DEAR ABBY: After I read the letter from the young woman who had been date-raped at 21, I felt compelled to write. She was wondering if she should tell her boyfriend about it.
When I was 16 and a virgin, I was date-raped. For many years, I didn't know why it had happened. It took a long time to slowly heal from the incident.
Finally, I met a wonderful man with whom I started to cultivate a relationship -- first on the telephone, even though we both lived in the same small town. On our first date, I told him about what had happened to me 10 years earlier. I cried and he held me, letting me know that he was sorry that it had happened.
That wonderful man and I have been happily married for more than a year. He's my best friend, and I don't regret telling him. In fact, he helped me to let go of so many bad memories and to focus on our future. A truly understanding man will be your comfort if you are truthful. -- NO PRISONER TO THE PAST
DEAR N.P.: Your supportive letter is well worth space in this column. I'm pleased your story has such a happy ending.
One of the main reasons why the vast majority of rapes are never reported is the feeling of shame on the part of the victim. Rape is never the victim's fault.
Crisis counseling is enormously helpful for victims of sexual assault, and it's as easy to find as picking up the telephone and asking information for the number of the local rape hotline. It can help to heal psychological wounds even years after the assault, and that's why I recommend it so strongly.