DEAR ABBY: I am a 15-year-old girl. My childhood was not a normal one. I was molested by a man that I called Dad. Last summer he was sentenced to 15 years to life -- which is a severe punishment for him.
Abby, his family lives right across the street from me. Many times when I see them, I want to go over and say I'm sorry for what I have put them through. But I wanted it to stop -- so I told. Do you think I should apologize to them? -- FEELING GUILTY IN THE SOUTH
DEAR FEELING GUILTY: If anyone is owed an apology, it is you -- not the family of the man who sexually abused you. YOU are the victim in this situation, not the molester, who is where he belongs for his criminal act, and not his relatives. You did the right thing by telling what he did.
It's common for victims of sexual crimes to feel guilt. Too often they blame themselves and wonder if they did something to deserve it. It doesn't help that abusers reinforce this notion by saying, "See what you made me do?" Of course, that is the big lie. Adults are supposed to control their impulses. Counseling could help you understand this, and I hope your mother or guardian will see that you get some through a victim's assistance program or the Department of Mental Health in your community.