Silent for friend’s sake
Dear Annie: I have had a very close friend for many years. She was diagnosed with cancer, and I wanted to stand by her, of course. Then one night, her husband gave me a ride home from their house and tried to rape me.
She depends on him completely. She does not work outside the home, and her health insurance is through him. He is her only source of income. She is also absolutely devoted to him and has been since we were all in high school together. We are in our 50s now.
Our group of friends always meets at their place. I couldn’t stand to be around him after that and walked away. I didn’t know how to handle the situation and just stopped coming around. I felt it was better for her to hate me than him, considering all. It hurt, but I felt that it was the right decision at the time.
The hardest part is that all of our friends decided that I deserted her because of the cancer and have turned their backs on me. None of them has spoken to me since. I understand. I made a choice that I cannot even explain to anyone, in order to protect her. I just miss them all so much. I am a pariah because I didn’t want to cause her more pain when she is already going through so much. I am also so angry with her husband. The only way to protect her is by keeping my mouth shut. And he is still her hero.
It all will have been worth it if she pulls through this. Still, it hurts so much, and I miss everyone. — Alone Because I Care
Dear Alone: I am so sorry that this happened to you. Whether attempted or completed, sexual assault is a trauma that can leave survivors with long-lasting negative effects. I understand why you haven’t come forward, especially because you’re trying to protect your friend. But this is not your burden to silently carry. I implore you: Please report this man’s crime to the authorities. He alone is responsible for his horrible actions. Whatever fallout comes when the truth’s out, those are consequences of his choices.
I encourage you to call the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800-656-4673) to speak with someone about your experience. It’s totally confidential, and someone is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You are not alone.
Dear Annie: My husband recently started spending a lot of time with his 17-year-old niece, and it’s starting to bother me. He just met her for the first time nine months ago. Her parents — my husband’s sister and her husband — don’t have much to do with her. They have both been in trouble with the law and aren’t in the picture at all, really.
My husband says that she needs to feel that someone cares for her. And I totally agree with that. But it’s to the point that it’s interfering with our marriage, and he doesn’t care.
They do something together every single day. They go to the movies, go shopping, go to the park, cook supper for each other. I don’t think it’s normal for them to be spending so much time together. It’s almost as if they are dating. I’m at my wits’ end! — Unhappy Aunt
Dear Unhappy Aunt: Whatever’s going on, I agree that it’s not OK. If your husband wanted to become de facto guardian of his niece, he should have discussed that with you beforehand. It’s a major decision that impacts you both. Tell him it’s time for a serious conversation about his niece and what role you’ll both play — together — in her life. You two are the partners here, and it’s time for him to act like it.
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