Dear Ellie: I was 14 with full-blooming breasts when the doctor, seated for my general checkup, had me stand tight between his legs while he examined me in a closed-door room. My father remained in the waiting room. When I joined him, I didn’t say a word.
After that, I was wary of close contact with male strangers, but still afraid to speak up. At a large extended family picnic, a cousin in his 20s whom I’d never met before, insisted that a group of us explore the woods.
He took a turn in the path away from the others and pushed me up against a tree. Fortunately, a couple of cousins turned back and my molester just laughed and walked away.
At 28, I’m still affected by those incidents. I’m wary whenever I’m approached closely by a man I don’t know, and even some I do know.
I’ve had men stare at my breasts even though they’re fully covered, and even when I’m wearing a roomy sweatshirt!
I’ve been invited to the hotel room of the visiting out-of-town boss of the company where I work, and had to fake a cough and oncoming fever, as my reason to refuse.
I’ve become uncomfortable socially, even when I’m with friends. There’s almost always a smirk on one of the husband’s faces, especially if there’s been alcohol served.
How can I get past these unsubtle threats to my safety? How can I ever trust that a man is actually interested in who I am, and what I think and feel?
Tired of Being Objectified
Your upsetting experiences have made you wisely untrusting, but they’ve also made you smart. You recognize the shallowness of grown men who only want something from you, specifically sexual contact… even from a 14-year-old! Disgusting, and against the law.
Use your intelligence and experience to avoid smarmy bottom-feeders. Focus on making clear judgments when you meet new men. Get acquainted online and virtually, over enough time to get some sense of the man, and of his sincerity.
Then talk about who you are: Your interests, ambitions and future plans. If he’s not engaged in the conversation or offering similar information, end contact.
You’re at a wonderful age of maturity and purpose, while the “objectifiers” are just creeps to be avoided.
Readers’ commentary regarding the hurt mother whose in-laws ignored the needs of her three newly-adopted siblings (Nov. 24):
“Not even a call from her husband couldn’t assuage their selfish expectations.
“There’s NO slow introduction of children into the extended family dynamic any more than into her instant family as it sets unreal expectations that children can and should be pushed aside. WRONG.
“A far more important lesson is taught the children by standing her ground showing abuse cannot be tolerated even from family.
“She should focus on people who want to be part of her life on her terms and timelines. Past behaviours and expectations around holidays change with the birth of any child, never mind the instant family from adoption.
“Build new holiday traditions around her instant family to bond their new unit, e.g., trips to cut down a real Christmas tree, baking together, etc. Ask the kids what they’d like to do.
“IF she wishes, she could slowly introduce a single member of the extended family one at a time into her new family through a child’s birthday party, recital or sporting event, so bonds can be developed.”
Feedback regarding the woman, 40, on her “second time around,” after a past divorce, and whose presumed partner, 52, wooed her with “love words and flowers.”
He also convinced her to sell her condo and buy another one with him, then became unloving and inattentive within three weeks (Dec. 1):
Reader: “I strongly recommend that this woman take the high road regarding the legal matters and finances of her divorce action against this man.
“It will be very hard, but in the end, he will just show his true colours.
“Do not try to “get him” or “go after everything” … just go after what you are legally entitled to retain.
“In addition to the documents listed, also, if at all possible, she should prepare a complete paper trail of all transactions that could reveal his manipulation. Such documents could also show deceit on his part, which is something courts absolutely detest.”
Ellie’s tip of the day
Don’t let creepy men OR women objectify you based on sex. If someone doesn’t “get” who you are as a person, move on.
Send relationship questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.