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Dear Amy,

I am in desperate need of advice, I'm sure you hear it a lot. I've just found out that my girlfriend has been sexually assaulted by her father from the age of two {she was told all Daddies do this with their daughters) 'til age 16 (in these later years she was paid for the acts), oral, anal, and vaginal. I'm not abandoning her but I am trying to figure her out and help as best a man can. All the while she fights the issue saying, "I love my Daddy" (she's 25), "please try to understand people can change" she says, all this said while I have a picture of that alcoholic bastard in my mind.

The monster has never been prosecuted for his felony assault on the woman I am in love with she has not even tried and always defends him. I think she's in denial that she was raped of her childhood, her dignity, her pride, self-respect, and anything else in between. I am hurt and infuriated that I am forced to be polite to her "Daddy" in respect to her. I feel that if I force the issue she'll resent me.

She is such a nice person she fails to see that she herself was wronged. In some strange way is she acting like a hostage to their kidnapper? Does she have an emotional and sexual attraction to her father due to the length of time the abuse went on? Does she feel she needs that person in her life to feel like nothing happened, fooling herself?


I have a few friends who were sexually abused by their fathers and my reaction to my friends is much the same as yours: how can you still be nice to this man who wasn't so nice to you? The answer that I consistently get boils down to "it's more trouble to confront him than not to confront him." However, two of my friends who have repeated this mantra have recently changed their tune--and are down right angry and disgusted and aren't talking to them right now.

I think what finally made the difference is realizing that family is chosen and, therefore, we don't have to put up with something that was forced upon us. But who knows.... This may be the pattern for your friend, too. As a point of reference, my friends are now in their early 30s.

I would highly recommend that you suggest that your friend read Judith Herman's book, Father Daughter Incest--in fact, anything by Judith Herman. This might help explain some of her emotions and some of her denial. It might also be incentive for her healing process to begin.

I hope this helps,

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