DEAR ABBY: My brother is in a long-term relationship. Throughout my teenage years, he raped me every chance he got. The emotional and physical abuse has left my life broken. Should I tell his girlfriend about it? I did confront him about it, but he just denied it. Wouldn't she want to know?
- Survivor in Florida
DEAR SURVIVOR: Yes, you should tell his girlfriend about it! You should also tell every one of your relatives. Where were your parents when this was going on?
Though it may be too late for the police to haul your brother off to prison, you definitely should talk to a rape crisis counselor about what he did to you. To find a resource near you, contact R.A.I.N.N. (rainn.org), the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. It may be able to help you put your life in order. Its toll-free phone number is 800-656-4673.
Leave service dogs alone to do their work DEAR ABBY: Would you please remind your readers about proper service dog etiquette? My service dog has given me a new lease on life, but going out in public with him can be a huge source of anxiety. If your readers see a service dog in public, they should remember:
Don't pet the dog or talk to it, and don't allow children to "rush" the dog. This distracts the service dog from its important job and could put its handler in danger.
Please don't question whether service dogs are or should be "allowed" somewhere. Handlers need to shop, take public transport, and go to restaurants, just like everyone else.
Do not ask invasive personal questions about the handler's health or abilities. I'm sure you wouldn't want a stranger prying into your own medical history.
And please don't gush about how "lucky" someone is to have a service dog or how you wish you could have your pet with you. Try mentally replacing the word "dog" with "wheelchair" or "oxygen tank" before you speak. Service dogs are not pets. For a lot of people, they are lifelines.
Many of us are happy to speak with you about our dogs or answer questions, but please remember we are also people with individual comfort levels and limits, and we just want to enjoy public spaces like everyone else.
- New Lease on Life
DEAR NEW LEASE: Thank you for giving me the chance to remind readers about service dog etiquette. Many of us are animal lovers who have a hard time resisting the impulse to reach out when we see service dogs. It's done with the best of intentions, while forgetting that a dog wearing a vest may be working. I say "may" because, unfortunately, service vests that allow animals to enter markets and restaurants can be ordered online by people with no disability.