Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Daughters Found Me Bound and Gagged”

* Warning: the following column may be trigger-y for survivors of physical attacks and domestic crime and abuse.

I have had an almost charmed life. I’m 28, happily married, mom of two wonderful daughters. I’m intelligent, outgoing, athletic, very attractive, very competent. In a couple of weeks we are due to attend our annual family Passover get-together, but I’m horrified and don’t want to go. Ten days ago, arriving home at noon from shopping, I walked in on two teens burglarizing our house. Thankfully, I was unhurt but was left tightly bound, gagged, and hogtied face down on the kitchen floor. I couldn’t get loose and couldn’t stand so I lay there struggling furiously on and off for hours. As my fear abated, I became very self-conscious of my situation and didn’t want anyone to see me so helplessly tied up. I exhausted myself trying to break free but made no progress. My competence and athleticism failed me completely. I realized my children would come home from school and find me, and I became overwhelmed with embarrassment.

It was nearly four when I heard the front door open. My children heard my “mmphs” and found me. I was determined to put up a strong front and tried to sound casual when they got the gag off, but it was an utterly humiliating ten minutes lying on that floor while they worked to get me untied. (They were very loving and comforting the whole time).

I am certainly proud of my girls, but my own pride is totally shot. I spent almost four hours thoroughly bound and gagged in a helpless heap. I couldn’t move, could barely lift my head. I must have looked ridiculous. I don’t want my friends and family to know how embarrassed I felt and still feel about being tied up, but if we go to that get-together it will be a topic of conversation. If I treat it casually, I will feel embarrassed; if I say I’d rather not talk about it, they will all know I’m embarrassed. Of course, if we don’t go, they will probably spend most of the time discussing my “terrible ordeal.” How should I handle Passover, and, more importantly, how do I regain some feeling of dignity? — All Tied Up

I am so sorry for what happened to you, and I’m sorry you feel embarrassed about something traumatic and scary that could have happened to anyone. I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that your family or anyone who cares about you who might ask about how you’re feeling is only concerned for your well-being and would never think you have anything to be embarrassed about. You probably also don’t need me to tell you that having your power stripped from you in such a primal way and then having that lack of power displayed to your young daughters isn’t something you can easily process.

I suspect you probably have a lot of mixed emotions and “embarrassment” is kind of a catch-all phrase for those various reactions. I don’t mean to suggest you DON’T feel embarrassment, but I wouldn’t be surprised if you didn’t also feel anger, fear, sadness, relief, and maybe even a desire for revenge. Above all, I bet what you’d really like is to get the sense of power back that was stolen from you — perhaps the most valuable thing the burglars stole. And it’s probably difficult to feel empowered when you know others are thinking about you in a position of such victimization.

I suggest a few things: reporting the crime if you haven’t already and working with the police to give them as many details about the burglars as you can; talking to a professional who specializes in trauma; taking steps to make your home more secure; praising your daughters for their calm and loving response upon finding you in what was probably a very scary scene for them; praising yourself for raising such mature children; taking a self-defense course and/or doing an activity that empowers you physically and mentally (kick-boxing, for example, would be great). These are all things that will help you in the long-term feel good about how you handled/are handling the crime committed against you and that will also remind you that you have much to be proud about.

In regards to Passover with your family, I would think it would give the criminals more power to let them ruin what should be a happy get-together. If you really can’t stand the idea of facing anyone, then don’t go. But this is your family. These are people who love you and want to see that you’re ok. You have zero to feel embarrassed about, and showing up and letting your family see how well you are will only confirm that. If you don’t want to talk about what happened, a simple, “I’d rather focus on this special occasion of being together” should do the trick. I really don’t think people will hear something like that and immediately think you are simply too embarrassed to talk. What they will probably think is that it was a scary, traumatic event that you don’t feel up to re-counting at a family gathering, which is perfectly understandable and reasonable.

Bad things happen to people — even people with charmed lives. Unfortunately, that’s just the reality of the world we live in. You are not the first person who has lived through this kind of trauma and you won’t be the last. The good news about that is there are plenty of people who are trained and experienced in ways to help you. I hope you won’t let your pride keep you from getting that help, especially since you now have the power to help others through the actions you decide to take.

***************

Follow along on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at [email protected].

101 comments… add one
  • avatar

    joanna April 7, 2014, 9:28 am

    I’m not sure why but something seems “off” about this letter.

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    • avatar

      joanna April 7, 2014, 9:32 am

      Why is there no mention of a husband besides “happily married”?

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      • Lyra

        Lyra April 7, 2014, 9:43 am

        Maybe the husband was on a business trip. Maybe he was visiting family. Maybe he’s deployed. Maybe she’s just too embarrassed to tell him about it since she seems embarrassed by this whole thing. There are plenty of possible scenarios.

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    • avatar

      lets_be_honest April 7, 2014, 11:03 am

      So I completely understand the feeling of embarrassment after people seeing you with no power or control, especially the people you want to show that you are empowered usually, like your daughters. Its surprising so many of you guys think this is fake because of that. I’m glad TA touched on why its a common reaction.

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      • avatar

        Lindsay April 7, 2014, 11:09 am

        I wouldn’t say that embarrassment is unlikely, but I do think the relative levity is unusual.

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      • theattack

        theattack April 7, 2014, 11:11 am

        Where are you getting that?

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      • avatar

        Lindsay April 7, 2014, 11:18 am

        It’s just the tone I take from it. I know most people disagree, and honestly, I wouldn’t have even express my opinion it if there weren’t two similarly written letters posted online last month about different but similar situations.

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      • Nookie

        Nookie April 7, 2014, 11:39 am

        Sure, I get that and maybe I’m wrong but it just feels… okay, I’ll say it. It feels a little bit like a fantasy to me. Maybe I misread it but considering others have pointed out some other faults, I’m going to stand by it being not truthful. Sorry.

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    • theattack

      theattack April 7, 2014, 11:06 am

      Actually that’s extremely common to be embarrassed when you’ve been dominated in front of your children. I’m not going to go into reasons for it because I don’t want to bring up anything if she hasn’t already thought of it, but seriously, very common and very real. I would be pretty surprised if she didn’t feel that way.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest April 7, 2014, 11:14 am

        Yes, especially because it was in front of her children! You want to be this strong, powerful example for your daughters and when you aren’t/can’t be? Yea, I totally get this.

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      • avatar

        applescruffs April 7, 2014, 11:33 am

        Agree.

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      • Nookie

        Nookie April 7, 2014, 11:46 am

        Okay… I can’t help it, it just feels really strange to me. I haven’t been in that kind of situation and maybe embarrassment would be one of the feelings.

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    • avatar

      Breezy AM April 7, 2014, 11:34 am

      For me it’s the age thing. She’s 28 but has daughters (she didn’t say stepdaughters) old enough to come home from school by themselves? And untie her? On their own? With no other adult? That’s fairly rare in this day and age.

      That said… just have husband tell people in advance “listen she’s completely tripped out about it, do NOT bring it up, at ALL. If you can’t promise to do that and help spread the word, we can’t come.” Sure, someone might still bring it up, but it is likely to be less of a Big Topic.

      Unless your family are jerks.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest April 7, 2014, 11:37 am

        Kids are, what, 6 when they begin going to school and coming home on the bus? That puts her at 22 at the latest. Its certainly not unheard of to have kids sooner than 22 either, so that doesn’t strike me as off.

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      • theattack

        theattack April 7, 2014, 11:47 am

        That plus how hard is it to untie somebody when you have free hands? Any well-adjusted, developmentally typical school age kid would be able to figure that out. And kids come home on their own all the time. That is just not unusual at all.

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      • avatar

        joanna April 7, 2014, 11:54 am

        Most kids can’t tie their shoes at that age.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest April 7, 2014, 12:14 pm

        I’m pretty sure almost every single 6 year old could use scissors to untie something or just untie it, especially since, you know, a parent is there telling them how to.

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      • Miel

        Miel April 7, 2014, 1:27 pm

        Some kids know how to perform CPR at five years old. Why is this so unbelievable?

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      • Copa

        Copa April 7, 2014, 11:44 am

        I think for me it was the anticipation that it would be a conversation point during Passover. I guess — and maybe it’s just me — if I knew a family member or close friend had recently suffered a traumatic experience like this, I would never bring it up cavalierly over a holiday dinner like it’s small talk. Who does that?

        I mean, okay, maybe I don’t know enough about trauma to know if the fear of being embarrassed again is part of that. Notwithstanding, something about the letter beyond just that detail felt “off” to me.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest April 7, 2014, 12:15 pm

        I don’t think it’d be small talk, but I’m sure if a complete stranger were robbed and I knew about it, I’d say something to them like hope you’re doing well after that, sorry that happened.

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      • GatorGirl

        GatorGirl April 7, 2014, 11:51 am

        My mom had a 10 year old at 28. So, age is irrelevant IMO. And I also think it’s highly plausible for a school bus to drop kids off in front of the house or on a corner and the kids be expected to let them selves in, starting from when ever you start riding the bus.

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      • Lyra

        Lyra April 7, 2014, 12:11 pm

        She could have stepdaughters but consider them her own kids. I originally thought it was weird with the fact that she was 28 with daughters coming home by themselves too, but sometimes people still call their stepchildren their daughters and sons.

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      • avatar

        ChemE April 7, 2014, 3:11 pm

        I’m 28 and my son turned 15 last week. It’s possible.

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    • avatar

      joanna April 7, 2014, 11:38 am

      Frankly, I think something went amiss with her sex life and she was accidentally left like that and her children found her. It’s the home invasion scenario that I don’t buy.

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      • avatar

        joanna April 7, 2014, 11:41 am

        It just sounds too much like sex fantasy gone wrong.

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      • rainbow

        rainbow April 7, 2014, 11:46 am

        If this is real you just made it horribly worse. If it’s fake, then you are not losing anything by keeping you your mouth shut. Good job making the world an ugly place.

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      • avatar

        joanna April 7, 2014, 11:53 am

        Why would Wendy publish this if she thought it was real?

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      • Amanda

        Amana April 7, 2014, 11:57 am

        Why would Wendy publish this if she thought it was fake?

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      • rainbow

        rainbow April 7, 2014, 11:59 am

        To… help the LW?

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      • avatar

        joanna April 7, 2014, 12:02 pm

        I’d think in a situation like this, she have the sensibility to answer the query privately.

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      • rainbow

        rainbow April 7, 2014, 12:05 pm

        Maybe she believes her readership to be compassionate people who can add good advice to hers. Good job disproving that, by the way.

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      • avatar

        joanna April 7, 2014, 12:11 pm

        From what Wendy wrote in response; it lacks the passion and heartfelt tone of her normal responses. She is usually more “invested” in the LW’s situation.

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      • Lyra

        Lyra April 7, 2014, 12:14 pm

        What the hell does that even mean??? She wrote out a heartfelt, meaningful response. She gave the LW sympathy and gave her some ideas for how to handle the situation. That’s what she does for every LW (unless it’s Facepalm Friday when all bets are off).

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      • avatar

        joanna April 7, 2014, 12:20 pm

        Why would a LW include the detail in the second line about her being “very attractive” ? It sounds like a man wrote this not a woman.

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      • GatorGirl

        GatorGirl April 7, 2014, 12:25 pm

        Joanna, if anyone sounds like a troll it’s you. What sort of sick enjoyment are you getting from dissecting this letter and tearing the LW apart? WTF. LET IT GO.

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      • avatar

        joanna April 7, 2014, 12:31 pm

        I’m going to stand by what I said. If Wendy thought this letter had even an ounce of credibility, she would not have published it.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest April 7, 2014, 12:38 pm

        Are you saying Wendy deliberately posted a fake letter?

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      • avatar

        joanna April 7, 2014, 12:42 pm

        LBH, yes I am. She does this every once in a while so that we as a community call out the trolls and not her. She would lose a lot of credibility if she was the one who called out trolls.

        Sorry if I believe Wendy is smarter than all of you take her to be.

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      • Lyra

        Lyra April 7, 2014, 1:13 pm

        Wendy responded above. What you’re saying makes no sense. Honestly it is pretty shitty of you to break down this one of all letters. Fake or not, I make it a point to show compassion to any and everyone who may be victims of assault. I don’t care it it makes me look gullible. I am so glad that Wendy sees it the same way. Someone will likely benefit from this advice, whether it be this LW or a reader.

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      • avatar

        rachel April 7, 2014, 12:44 pm

        Um…what?

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest April 7, 2014, 12:44 pm

        Ohhhhh, that explains it!
        Thanks for letting us all in on your and Wendy’s secret!
        p.s. Wendy, I think you are really smart! We all do! Not just joanna.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark April 7, 2014, 12:49 pm

        Wow. This is a rather nasty and distasteful tangent. Congratulations, joanna… I am simply aghast!!

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      • Lyra

        Lyra April 7, 2014, 2:31 pm

        Not an easy task to leave BGM aghast! 😉

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy April 7, 2014, 12:55 pm

      This is pretty pathetic. First of all, I believed this to be a real letter and responded with compassion. I was unaware a similar letter was published on another advice site. But, so what?
      As to the idea that I should not have published this letter if I thought it was real, that makes no sense. Why would I NOT publish this when I have published letters from rape survivors and people who have been domestically abused and people who have suffered the death of loved ones and other terrible incidents? I believe, for the most part, that the community of DW readers can add to my advice with their various experiences and viewpoints. And my feeling about posting something that MAY be fake is this: maybe it isn’t. And maybe it is but for one of the several thousand people who will read this column, this is actually a very real situation for them and maybe the advice I give will help THAT person. And for me, that’s worth it.

      As for occasionally publishing fake letters so my readers will call out the trolls that I’m supposedly too scared to call out myself? No.

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      • avatar

        joanna April 7, 2014, 1:01 pm

        You may delete my comments if you truly believe this is real.

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      • Dear Wendy

        Dear Wendy April 7, 2014, 1:05 pm

        Thanks, but I don’t need to prove myself or my intentions to anyone.

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    • avatar

      Michael W. Drwiega June 27, 2014, 4:33 am

      Joanna,

      You’re right. There IS something off about the letter. It’s too pat. It sounds as if the writer contrived it to suit a preconceived purpose divorced from any personal experience.

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  • rainbow

    rainbow April 7, 2014, 9:29 am

    What Wendy said x 1000, it was great.

    LW, this is terrible. I hope you’re feeling better by the time you read our comments.

    Processing trauma takes time, so this isn’t finished. This has just started, and there are lots of things you can do to regain control of the situation and turn it around.

    For example, if someone asks questions (and I know it’s terribly hard, specially so soon) do you think you could focus your answer on the positives? E.G:
    Concerned relative: “Oh my god X told me what happened to you, it was so horrible how are you?”
    You: “I’m fine, thanks. Luckily the girls were very brave and compassionate and did Y right so it was better as soon as they got there” etc.

    That way you make it about their achievement and compliment them semi-publicly on the way in which they handled everything. It must have been terrible for them too, and this might help them to see it not only as something that happened to them and that’s it deal with it, but as a bad situation they turned around with their skills. And helping them to do so might in turn give you confidence in your own skills for guiding them through this complicated time, and help you reframe it in the same way.

    Also effective communication needs to be modeled, so the more you trust your family and communicate about this in front of them the better your girls will learn that when something bad happens the natural course of action is leaning on the people who loves you, and that might help them prevent bad situations they face in the future from escalating.

    I hope this comment is OK and not insensitive/annoying in some way. It’s hard to know what to say looking in from the outside. Some people will probably get on your nerves by “trying to help” in unhelpful ways, and it’s ok to -as kindly as you can- let them know they’re not helping! This is about you and your girls, not about their feelings, and if someone gets all butthurt and goes “I WAS JUST TRYING TO HELP YOU WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU APOLOGIZE AND THANK ME!” then you know they’re not safe and you might not want to see them much until you guys feel better.

    Take care!

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  • theattack

    theattack April 7, 2014, 9:34 am

    I completely agree with Wendy that staying home is just giving the burglars more power over your life. And this weekend I just read in my book about trauma that when a person avoids things that remind them of the trauma, it can actually further traumatize them because of lots of interesting brain stuff. (Don’t take that as mental health advice. Just a general educational comment.)
    .
    I think you should go to Passover, but you should reach out to your family beforehand to tell them that you don’t want to talk about it. You can say that you’re shaken up from it, or that you’re trying to move on, or you can even lie and say that you don’t want your daughters to have to hear anything more about it (although this isn’t sustainable in the long run whenever you’re alone with adults). It sounds like you could use some normalcy and some happy things right now, so please let yourself have them. I would also like to point out that if you avoid this get together, it likely won’t stop the topic of conversation. You’ll just be missing out on a holiday, and you will still have to deal with it.
    .
    Please talk to a therapist who specializes in trauma though. That can help you more than you might ever realize. Do it for yourself, and do it for your daughters. They might need to speak to a therapist as well.

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    • rainbow

      rainbow April 7, 2014, 10:01 am

      That’s very interesting, I’d like to know more. What’s the book title? Would you recommend it?

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      • theattack

        theattack April 7, 2014, 10:09 am

        I actually read it in two different books. One is called “Resurrection after Rape,” and is sort of a self help written by a rape therapist. It has exercises and information that are helpful to go along with therapy, but a lot of it applies to trauma in general. A more detailed, psychology-focused book (so some more psychology lingo and in-depth explanations) is the one I mentioned on the weekend thread, so sorry for repeating it, but it’s called “Trauma and Recovery.” There’s probably tons of stuff out there though.
        .
        And I should mention that there’s a difference between distancing yourself from the situation when you’re still in crisis, and doing it when you’re already removed from it a bit. The LW NEEDS to talk to a trauma therapist about this.

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      • rainbow

        rainbow April 7, 2014, 10:16 am

        I have “Resurrection after Rape”! I did some of the exercises. Man, I cried my eyes out writing that fucking letter to myself. Then I got scared and “lost it” and figured I’d start over some other time when I “found it again”. Now might be a good time, it’s great that you reminded me of it.

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      • avatar

        applescruffs April 7, 2014, 11:32 am

        Trauma and Recovery is so good.

        I heard Bessel Van Der Kolk speak a few weeks ago. I can’t wait to read his new book!

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      • theattack

        theattack April 7, 2014, 11:44 am

        So jealous! I didn’t know about his new book, so I’m glad you mentioned it! Studying trauma makes me consider becoming a therapist instead of or alongside the legal advocate path I’ve been planning on. It seems that therapists like you have such a great opportunity to really help people dramatically change their lives. That must be so rewarding.

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      • avatar

        applescruffs April 7, 2014, 11:49 am

        It’s called “The Body Keeps the Score.” It’ll be out in a few months, I think.

        I feel tremendously lucky to be able to do what I do. Trauma work is hard, but it can be so worth it.

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  • Lyra

    Lyra April 7, 2014, 9:36 am

    Wow — I have no words. I’m so sorry this happened to you LW.

    I understand your embarrassment and I absolutely love how Wendy addressed that. I have no idea what I would do in that type of situation. As for your family, if you don’t want to talk about it, don’t. Thank them for their concern and say you don’t feel like talking about it. Be firm about it. I’m sure they care about you and want the best for you, but I also understand that sometimes family just don’t get the subtle hints. If they don’t get it, say something along these lines “it was an unpleasant experience for me and I don’t want to address it right now” then change the subject. Again, I’m really sorry this happened to you.

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  • avatar

    Painted_lady April 7, 2014, 9:41 am

    I don’t mean to minimize ANY of this because holy shit, what an awful, awful experience, but I think this is a case of your jerkbrain being far, far meaner to you than you would be to anyone else. If this had happened to your sibling or your uncle, what would you think of them? Would you be so worried about how embarrassed they were or should be? Unlikely. You’d be concerned that they were okay and taking care of themselves in the best way that they can. If that included not talking about some major trauma, you’d respect it and not look down on them, right? If that included not coming to a family gathering so soon after that trauma, you’d probably spend some time talking about them, but not about how lame and weak they are – you’d talk about how terrifying that must have been, and what they might need from the family to move to a better place regarding the incident, and mostly whether or not they were okay. Hopefully your family is healthy and functional enough that when bad things happen, you don’t pile on the blame and humiliation but rather operate in crises with concern for each other.

    Again, not trying to minimize your feelings, but it never occurred to me that embarrassment would be something you would feel in this situation. Obviously it’s a totally valid emotion, but I don’t know that your fear that everyone knows you’re embarrassed is realistic or fair, either to your family or as a means to torture yourself.

    Get the help you need – Wendy’s advice is great here. Take care of yourself. And trust in other people’s concern for you.

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    • Lyra

      Lyra April 7, 2014, 9:47 am

      I love this! Exactly what I was thinking. Embarrassment would be the last emotion I was expecting she would feel here. I actually wonder if maybe she is a military spouse? I think of military wives and I think of really tough, bad ass, strong women who can deal with anything. Maybe that’s why she feels embarrassed about this.

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    • theattack

      theattack April 7, 2014, 9:54 am

      Embarrassment is super common in situations like these when someone has been “overtaken” by someone else. I’m not surprised she feels embarrassed at all, even though from the outside there seems to be no reason to feel that way. Only the LW knows her family, but probably most family members would feel compassion instead of judgment. However, if there’s any doubt about her family’s reaction, I don’t want to push her to go if she thinks they’ll do any victim blaming.

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      • Lyra

        Lyra April 7, 2014, 10:05 am

        That makes total sense with the feelings of embarrassment. I had never thought of it that way before.

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      • avatar

        Painted_lady April 7, 2014, 10:34 am

        Oh, that absolutely makes so much sense. As someone who doesn’t deal with crisis like this on the regular, though, it isn’t the emotion I immediately jump to, and hopefully her family won’t either. But you’re absolutely right – if her family tends toward victim-blaming and invasive questions, then they definitely aren’t safe to discuss this with.

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  • avatar

    Laura Hope April 7, 2014, 9:47 am

    It’s interesting that I’ve always wanted to be perceived as “human” and fallible by my kids. Maybe because I perceived my father as “superman” and when he fell from that pedestal, it was pretty devastating for me. LW, I think you’re awesome. I would have completely fallen apart.

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  • avatar

    Marcie April 7, 2014, 9:53 am

    LW, you were victimized. It’s not your fault that you came home when you did. It’s not your fault they immobilized you. It’s not your fault that you couldn’t get loose for hours. It’s not your fault your daughters had to untie you. You seem to be blaming yourself for being tied up for so long. You do not have to be embarrassed about this. Everyone has given you great information on how to try to move past this. I hope you are able to. You are in my thoughts.

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  • avatar

    Painted_lady April 7, 2014, 10:08 am

    Another thought I had related to Passover: would it help you to control the message beforehand? I’m sure your daughters and your husband are dying to be able to help you (a lot of loved ones in these situations not only don’t mind doing things to help, but it also helps *them* cope), so have one or all of them call/text/email family and say, “Here is exactly what happened. Mom/Wife does NOT want to spend Passover discussing the incident because she’s tired of having to re-live and re-tell it over and over and requests that you respect those wishes so that she can enjoy the holiday. And if they don’t respect it? Leave. Leave the conversation, leave the room, leave the celebration. You can be polite, but you don’t have to be. But not because you’re embarrassed: because you’re fucking pissed and have every right to be.

    You get to talk about this at your pace. For some people it helps to discuss it immediately with family and friends (I’m one of these people), for some, opening up more slowly and selectively is better, and for some people, discussing it only with a trained professional makes them feel safest. There’s nothing embarrassing in sticking to your guns and insisting that you do what’s best for you. And if people think that means you’re embarrassed? Fucking let them. They clearly have no right to receive any correction on the matter.

    You get to control how you deal with this. And no one has any right to try and get you to deal otherwise.

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  • avatar

    Savannah April 7, 2014, 10:09 am

    As an avid Dear Wendy and ask a manager reader, I’m getting a serious case of Déjà vu. There was a very simliar story about a women who was bound and gagged in her office who had her team find her in a closet. She too was worried about what her co-workers would think of her and if she would be seen as weak and unable to manage the team.

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    • avatar

      XanderT April 7, 2014, 10:40 am

      Yes, I, too have seen something similar to this before in other columns.

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    • avatar

      Lindsay April 7, 2014, 11:12 am

      A similar letter in which the LW was found by her husband and twin 5-year-old girls was answered on Ask the Therapist last month, as well.

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      • avatar

        joanna April 7, 2014, 1:05 pm

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      • avatar

        bethany April 7, 2014, 2:32 pm

        The letters do seem very similar… But I would have just assumed that this woman needed as much support as she can get, so maybe she wrote to a few different advice columnists and changed a few details so she could get as much advice as possible.

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      • Lyra

        Lyra April 7, 2014, 2:38 pm

        Agreed. When it comes to assault I would personally always assume it’s real.

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      • Dear Wendy

        Dear Wendy April 7, 2014, 3:57 pm

        It’s also possible that the other advice columnists changed some details. I have edited people’s names, ages (by one or two years), and locations to help preserve anonymity.

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      • avatar

        feelingroovy April 7, 2014, 1:10 pm

        Multiple letters like this should show us that embarrassment is a common feeling after trauma, not that these are bogus letters. I’m horrified that this community would attack a victim of assault in such a way; even if you think it’s fake, keep your damn mouth shut. I know I’d rather be wrong and not further traumatize a victim of assault.

        So many people accusing this LW of being phony are only furthering the embarrassment the real person is feeling. This is why she is embarrassed, and this is why assaults go unreported–because, even in this community of largely progressive women who know better, their stories are still not believed.

        Totally sickened by the DW community today. Sorry.

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      • GatorGirl

        GatorGirl April 7, 2014, 1:51 pm

        IDK, there are like 3 people calling fake and the rest aren’t. So maybe just be sickened by those people…

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  • avatar

    applescruffs April 7, 2014, 10:58 am

    I think you should go to Passover, because I wouldn’t want you to start getting into a cycle of avoidance and isolating. If you’re still feeling symptoms like this in a couple of weeks, seek out a therapist who knows something about trauma (and most will) so nothing that’s going on now develops into full blown PTSD. Do things that relax you – yoga, breathing, mindfulness exercises, walking, etc. Do things that make you feel powerful and in control of yourself and your body. If your family brings up what happened at Passover, it’s completely ok to say “thank you so much for your concern. I’m doing fine and dealing with everything that happened, but I’d like to keep today’s focus on healthy things. Did you put something different in the charoset this year? It’s really good!” Or something like that. Take care of yourself. Your job in that situation was to survive, and you did exactly that. Happy Passover!

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    • theattack

      theattack April 7, 2014, 11:03 am

      “Your job in that situation was to survive, and you did exactly that.”
      .
      I love that. You are so awesome.

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      • theattack

        theattack April 7, 2014, 11:14 am

        So can I steal that phrase from you? That is such a good, quick, encouraging point, and I want to say it every day of my life. Do you learn phrases like that in therapy school (because that’s totally a thing), or do you come up with them on your own?

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        applescruffs April 7, 2014, 11:35 am

        Thank you! It’s both. And from former supervisors, books, conferences. I think there’s a part of my brain that regularly shuffles through interventions used by former supervisors while I’m in session. So please, steal away!

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  • avatar

    AKchic April 7, 2014, 11:05 am

    LW, I am so sorry about what happened to you. Know that this wasn’t your fault. You seem to place a lot of blame on yourself, and that isn’t right. You were surprised, out-manned, and probably had a weapon or two pointed at you. You did what you needed to do in order to save your life. You should not be embarrassed about saving your life.

    I think that if this embarrassment doesn’t go away and get replaced by righteous anger, then you need to see a therapist to help you work through your emotions. I Do worry about PTSD and wonder if maybe that might be a part of it, and you’re not telling us the whole story so you appear confident and strong.

    Honey, there’s nothing wrong with confident and strong, but you need to allow yourself to feel your vulnerability on occasion. You were very vulnerable and you need to recognize that it’s okay, that this wasn’t your fault, and there’s nothing you could have done to prevent what happened. And that’s okay.
    *hug* Turn your embarrassment into anger. The perpetrators tied you up, robbed you, embarrassed you, and made you feel weak in your own home. They need to be found and punished.
    I wish you luck.

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  • avatar

    lets_be_honest April 7, 2014, 11:42 am

    Well to be fair, how many of the exact same letters about weddings, break ups, etc. are sent to advice columns?

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  • rainbow

    rainbow April 7, 2014, 11:50 am

    It’s much more destructive to not believe this if it’s real than to believe it if it isn’t. Case 1, you just made a vulnerable person believe no one will take her pain seriously. Case two… nothing. No one feels worse. Why exactly are you doing this? Just to be smart?

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    • theattack

      theattack April 7, 2014, 11:54 am

      That’s exactly what I was about to comment.

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      Painted_lady April 7, 2014, 12:17 pm

      YES. I don’t understand – especially in cases where there’s trauma – what good comes from calling fake. I’m not giving anyone money, I’m not inconveniencing anyone, and I’m not sure if some stranger on the internet seeing my desire to help and to empathize as some kind of weakness matters all that much. Actually, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t matter at all. However, in the event that this is real, contributing to the trauma is exactly what I want to avoid doing.

      If someone is reading this from home and laughing because I’m a gullible schmuck, so be it. I’d rather be gullible in this case.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest April 7, 2014, 12:19 pm

        Yup, I really feel sorry for this lw who is getting minimal advice here thanks to everyone who claims its fake. Hopefully Wendy’s advice was enough for her.

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  • fast eddie

    fast eddie April 7, 2014, 10:59 am

    The fundamental of this experience is FEAR, a completely natural reaction to all of her concerns. A way of buffering the well meaning reactions of others is to put high praise on her daughters rescue effort. It would empower them and set the boundary of attention away from her.

    I took a local home safety class by our local law enforcement. It was designed by the NRA but didn’t suggest or contain anything at all about guns. Many of attendees asked gun related questions and they were answered but the content of the class was completely on non-lethal means of home security.

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  • call-me-hobo

    call-me-hobo April 7, 2014, 12:06 pm

    To everyone who is commenting on the believability/veracity of the letter:

    I wrote a letter to Wendy a few years ago that was featured, and I had someone in the comments label my story as “fake”. It was devastating for me. I was in such a delicate headspace, and that one “fake” comment rattled me to the core. It sounded like all the people in the community who were calling me a liar. I was so upset, that I couldn’t even focus on all the positive, supportive comments, which was what I needed.

    What I’m saying is that even if you think it’s a fake, try not commenting on it. Seriously. Because if it IS true, the cries of “fake” are so damaging and hurtful. Say it isn’t real- how does that affect you? You called someone out on their need for attention seeking? If it is true, no matter how fantastical it seems, the lw needs to hear supportive words.

    It doesn’t matter if it’s real or not. Hell, it’s good advice, and maybe a lurker or commenter needed to hear the thoughtful things Wendy had to say. We can all be hard on ourselves, and sometimes everyone needs to hear that they need to stop beating themselves up for something that was out of their control.

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    • iwannatalktosampson

      iwannatalktosampson April 7, 2014, 12:09 pm

      Thank you. This is exactly what I was thinking. Debating about whether or not it is fake is not helpful at all. Honestly the LW sounds a little detached from the situation to me, which is completely normal!

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    • Lyra

      Lyra April 7, 2014, 12:21 pm

      It is amazing to me that so many people are crying fake to this. Thank you for sharing your perspective. When I was in res life in college we were trained how to deal with situations where someone was raped or assaulted. The very first thing we were told was to ALWAYS assume it is true and to act as such. Even if it is a fake, what if someone is dealing with similar feelings and is reading this right now? It would benefit them to read Wendy’s advice.

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      • bittergaymark

        Bittergaymark April 7, 2014, 12:43 pm

        Yeah, it sure doesn’t read as fake to me. It’s a bit of an usual reaction, I think. A bit different in focus from how most people would react, sure. But hello! People are very different. This seems completely legit to me. I just think the LW is needlessly beating herself up. And I guess that nobody understood that in my poorly worded and hastily composed post below. But the LW seems hellbent on blaming herself for this and is focusing on things that I don’t think ANYBODY else is focuses on. Trust me, her daughters aren’t fixating on her humiliation or degradation at all. Instead, they are horrified simply by what happened to her. As — frankly — we all should be.

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        lets_be_honest April 7, 2014, 12:47 pm

        I think this new car warmed your heart a little 🙂
        ps congrats on it, btw.

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      • bittergaymark

        Bittergaymark April 7, 2014, 12:53 pm

        Thanks, LBH! I still can’t quite believe it’s mine, you know?

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      • theattack

        theattack April 7, 2014, 2:41 pm

        Yayy! You needed some new positive things in your life.

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      • Lyra

        Lyra April 7, 2014, 2:16 pm

        Agreed, 110%.

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  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark April 7, 2014, 12:29 pm

    This letter baffles me. The whole embarrassment aspect of this — I dunno, I simply don’t get it. It’s not like you ASKED to be put in this position or something. What happened to you COULD HAPPEN TO ANYONE. Stop acting like this is somehow all your fault.

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    • Diablo

      Diablo April 7, 2014, 1:19 pm

      I get what you are saying and agree, but I think i understand how the LW feels embarrassed. She feels like she was made a chump, a victim. She feels like she should have been able to get out of the restraints, but couldn’t. It’s a natural reaction to having your power taken away. I think Wendy is right that there is anger underlying this. “Nobody, but NOBODY, does that to me, but they did, so I’m embarrassed.” So I think the real challenge for the LW is to simply be cool with this. No one was badly hurt, so that is very fortunate. There is nothing anyone can really do to prevent something like this in the future. A lot of research suggests that guns and self-defense classes may increase your chance of being hurt in these situations. But how can you do nothing and not feel blameworthy? You want to counteract the feeling of being a victim with something proactive. But really, just don’t internalize this, because it is not on you. It’s a tough one, but i think that’s what she needs to do.

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    • Miel

      Miel April 7, 2014, 1:41 pm

      At first I didn’t get it either. I was thinking “what about that happened to me and let’s say my boyfriend, a friend of mine, or a random neighbor found me…” and in that case, I would probably not feel embarrassment, because those people don’t see me as “a protector” of any sort. But then I tried to reverse the role. If I was coming home to see my boyfriend tied down on the floor, I’m pretty sure he would be very embarrassed by it. He’s twice my size, he’s a black belt in martial art, he does self defense training every week… I know he sees himself as a “protector” toward me and he would be embarrassed that “he wasn’t able to take care of the problem by himself”. I suppose it can be very hard to think “I wasn’t able to protect my house” or “what about if my kids had arrived when the burglars were there ? I would have not been able to protect them”.

      To the LW I want to say: it’s ok to feel embarrassment but this is a feeling you have to process with yourself. I firmly believe your family doesn’t think you should be embarrassed. I’m sure they are incredibly relieved that you weren’t hurt and they will understand that you did everything you could have done. None of this was your fault.

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  • avatar

    Kelly April 7, 2014, 2:50 pm

    I would be more worried with how this affected my daughters than myself. I just don’t get why the LW is embarrassed or is humiliated at the thought that others might suspect she is embarrassed. Which is kind of odd on its own. Does her family believe she has super powers and should have gotten out of the situation on her own?

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    • avatar

      lets_be_honest April 7, 2014, 2:56 pm

      What a helpful comment, Kelly.

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    • Addie Pray

      Addie Pray April 7, 2014, 11:12 pm

      It may be a situation that’s hard to understand if you haven’t been through it. So try to out your own (lack of) experience aside and presume this is a result of the trauma. Now the question: how can we help?

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  • Miss MJ

    Miss MJ April 7, 2014, 4:02 pm

    Kinda baffled at how the fact that one person may have sent a similar letter about her problem to several different advice outlets (okay probably did, this one and the linked one are a lot alike) makes this letter “fake.” Doesn’t that just mean that the LW really needed advice and is looking for it from any source available? What’s wrong with that? Is it because the stories are different? Well, maybe the LW is changing some of the details in her story, but not the central question of “How do I deal with what happened to me and how it shook my confidence in myself?” in an effort to further protect her identity, since she’s clearly upset that others may know what happened to her and how they will see her because of it. The question of how to recover when you’ve been victimized and feel powerless as a result is a problem many people may be able to relate to, even if their stories aren’t exactly the same, and the advice to not blame yourself, seek help from a therapist and be kind to yourself can be helpful to those situations, too. So, why all the disdain because this letter was probably sent to multiple advice columnists and multiple advice columnists offered sincere advice?

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  • Addie Pray

    Addie Pray April 7, 2014, 11:06 pm

    Late to commenting today, but wanted to say great response Wendy! Loved the compassion and all the good practical advice.

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  • Nookie

    Nookie April 8, 2014, 7:55 am

    I just wanted to apologise to the LW and the rest of you. Something about that letter still rings really false to me but I realise now that it’s not that important if it is or isn’t, perhaps it could help someone out there that feels some of the same feelings. I didn’t mean to attack anyone and I apologise again if anyone felt that way.

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