I'm writing because I'm afraid I will never be able to have a normal, healthy relationship with a man. Until recently, I was the victim of a physically, verbally and sexually abusive father. Now I find myself unable to speak around even the most nonthreatening boy.
At even the slightest hint of aggression or anger I flinch and run away. I'm afraid I will never escape the shadow of what he did to me. What should I do?
- Shy and Battered
in New Jersey
DEAR SHY AND BATTERED: For you to move from victim to survivor will take professional help. Few people are able to completely overcome the abuse you have experienced on their own. A good first step would be to contact R.A.I.N.N., the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. Its website is www.rainn.org and its toll-free phone number is 800-656-4673. The counselors there can guide you in finding help to repair your life.
Men like your father belong behind bars, where they can't hurt helpless children. If he would sexually and physically abuse you, no child is safe around him. If there are minors still living with your parents, the police should be notified about what he did to you so they can be rescued.
DEAR ABBY: I have been happily married for six years. My husband is kind, caring and honest. Our only problem involves jewelry. I'm not very good at wearing my wedding ring every day. I can be forgetful and clumsy, and I have misplaced it, almost dropped it down the drain, etc. I have tried wearing it around my neck, but it just gets in the way.
My husband wears his ring every day and says he doesn't mind if I don't wear mine because he trusts me. My problem is other people. My co-workers are suspicious. My family thinks it's "strange." Men have hit on me, and when I politely told them I'm married, they became angry and asked where my ring is.
Abby, I don't do or say anything to lead people on, and I often mention that I'm happily married. I'm becoming frustrated and have even considered getting a tattoo on my ring finger so that people know I'm married. My husband says not to let it bother me; that he doesn't care about what others think. Any suggestions?
- No Ring on It, Columbia, Mo.
DEAR NO RING ON IT: I do not recommend getting your finger tattooed to allay your co-workers' suspicions or because some fool becomes angry that you don't welcome his advances. My recommendation is to listen to the secure, mature man you married and stop worrying so much about what other people think.
DEAR ABBY: My wife makes snarky comments to our extremely nice daughter-in-law. Our son finally had enough and has issued an ultimatum to his mother: Either change her ways or she won't be able to see their child.
Our first grandchild is due soon. Has our son gone too far? What can this grandpa-to-be do when grandma-to-be claims she "doesn't care," even though I know she's lying to herself?
- Not Fair to Me in San Jose