DEAR ABBY: I am writing because of the letter from "E.M. in Florida," the woman who was raped at age 15 by two policemen during World War II. She is still haunted by that tragedy.
When I was 11, my mother went to the hospital to have her fifth child. While she was gone, my stepfather raped me. He said if I told he would hurt my two little sisters.
Every night I feared the rape would happen again. After my sisters were asleep, I would crawl under my bed and scoot back as far as I could. Then I'd watch the crack under the bedroom door to see if my stepfather was approaching. I never told my mother what happened.
One night, my stepfather got drunk and told my mother he and I had sex. She came to me and hit me hard. She said, "How dare you try to take my husband!"
I ran away that night. I was 15. I didn't see my mother for many years. I moved to another state. Forty years later, my elderly mother and I are talking, but not one word has been said about the rape.
How can my mom think I had sex willingly with that awful man when I was only 11? My whole life was messed up because of him. I have prayed about this, but I'm not going to say anything to her after all these years. She is not in good health, due to cancer.
When I was 20, my stepfather killed himself. My mother now talks about him a lot. She will say, "Daddy did this for us," and "Daddy was a good man." I hold my breath and wait for her to change the subject. I hate that my mother doesn't know the truth. I can't tell her. She is more than 80 years old and sick.
I did nothing wrong. Thank you for letting me spout off. -- A SURVIVOR IN FLORIDA
DEAR SURVIVOR: You're welcome. That's what I'm here for.
Now, please allow me to offer you some unsolicited advice. You should have set the record straight with your mother years ago. Even though she is ill, it is not too late to do it. It is as important for her to hear the truth from you as it is for you to tell it. Until you speak up and set things straight, the ghost of that child-molesting monster she married will stand between you. You have protected him long enough. Gather your courage and speak out. It will begin your healing.
I know I may sound like a broken record, but counseling can help you to put this unhappy chapter of your life to rest once and for all. Ask your doctor for a referral, or call the nearest rape hotline.