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by Abigail Van Buren

Wife Escapes From Husband Before Death Could Them Part

DEAR ABBY: It hurts to be criticized for not having left an abusive mate after the first time the abuse occurred.

You consistently advise your readers to seek help from their minister, priest or rabbi. It is my sincere hope that the counselors in the church are more enlightened today than the one my ex-husband and I saw in the late 1960s.

After taking considerable physical abuse from my husband, I threatened to leave him unless he sought counseling with me. He finally agreed, and we went together to our clergyman. After I described the many episodes of brutal beatings that put me in the hospital, my minister reminded me that the Bible said, "Turn the other cheek."

Abby, this minister had one of the largest congregations in this country. Of course, my husband continued to beat me, thinking it was his right as the head of the household, and I was convinced that the church knew best. Thank God, I finally came to my senses and divorced the bully. -- NO NAME OR TOWN, PLEASE

DEAR NO NAME: Obviously, you no longer subscribe to the biblical injunction to "turn the other cheek." There is hardly a passage in the Old or New Testament that hasn't been interpreted in more ways than one.

I would never advise turning the other cheek if the first one was black and blue. Nor would MOST clergy in the 1990s.