Daily Camera (Boulder)

Severed sister relationsh­ip lasts 60 years


Two sisters in our extended family have a broken relationsh­ip.

When they were young their parents brought foster children into the home.

The eldest foster child was a boy in his early teens. He began sexually assaulting the younger sister, who was eight.

The abuse continued for at least four years. No one in the family was aware of it. The young sister was threatened not to tell anyone.

Fast-forward 20 years. The abuse was revealed, and the older sister said that everyone needed to forgive the predator.

She opted to keep him in her life, like a brother.

The victim no longer trusted her sister, and their relationsh­ip was never the same.

Now the older sister feels rejected by the family because of her continued support of the predator.

She still feels that forgivenes­s of the predator was the best course, and she can’t grasp the depth of her younger sister’s hurt.

Sixty years have passed, and the entire family is still clouded by this disloyalty.

The older sister feels like she’s the victim, due to the palpable rejection she feels from everyone else in the family.

Is there hope after all this time that trust can be re-establishe­d?

How should they make amends?

They are now all senior citizens, and they could both benefit greatly from each other’s companions­hip and love.

Your advice?

— Fractured Family

The older sister seems to have spent all of her compassion and forgivenes­s on the man who sexually abused her young and vulnerable sister during much of the girl’s childhood.

Where is her compassion, forgivenes­s and understand­ing toward her sister, who suffered as a child — and who might continue to suffer?

Sexual abuse of a child is the ultimate violation. The older sister does not have the right to claim victimhood, but this might be her way to try to paper over her own guilt — and perhaps win sympathy as a way back into the family fold.

Your letter highlights the legacy of childhood trauma which, unless addressed in a therapeuti­c context, will continue to hurt and divide family members — possibly into the next generation, when no one will even know the origin story.

Both of these sisters are locked into intractabl­e positions. Nothing will change unless they are both inspired and motivated to honestly state their truths.

The younger sister should be given space to continue to heal. The elder should be encouraged to understand how her long-ago choice became an important test of trust and loyalty.

The sisters may need to return to the painful events of their childhoods and rebuild from there. A family counselor could try to mediate a detente between the two.

If you are able to bring them both to the table, you’d be helping to forge a new path for your family.

Do you think it normal (or wise) to meet your Facebook friends?

My husband arranged a dinner with a “friend” he met on Facebook through one of his news sites.

He’s not happy that I didn’t want to attend this meeting.

He arranged another dinner with someone who was a member of his fraternity from college.

I attended this dinner only to find out they didn’t personally know each other!

My “friends” on Facebook are people I know and even if I haven’t seen them in years, I enjoy their news about family and their activities.

To randomly collect friends that you have no personal background with seems desperate and unwise.

— Concerned Wife

Any time you personally connect with a “stranger,” there is some risk involved, but in my opinion, meeting people you’ve gotten to know online is a natural and positive impulse. I’ve done so many times.

Meeting someone who was in your fraternity in college is not a “random” meetup. This is personally connecting with someone with whom you already share some real-world commonalit­y.

This is neither desperate nor unwise. It is actually old-school “networking.”

Contact Amy Dickinson via email, askamy@ amydickins­on.com.

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