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by Abigail Van Buren

Victim's Silence Allows Rapist to Go Unpunished

DEAR ABBY: I worked in a large office building. Each day my husband would drop me off in the morning and pick me up after work.

One day I took my break a little later than usual and went to the restroom down the hall from the office where I worked.

As I entered the restroom, I was grabbed from behind by a man who told me if I screamed or struggled, he would strangle me. Right there in the restroom that man raped me! I didn't know who he was because he wore a ski mask. After he finished, he said if I told anyone, he would hurt my 2-year-old son. Abby, he even told me the cross streets where my son was in day care!

I was so frightened, I told no one, not even my husband. For six weeks I found excuses not to go to work. When I finally told my husband, who had known something was wrong but had no idea what it was, he was so angry, he kicked a two-foot hole in our wall!

Since then, I have made a police report, but because so much time had gone by -- and all the evidence had been destroyed -- there is little hope of catching him.

I have contacted the Rape Crisis Center, moved my son to another day-care center and have filed for workman's compensation. I am also seeing a psychologist to help me deal with the mixed-up emotions I am feeling.

I want to tell other women that if something like this ever happens to them, to report it immediately! Hiding it was the worst mistake I could have ever made. Now they may never catch the creep who did this to me. -- SCARED AND STUPID

DEAR SCARED: Thanks for giving me this opportunity to tell my readers that all rapes should be reported immediately. (For the record: A person is raped when another person forces her (or him) to have sex against that person's will.)

Many victims of rape fail to report the crime because they are ashamed or embarrassed. That's a big mistake. The rapist is then free to rape another victim.