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by Abigail Van Buren

Daughter Betrayed by Mother Struggles With Reconnection

DEAR ABBY: I have an extensive history of childhood trauma. I was sexually abused by my stepfather for 15 years. When I turned him in, my family turned their backs on me. I was told it could have been handled within the family, and they blamed me for acting "sexy." My stepfather spent 10 years in prison and died a few years later.

I suffer from chronic mental health issues including PTSD, anxiety and suicide ideation, which have landed me in the hospital 10 times in the last two years. My mother wants to have a relationship with me, but she refuses to apologize or acknowledge the abuse even happened.

In some ways, the betrayal by my mother has hurt me more than the abuse. I feel guilty for not trying to work on a relationship with her, but on the other hand, I don't feel my heart can handle any more rejection from her. We live states apart. What should I do? -- SURVIVOR IN WISCONSIN

DEAR SURVIVOR: If you haven't talked about this with a licensed psychotherapist, please do it before making a decision about something this important. I'm not a therapist, but I think it would be healthier for you to keep your distance from someone who prefers living in denial rather than facing reality.

At the very least, you are owed an apology for the way you were treated by "the family." You did nothing wrong. The person who should feel guilty is your mother. Blowing the whistle on the child molester she married was the right thing to do. ("Handle it within the family"?!) I can only wonder how many other young family members your stepfather may have abused in addition to you.