Dear Annie: I am 16 years old, and my friend "Kelly" is 17. Last week, Kelly went to a party where there was alcohol. She got a little drunk and then drove her brother home, along with one of his friends who stayed over. She was asleep when her brother's friend came into her bedroom and forced himself on her. She couldn't fight him off because the alcohol made her feel disoriented. Afterward, she realized she was raped.
Kelly doesn't want to report it because there was underage drinking involved, and this boy is her brother's best friend. She isn't pregnant, so I doubt she'll seek medical help. She insists she wants to put it behind her. She feels too ashamed to tell her parents and her brother, and I'm livid that this boy is going to get away with it. How can I convince her to talk to someone?
- Nightmare in Maine
Dear Maine: Kelly should report this, but please don't push her too hard. It will only add stress to what is obviously a difficult situation. Instead, urge her to contact the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network hotline (rainn.org) at 1-800-656-HOPE (1-800-656-4673). The call is anonymous and confidential, and someone there will help her sort through her options, including counseling.
Dear Annie: My wonderful mother recently died. Dad is not the type who can manage on his own. We never had a close relationship, and now he wants to be my best friend. I just can't do it. There are too many hard feelings. He never interacted with us. When my husband and children came to see him, he would watch TV the entire time. Now, he wants to give me a kiss hello and goodbye, and it feels awkward.
He also comes over all the time unannounced. I've gotten up in the morning and been startled to see Dad sitting at the kitchen table. He drops by when I'm not home and looks through our mail. The last straw was when he walked into our bedroom, bent over my bed and said, "Are you sleeping?" He scared me to death. I finally told Dad he has to knock on the door and announce himself, and if we are not home, he has to leave. But he still keeps trying to hang around.
I am in counseling, but I don't feel like I am handling this well. I suggested counseling for Dad and even found a senior center where he could meet others, play a little cards, etc., but he won't go. I can't give him the relationship he wants. Please help.
- Lost Without Mom
Dear Lost: First, put new locks on your doors and use them. Then try to cut Dad some slack. He's lonely. With the loss of his wife, he now is valuing the relationships he has left. He is trying to form a closer bond, and we hope you will allow it to happen. Yes, it is awkward now, but hopefully you can adjust if you give it time, and we urge you to try a bit more. It could turn out to be very rewarding.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from "Hopeless in Parenting," whose daughter wants to attend an unsupervised overnight prom party. Many parents think that with eight couples present, the children will be too modest for sex and will watch out for each other.
After 35 years of teaching high school, I can tell you, the more kids, the more prone they are to have sex. This includes the honors and AP kids, the band kids, even the kids who seem to be in committed relationships. They model what they see on TV. This mother is right to worry. I cannot tell you the number of students whose college plans have been changed or destroyed because of an unplanned pregnancy or health issues involving STDs. Please do not use my name. I am
- Still Teaching
Dear Still: Thanks for one more warning to add to the list.
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. To find out more about Annie's Mailbox, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.