A recent Ann Landers column...

DEAR ANN: Can you stand one more testament to the addictive nature and destructive potential of the Internet and chat rooms?

I am a 45-year-old woman who should have known better but succumbed to the lure of electronic intimacy on line. Not only did my monthly on-line bills run in the neighborhood of $300, but the long-distance telephone bills from real, live conversations were more than $400.

I arranged to meet in person one of the men I'd talked to in a computer chat room and wound up being raped and nearly strangled to death. After the assault, did I go to a friend, a pastor or a relative for comfort? I did not. I went back on line.

'Several months later, I attended a statewide "convention" of on-line acquaintances. When I saw face to face the sort of people to whom I was revealing my deepest hurts and intimate feelings, I immediately canceled the service and erased the program from my computer.

I finally realized that about 60 percent of the men on line were married and looking for a little fun. Apparently, a great many women are so desperate for attention and affection that they are willing to abandon their common sense and morality and engage in cybersex, phone sex and ultimately the real thing.

I am ashamed of myself for being so naive as to believe that chat rooms were a safe environment. I'm also embarrassed that I had such poor judgment. I'm in therapy now, regaining my confidence and working on repairing the damage done by this yearlong addiction to cyberspace.

Older But Wiser in Bakerfield

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