Trauma and its fallout still linger for woman

Published 8:35 am Tuesday, January 10, 2023

DEAR ABBY: When I was 13, my 10-year-old cousin let a boy we did not know well into my house. Nobody else was there with us. He told her he wanted to “make out” with me, and he came upstairs. I confronted him and told him to leave. Later on, I told my mother about the incident, thinking I would be commended on my bravery.
Shortly afterward, against my will, she insisted my aunt, a hairstylist, cut my long hair up to my chin. I sobbed during the entire ordeal. My hair had given me confidence about my looks, which I needed because I was large-chested and embarrassed at that age about it. By cutting my hair against my will, my mother made me no longer trust her and think she didn’t love me or like me.
In later years, I realized she may have done it so I would not attract boys and there would be less risk of my being harmed by a boy like the one who got into our house. If that was the case, she should have sat me down and explained that the boy could have hurt, raped or even killed me. I am giving her the benefit of the doubt.
Recently, my aunt and I had a falling-out, and I remembered she was the one who actually did the cutting. I am feeling resentment toward her after all these years. I would like parents to know that cutting a teenager’s hair at such a vulnerable stage of their development should not be a punishment. It is disrespectful and oversteps a child’s boundaries. Am I correct in my thinking? — STILL REMEMBERS IN VIRGINIA

DEAR STILL REMEMBERS: Yes, you are. Your mother punished you for being an attractive young girl, which wasn’t your fault. What she did was a form of assault and blaming the victim, and it was outrageous. It’s a shame your aunt couldn’t have talked some sense into your mother.
P.S. You did nothing wrong. Your cousin let the boy into the house, and your cousin should have been lectured about it.
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DEAR ABBY: I went through breast cancer a few years ago. My breasts are now two different sizes because of the lumpectomy. I wear a gel prosthetic in my bra to camouflage it, and I’m extremely self-conscious about it. Because of this, I haven’t dated in 10 years. How can I get past this fear of rejection? — OUT OF THE GAME IN ILLINOIS

DEAR OUT: I wish you had joined a cancer support group right after that lumpectomy. If you had, you would have received emotional support and tips for dating from other women who have had cancer surgery. Countless women have had breast surgery similar to yours.
If a potential partner is interested in you as a person, they won’t be turned off by the fact that your breasts aren’t the same size. Many women are born with asymmetrical breasts and live full, happy lives. A way to get past this fear would be to open up and reach out. Another would be to talk to your doctor or a mental health professional. The only thing you SHOULDN’T do is hide yourself away as though having survived cancer is something to be ashamed of.
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Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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