Ask Amy: Despite my trauma, my siblings refuse to shun our cousin

Dear Amy: I am a 64-year-old woman, the youngest in my family.

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When I was 16, my cousin Will (who was then 30 years old and would become a doctor) invited me to New York City for a visit. I barely knew this side of the family, and I thought it would be great to go to New York.

While I was visiting, Will raped me in the apartment of his sister, “Clare.”

I had no idea where I was and was terrified.

The next morning Clare walked into her apartment and freaked out on him.

Although she asked if I was OK, she and her other brother did nothing to hold Will accountable for what he did. They even went so far as to blame me.

I never told anyone what happened, out of shame and fear. It really traumatized me on many levels.

There was no contact between our two families, except between my mother and aunt (Will’s mother).

Two of my brothers and my sister later rekindled a relationship with Clare, who has a big fancy house in Florida where they go to visit.

This made me very uncomfortable. After my mother and aunt died, I told my siblings what happened and asked them to please not associate with that family.

They said it happened long ago, it’s my problem, and they see no reason to stop seeing Clare. I wonder if they don’t believe me.

After six years of wrestling with this, and some pretty angry emails from me, they refuse to even speak to me.

Thank God I have a third brother who has helped me to get through the heartache.

I have now cut off contact with my other siblings. But are they right?

I know it isn’t right to ask somebody to ghost someone else, but I really feel disrespected here. What are your thoughts on this?

– Abandoned in PA

Dear Abandoned: This sounds like a genuinely terrible situation, and I’m so sorry you have been living with this for so long.

No, your siblings aren’t “right” for denying your experience and the trauma you’ve lived with!

Your own choice not to continue an active relationship with them because of their behavior toward you seems proportional.

My concern is that nowhere in your narrative do you mention any consequences at all for Will, the cousin who assaulted you. Your focus is entirely on his siblings and yours.

Will, a 30-year-old man, raped his teenage cousin. You should wonder if his career as a predator stopped there. If he became a physician, with access to countless vulnerable people … the mind reels.

You would benefit from counseling, which even many years later could help you to cope with this trauma. Rainn.org offers online support and a list of counselors for more intensive help.

Womenslaw.org has an email “hotline” linked to their home page where you can ask questions related to this assault and receive advice about any legal actions you might be able to take against your rapist.

Dear Amy: My family and I have lived in our rented home for 10 years.

Our last lease expired in September, and we are now on a month-to-month lease. We’re fine with that and like our landlord a lot.

Well, last week, our landlord contacted us to say that he plans to renovate and sell our home this summer, and that we’ll need to move out by the end of May.

This feels abrupt, and we’re upset. Can he do that?

– Upset Family

Dear Family: You should check your lease and the tenant rights and regulations in your area (I’m not a lawyer), but my perspective is that, even though this seems abrupt to you, you are being given plenty of notice.

Because you are on a month-to-month lease, your landlord could have terminated your lease at the end of the month. As it is, he is giving you several months’ lead time to find other housing.

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You can email Amy Dickinson at askamy@amydickinson.com or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.

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