DEAR ABBY: How do I cope with the ending of a very long friendship? I saw warning signs for a couple of years, and tried many times to talk to my best friend about what seemed to be happening. Her values and priorities are moving in other directions now. I no longer feel appreciated as her friend.

My heart is breaking. We have been friends for half our lives. This is more devastating than any divorce, death or hurricane I have ever experienced. She is how I have gotten through my life this far.

There are support groups out there for everything under the sun, except for losing a best friend due to indifference and lack of caring. Please advise me. — THROWN AWAY IN PASADENA, TEXAS

DEAR THROWN AWAY: I know you are hurting, and I am sorry. But friendships are not just made up of helping each other through the hard times; there is also a component of celebrating the good ones. While she may have been your leaning post, you need to examine what you were to her. If the load became too much to carry, it’s understandable that she would need to back off.

While there are no support groups for people in your situation, there are counselors who can help you sort through your feelings — and because this experience has been devastating, you should talk with one.

DEAR ABBY: I’m a 16-year-old girl from a religious home. When I was 7, my father got very drunk and molested me. It had a terrible impact on me.

He has apologized for what happened and knows I hate him for it and can’t forgive him. It hasn’t happened since, and I know he’s telling the truth. I feel the next step in my healing is to confide in my friends and ask them to pray for me. But if I do, I know they won’t look at me the same. I’m afraid they’ll get their parents to intervene and something will happen to Dad. That’s the last thing I want. Should I tell? — NEEDS SUPPORT IN PHILLY

DEAR NEEDS SUPPORT: You appear to be an idealistic, intelligent young woman. But it’s important you understand that apologizing for committing a crime against someone is not enough. The person must also be willing to accept the consequences of his actions. Drop by an elementary school and look at the 7-year-olds on the playground. That’s how small and vulnerable you were when your father molested you.

Ask yourself: Did he quit drinking and get help for his alcohol problem? Did he talk to his minister and confess what he did? Did he seek professional help of any kind? Are there little girls in your extended family?

You are exhibiting two classic signs of an abuse victim. One is thinking that people will regard you differently if you disclose that you were victimized. Another is the impulse to “protect” your abuser.

I’m all for the power of prayer, but rather than tell your girlfriends, is your mother aware of what happened? If she is unavailable to you, then you should talk to your minister or a trusted counselor at school. If you’re afraid this will “betray” your father, call the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) toll-free at (800) 656-4673. You can speak to one of the counselors there in complete confidence. They are experienced and can guide you about what — or what not — to do next.

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.

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