Dear Dr. Archer,
My 17 year old daughter has been in her first serious relationship, with all the normal ups and downs, for two years. Thankfully, we are fairly close, so when it looked like they were going to become sexually active, she confided in me. I put her on birth control.
I know she has been experimenting with alcohol, and I suspected marijuana. We talked about this, and the dangers involved, telling her to be cautious. Well, two weeks ago I was made aware of the following situation regarding my daughter.
Last November my daughter was at a party with girlfriends. She admits to drinking and taking a Xanax pill. While in a blackout, a young man, who had just broken up with his girlfriend, took advantage of her, in my estimation.
She doesn't remember doing anything, but there were "clues" the following day. After questioning her, there probably wasn't violence involved, but I'm not sure.
There were texts between the two of them. He had asked her if she wanted to hang out, and she said yes. She says this means she consented to sex. I can't figure out how this consents to sex, personally. My daughter feels at fault about what occurred, and I am torn. I know she chose to drink and take the Xanax. But if she was blacked out, how is that consent?
I remember her being very sick after this, as it was during Thanksgiving week. She couldn't even join in the family dinner. At the time I thought she had a stomach virus.
Now I am worried that perhaps she was given something else. I discussed pressing charges on this boy, but she says no. She claims the texts imply consent, although she also says everyone could see she was messed up and couldn't make sense.
There may be more to the texts than she lets on. Frankly, I think she was raped, but she doesn't feel that way. I don't want to create more trauma in her mind than is already there. She says he is known to be promiscuous, so I am having her tested for STDs.
This has come to light because this young man returned to his girlfriend and told her about it. She promptly told my daughter's boyfriend, who immediately broke up with her for cheating.
I thought he knew she was unable to give consent, but I guess that doesn't matter. He supposedly confronted this young man and they fought, so I think some part of him knows.
To make matters worse, the girlfriend is not balanced. She cannot keep friends for long, and the ones she has are dangerous. She has targeted my daughter. I have printed out facebook emails of her threatening physical violence.
This girl assaulted my daughter at a party a week ago. She was yelling, "I want to kill you!" at my daughter, and as my daughter turned to walk away this girl grabbed her by her hair and yanked her down, dragging her on the concrete. Her friends had to jump in and pull the girl off her.
The mother of the house came out and shut everything down, though I am disappointed she did not call me about this. My daughter had bruises and abrasions, which I photographed. Again, I am waiting to press charges but my daughter thinks this will cause things to escalate.
There are stories that this girl has been violent in the past. Her father is an attorney, and I can't help but wonder what might happen if we press charges, although there were many witnesses. My brother is friends with a couple of assistant D.A.s, and he could discuss this without revealing names. He is aware only of the assault portion of this story.
I guess I'm asking, what do I do? I feel as a parent I should go forward with the charges, but what if this girl does worse? I haven't even confided the whole story to my husband which troubles me, as well.
My daughter is too worried about his reaction to everything and him thinking badly of her, which is sad because this would never be his reaction. Any advice would be very helpful and appreciated.
Enough! Too much time is being wasted; stop letting your daughter call the shots here. There's a reason 17 year olds are not considered adults. They think short term. You're the parent, and you must think long term. Your first priority is securing your daughter's safety.
Here is what you need to do. First, talk to your husband. He is the father of your child and he has every right to know anything and everything that is going on. Your daughter is afraid of his reaction? What would be his reaction if this escalated, and he had to visit his daughter in the hospital? Or worse? Imagine his sense of betrayal if he found out the two women he loved most did not confide in him regarding something so important? You must tell him immediately.
Next, call the girl’s parents and discuss the situation. If the father is an attorney the issues will be immediately apparent to him. Explain that you want this to get resolved and for your daughter to be safe. If he is not cooperative then you will need a restraining order against the girl right away.
You can either get an attorney to do this for you, or if you prefer, go to your courthouse and sign the form and one will be issued and signed right then and there by a judge. Bring your photographs in case they are requested.
Do not worry about her father. Worry about your daughter. Unfortunately, every day I am discussing violence and bullying on different networks, and yours is a real threat. I am sickened by the number of deaths and beatings I have to talk about, especially when there were warning signs beforehand. So take action immediately before this escalates.
Finally, the decision to bring assault charges against the boy that had sex with your daughter is difficult. If she feels it was consensual, then there is really nothing a court would do unless the guy was older and had sex with a minor.
Use that as a reason to talk about responsibility, alcohol, drugs and safe sex with your daughter. I hope this helps you, as I firmly believe it will. Now, go talk to your husband. It's long overdue.