DEAR ABBY: My husband recently disclosed to me that he was sexually abused by his cousin, who was the same age, when he was in high school. She blackmailed him by threatening to tell everyone he had raped her. She used this power over him to coax sexual favors but never intercourse.
After a year of looking for help, he confided in his mother, but she ended up getting drunk and telling the whole family about the situation. Luckily, he was able to convince most of them it was "just the alcohol talking." At that point, his cousin finally found a boyfriend and stopped blackmailing him.
This all happened five years ago. He hasn't lived in the same state as his mom or the abuser in three years. I can tell that by confiding in me he feels much better, but I'm worried that he blames himself for his mother's alcoholism and his ruined relationships with his close friends in high school. I'm also not sure whether or not we can bring his abuser to justice. -- CONCERNED SPOUSE
DEAR CONCERNED SPOUSE: Encourage your husband to talk to a licensed psychotherapist about what was done to him. Victims sometimes blame themselves. I seriously doubt that his mother's alcohol abuse had anything to do with him. That she betrayed his confidence instead of helping him was terrible. A therapist can explain all this to him, and help him to see things clearly so he can decide how to proceed.