because at 13, even if you were drunk and consented to what your brother-in-law did, you were underage and a victim of statutory rape. If your family accuses you of making this up, invite them to some of your counseling sessions with the rape counselor. With the help of that person, you may be able to help them see the light.

Dear Abby: My daughter will turn 6 soon, and she is a lovely, wonderful child. The only thing is, my parents and I have spoiled her a tad. Holidays have always been celebrated with lots of gifts. I’m starting to worry that perhaps she’s becoming too materialistic. What’s the proper etiquette for requesting no gifts on her birthday invitations? And what do I say if they ask why?

Spoiled in Washington

Dear Spoiled: I don’t think it’s necessary to state on the invitation “no gifts.” There are ways to teach children that there are other, less-fortunate children in this world.

Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.