Ask Amy: Hazing incident scars hazee

June 18, 2012

DEAR AMY: Recently, I spent a few nights at a friend’s house with some other people who I barely knew. During my stay (out of extreme boredom), we played a sort of “truth or dare” game, where the loser would have to go through a preselected dare. Well, I lost, and I went through a sort of hazing that lasted for several hours.

I would now like to cut ties with my friend and the rest of the group, though I do feel a little guilty, because if another person had lost, I probably would have participated in the hazing against that person. How should I approach this? I am a college student, so telling parents or the “person in charge” isn’t an option. -- Upset

DEAR UPSET: You don’t say what this hazing consisted of, but if you feel a crime was committed (assault, sexual humiliation, etc.) then you should go to the police.

You should speak to your friend and tell him or her exactly what your issue is, giving this person a chance to reflect on your statements — and to apologize.

And then, unless there is a complete and sincere acknowledgment and renunciation of the behavior, you should absolutely cut ties with all of them.

Hazing is wrong in every way. It is a chilling, violent, humiliating and dangerous trend. Your honesty about the likelihood of your own participation if things had gone differently is admirable, but this is an important lesson. Choose to advocate against hazing, on and off campus. You can check stophazing.org for definitions and examples of hazing and for ways to help eliminate it.

And even though you aren’t inclined to discuss this with an adult, surely it would help you to recover from this if you talked it through with a mature and compassionate person outside your own circle.

DEAR AMY: We moved into our house about six years ago. The house’s previous owners didn’t care (or have the time) to do yardwork, and our “helpful” neighbor offered to care for the part of the yard that connected with theirs, which was about 5 feet in width and stretches across the side of our property.

When we moved in they offered to continue taking care of this part of the property, but we declined politely, telling them we enjoy gardening.

Well, over the last few years they have dug up our plants, sprayed pesticides on our vegetables, continued to plant in our yard, placed their Dumpster in our driveway without asking us when they had some roofing done — and the list goes on.

When the neighbor sprayed pesticide on our vegetables, I came out of the house and told her that she had poisoned my lettuce. She said she was sorry, but said that the next time I should tell her when I am planting things. I do not know how to get through to her without becoming enemies. -- Neighborly

DEAR NEIGHBORLY: Your approach should be friendly and firm. Assume that your neighbors either don’t know (or care) exactly where the property boundary is. Your job is to educate them and let them know that you expect them to respect this boundary.

Say, “I think there’s some confusion about where the property line is. Let’s walk back there — because we plan to plant right up to the line.”

Obviously, a fence, even a small one, would erase all doubt.

In the future you should react — politely — whenever there is a breach. Obviously, this includes waking up to find a Dumpster in your driveway.

DEAR AMY: “Bothered by the Bride” expressed an attitude that in a wedding everything is owed to the guests. She didn’t like the idea that her stepdaughter wanted to be married on a weekday at the courthouse.

I wanted to thank you for sticking up for the feelings of uncomfortable brides with difficult families. I had been struggling to plan a wedding that accommodates guests who haven’t had an amicable conversation in more than a decade. It was not worth the anguish.

My fiancee and I have decided to do a small, very private courthouse ceremony instead, and it is such a relief. -- Otherwise Happy Bride

DEAR OTHERWISE: Congratulations!

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

2012 by the Chicago Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Media Services

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