Dear Abby Advises: If an Attempted Rapist Was Gonna Rape, He'd Have Done It By Now

In April, I wrote this lede: “Dear Abby, the widely syndicated advice column written by Jeanne Phillips (daughter of original Abby, Pauline Phillips) has had a long, uneasy relationship with what rape actually is.” Here we are a-fucking-gain.

In this week’s column, buried under letters about lesbian porn and a fraught pregnancy, is a short letter with an even shorter response. Advice-seeker Never Forgetting In Pennsylvania wrote:

When I visited my sister 15 years ago, my brother-in-law tried to rape me. He was drunk and my sister was out with her friends. I have not revealed this to my family or my sister, who is emotionally and financially dependent on him.

My niece is now 20 years old and in college. I feel I should tell her what her dad did to me and warn her to be careful. What do you think?


Phillips’ entire response is one sentence of ghastly non-advice: “Frankly, I think that if your brother-in-law was going to assault his daughter, it would have happened already, and you should have told your family what he tried to do to you at the time it occurred.”

Solidly the worst thing you can say to a victim of an attempted sexual assault. Mazel to you, dear Abby.


Image of Jeanne Phillips via Getty.

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