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by Abigail Van Buren

Woman Searches for Courage to Speak Out About Her Rape

DEAR ABBY: About six months ago, I was at a friend's house. We were drinking heavily, and I started getting dizzy, so I went to lie down in her guest bedroom. She was already asleep.

The next thing I knew, her boyfriend was in there with me. He started taking my clothes off. I begged him to stop, but he wouldn't. I was so drunk I didn't have the strength to fight him off. I begged him to leave me alone, but he wouldn't. He raped me. I finally passed out and woke the next morning hoping it had been a dream. It wasn't. I was still naked and had bruises where he had held my wrists.

I left without saying a word and have told no one else. My girlfriend still calls, but I hang up. I need to tell her, but I don't know how. I also need to tell my family, but I can't because I'm afraid they will say I deserved it for going over there and getting drunk. I know I didn't deserve what he did to me. It has taken me this long to figure that out.

The pain has begun to fade, but the fear of him is still there. Abby, please help me find the courage to finally speak up and tell everyone about it. -- SCARED AND ALONE IN BRITTON, MICH.

DEAR SCARED AND ALONE: The penalty for having too much to drink should be a nasty hangover, not rape. You did not deserve what happened to you. I'm only sorry you waited so long to speak out about the assault. With fresh bruises and the evidence that could have been collected at that time, you would have had proof of your rape, and your attacker could have been jailed for his crime. Also, you could have begun therapy immediately to help you place the blame where it belonged -- on the rapist -- and saved yourself long months of undeserved guilt.

However, it is not too late to get the counseling and emotional support you need. Pick up the phone and ask "Information" for the number of the nearest rape hotline. You will find that you are not alone and are not "guilty" of any crime. Once you understand that, telling your family and the girl whose boyfriend attacked you will be much easier.