DEAR ABBY: I am an average 17-year-old girl with a big problem. A few days ago, my cousin's boyfriend touched me inappropriately. It took a few seconds for me to realize what was happening and stop him. I got up and left the room.
I don't want to tell my mom because she shares what we talk about with other people. I don't want to tell my cousin because she loves her boyfriend, and if I ruin this for her, she'll never speak to me again. I have seen her do it with other people.
My cousin visits my house every day with her boyfriend. I have been leaving for hours so I won't have to see him. Please help me. What other option do I have besides telling somebody? -- STAYING SILENT IN GUAM
DEAR STAYING SILENT: You have two options. You can remain silent and let your cousin marry a man who has so little self-control that he would not only hit on another woman, but one who is a close relative of hers. Or you can tell your parents what happened so your cousin can be warned, and possibly save her from a world of heartache later on. Please be brave and do the right thing.
DEAR ABBY: I know most of your readers are women, but could you please spread awareness of female-on-male domestic violence? You have done a great job with male-on-female abuse awareness, and I think American society is fairly well saturated with it. But there is little out there for men who have been or are being abused. -- MINNESOTA READER
DEAR READER: Domestic violence is not restricted to any social, racial, religious, economic group or particular gender. And while male victims may be embarrassed to disclose it, men can be victims of domestic violence, too.
In years past, men were hesitant to call a domestic abuse hotline when there was a crisis because they were ashamed, had been bullied into thinking they "deserved it," or were afraid they wouldn't be believed. That is no longer the case.
Male victims of domestic violence can find help by contacting the Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men and Women. The organization's toll-free helpline is (888) 743-5754 or log onto its Web site at www.dahmw.org. Another organization, SAFE (Stop Abuse for Everyone), also assists victims of abuse regardless of age, gender or sexual orientation. Its Web site is www.safe4all.org.
DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend and I have been together 10 months. I'm 18, and feel I have met the man of my dreams. We were friends for a long time before we became a couple.
My question is: Do you think a couple can spend too much time together? Every minute, every hour and every day that we can spend together we do -- and I love it. But I don't want this to ruin our relationship. Am I doing the right thing? -- CONFUSED IN MISSISSAUGA, ONTARIO
DEAR CONFUSED: You're a smart cookie and that's a very intelligent question. Although it's tempting, do not allow the romance to take up every available moment. Continue to devote time to your friends and to outside interests. It will make you a much more interesting person to be around, and you won't lose your independence.
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