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DEAR ABBY: Years ago, my child was sexually abused by a relative. After I found out, I reported it, which made the abuser’s family very upset. Charges were filed, and there were court dates, probation and counseling. To date, everything the judge required of the abuser has been legally fulfilled. While I’m glad everything was completed, I’m still not comfortable having him around my child or any of their younger siblings.
The extended family wants to have large gatherings like were held in the past, and they are so happy we can all be together again. Is it bad that I still don’t want my child and other children around the abuser? Is it bad I don’t want my child to have to spend every major holiday and celebration with their abuser in the same space?
It bothers me that everyone is celebrating the return of this pedophile and disregarding my child’s feelings as if nothing ever happened. Am I wrong to feel this way? What’s the best way to handle this? — SHELL-SHOCKED MOTHER IN COLORADO
DEAR SHELL-SHOCKED: You are not wrong. You are a loving, caring, vigilant and protective mother. The best way to handle this would be to forgo family gatherings at which the abuser will be present. A victim of sexual abuse should not be required to ever be in that person’s presence again.
DEAR ABBY: This may seem strange to complain about because most people would love to get flowers. My boyfriend of three years sends a dozen red roses every couple of months to my workplace. It’s not related to a birthday or anniversary. It’s “just because.”
It would be fine if they were sent to our home, but sending them to my workplace makes it seem like he wants to send a message. It feels controlling somehow. I feel like a spectacle and uncomfortable. I don’t want to say anything to him and hurt his feelings when he’s trying to be nice, but I just want it to stop.
He thinks my late husband gave me flowers all the time because when we moved, I had 30 vases or more. But most of them were from bouquets I received after his death. Plus, when my late husband gave me flowers, it was usually after he did something hurtful. So yes, I do have a negative connotation about flowers. But still, saying something to him about stopping makes me as queasy as actually getting the flowers. Please help. — OVER-BLOSSOMED IN THE WEST
DEAR OVER-BLOSSOMED: Open your mouth! Your boyfriend is not a mind reader. Tell him everything you have written to me. He needs to know why you feel the way you do about receiving flowers, and also that sending them to your workplace is distracting and feels intrusive. If he feels he “must” give you a public demonstration of his adoration, he should make it a nice box of candy that everyone can enjoy.
DEAR READERS: In the words of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who in 1968 was martyred in the cause of civil rights, and whose birthday we remember today: “We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope.”
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.
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in “What Every Teen Should Know.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)