Dear Annie: I am gay. Two years ago, my partner of 34 years told me that my brother-in-law had touched her breasts inappropriately. I didn’t believe her and we had a huge fight over it. She never confronted him or told my sister, and she has continued to socialize with my family.
Last weekend, we attended my niece’s graduation, and much to my horror, my brother-in-law rubbed his hand across my butt. Worse, I then had to get into the same car with him. I was shocked and said nothing, even though I was terribly upset. I avoided him the rest of the weekend, but things haven’t been quite right since. A year ago, I moved to another state and spend vacations with my sister and her family, either in her home or mine. Now I’m not sure I should continue.
I do not understand why he did this or what to do. Was it an act of power or hate or some kind of midlife crisis? This is my sister’s husband, whom I have respected through the years. I now doubt everything about him, including his fidelity to my sister, his morals and whether he has touched other females in the family.
I am close to my sister and don’t want to hurt her. We are not young anymore and don’t have a tremendous amount of time left to be near each other. But I am not comfortable with the idea of staying in the same house with him. How do I explain that to my sister without causing more harm? – Confused and Angry
Dear Confused: There is another possibility. Sometimes, sudden and peculiar changes in behavior or a loss of inhibition can indicate a medical problem, including a small stroke or early signs of dementia. In all the years you have known him, your brother-in-law has never behaved this way toward you.
Please talk to your sister. Say that you’ve noticed some disturbing changes in your brother-in-law’s recent behavior and that you worry he may have some physical or neurological problems.
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