Dear Abby: Should I tell partner about the sexual abuse in my past?
Woman doesn’t feel a need to share everything, but revealing the secret would help explain some of her behavior.
DEAR ABBY: I’m a widow in a new relationship. I was molested for years by an older sibling. When my behavior became troublesome — skipping school, becoming antisocial — I was sent to a reform school for several years. The sibling was sent into the Army.
When I was released from the school, I drifted into worse relationships and into the sex trade. I got out of that after six months. I’ve always felt like a “good girl,” but the past haunts me. I used to talk about the abuse constantly. It was always in the back of my mind. It still pops up on a regular basis, but I have not told my new partner.
A friend once told me that people don’t need to know everything about you, and I believe that. Some folks blamed me for the abuse, although it started before I was 8. Sometimes I feel I should tell my partner, as it does affect my behavior — I have low self-esteem, etc. I’ve had counseling, but it didn’t help me. When I confronted my abuser years later, he told me it was my problem.
Do I need to share this to be completely honest about who I am? I have never felt “normal.” It’s as if I’m carrying a dreaded secret. Any advice? — GOOD GIRL IN WASHINGTON
DEAR GOOD GIRL: What you suffered as a child was not your fault. You needed counseling then, not blame. Because you didn’t receive it at that time, it isn’t surprising your problems followed you wherever you went.
Not knowing your partner, I cannot decide for you whether you should reveal your history to him. I can, however, strongly recommend that you contact the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN). When you do, you will be talking with a trained counselor who can guide you. Nothing you confide will be a shock to that person, and you may be put in touch with help in your local area.
The RAINN website is rainn.org and its toll-free phone number is 800-656-4673. Please don’t wait to reach out. Everything is confidential.
DEAR ABBY: My close friend, “Lizzy,” broke up with her boyfriend six weeks ago. At first, she was very depressed about it, but she has gradually gotten over him. A few days ago, Lizzy’s ex-boyfriend asked me out. I really wanted to say yes, but I decided to ask her first if it was OK. When I did, she flipped out and told me she wouldn’t be my friend anymore if I did. I’ve known Lizzy for four years, and I don’t want to lose her friendship.
A day later, I found out from another friend of mine that Lizzy was dating my twin brother. She never asked me if I was OK with that, let alone informed me that they had feelings for each other. Does this give me the right to date Lizzy’s ex? — BREAKING GIRL CODE IN ALABAMA
DEAR BREAKING: I think so. But don’t do it without first clearing the air with her, because if things work out with your twin brother, you are likely to be seeing a lot of Lizzy in the future.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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