Dear Straight Talk: I had sex with my stepsister last weekend when we were home alone on a visitation at my dad's. She's 17 and I'm 16. She seduced me and was prepared, supplying me with a condom. It's the first time I had sex, but instead of feeling good about it, I feel guilty and ashamed. Even though she seduced me, it's no excuse. Though it's technically not incest since we're not related, it sure feels like it. To make matters worse, she loved it and wants to make it a regular thing when we're here alone. She came across as experienced, so I'm sure this wasn't her first time. I don't know how to deal with her, or my own guilt and shame. Please help. -- Ashamed Stepbrother
Christina, 19: You were seduced and taken advantage of. Guys have tried to seduce me; I joked with them about it and then avoided them. Tell her it's not going to happen again and talk to a school counselor so you can get past the shame.
Omari, 18: At the beginning of your letter, I thought the sex was mutual, but then I saw it wasn't. Tell her you made a mistake and it's over. Don't let her put ideas into your head about it being okay. Sex is only great when the feelings are mutual. If you don't want to have sex with someone, don't.
Gregg, 20: I have not been exactly in your shoes, but I can relate to being caught up in the moment. If you do not want something to happen again, simply tell her and leave it at that. She might not accept this so be prepared to continually refuse her. No means no!
Katelyn, 16: It's important to not beat yourself up over this. Talk to someone safe or get professional help to handle these feelings. Don't let your stepsister do this again. This may be abuse on her part and you may not be her only victim.
Elise, 20: You have complete control of the situation. If you can't muster the courage to tell her, avoid being home alone with her.
Dear Ashamed: First of all, guilt is useful. Guilt says, "I've done something wrong; it was a bad thing to do." Guilt keeps us from doing such things again. It's a big part of how we learn. Shame, however, is destructive. It says, "there's something wrong with me; I am what's bad." Shame actually stunts learning and can lead to negative self talk and repetitious behavior. So repeat after me: "I am a good person, mistakes are how we learn, and I am learning."
Please talk to someone. That someone could be a nurse at Planned Parenthood, where you could "clear" the experience by talking about it while getting checked for STIs confidentially and free of charge. The nurses there have heard many experiences and are caring and wise. I don't advise telling parents. A situation like this could easily grow. It will be best if it can be straightened out using your own resources. The panel's advice is simple and effective. 'No is no,' even if you once said yes. If your stepsister doesn't listen, definitely avoid her.
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More from LAUREN FORCELLA:
Historically, it was women who were targeted for seduction. In most cultures it led to a societal humiliation and personal shame that isolated a woman permanently. Fortunately times have changed, but it wasn't very long ago that women were treated as such. Now the tables have turned. Most of the mail we receive on this topic is about girls seducing, or attempting to seduce, boys. And the boys are feeling the shame. Fortunately, those young men can work through it internally and move on into healthy, normal lives.
We get a fair amount of mail involving attraction between stepsiblings who are still together in the home. From these letters, I can safely warn everyone away from moving forward in these relationships. For those who consummate their attraction, even though they know it's not incest, it often feels that way. If there are attractions between stepsiblings, it's best to ignore them and look elsewhere. If attraction persists after you are out of the nest, make sure it's worth the risk. Stepsiblings do get married -- it's perfectly legal -- but if you divorce, the effect on the rest of the family can be devastating. --Lauren