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by Abigail Van Buren

'Girl Next Door' Feels Used and Worthless After Rape

DEAR ABBY: I am a 21-year-old Mormon girl who attended church every week until last March. I did not curse, drink or smoke, and I was a virgin. I was the "girl next door." I was respected for what I believed in and had many good friends.

In March my life was turned upside down. I was raped. I couldn't believe this happened to me, but it did. I couldn't tell anyone -- not my parents, not my church counselors, not my friends. My parents learned what had happened through the police.

I had filed a crime report, but I could not make myself sign the charges. The man who raped me wasn't charged since I didn't sign the papers, so he's walking around free to do it again.

I feel so used, so bad. I feel completely worthless, and I'm sure no one will ever want me. Because I couldn't face the church members, I quit going, and I don't know if I'll ever be able to attend worship services again. I feel too guilty to go back, although I know it wasn't my fault.

I'm trying to forget the rape and put that nightmare behind me so I can get on with my life.

Abby, I had always planned on being a virgin when I walked down the aisle. I didn't want this to happen, but it did, and now I don't know if I'm a virgin or not. I know this is a strange question, but I need to know. Please help me. -- RAPED VIRGIN

DEAR RAPED VIRGIN: You may no longer be a virgin, but because the act occurred against your will, the church may consider you still a virgin.

In time you may be able to face your church counselors to inquire; meanwhile, call your local rape hotline, or the Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network (R.A.I.N.N.) -- 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) -- to be referred to your nearest rape treatment center. They will understand your trauma and reach out to you in this time of emotional devastation. You are not alone -- it is estimated that every two minutes a woman is raped in this country.

Please don't delay; call the hotline TODAY. You've suffered enough.

DEAR ABBY: As many of us get older, our sight and hearing are not what they used to be.

When old friends and acquaintances see my well-known and beloved father, they often rush over and jump into conversation, giving him no clue as to their identity. Even worse, they will say, "I bet you don't remember me, do you?"

Abby, if Dad could see well, he would have known them in an instant because there is nothing wrong with his mind or memory. Please tell your readers that when they run into a friend who has a vision or hearing problem (or for that matter, anyone they haven't seen in a long time), they should introduce themselves immediately -- and add an extra hint: "Hi, Jim, I'm Alex Smith from Salinas, Calif."

This courtesy will not only be greatly appreciated, but probably will lead to many warm and wonderful recollections. -- PATRICIA IN RENO, NEV.

DEAR PATRICIA: I'm willing to wager that everyone who reads this has been approached by someone who has said, "Hi -- I'll bet you don't remember me, do you?"

Thank you for a valuable suggestion well worth remembering.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600