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Dear Minerva:

My teenage son was assaulted by a member of his friend group. Initially he kept it to himself but finally told his closest friends. The reaction of most of the group was to side with the accused. Only one person stood up for him. Maybe it’s because his assaulter is more charismatic/popular or because they’re all so young. It’s a heavy topic. Kids that age don’t have the tools to deal with it. My son is left feeling lonely and heartbroken because his friends don’t believe him or believed him and didn’t care, even as he spiraled into depression. With counseling and medicine, he’s doing better now and trying to move on with new friends, but some days he just misses them and the memories they shared and can’t help but be sad about it. He’s still trying to make sense of it and sometimes blames himself. Any advice for him or for me?

Sincerely,

Insult to Injury

Dear I.T.I.:

It is a terrible lesson to learn, that only true friends stick around when the news is bad. If it were me, I’d make sure to let him know that nothing that happened was his fault nor makes him a bad friend. Sometimes others are too scared to believe something horrible like this can happen. Some people are so paralyzed by unpleasantness that they cannot be brave enough to stand by their friend who has been victimized. There has been so much emphasis on sharing our stories of assault and abuse openly, but there hasn’t been much to help us handle the fallout of speaking truth. This is why so many people of all ages hide their abuse. He’ll grieve, but he’ll see that counseling, meds, time and true friendship will help him move on. It is good he is dealing with it now and not trying to figure it out 30 years later. My best to you both and I am so sorry that we live in a world where this stuff happens.

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