Ask Kari: My friend’s father acts inappropriately towards me, what should I do?
Dear Kari,I have a weird situation with my friend’s father. I am 20 years old, as is my friend. We have known each other since middle school. Almost every time I visit her home, her dad stares at me a little too long. He also makes jokes about my body and my looks in an inappropriate way. I know my friend notices, as her face drops each time, and she appears disgusted by her dad’s actions, but we have never talked about it further. I am starting to get really creeped out by him. What do you think that I should do?
--Feeling Creeped Out
Dear Feeling Creeped Out,
I am so sorry that this has been happening to you, as you deserve more respect from your friend’s father than what he is currently showing you. Next time he makes a comment to you, I would like you to look at him directly and let him know that you do not like people, including men, commenting on your looks as you find it superficial and as it makes you feel uncomfortable. It will take courage to say this statement, but it will have the most bang for the buck in stopping him from sexually harassing you. Speaking the truth about his actions will confront the harassment. He may discard your comment by suggesting you are “too sensitive,” or “you misunderstood him.” Look at him again and say that you are perfectly aware of the situation. Then, move on by spending time with your friend. If the situation becomes more unsafe, I suggest that you stop going to your friend’s home and make plans to see her elsewhere. Good luck and keep being strong!
Kari O’Neill, MSW, LICSW, is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker and the owner and Clinical Director of Issaquah Highlands Counseling Group (IHCG), which is now Kari O’Neill Counseling.
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