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by Abigail Van Buren

Brutal Robbery Provides Sobering Lesson in Safety

DEAR ABBY: I have just been through the worst experience in my life. I am a 22-year-old woman who was robbed in the apartment I share with a friend, who was away for the weekend. I spent 14 hours bound and gagged. I have tape marks and rope burns on my legs and shoulders. Yes, I actually opened my door to a stranger thinking it was the maintenance man from the complex. A couple (man and woman) pushed themselves in and held me at knifepoint. I am petite and was no match for either.

They wanted money, bank and credit cards, which I willingly gave them. They told me they'd have to tie me up. (That actually relieved me since I figured they would have no need to hurt me and, being fairly agile, I could eventually work myself loose.) Well, they proceeded to bind my hands behind me with duct tape, and bind my legs and feet with rope. They taped my mouth and wound the remaining yards of duct tape around my entire body. For good measure, they plopped me face-down on a bed and bound my hands and feet together so I couldn't even stretch out. That's how I spent the next 14 hours. I did not attempt to roll off the bed for fear of breaking a limb, and though I struggled from time to time, I knew it was hopeless.

When my roommate finally returned, I was as tightly bound as ever. She needed scissors and a knife to get me free -- and it still took 20 minutes.

Abby, I am telling you all this partially to get it out of my system and also to warn your readers about opening doors to strangers. I am so embarrassed, I haven't even told my family, but I sure have learned my lesson. Sign me ... HOMEBOUND IN PHILADELPHIA

DEAR HOMEBOUND: Thank you for writing to describe your nightmarish experience in order to warn others. Although you didn't mention doing so, I hope you reported this serious crime to the police, even though you have not informed your family.

You may also need someone with whom you can talk this out. An excellent resource for this would be a victims' rights or victims' support group. They are as close as your local phone directory.

Readers, I hope you have instructed your children never to open the door to strangers. Now vow to use that advice yourselves.

DEAR ABBY: You printed a letter I wrote to you about a year ago with some advice to a woman whose husband had suddenly left her. Today I'm responding to the letter from "Devastated in Renton, Wash."

She should dump him! The bum I was once married to told me on our honeymoon that a former girlfriend turned him on more than I did. I should have left him on the spot. (Hindsight is always 20/20, isn't it?) No one should stay in a marriage that isn't mutually supportive, respectful and loving.

"Devastated" sounds like a nice person, but her husband is hostile toward women, and he will never change without extensive counseling and in-depth soul searching to find out why he is so angry.

Abby, please tell her that the prospects for finding love again aren't all that slim. I got married last year, at the age of 47, to the most wonderful man in the world, and I am not tall and slender like "Devastated." Sign me ... BETTER THAN EVER IN PIEDMONT

DEAR BETTER THAN EVER: Congratulations on having found such a wonderful man. As the old song goes, "Love is wonderful ... the second time around."

Best wishes for continued happiness.

DEAR ABBY: I couldn't help but respond to "Steamed's" dilemma about her friend bringing a salad to Bible study and a hosted lunch.

Her answer lies in the very Bible she is studying: Proverbs 15:17: Better a meal of vegetables where there is love than a fattened calf with hatred.

It would be a nice gesture for "Steamed" to prepare a lovely salad lunch the next time it's her turn to hostess. -- ROCHELLE IN SACRAMENTO

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