DEAR ABBY: I was molested for years by my brother and I never told anyone. It led to poor self-esteem, ruined the intimate side of my life and caused several other serious issues, including depression. I took the first chance I had to leave home and refuse to have contact with my brother. The problem is, I have a younger sister who I'm worried may now be in the same position.
I need to talk to her, but I'm not sure how. What do I say? Should I tell her what happened to me so she knows she is not alone and to stay away from him?
- Scared and worried in Arizona
DEAR WORRIED: Talk to your sister about this as quickly as possible. Do it in person, and a way to start the conversation would be to ask if he has ever touched her inappropriately. Explain that it happened to you, because it may make it easier for her to tell you if she, too, has been molested. Since you are reluctant to talk to your parents about this, contact your local police department and ask to speak to an officer in the sex crimes division. It may set the wheels in motion to prevent your brother from continuing to prey on young women.
If you haven't had counseling to help you deal with what you have suffered, I hope you will consider it. There is also a group, Survivors of Incest Anonymous, a 12-step program that is open to individuals 18 and older who want to go from being victims to survivors. Its website is www.siawso.org. You might find talking with others who have experienced what you have to be both comforting and helpful.
DEAR ABBY: I feel lost. I'll be 18 soon and for the past two years I have felt like my life is going nowhere and won't change. I haven't decided what I want to be, and I don't want to grow up. I'm afraid of the future and what it will be like to be on my own.
I don't know if anyone else has felt like this, or if it's just a part of growing up. When I was 12, I couldn't wait until I was 18 and on my own. Now I feel pressured and like I need to hurry and choose what I want to be. Please help me.
- LOST IN VIRGINIA
DEAR LOST: Do you know where this pressure is coming from? It's coming from yourself. Years ago, high school students had to decide what they wanted to do for the rest of their lives because the workplace was different. People trained for jobs they would perform until they retired. That is no longer true. Workers today must remain flexible and willing to learn new skills because they may change jobs several times during their working lives.
Not all people have the same interests and aptitudes, so start thinking about subjects that you like. Visit the library and research how they can be applied. Your future isn't something to be afraid of - it's something to be explored and enjoyed. You do not have to make any hasty decisions now.
DEAR ABBY: We go to a lot of summer social events. Quite a few of them include a band. I love listening to music and being in a social setting. However, I do NOT enjoy dancing. It makes me feel uncomfortable and awkward. When I am asked to dance, I fumble around and make excuses. What can I say when asked, without sounding unfriendly or weird?
- Two left feet in Paso Robles, Calif.
DEAR TWO LEFT FEET: How about this: "Thank you for asking, but no. I'm not very good at it and it makes me uncomfortable. Would you like to sit down?"
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.