Dear Annie: I am 39 years old. For the past 20 years, I have had ongoing therapy to recover from the sexual abuse I suffered as a child. My abuser was my half-brother. When I finally said something at the age of 13, my family did not believe or support me. Since then, family gatherings have been especially difficult because my family expects me to attend when my abuser is present. I can’t even tell you how difficult it is to be around him. The flashbacks are unbearable. Five years ago, with the support of my counselor, I decided I didn’t need to subject myself to that kind of torture and stopped going to these family functions.

The problem now is that no one mentions the abuse, especially to his wife and two daughters. His wife, who is clueless, sends me Christmas and birthday presents, which makes me extremely uncomfortable, especially when I see his name on the card. Is it OK for me to ask her to stop? I don’t want to insert myself into their lives or cause problems, but I can’t deal with this.

Still Healing

Dear Healing: Is there a risk that your half-brother would abuse his daughters? If so, it is imperative that you inform his wife so she can protect her children. It is OK to ask your sister-in-law to stop sending gifts and cards, or you can send a letter to your half-brother, asking him to please cease all communication. If you cannot bring yourself to write to him directly, please ask a friend to do it for you.

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