DEAR ABBY: Thirty-five years ago, my wife was raped in her mother's home when she was a teenager. Eight years ago, my daughter was also raped at the age of 11 in the same home. My mother-in-law blames them both for having been raped. She told them if it did happen, they probably deserved it.
I don't understand this. How can someone take the side of the perpetrator and not their own flesh and blood? How can someone who is supposed to be nurturing, loving and caring say such terrible things to her children?
I want to call her up and give her a piece of my mind, especially since both of them are passive when it comes to this woman. Can they file a lawsuit against her for mental anguish? Help! I want to help them heal from this tragedy, and I don't know what to do. -- DISTRAUGHT DAD IN TEXAS
DEAR DISTRAUGHT: It is not unusual for families to circle the wagons when this kind of sexual assault occurs, or to blame the victim. That is why the damage persists from generation to generation. It's clear that your wife's mother is either in denial or without shame.
If the perpetrator isn't in prison or a program for sex offenders, the person you should talk to is a detective in the police force in the city where these sexual assaults happened. If your wife and daughter haven't received counseling for the assaults (and I'm betting they haven't), they should find some now.
The victims didn't "deserve" being assaulted. Counseling may help them get in touch with their anger, aim it where it belongs, and finally release it along with their passivity -- which may really be fear of expressing their emotions.