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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I have been bothered by something that happened a long time ago. In 1943, during World War II, I was a pretty 15-year-old living in Georgia. One evening, I went on a date with a very nice soldier named Elmer. I liked him a lot and he liked me. I wore a beautiful green suit.

We were walking toward the movie theater when I stopped to use a ladies restroom. Elmer waited outside for me. When I came out, two policemen drove past and looked at me. They stopped and ordered me to get into their patrol car. Elmer asked why. The heavy-set policeman said, "Soldier boy, get lost or we'll call the MPs and have you arrested." Then the policemen grabbed me and threw me into the patrol car.

They drove me to a dark church parking lot and raped me. First the heavy-set one, then the other one. Afterward, they drove me home. I felt dirty and violated. I was afraid to leave my home for fear they would return.

I never saw either policeman again and I never saw Elmer again, either. He never knew what happened to me.

In those days, a woman (or in my case, a child) would never dare to tell the authorities because the female was presumed to be automatically at fault. I had no one to talk to. No action was taken.

I am nearly 75 years old now. This happened a lifetime ago, but I remember it vividly -- even the name of one of the officers.

Abby, I hope you print this. In case Elmer is still living, I want him to know what happened to me. We were both nice kids, not bothering anyone. I did nothing wrong, so help me God. -- E.M. IN FLORIDA

DEAR E.M.: I'm printing your letter because I am sure you are not the only rape victim from that era who has been afraid to speak out about her assault. I believe you when you say you did nothing wrong. The men who harmed you violated their position of trust and authority.

Although it has been nearly six decades since your rape occurred, there is still help available for you in the form of post-traumatic stress counseling. Please pick up the phone and call RAINN (the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network) at (800) 656-HOPE (4673). RAINN will connect you with the nearest rape crisis center in your area. Please heed this advice. You'll be glad you did.

DEAR ABBY: My parents, who live in Europe, are finalizing their divorce. So far, I have remained neutral. However, I recently learned some very upsetting news about my dad -- that he's had multiple extramarital affairs. He also bad-mouths my mother to everyone who will listen.

Dad plans to retire next year and wants to visit me and my husband after that. This man is an alcoholic who has never sought treatment. I am not looking forward to his visit, but realize now is not the time to break off my connection with him.

As a compromise, I would like to propose that my dad visit my husband and me for one week -- but with the requirement that no alcohol be brought into our home. Does this sound reasonable, Abby? -- LOYAL TEXAS READER

DEAR LOYAL: If your father's personality changes when he drinks, it's not only reasonable, but it's also sensible. In your home, you make the rules. Remember that when your father objects (as he almost certainly will), and don't cave in.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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