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 Wisconsin
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.
Keep putting your foot down
Dear Abby: My mother-in-law is addicted to prescription painkillers and has been for more than 10 years. She went to rehab once, but she relapsed and hasn’t been able to get clean since. She has tried to quit on her own, but she ends up having great emotional stress and slight psychotic episodes and starts again.
My problem is, my husband sees her addiction as “manageable.” He sees no harm in having her watch our 3-year-old daughter, even though he has told me he has seen her nod off with her eyes rolled back like drug addicts do. When we argue about this, he becomes defensive and attacks my family for being “overprotective and paranoid.”
Am I right to put my foot down? I’m sick and tired of fighting over this.
– Not Paranoid in Pennsylvania
Dear Not Paranoid: Continue putting your foot down! A person whose eyes have rolled back after taking drugs or alcohol hasn’t “nodded off.” The person has lost consciousness and PASSED OUT. In your mother-in-law’s case, it means that while she may be physically present, she is completely unavailable to supervise your child. Leaving your daughter under the care of a person in this condition is child endangerment. That’s why you can’t allow it.
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