Dear Readers: This is my final week of writing this column. To mark the event, I'm re-running some memorable Q&As.

(From November 2019) Dear Amy: I am in the most loving relationship with the man I want to marry. He knows nearly everything about me. The one thing he doesn't know is my protected secret.

Seven years ago, I was raped.

Lately, I have felt guilty that I have not told my love this deep secret, not because it is painful for me to talk about (I've suppressed it enough to numb it), but because I don't know how to bring it up in a way that won't make him feel blindsided, confused or angry.

I feel like it's something he needs to know. How do I bring this up in conversation?

Amy says: First of all, I'm so sorry you went through this. Understand that you get to feel however you feel, including feelings of guilt, sadness and anxiety. The way you process this will likely change over time.

You might start by reframing — to yourself — the language you are using to describe your rape. You think of it as a dark secret that you are hiding.

Change your vocabulary. Remove words that suggest shame and secrecy. You are a rape survivor. Your rape does not define you. Your healing defines you. Your healthy relationships, your healthy sense of self, your personal, creative or professional successes — these things define you.

I am a firm believer in practicing as a way to prepare yourself for a challenging conversation. Write down your thoughts. Choose a time and space where you feel comfortable and where neither of you will be distracted.

I suggest starting with: "I have something to talk to you about. This is hard for me, and so I hope you'll bear with me while I get through it. When I'm done, if you have questions, I'll do my best to answer them."

Remember this: So many survivors stand alongside you. I hope you can picture an army of supportive survivor-warriors who all have your back.

You would benefit from professional counseling and also group support. Contact for online and telephone counseling.

Not a joke

(From October 2019) Dear Amy: We are planning a costume party at my workplace. We all decided to dress up as people from an iconic TV show. However, two of my coworkers, who are light-skinned, are going over the top to change their skin tone to match the darker-toned cast members of the show.

I personally do not feel comfortable with this. I think it is not only insulting, but very unprofessional. I'm not sure how to get that across without being rude.

I realize that in their minds, it is innocent and meant as a joke. But I personally do not see it as a joke, and I don't want to be involved in a group photo with two people doing something I don't agree with. What can I do?

Amy says: Artificially changing the color of your skin in order to assume another person's race as part of a costume is demeaning and racist.

Given this rude, ill-considered, potentially career-ending behavior on the part of your co-workers, why are you worried about being rude? You should say, "I get that you think this is lighthearted and funny, but I'm not comfortable with it. I think this is racist, and not cool or funny at all."

Do not, under any circumstances, appear in a photo with these "jokers."

Amy Dickinson is stepping down at the end the month and will be replaced by R. Eric Thomas. Send him questions at