Dear Abby:

I lost my virginity about a month ago. My mother and I have always been close, and I have been able to tell her anything. But this time I'm not sure I can. What if I see hurt and disappointment in her eyes when I say it?

My mother got pregnant young, and she has always told me she doesn't want that life for me. So, Abby, do I tell her or not? I hate lying to her and I hate keeping things from her. Please help!

"Daisy" in Las Cruces, N.M.

It is important for a number of reasons that you tell your mother. She may be hurt and disappointed, but she will also understand. It is important that you be examined by a doctor and learn how to protect yourself from becoming pregnant or catching a sexually transmitted disease. It is even more important that you learn how not to be pressured into having sex. Your mother can help you with these things because she learned the hard way. So level with her NOW.

Dear Abby:

Last Sunday I attended church as usual. After the service, another woman and I started talking and the next thing I knew, we were having lunch together.

Over lunch, the other woman told me about her life. She said that as a child she had been molested by her father, and when she refused his sexual advances, he started to malign her socially, emotionally and mentally. She no longer lives in the same town with him.

I have no experience or training as a relationship counselor, and found my tongue tied over her story. What should I have said to her?

Uncomfortable in Northern California

The proper response would have been to acknowledge that her youth had been very difficult, but that she's a survivor and you're glad she got away from her abuser.

It is unusual for someone to reveal that much to a stranger, and had the woman confided in me I would have asked if she'd had counseling to help her deal with it. If the answer was no, I'd have recommended she get it so she could lay her past to rest.

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, Calif. 90069.

(c)2004, Universal Press Syndicate