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Dear In Love,

First of all, I'm sorry for what you went through when you were raped. And I applaud you for having the courage to deal with it.

As to Brad, and prom, and being afraid of guys, here's my advice.

Your Fear WON'T Just Go Away

You can't make yourself stop being afraid. As time passes, you will either become less afraid, or not. Like a lot of emotions and other baggage that got dumped on you when you were raped, fear of guys is something you will carry around with you until it stops being such a heavy load. So, assume you have to live with the fear for awhile more.

You Don't Have To Be Paralyzed

But living with fear doesn't mean you have to be paralyzed by it: you just have to do what's necessary to feel as safe as possible, and make wise choices about the kind of risks you want to take.

We're all afraid of lots of things, and we still do things that involve fear because we take some risks in our lives. Risk-taking is a part of everyone's growth. And you do want to keep growing, emotionally and intellectually, and spiritually.

Take Sensible Risks

Miaka

I agree. She can't just avoid men for the next 30 years.

You gotta take risks to grow. We drive cars, fly in airplanes, ask guys out, audition for plays, do cartwheels on a four-inch wide balance beam. The key is to take sensible risks only.

Buddy

You're right. She should go and enjoy the prom.

For example, going to the prom (which will be chaperoned) with a guy you like is a sensible risk. Going for a joy ride with a bunch of grown, drunken men you met in a bar is not.

When you go to the prom with Brad, you may experience moments of fear. That's normal. Just deal with the moments as they occur.

And, be clear with Brad up front about what's acceptable to you, and what's not.

Voice Your Expectations

For example, have your parents drive you there, and pick you up, if that makes you feel safer. Or tell Brad you don't want to be alone with him when there's no one else around. Or go with another couple of your choosing. Or tell him you'd enjoy kissing but nothing more. See what I mean?

You can control things to an extent, in a way that makes you feel more comfortable. Then go, have a good time, and deal with the fear as it happens. Don't ignore it or let it incapacitate you. Just accept it as a part of you for now. It'll be less in time.

LindaSeek Help From A Counselor

Also, it might be helpful for you to seek counseling from a rape counselor. Now that you're a teenager and dealing with guy issues, getting help thinking through your issues could be good for you - you'll get some perspective that you and your friends don't have.

LindaLabeling Yourself As "Afraid" Won't Help

One last thing: resist the temptation to label yourself. You are not defined as "afraid of guys" unless you let yourself be that way. You're a normal teenager with a normal fear of guys, and normal trust issues, given what you've been through. Get rid of the label, and take it one guy at a time.

Take reasonable risks, do only what feels comfortable for you, and never, NEVER beat yourself up for having whatever feelings you have.

 

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