Fiancée Won't Tell on Abuser

Q: My fiancée recently confessed to me that she was sexually abused as a teenager. Worse yet, it was by someone in her family that we see on a semi-regular basis. She never filed charges and nobody in the family knows. I'm outraged and feel that we need to bring this person to justice, not only for the sake of the woman I love, but in case he's done this to other girls. I don't want to pressure her, but how can I be in the same room as this person knowing what has happened? —Tim, 31

Dr. Susan: That has to be really hard on you, Tim. Having myself had an uncle who tried a bit of inappropriate behavior with me when I was very young, and never having told the family, His behavior was just an "ewww" situation, but I always wonder if I did the right thing by keeping it secret. He's long gone, but what if he was inappropriate outside the family too? I'll never know.

Your fiancée, on the other hand, still has a chance to make things right. It's not immediately obvious what that might be. Call the police and press charges and be ready to testify in court and deal with the probable ire of her family? That would be the brave thing to do, especially if we're speaking about rape. Continuing to see him socially with all that bad stuff stirring under the surface feels wrong. And to expect you to deal with it by ignoring it isn't the answer. Perhaps I might suggest you schedule a session with a counselor, she and you together, to discuss exactly what happened and what her options are. No one wants anyone else to be victimized, obviously.

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