DEAR ABBY: I'm writing because I'm afraid I will never be able to have a normal, healthy relationship with a man. Until recently, I was the victim of a physically, verbally and sexually abusive father. Now I find myself unable to speak around even the most nonthreatening boy.
At even the slightest hint of aggression or anger I flinch and run away. I'm afraid I will never escape the shadow of what he did to me. What should I do? -- SHY AND BATTERED IN NEW JERSEY
DEAR SHY AND BATTERED: For you to move from victim to survivor will take professional help. Few people are able to completely overcome the abuse you have experienced on their own. A good first step would be to contact R.A.I.N.N., the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. Its website is www.rainn.org and its toll-free phone number is 800-656-4673. The counselors there can guide you in finding help to repair your life.
Men like your father belong behind bars, where they can't hurt helpless children. If he would sexually and physically abuse you, no child is safe around him. If there are minors still living with your parents, the police should be notified about what he did to you so they can be rescued.