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Date Rape Victim Warns Other Women to Be Wary

DEAR ABBY: I am writing this in the hope that it helps at least one woman from falling victim to the date-rape drug. I went to a nice party at an upscale hotel for the millennium celebration. My friend and I felt secure in those surroundings. I had a couple of drinks with my dinner. In the course of the evening, I met a couple of men. They bought me a drink and I drank it. Within a half-hour, I felt myself losing control. The room was blurred and my balance was off. For as few beverages as I had consumed, this was not right.

The man who had bought me the drink came to my table, seemed concerned and walked me to the restroom. Neither I nor my friend was alarmed at his kind offer, but I have no memory after that. No one knows where I went except those men.

I was found a couple of hours later in a taxicab. I did not know who I was or where I had been. The next eight hours, I could feel myself fading in and out of consciousness. When I gained my bearings, I could tell that I had been violated.

I had to go through a humiliating examination at the doctor's office for STDs. As time passes, I will have to undergo more blood tests to check for HIV and hepatitis. I am trying not to feel ashamed -- but the shame is there.

I know no one deserves this, but I am beating myself up with self-doubt. With no memory, and days having passed, I have no legal course of action. Although I would recognize these men if I saw them again, I have no hard proof to accuse them of anything. I never thought this could happen to me.

Abby, please tell women out there it really can happen to them. NEVER accept a drink from a stranger and never allow a stranger to help you "walk off" a bad feeling. It is a hard lesson I wish I hadn't had to learn the hard way. -- VIOLATED IN GRAND PRAIRIE, TEXAS

DEAR VIOLATED: Your signature says it all. You have no reason to feel shame. You were naive and were victimized by a predator. If you have not already done so, call the Houston Area Women's Center. The toll-free number is (800) 256-0661. (They will refer sexual assault victims nationwide to local rape hotlines.) The operators there can help you deal with the emotions you are experiencing. They can also tell you whether or not it would be worthwhile to discuss what happened to you with the police. Having gotten away with this crime, it is entirely possible that the two men who drugged you will assault another victim. Having your report on file could be very helpful.

P.S. This is the second letter I have received in the last two months from the victim of a date-rape drug, and the implications are disturbing.

DEAR ABBY: A friend of mine got married a year and a half ago. She has a 9-year-old daughter and a 12-year-old stepdaughter from the marriage. Her stepdaughter does not live in their home. I believe they have visitation one day a weekend or every other weekend.

When sending Christmas gifts or birthday party invitations to her biological daughter, should the same be done for her stepdaughter -- even if some of her friends have not met her stepdaughter yet because of her infrequent visitation? -- INSULT-WARY IN NEW HAMPSHREI

DEAR INSULT-WARY: Although the younger girl's friends have not yet met the new stepsister, it would be a kindness to include her. If she's uncomfortable about attending, she can always refuse.

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