Ask Amy: #MeToo Inspires Big Question
Is confrontation worth it if the event happened so long ago?
Dear Amy: Decades ago, when I was a young person (“of age” but hardly a woman), a married man in a position of power over me began an affair with me. At the time, I was too naive and insecure to realize how exploitative the relationship was, but it left deep scars.
On several occasions, he was also (what I now recognize as) physically abusive.
I have had a good life and am now happily married and the mother of two beautiful sons. But after #MeToo, I found myself re-examining what had happened to me. I became extremely upset and decided to confront him.
I eventually received a written apology, but it contained no detail. It felt incomplete. (Follow-up correspondence made it clear that he was unwilling to talk about what happened.)
Two years later, I am still waking at 3 a.m., feeling angry and wounded. The man in question is now close to retirement. He continues to hold a prominent position in his community and has long since remarried.
I have no evidence that he did this with anyone else.
Should I report him to his workplace (or wife) and potentially destroy what is left of his life and reputation? Or, given that the events in question took place years ago, and that he *did* say he is sorry, should I try to forgive him?
– Haunted in Hawaii
Dear Haunted: Before wrestling with your binary choice: Potentially “destroy what is left of his life” vs. forgive him; you should immediately seek professional help to handle your relived response to your long-ago trauma.
A therapist could help you to process this episode in your life, sort out the power dynamic and how it has affected you, and review your options now. To find a therapist, you can check the American Psychological Association’s psychologist locator database (locator.apa.org), or get a referral from your physician, or a friend.
If this man physically abused you, you should check your state’s statute of limitations regarding the option of reporting him to the police.
You should also contact a lawyer and discuss the option of suing him for whatever damage this relationship might have done to your career, as well as the physical and subsequent emotional distress you’re experiencing now.
Discuss all of these options with a counselor in order to make decisions that benefit you, enable you to heal, and help you to move on.
In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068
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