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TEEN KEEPS SEXUAL ABUSE A SECRET

Dear Abby: I have recently turned 14. When I was 7, I was sexually abused by a close female relative. The abuse wasn't as severe as in most cases of molestation, but I know what happened to me was wrong. I forgive this relative and do not bear the emotional scars that most victims do.

I'm wondering whether I should ever tell my family about what happened to me. If I do, I am afraid they will hate this relative for what she did. I have told only one of my friends about it, and he told me it was up to me to decide whether or not to tell my parents.

What do you think I should do, Abby? Should I take this secret to my grave?

-- Lost Teen in L.A.
Dear Lost: Because this is on your mind, you should tell your parents. Obviously, you need to talk about it. It is not your responsibility to protect this person who abused you from the consequences of her actions. Because it happened to you, it may also have happened -- or be happening -- to other children in the family. So even if you won't speak up for yourself, please do it for them.

Military housing

Dear Abby: Would you please help us to inform the many elderly widows and widowers of retired or honorably separated military officers that they are eligible to live at Air Force Village I in San Antonio?

The Villages are three retirement communities in San Antonio whose primary purpose is to care for surviving officer spouses of all branches of the service who need a secure, comfortable and dignified place to live.

Thank you, Abby, for helping us get the word to these eligible folks.

-- Jack Barbeau, Col. (Ret.), Air Force Village Foundation
Dear Col. Barbeau: Readers, the Air Force Village Foundation's toll-free number is (800) 762-1122.

Addressing a problem

Dear Abby: Years ago, I read a helpful hint in your column that should be repeated. If you send a get-well card to a friend in the hospital, put the patient's address as the return address on the envelope. That way, it will be delivered to the person's home even if he or she has been discharged.

I am in a recovery center after spending time in a hospital because of a fall. My friend sent a card to the hospital and failed to heed that advice. She put her own home address instead of mine on it, and it still hasn't shown up.

-- Still Waiting in Knoxville
Dear Still Waiting: I'm pleased to print your letter, because your problem is one that I hear about repeatedly. Using the patient's address as the return address on a card or get-well note doubles its chances of reaching the recipient.

Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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