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by Abigail Van Buren

Stepdad Defends His Motives in Giving Daughter Third Degree

DEAR ABBY: I am shocked and outraged by your reply to "Married to an Overprotector," whose second husband insisted her 15-year-old daughter give him "all the personal details" of the dates she had with boys -- whether they held hands, kissed, etc.

My two stepdaughters are now 20 and 21. I, too, was probably "overprotective" during their teens. Yes, men tend to remember how we acted with girls when we were teen-agers -- when our bodies overflowed with testosterone and not enough common sense. That's one reason we are overprotective now. But you are wrong to imply that it is motivated by jealousy and sexual fantasy.

Perhaps, like me, the man just loves the girl as his own and fears that mistakes she might make during her formative years could affect her future. You owe him and all of us "overprotective" stepdads an apology. -- A CARING STEPDAD IN COLORADO

DEAR CARING: I certainly do not believe that all protective stepfathers have sexual fantasies about their stepdaughters. However, in this case, the stepfather's interrogation was excessive -- and many readers agreed with me. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: You'll get many letters telling you that you were wrong in your comments about the "overprotective" stepfather. But stick to your guns, Abby.

The woman who wrote that letter could have been describing my ex-husband. He regarded every young man who showed interest in our adopted daughter as though he was a pervert. It made the young men so uncomfortable they would no longer come to our home. They would ask our daughter to meet them at a friend's house. Talking to my husband got me nowhere.

Once I asked him to talk to her about the "lines" boys use to convince a girl to have sex. He claimed never to have used any. I asked him in front of our daughter, and it made him uncomfortable.

You must have guessed by now -- he was sexually abusing her. I never suspected it. Our daughter did not divulge what happened to her until she was grown. She thought I had known about it all along and tolerated it.

We were estranged for years and only recently have begun to talk. -- ANONYMOUS MOM IN VIRGINIA

DEAR ANONYMOUS: I'm pleased that the lines of communication between you and your daughter are being mended. I hope her stepfather is being prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: I, too, was a stepdaughter. My father died before I was born. My stepfather, like "Overprotector," was overly concerned about any boy I dated. He opened and read my letters and insisted on knowing every detail of my dates. He would ask how I felt when kissed, and did I like it. He became angry if I had a date and didn't share all the details with him.

It wasn't long before he was exposing himself to me and touching me in inappropriate places. I was also 15. It continued for three years. My mother did not believe me when I told her what he was doing. I left home at 18. -- STILL HURTING IN KNOXVILLE, TENN.

DEAR STILL HURTING: You were betrayed by two adults who were supposed to protect you. If you haven't received counseling to lessen your pain, I urge you to do so. Your doctor can refer you to a qualified therapist.

There are self-help groups for survivors of abuse and incest: Incest Survivors Anonymous, P.O. Box 17245, Long Beach, CA 90807-7245; and, Survivors of Incest Anonymous Inc., P.O. Box 190, Benson, MD 21018-9998. The Web address is www.siawso.org.

P.S. If you write for information, please enclose a long, self-addressed, stamped envelope (68 cents) for the reply. Survivors of Incest Anonymous requests a $2 donation to cover cost of materials.