DEAR ABBY: When I was 7, I spent the night at the home of a friend and was molested by her father. It happened again when I was older. That time it was a cousin who spent the night with us. I never told my mother. I was afraid she would blame me. My father never spent time with me -- I am one of several children -- so it didn't occur to me to tell him.
I have lived with this all my life. I have suffered from low self-esteem and had relationship problems since childhood. Few days have gone by that I haven't thought about it and felt deep personal guilt. I never told anyone what happened until after my mother died, when I finally confessed it to a psychiatrist.
Now I would like to tell my older brother. Should I? Or would it be more difficult for me if my family knew? -- SAD, SCARED AND CONFUSED IN FLORIDA
DEAR SAD: Not knowing your family, I can't predict how they'll react. However, this I do know: You were victimized twice as a child. You have done nothing for which to feel guilty. THE VICTIM IS NEVER AT FAULT.
Because you still have difficulty accepting this, it appears your sessions with the psychiatrist were not as helpful as they should have been. Please pick up the phone and call the Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network (R.A.I.N.N.). The toll-free number is (800) 656-4673. Counselors there will guide you to specialized services that can help you. Their entire focus is on helping victims of sexual assault, and the fact that your assault happened long ago should not be a deterrent.
After you have been counseled, and accept that you were never at fault for what happened, it will be safe to tell your brother because, at that point, his reaction will not be all-important to you.