Q: I find myself sometimes wanting to commit the most heinous of crimes. The desire to do this has been with me my entire life. I was sexually abused by my mother and oldest brother. While that’s no excuse, I understand why I may be the way I am.
At 51, I have never committed any act against a young girl, but the desire is clearly there for me. The issue before me is that if I seek help for this problem, those who can provide it are required by law in this state to report me.
How am I to overcome these urges when no matter what I do I am considered guilty? — Anonymous in America
A: You should be discussing these feelings with a licensed mental health professional. If fear that you will be arrested is what is holding you back, please be aware that if the urge or feeling is not directed at anyone in particular, a therapist is not required to report what you are confiding. However, if there is a direct threat toward a specific individual, it must be reported, even if it has not yet occurred.
Q: I have attended many events where the national anthem has been sung by an invited guest and many where it has been pre-recorded. When the national anthem is being sung live, is it disrespectful to the performer to sing along? Some people who sing along are off-key or sing so loud they drown out the performance for the unfortunate attendees seated near them. — Audrey in Arizona
A: Our national anthem is notoriously difficult to sing, as many professionals have discovered to their embarrassment when they tried to perform it publicly. At large events during which the anthem is played, it is not uncommon for many of the audience members to be so filled with patriotic fervor that they join in. If memory serves me, the volume is usually so loud that no one can hear what’s coming out of their mouths.
To the best of my knowledge, no rule of etiquette forbids anyone from singing along with Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Garth Brooks or Renee Fleming, if they have the nerve to try.
Q: I am an old lady, happy I can still get around using a cane. I would like to thank the many people who take the extra time to open a door for me or hold it open longer so I can get through. I am grateful for their help, and being offered a place ahead of them in the checkout line is beyond appreciated. Thank you, thank you.
However, may I offer a suggestion to those helpful folks, often robust men, who want to do more? If I look unsteady, please DO NOT grab me by the arm and try to steer me like an empty bicycle! Instead, hold your arm out for me to lean on and allow me to do the navigating. It may be slow, but with your help, it will be safe. — Caryl in New Mexico
A: That’s an excellent suggestion, and one I hope helpful readers of both sexes will pay attention to.
Write Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.