High school abuse victim afraid to revisit the past

Published:

DEAR ABBY: I am a woman in my 30s. When I was in high school, a male teacher sexually abused me. After my parents and I went to the authorities about it, it became widely known. The teacher resigned, and the case was dismissed. However, like many high school students are, my peers were cruel and insisted it was my fault. Many of them seemed to think I had brought it on myself.

I have since received several years of therapy. I have moved on with my life, and Im happy. I am being married in the fall, and Im now a teacher myself, dedicated to protecting my students.

My high school reunion is coming up, and Id like to go. Ive lost track of several friends from high school, and Id like to see where everyone is at in their lives.

My problem is Im afraid to see the cruel people who made my life so difficult back then. Im afraid they will bring up the subject. I want to forget about it and continue moving on with my life. What do you think I should do?

FRIGHTENED BUT

CURIOUS IN ILLINOIS

DEAR FRIGHTENED BUT CURIOUS: Its important that you remember that you are no longer the inexperienced young woman who was victimized by that sexual predator. Contact the reunion committee and inquire if the former classmates you want to see plan to attend. (If they dont, you may not want to go.) If they do, then go to the reunion, reconnect and have a good time. And if any of the others are so insensitive as to raise the subject of your abuse, inform them that it took years for you to get over the damage that teacher did, and the trauma they perpetuated because of their cruel and ignorant gossip. Say you dont care to discuss it, then change the subject.

DEAR ABBY: Can you please settle our question about what is proper attire for church? Are short shorts, tube tops and flip-flops suitable for a house of worship?

DISMAYED

DEAR DISMAYED: I was raised that a person should dress respectfully in the house of the Lord. That means fully shod and covered up enough so that it doesnt distract the other worshippers. However, dress codes have been greatly relaxed in recent decades. Each congregation has its own standards and, in the final analysis, it is up to the clergyperson and governing body to decide what is or is not appropriate.

DEAR READERS: A group of distinguished geriatric psychiatrists is interested in learning about the experiences of seniors in getting help for mental and emotional problems. (Geriatric psychiatrists are doctors who specialize in older patients.) They would welcome information such as how older people feel about mental health problems, where you seek help for them, what you feel needs to be done to improve services, and whether youd like more mental health services than you are getting now.

If you care to share this information, please direct your letters to: Dr. Gene Cohen, Center on Aging, Health and Humanities, 10225 Montgomery Ave., Kensington, MD 20895, or e-mail: dcagingcenter@aol.com. (Dr. Cohen is director of the center.)

P.S. If you would like to vent, theyre ready to hear it.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person, order How to Be Popular. Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054- 0447. (Postage is included.) Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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