DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: My family recently became aware of a tragic incident. My brother, now 25, has been seeing a counsellor for relationship issues and was encouraged to share with my parents that he was sexually abused at age six for three years. I was completely shocked, mortified and disgusted. My parents had no idea. What makes this situation even worse, is that the girl who did this to him was 12 at the time when it started. She was our babysitter, and I was three. My mom asked if I ever remember anything or have memories of my own I haven't shared. I don't. The girl, who is now a grown woman, is married and starting a family of her own. Our families are still very close. We went to her wedding, we get together usually once a year and they have discussed with my parents to meet up in the summer at our cottages, which are only 45 minutes apart. My mom is livid, which is completely acceptable, and wants to confront her parents and this woman. My dad is much more passive, and doesn't know how to approach this. He doesn't want to lose their friendship with her parents. My brother says he doesn't want an apology and doesn't need closure, that he's getting the help he needs. But what about the help my family needs? This is not a family that we'll be able to avoid forever. When we do see them, and my mom all but spits in their faces what are we supposed to say? We're left hanging with this awful news, and I'm inclined to think that maybe this girl was sexually abused herself if she was able to show and teach my brother things that no 12-year-old girl should know. How do we approach this situation as a family and not damage more lives? -- Keeping It Together, Winnipeg
Dear Keeping it Together: Your dad needs to be brought out of denial. What is he thinking? That it's water under the bridge, that it was OK to abuse his son? Yes, it may well be that this girl was sexually abused herself -- and by the father who is your dad's buddy. As for the girl herself, at 12 years old she was the trusted babysitter. She needs to face the music and she needs therapy so she doesn't continue doing sexual things to other children, including her own. Your brother should not have to look the other way, but if he can't take her to task for what she did the family should do it for him. Something has to be done now! Don't wait until you run into this family at the lake. Repressing information like this just makes people sick. How must your brother feel about a dad who'd rather keep peace with the neighbours than go after the person who abused his child? Get behind your mom now, and help her confront the woman. She doesn't need your dad's permission! Try to get everybody into counselling.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: Do you know what it's like to have a man's libido trapped in a woman's body? I have a raging case of hormones and nowhere safe to express my desires. My girlfriends walk around like there's nothing problematic about not having a sex partner. They're like nuns! I think I need a sex buddy, but then you never know where else the sex buddy is going! Buzz toys are not the answer for me, because they are cold pieces of plastic. I want kisses and warm arms and hugs and my nasty husband is long gone. I kicked his sorry butt out for cheating on me with someone who was half as sexy as I am! "Yes, dear" was her second name. I'm not ready for love yet. I just want action. But how do you find a man who is safe and willing to stick with just one woman when there is not a big relationship, unless it's a married man? What I need is a 35-year-old who doesn't live with his mother. I am 44. What do you think? Sorry about the rant but I'm all worked up -- Need a Partner Badly, Winnipeg
Dear Need: I encourage anybody out there who's in a sex buddy relationship to write in about the pros and cons of this increasingly common adaptation to modern life. In the meantime you might want to meet some people where you could possibly find a real relationship at Adventure for Successful Singles (775-3484). This club offers sports, arts and social activities. Everybody's single and nobody's throwing anyone together.