Dear Annie: About six months ago, a friend confided in me that he had been sexually assaulted a year prior by a blind date. After watching an episode of “ER,” we were talking about sexually transmitted infections, and he mentioned needing to get tested, which brought up the revelation of his assault. He was very straightforward about telling me and said that he had dealt with everything already and was ready to move past it. He’s also had relationships and casually dated people since the assault, and he said things were completely fine.
I’ve tried to let him know that I’m here if he wants to talk, but he brushes the concern aside and starts a new topic each time it comes up. He’s even joked a few times about hoping it doesn’t happen again as he’s heading out the door for a date. I’m never sure how to reply to jokes like that. Awkward chuckle? I doubt he needs or wants any pitying glances. His demeanor is very different from that of my female friends who have also been assaulted, and I don’t know how to navigate the conversation without projecting my own emotions — or emotions that I think should be expected — on him. Annie, do you have any recommendations or resources for helping men who’ve been sexually assaulted or for their friends and family members? — At a Loss
Dear At a Loss: I am so sorry your friend went through that. He’s not alone. Approximately 1 in 6 men have experienced sexual assault or abuse.
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The fact that he opened up to you about his experience means that he sees your friendship as a safe space in which he can be vulnerable. If you can continue providing that space, you’ll have done a lot. Ambivalent and complex emotions will arise at times. Know that it’s not necessary to “resolve” those feelings; simply sitting with them and with him is often the best thing you can do, even when it feels uncomfortable.
Sometimes survivors use humor as a way to cope with trauma, which may be what he’s doing with those jokes. But you don’t have to laugh at them. A neutral reaction is fine.
For more tips on supporting him, visit https://1in6.org; select the “Get Information” tab and then “For Family and Friends.” You can also chat with a trained advocate using the 1in6 website, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Dear Annie: Summer is here, and so are summer scams.
Recently, my mother-in-law received a call from my daughter’s “friend” telling her that her granddaughter had been driving and caused a wreck resulting in serious injuries to a woman in another car. She insisted that my daughter didn’t want to tell us about the accident and asked for money that she would pay back soon. She even said she had a lawyer to represent her and gave a number.
My mother-in-law is a trusting woman. Luckily, she felt she had to talk to her son before she did anything, and of course the fish failed to swallow the hook. Please print this letter to let others know not to trust anyone peddling this sort of scam.
People also should know not to open their doors to strangers, no matter what they say. Call the police and stay inside your home. If you are contacted via phone or text, call your provider and ask whether someone working there can trace the call and alert fraud agencies. Don’t answer calls from unknown numbers, and never provide information or money to strangers, no matter how convincing their script. — Now Wiser
Dear Now Wiser: Thanks for sharing your wisdom. Scams can also be reported at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov. Stay safe and savvy.
“Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to email@example.com.
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