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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: A few years ago, I noticed some porn in my mom and stepdad's room. I didn't mention it to anyone. Later, my older sister accused my stepdad of window-peeping, but no one believed her. Last summer, I noticed him outside my window when I woke up one morning. I didn't say anything because I didn't want to cause a problem.

I have never liked my stepdad. He is verbally abusive. You wouldn't believe what I hear every single day.

I share a bathroom with one of my sisters. Last year when it was remodeled, we noticed a gap between the floor and the basement. (We covered it with towels when we were in there.)

Last week, I noticed what looked like a piece of wood in the gap, so I decided to give it a closer look. It looked like the lens of a camera. When I took a flashlight into the basement and checked it out, I found a cable running through the room and got close enough to see it said "camera" on the back. It faced the toilet.

I don't know who to tell, or if I should. My sister deserves the right to know -- but who else would believe me? I'm just a stupid 14-year-old girl. If I tell my mom, she will kick my stepdad out, and I'll have to go and live with my dad. I'll have to change schools. I'll lose my boyfriend, my friends, my life. Mom could lose the house because my stepdad mainly brings in all the money.

I should have said something when I saw the porn. I feel like this is all my fault. If I don't say anything and it keeps on, it could get worse -- and I'd probably commit suicide from the stress. And what if my friends come over? Please help me -- this is so important. -- DESPERATE IN INDIANA

DEAR DESPERATE: You are not "stupid"; you are a very bright young lady. None of this is your fault. You and your sister are the victims in this nasty business. Your mother should have believed your sister when she complained about the peeping. That she did not is deplorable.

What I want you to do will take courage, but please do it anyway. If you follow my advice, people will have to believe you. Buy a disposable flash camera. Use it to take pictures of the gap in the floor of your bathroom. Then take it into the basement and photograph the camera and the cable. When the pictures are developed, make sure to get several sets of prints. Mail one set to your father. Show one set to your mother, and tell her what you have told me. If she does not protect you immediately, give the third set to a trusted teacher at your school.

Your stepfather is sick and does not belong in a house with young women. Ideally, the police should be notified. If he has been looking into your windows, the chances are that he has been peeping into other windows in the neighborhood. The problem with "Peeping Toms" is their behavior can escalate. That's why you should not remain silent any longer.

DEAR ABBY: I am in love with a wonderful man. He's everything I have been looking for, but he's married and waiting for his divorce to be final.

It has been nearly six months, and he says his wife is prolonging things. I love him and don't want to be without him. I don't understand what's taking so long. Should I trust that what he says is true? -- DESPERATE AND IN LOVE

DEAR D.A.I.L.: If you have to ask me that question, the answer is no.

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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