Dear Abby: Last Saturday night, I went to a church dance. I didn't want to go, but my mother made me. I danced a few times, but mostly sat with another girl who's a good friend. When I got up to make a phone call in the hallway, I was unaware that her father had been watching me.
He followed me down the hall, grabbed me, and wouldn't let go. I tried to break away, but the harder I struggled, the tighter he held me. Nobody saw us. When I finally got away from him, I ran out of the building and all the way home.
I haven't told my mom about it because she would jump to the wrong conclusions -- and if I tell my friend, she might accuse me of lying about her dad and it would wreck our friendship. What should I do, Abby?
-- Troubled Teen Girl in Logan, Utah
Dear Troubled: You have to speak up. Tell your mother. Tell your clergyperson. Your friend's father is a predator. He assaulted you and he must be reported. If you remain silent, he could do something more serious to you or some other young girl. Please don't wait.
A loser's head games
Dear Abby: I have been living with "Ken" for seven years. On two occasions in the past few months, he has told me he's dating someone else. Each time, Ken allowed me to believe it for more than an hour. Then he admitted he was "putting me on" -- that he was only testing me to see if I really loved him.
We were already having problems, and this "game" has caused me to doubt our future together. When Ken realized how upset and manipulated I felt, he apologized and said he regretted ever making such a statement.
I am trying to believe him and forgive him, but I'm having a hard time. Am I wrong for having doubts about him?
-- Angry and Confused in the Pacific Northwest
Dear Angry and Confused: Your boyfriend's game is sadistic. You're right to have second thoughts about him. If Ken pulls something like this again, dump him and don't look back.
Method to their badness
Dear Abby: I read with interest the letter from "Michigan Grandmother," whose son had recently divorced and whose grandchildren were starting to steal. In your reply you advised, "When couples separate, they still have a joint responsibility to the children they brought into this world."
I think that on some level, children know this. Often, when parents are having trouble in their lives (divorce in this case), children will act out in some manner -- such as stealing -- so that family members must come together to handle the crisis. The grandchildren in this instance may not actually expect their parents to reunite, but their stealing is "rewarded" by seeing their parents involved and coming together to work through the problem. In this way, they are once again a family -- even if it's just for a little while.
Time and love are great healers. Your advice to "Michigan Grandmother" was on the money. Spend more time with the boys until they have adjusted to the divorce. If they don't make the adjustment, family counseling is the next step.
-- Juli Herren, St. Pete Beach, Fla.
Dear Juli: You said it very well. I agree.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.