Q: A 14 year old boy wrote to me asking what to do about his Step-father who is regularly molesting him. The boy confided in his sister who then told her mother. Sadly, his mother didn’t believe it. This boy is burdened with a lot of worries: He is worried that if he presses the issue, it will break up his family and his mother will never forgive him. He is worried about his sister. He is worried that he is gay because a friend told him that anyone who has sex with a man is gay. He is worried about what his friends and teachers will think of him if they find out he has been raped. I’m not running his original letter because it has too many identifying details in it. I don’t trust what would happen to him if his Step-dad reads this column and recognizes himself. But the letter can’t go unanswered. No kid should carry such a secret and so many worries. I hope this helps.

A. Dear Worried Teen,
What your Step-dad is doing to you is a crime. He is the one dividing up your family, not you. He is hurting you, scaring your sister, and making you both feel guilty and bad. By secretly abusing you and threatening your sister, your Step-dad is taking advantage of your mother’s trust and love and harming the people she most cares about. When a partner does that, a marriage can’t last.

Your mom can’t believe that a man she loves is hurting her children. But she is blinded by how nice he can be and by how scared she is to be on her own again. We need to help her take those blinders off and take care of you and your sister as a mother should. The way to do that is to get another adult she respects to help you.

You must, must, must confide in an adult you trust so your Step-dad can be stopped. In your state, guidance counselors, principals, and school nurses are what are called “mandated reporters”. That means that once they know about this kind of situation, they must protect you by reporting it to the police. Ask to speak privately to one of these people at your school. They will help you talk to your mom and get your family the help you all need.

Please listen to me. Even if your mother is mad at first, getting your Step-dad out of your family is the right thing to do. You and your sister should not have to pay the very real price of your own well-being and safety for the illusion of a happy family.

And, by the way, having sex with a man doesn’t make you gay. In a case like this, it only makes you a victim. People figure out they are gay or straight as they grow through their teens. Sexual orientation is not something that happens to you. It is something people figure out about themselves as they mature.

If anybody finds out about all this and starts giving you a hard time, you just tell them to write to me and I’ll straighten them out.

Please write to me and let me know how this turns out. I care very much about what is happening to you.
Dr. Marie