In Theresa Keller's dream, Mark, the teenage baby sitter who raped her seven years ago, lives in Utah with his sister.

Theresa walks into her house, but her family is gone. She smells gas and goes outside, looking in the bushes for her family. Then she goes back inside. As she opens the door, Mark jumps out at her. She doesn't know why he's there. She doesn't know where her family is.It gets muddled. One minute she is screaming because she sees Mark. The next, he has grabbed her. Her family appears from nowhere. Mark shoots her mother, Susan. Then he shoots her little brother, Clinton, in the leg.

Oh please, no, she moans in her sleep. He assaults her again. Then he shoots her in the head.

She's confused. She can see her own body on the ground as Mark calls 911. "I killed her," he laughs into the phone.

Dreams about death and loss have been Theresa's nighttime companions for years, although for a long time she couldn't recall the details of what happened to her at the end of 1987. She was raped when she was 10, but the details have been hazy, something her mind rejected and tucked away in a dark corner until recently.

When nightmares gripped her, she'd scream and cry - sometimes for hours. Her little brother, Clinton, used to sleep on the floor beside her bed so that she would feel safe.

Less than two months ago, she was watching a movie with a family friend and his wife. It was a story about a rape. And as the attacker threatened to slit his victim's throat, she stiffened. She recalled, vividly, every detail of her own assault.

She dreamed about it that night. The incredible pain of remembering seems to have driven the night demons away.

It was in January of 1988 that she told her parents that the baby sitter had raped her.

Although they immediately fired Mark, they called the little girl a liar. She'd told wild tales before.

But X-rays don't lie.

Theresa sits stiffly on the straight-backed chair, her hands clasped in her lap. It's unlikely she knows how white her knuckles are as she tells the story. That same family friend sits nearby, a safe presence as she recounts the tale to a stranger.

"It happened for four weeks, about once a week. I was scared because of his threats," she remembers. "I was afraid they wouldn't believe me because I lied so much they didn't know if I was telling the truth. Then I got really sick and Mom took me to the hospital, where I took some tests.

"They told me to pick a toy and wait in the waiting room. Mom saw the X-rays and said, `Dear Lord, she's not lying.' I was kind of happy. Kind of sad. I was glad that someone believed me finally."

Almost a year had passed since Susan and John had first refused to believe what their daughter said.

Now doctors were telling Susan Keller that Theresa had been raped. They showed her the evidence of serious tissue damage that may be permanent, clearly visible in X-rays. Until then, Susan had refused to believe it. In fact, only Clinton had believed her. Theresa didn't know then that her story was all too believable to him. He was guarding his own story of abuse and betrayal.

John Keller's reaction was not to call the police. He didn't want to put Theresa through it. He didn't want people to know. In part, he sees now, he didn't want anyone to think that he had failed in some way to protect the daughter he loves so much.

When Susan confronted Mark and his mother, Mark denied molesting and assaulting the children. Mark's father said he'd sue if they didn't drop it. He called Theresa a "whore" who had seduced his son.

"Ten years old and she supposedly came on to him, if you can believe it," Susan says now with disgust.

Eventually, they decided to press charges.

Theresa had been born with attention deficits, but she had always done well in school. She was eager to please and worked hard. She was scrupulously polite with peers and teachers.

That changed. After the abuse, she started to swear. She beat her formerly beloved dog. She had little outlet for the anger she didn't even understand. But age had established a pecking order, and Clinton got the worst of it. Little Clinton, almost 9 years old at that time and everyone's punching bag.

It became very difficult for Theresa and Clinton to grow up. Their parents reacted to what happened to her by clamping down on activities. Never mind that it happened at home.

"It sounds strange," Susan says. "From the minute Terry told us, we took steps to prevent the thing we were denying even happened from happening again."

"It made me extremely cautious," John says, "and worried when they're around strangers and even family members. I became overprotective for the kids.

"It affected them in a lot of ways. We didn't let them grow up like other kids. They didn't get to experience riding a bus, walking to a store, going downtown, even playing in the neighborhood. They didn't get to do things kids get to do.

"It hurt them considerably. I see that now. Neither one has responsibility. They don't know how to do things. They're just learning. Now Clinton is 15 and kids his age are doing far more, like holding down jobs. He doesn't know how. Most parents encouraged their children to grow up. I discouraged it."

They refused to let the children go places or ride their bikes around the neighborhood. Until about a year ago, the children weren't allowed to ride buses. They lived on a very short leash. John now thinks that's why his children are so much younger, emotionally, than their peers. "We didn't let them experience anything," he says with regret.

Theresa hated her parent-imposed prison. "Let me grow up," she shrieked at her mother. "Leave me alone."

She could hardly step outside without John and Susan sending Clinton out to find her. And Clinton was growing desperately tired of being his sister's keeper.

They still had the trial to go through.

At school, the little girl confided in a friend. She could no longer talk to her dad. She was mad he hadn't believed her. Their closeness was shattered. He no longer felt comfortable hugging her or holding her on his lap. He was confused and angry, himself.

Finally, she told her story to her best friend. "She blurted it out to a boy I liked," Theresa recalls, still outraged and embarrassed. " `Watch out, Greg. She might accuse you of raping her.'

"I started to cry. `Why tell the whole world?' I asked her."

A teacher told the girl that if your friends tell you something, you keep your mouth shut. But the damage was done.

Theresa the tomboy, who had loved football and baseball and always hung around with the boys, grew even more isolated. In school, she quit being nice. She swore at a teacher and was busted for cheating. She stopped doing homework.

Sometimes, when Clinton told her hi, she says she'd see Mark. "We'd punch each other. I banged his head through the table. I was a mean sister and I was a devil around my friends. I put my foot through the front door. My mom and dad made me pay for the door repairs out of my grade money."

Susan and John were working jobs that didn't pay well. The state put Theresa in protective custody (she remained home) only so she could get therapy. Money was perhaps tighter than ever. Time in court meant work hours - and pay - lost. And John had been raised to believe you deal with your own problems. He didn't think therapy would do anything anyway.

Preparation for the trial dragged on and on, culminating in a three-day trial in May 1989. In the end, the court decided that too much time had passed to get a clear idea of what happened. The case was "not proved," and Mark went free.

It was going to get worse.

Christmas 1991, Clinton, Theresa and Susan were visiting a friend at a children's justice center. They looked at pictures on the wall and admired the decorations. They were on their way home from a Christmas parade.

Clinton's thought about it a lot. To this day he's not sure what prompted him.

He'd done his best to forget that autumn and he'd almost succeeded. When Theresa talked about it, he says he ignored it. But he got really depressed. His classroom work was bad, and he had a twice-weekly standing appointment with school counselors. He was always complaining of sore throats and headaches to avoid going to school at all.

Susan and John say he'd awaken screaming, caught in the middle of who knows what nightmare. He doesn't remember them. Everyone thought he was bothered by what happened to Theresa.

His breakthrough would be laughable, were it not tragic.

Standing in that children's center, surrounded by cheerful paintings and toys, the 12-year-old was suddenly sick of Theresa. Sick of hearing how much she'd suffered. Sick of her getting all the attention.

"I was jealous. Poor Theresa," he mimicks. "She's so picked on, always."

"Mom," he said, "do you want to know how come I believed Terry from the first? Because I know what it was like. It happened to me."

If Clinton closes his eyes, he can still hear his mother's piercing, wild scream that built up and then trailed off to a wail of pure despair.