DEAR ABBY: I have recently turned 14. When I was 7, I was sexually abused by a close female relative. The abuse wasn’t as severe as in most cases of molestation, but I know what happened to me was wrong. I forgive this relative and do not bear the emotional scars that most victims do.

I’m wondering whether I should ever tell my family about what happened to me. If I do, I am afraid they will hate this relative for what she did. I have told only one of my friends about it, and he told me it was up to me to decide whether or not to tell my parents.

What do you think I should do, Abby? Should I take this secret to my grave? Should I tell my parents and risk them never talking to this relative again? Or should I wait until I’m an adult to talk about what happened? I don’t want this to tear my family apart. Please help me. – LOST TEEN IN L.A.

DEAR LOST: Because this is on your mind, you should tell your parents. Obviously, you need to talk about it. It is not your responsibility to protect this person who abused you from the consequences of her actions. Because it happened to you, it may also have happened – or be happening – to other children in the family. So even if you won’t speak up for yourself, please do it for them.

DEAR ABBY: Would you please help us to inform the many elderly widows and widowers of retired or honorably separated military officers that they are eligible to live at Air Force Village I in San Antonio, Texas?

Most believe, incorrectly, that since their military spouse is no longer alive, they are therefore not eligible to live in the Villages. The Villages are three retirement communities in San Antonio whose primary purpose is to care for surviving officer spouses of all branches of the service who need a secure, comfortable and dignified place to live.

Further, we have a Fellowship Fund that can help meet the financial needs of widow(ers) of retired Air Force officers who do not have adequate financial resources to cover their living or health-care expenses. Our foundation is proud to say that no otherwise qualified widow or widower is ever turned away due to inability to pay. The identity of the people who receive assistance is kept strictly confidential.

Thank you, Abby, for helping us get the word to these eligible folks. – JACK BARBEAU, COL. (RET.), AIR FORCE VILLAGE FOUNDATION

DEAR COL. BARBEAU: I am pleased to help you publicize this worthwhile program. Readers, the Air Force Village Foundation’s toll-free number is 800-762-1122.

DEAR ABBY: Years ago, I read a helpful hint in your column that should be repeated. If you send a get-well card to a friend in the hospital, put the patient’s address as the return address on the envelope. That way, it will be delivered to the person’s home even if he or she has been discharged.

I am in a recovery center after spending time in a hospital because of a fall. My friend sent a card to the hospital and failed to heed that advice. She put her own home address instead of mine on it, and it still hasn’t shown up. – STILL WAITING IN KNOXVILLE

DEAR STILL WAITING: I’m pleased to print your letter because your problem is one that I hear about repeatedly. Using the patient’s address as the return address on a card or get-well note doubles its chances of reaching the recipient.

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 or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

To receive a collection of Abby’s most memorable – and most frequently requested – poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby – Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)

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