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by Abigail Van Buren

Friend Working Three Jobs Envies Man on Easy Street

DEAR ABBY: I have a friend I'll call Layla. Her best friend, "Matt," raped her. She doesn't want to tell anyone, but I think she needs to. She told me Matt has done it multiple times. I love her, and I don't want it to keep happening because she's an amazing person.

Her life isn't going well, either. Her mom has stage 4 colon cancer and is in her final year. Her stepdad isn't the best person, and Layla has a disease herself. I'm really worried about her. What should I do? -- STANDING BY IN OREGON

DEAR STANDING BY: You should be worried. Encourage Layla to contact the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (rainn.org or 800-656-4673) and tell someone there what has been happening. Offer to be with her for emotional support when she does it. Her "best friend" (!) Matt is a predator, and for the sake of her own mental health she must no longer allow herself to be victimized.

Layla will need your friendship and support while her mother spends this final year battling her disease. It's a shame that her stepfather isn't supportive, but he may be grieving in his own way and unable to.

With the amount of stress that your friend is under, it is not surprising that she's ill. Stress can weaken the immune system. If she's being treated by a doctor for her illness, her doctor should be made aware of everything that's going on. She may be more inclined to reveal it if you accompany her to an appointment.