Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Dear Abby:

I'm a 53-year-old man who, thanks to child abuse from his stepfather, is very confused and hurt today because of what he did. I don't know whether I am gay or straight. (I have several children.)

I never said anything about the sexual abuse he put me through because my mother was a violent person, and she needed him so much I knew she'd never believe me. The abuse didn't stop with just him. My three stepbrothers abused me as well.

My real brother shot and killed himself at age 35 because of my abusive mother and stepfather. I have two sisters who have nothing to do with me because of "rumors" about my past and present. I now have a great doctor, and hope to soon find a good therapist.

My question to you is, am I gay because I didn't fight back and tell my stepfather no?

Scarred in New York

When an adult, particularly a parent, abuses a child, it is NEVER the child's fault. An adult is an authority figure and physically more powerful. Not fighting back was your way of surviving the sexual assaults; it does not mean that you are homosexual. A therapist will help you to understand this, and I hope you find one soon.

Dear Abby:

My son "Bill" will graduate from college in a few weeks. His mother and I divorced when Bill was 10. Part of our divorce agreement was that we -- his mother and I -- would pay for Bill's college education. I paid 60 percent; she paid 40 percent.

I have since remarried, and my current wife thinks that a graduation gift is not necessary because my son will be graduating from college debt-free. She thinks that paying for Bill's college education is enough of a "gift." Part of me understands that concept, yet another part of me thinks that my son deserves some sort of a gift. I was thinking of a monetary gift -- in the $500 to $1,000 range. What do you think I should do?

Curious Dad in Virginia

Unless she's earning the money that's being given, your current wife should keep her thoughts on this subject to herself. Write a check for whatever amount you wish, and enclose it in a loving letter to your son telling him how proud you are of him and that you love him.

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, Calif. 90069.

2005Universal Press Syndicate

© 2005 The Washington Post Company