DEAR ABBY: After years of carrying this guilt, I want to tell my story. It may help others.
When my grandfather tried to rape me, it was at night when everyone was asleep. I stopped him as much as a 10-year-old could. The next day he wrote me a letter saying he was sorry for what he did. It read, "If your dad finds out, it will KILL HIM." Strong words for a 10-year-old, so I buried the letter in the back yard. He never touched me again.
Five years after that, Grandpa was arrested for molesting my younger brothers. As a young girl, I didn't know men molested boys. I found out after my grandfather went to prison that he had also molested my dad and his sister when they were children.
Please warn parents to educate their children. Tell them that even someone they love does not have the right to touch them in a way that makes them uncomfortable.
My dad felt guilty for the rest of his life for what happened to us because he had let this monster back into his life. If this saves one person from the shame and guilt I have carried, it will have been worth it. -- WISH I HAD TOLD IN FLORIDA
DEAR WISH YOU HAD TOLD: I agree with you about the importance of parents teaching children the difference between an appropriate touch and one that isn't, and how to set boundaries. If those boundaries are violated, children should be instructed to immediately tell an adult. If it's not a parent, then tell a teacher, counselor or school nurse, all of whom are mandated reporters. Children should also tell if a friend confides it has happened to him or her, because secrets like this are harmful not only to the victim, but also to any children in the vicinity who might also be at risk.
It may assuage your guilt to know that molesters often blackmail their victim into silence. I heard recently from a woman who said her father told her when she was a child that if she revealed what he was doing, he would kill himself. (It wasn't until many years later that she finally realized if he had, he would have been doing everyone, including her sister, a favor.)