DEAR ABBY: I was raped two years ago, and since then, my husband's parents have subjected me to some mean, thoughtless and outright vicious remarks. ("You must have said something or been dressed in a provocative way; women who get raped are usually asking for it.") As I write this, I am a nervous wreck, as my in-laws will be visiting soon and I am expected to join them for dinner. Abby, I simply cannot do this. I become physically ill at the mere thought of having to face these people.
My husband thinks I am being childish - that just having dinner with them is not a great sacrifice. Abby, I am 31 years old and, normally, a fairly rational person. I have experienced insomnia for almost two weeks worrying about this. I have considered taking a tranquilizer (I've never taken one in my life) or even smoking a marijuana cigarette (it's been years since I've done that) or having a few stiff drinks, but my in-laws are medical professionals and would know something was wrong.I have considered running away to visit my brother over that weekend, but he lives 800 miles away.
I would rather shave my head than face these people. My husband is usually very supportive of me. He insists that he loves me and that's all that matters. But if he loves me, how can he ask me to do this? - A NERVOUS WRECK
DEAR WRECK: First, you and your husband need more help than I can give you in a letter. There is a rape crisis center in your area, and it offers counseling. Please go there immediately. Both you and your husband should go.
Your in-laws are shockingly ignorant about the realities of rape, especially in view of the fact that they are medical professionals. Tell your husband that you are unable to deal with his parents' lack of compassion and, therefore, he cannot count on you for dinner that evening or any other evening that includes them, until you feel confident enough to be in their company.
DEAR ABBY: A good friend of mine asked me to be her daughter's godmother. I told her I would love to do it for her and felt very honored to be asked.
Is there any financial obligation attached to this, Abby? I am not exactly sure what the responsibilities of a godmother are. Any information you might have covering this subject would be greatly appreciated. I need to know exactly what is expected of me. - WANTS TO DO RIGHT
DEAR WANTS: The responsibilities of godparents are essentially spiritual - so ideally, the godparents should be of the same religious faith as the parents. It is the responsibility of the godparent to see that the child is given religious training and is confirmed at the proper time. Additionally, the godparent should take a special interest in the child (as a near relative would). You should remember the godchild with a gift on birthdays and at Christmas, until the child is grown.
Godparents are not (as is sometimes assumed) obligated to give the child financial assistance, or to become adoptive parents should anything happen to the birth parents. The actual obligation is spiritual only.
What teenagers need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, getting along with their peers and parents is now in Abby's updated, expanded booklet, "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a long, business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada), to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054. (Postage is included.)