A daughter’s dilemma

Joey Garcia

My parents divorced when I was 5 years old. My Dad is really cool and I liked living with him until last year when he remarried. My stepmother has three sons who visit every other weekend. I am 13 years old; they are 6, 10 and 15 years old. My Dad is happy and I don’t want to blow it for him, but I have a really big problem. My oldest stepbrother keeps touching me. He is always trying to brush up against me in the hallway or he’ll make some remark about my “tits.” The worst thing, though, was on the Fourth of July when he kept grabbing my butt and laughing when I asked him to quit it. I don’t want to ruin things for my Dad, but I don’t like my stepbrother anymore. Please help me.

Your concerns about ruining your Dad’s happiness are well meaning, but misplaced. No loving parent would be happy knowing that their child was suffering through a situation like yours. Your stepbrother is molesting you and you must tell your Dad immediately. Then, draw on your grrrl power to continue speaking up about your stepbrother’s behavior to adults that you trust until the molestations stop completely.

I admire your choice to tell your stepbrother to stop, but he obviously is lacking respect for himself and for you (otherwise he would stop). By trying to protect your Dad, you are leaving yourself without protection against your stepbrother’s escalating abuse. Keeping quiet may also encourage your stepbrother to believe that his behavior is cool. That means other girls may be at risk and your younger stepbrothers might believe such behavior is worth imitating.

A lot of adults try to excuse behavior such as your stepbrother’s by blaming hormones. Don’t fall for it. What they’re really saying is that they don’t know how to talk to teens about healthy sexual behavior. They’re also admitting that their own emotions overpower their ability to make conscious, sane choices; so they don’t know how to teach others. Mature parents model self-respect and respect for others, but some youth, like your stepbrother, need extra assistance. You can help your Dad and stepmother to do their job as parents by filling them in on what you have endured. They probably have no idea what you have been going through.

Now that my boyfriend broke up with me, my girlfriends are all telling me how much they disliked him. They go on and on about things he said and did. I am really broken-hearted and lonely and convinced that I’ll never meet anyone again. Their words are salt in my wounds. I am so hurt that I cannot say anything in response. Do you have any suggestions for what I can say to shut them up?

Try, “Are you telling me the truth now or were you telling me the truth back when you pretended to like him?” Then say nothing. Most folks will fill the silence with a lively combination of squirming and backpedaling. Don’t respond. Just observe their answers and you’ll understand that most of them were trying to make you feel better. The problem is that you feel betrayed by the people you considered friends. The good news is that eventually most people learn that lies build illusion and truth builds trust. Until then, practice getting really honest with yourself and others. For example, scrutinize your own behavior to determine whether you said or did anything that encouraged your friends to lie to you.

Meditation of the week
A friend loaned me a tape from an Alcoholics Anonymous conference. Speaker Lorna K., a witty Brit with over 20 years of sobriety, said she finally realized, “I was clutching rhinestones to my chest when God was offering me diamonds.” What do you need to let go of in order to grab the real prize?

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