Fear for kids' safety traps woman in monstrous marriage

DEAR ABBY: I am in an eight-year marriage that feels like a prison sentence. I have two children under the age of 5, and a husband who is mentally and emotionally unstable and has severe addiction to prescription painkillers. If I divorce him, he will have joint custody of our children and, while I want them to know who their father is because they love him, I am terrified of what he might do to them as emotionally unstable as he is. I'm convinced he is capable of murder-suicide just to get at me.

He forces me to say "I love you" several times a day. I don't mean it anymore. He forces bodily contact. I sleep in a recliner in the den and put off going home from work to avoid him because I know the fight will be on when I get there.

I have never cheated on him, but I'm accused of it all the time. I have no privacy. He searches my purse, phone and car for "evidence" almost nightly. He takes checks from my private account and writes them without my consent. When I get overdrafts, he acts like it's my fault. If he spends money on the kids, he resents it &

and to complicate matters further, we filed for bankruptcy last year and are living in the house with my parents.

To be truthful, I'm scared to live with him by myself. I cringe every time I'm forced to be intimate with him, and I'm dying inside in little pieces. Please advise me. I would like to be sane and have a reasonably decent life for me and my kids before it's over.


DEAR DESPERATE: You have your work cut out for you. First, talk to the police and go on record with the fact that your husband is a drug-addicted forger &

something you should also tell your bank, by the way &

and that you are afraid he will harm you or the children because of his instability due to his abuse of prescription medications.

Then inform the physician who has been prescribing the meds.

Tell your lawyer that you want to end your marriage, but that you are: (1) afraid he will harm you, (2) afraid he could harm the children, and (3) you would like him to have supervised visitation with them only because of his mental instability.

Fortunately, you are living in your parents' home &

which means you are not alone and vulnerable. But it's time to get your husband out of there. Your attorney can advise you on the safest way to accomplish that.

DEAR ABBY: Here's my question: There are two sisters. One is a grandmother. Is her sister a "grand" aunt" or is she a "great" aunt"?

I say she's a grand-aunt. However, my wife &

the grandmother's sister &

says she's a great-aunt. How can that be? If that's true, then I would be a "great" grandfather instead of a true grandfather. Only you can straighten out this argument. Thanks!


DEAR CHARLES: According to Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (11th Edition), the terms "great-aunt" and "grand-aunt" are synonymous. Either way, this would not make you a grandfather. You are either a great-uncle or grand-uncle &

the choice is yours.

DEAR ABBY: Please tell people to hang up and drive! This year, five girls who had just graduated from high school in a nearby town were killed in a car crash. The news media carried some stories on the investigation, including the fact that the driver's cell phone had sent and received text messages while the driver was passing a truck seconds before the accident occurred. There is no text message important enough for five people to die for! Unless someone else was using her cell phone, the driver was not paying enough attention to the road.

Talking on a cell phone while driving isn't much safer than texting because, unlike someone sitting in the car with you, the person on the cell phone can't see your distractions and will keep demanding your attention as you navigate with half your mind.

We're all busy. We all need to multitask at times. But pull off the road to use your cell phone, because nothing anyone has to say or hear is worth dying for. Please, Abby, use your influence to get people to hang up and drive!


DEAR ROSEMARY: I'll try. Readers, the Los Angeles Times recently printed a picture taken on one of our California highways of a young woman who was not only driving while texting, but also had her left foot hanging out of the side window of her vehicle. Needless to say, with her eyes glued to the screen of her cell phone, she was not watching the road.

I am truly sorry that five young girls lost their lives because of a driver doing something similar. We hear over and over again how dangerous it is to drive with anyone who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. A person who is texting is similarly impaired. When, oh when, will people finally get the message?

DEAR ABBY: How do you tell the owners of the company I work for not to bring their dogs to work?

These are very big dogs that bark at the clients when they come in and have eaten people's lunches off their desks. Last week, there was a big to-do when the dogs ate two co-workers' lunches. One of them became very upset. The owners apologized and promised the dogs would "take a break" for a while. A week later, they brought one of the dogs back.

How do you get the owners to understand that this is a professional office, not a mom-and-pop antique store, where dogs do not belong?


DEAR BARKING MAD: Unless it's reflected in their accounts receivable, you don't. Any employee who tries will only wind up in the doghouse. Because you can no longer tolerate the livestock, look for a job in an environment that is less animal friendly. Everyone will be happier &

the owners, the dogs and you.

DEAR ABBY: I have looked everywhere, but I cannot find the answer to my question. If you go out to coffee on a first date, is it a courtesy for the woman to call the man and tell him she did or did not have a good time?


DEAR DONNA: If you go out for coffee on a first date and have a good time, it's perfectly acceptable to call the man and tell him so. (Everybody appreciates a good review.)

If, however, you did NOT have a good time, it would be extremely rude to call the man and tell him. ("John, I'm calling to say the coffee was too strong, the service was slow and your company was terrible.")

The call would probably be unnecessary because most people can tell when the chemistry doesn't "click."

DEAR READERS: Yesterday was Veterans Day, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank not only our veterans, but also those men and women who are still on active duty for their service to our country.

Dear Abby is written by , also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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