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by Abigail Van Buren

Child With Brutal Stepdad Wonders Where to Turn

DEAR ABBY: My mom got married about four months ago, and although it has been only a short time, it's all gone haywire. Her husband has an awful temper, and he's hit her several times. We have even had to leave our own home to get away from him because he is so brutal. Yet my mom keeps going back to him.

I begged her to get the police involved, but she wouldn't. Finally one night, after he had broken her wrist and thrown me out of a chair, he left. We didn't hear from him for three days. Then he came back during the night and tried to break in. My sister called the police and we had three weeks of freedom until my mom dropped the charges against him. My siblings and I were scared and angry, yet Mom brought him back on my sister's birthday.

Now that my stepdad is living with us again, I am scared, and I don't want to live with my mom if she's going to let him stay here. My dad died, so I can't live with him. I have considered running away, but I would like to know -- is there a better way? Please help me. -- NOWHERE TO TURN IN ARIZONA

DEAR NOWHERE: You appear to be intelligent and strong, and deserve to be commended for seeking advice from an adult. You should not have to run away in order to get away from your stepfather.

There are two ways to handle this: The first would be to go to a teacher or counselor at your school and repeat what you have told me. It may be easier to clip this letter and take it with you.

Should your stepfather become violent before you can talk to a trusted adult at your school, you and your siblings should get out of the house and go to a neighbor's home to call for help. Ask the telephone operator to connect you to the 24-hour Child Protective Services Hotline. It is staffed seven days a week and will send the police to remove you to a safe place.

Please write again and let me know how you are. Meanwhile, you are in my prayers.

DEAR ABBY: When I read the letter from Andrea Ryner, writing on behalf of her friend who had recently lost his eyesight, I was reminded of "Abe" -- a man in our town.

Abe is retired now, but for years he made his living doing small-engine repairs on outboard motors, power saws, lawnmowers and the like. He did expert work, and some of the customers who brought items to his shop never realized that Abe was blind.

Some years back, he went into the woods to gather some special bark. He knew exactly where he was and what he was doing, but he was gone somewhat longer than usual. Some friends became worried and reported him missing. An informal search party was sent out, and one of its members encountered Abe in the woods. They exchanged greetings and Abe joined in the search for the "poor lost guy." About an hour later, it was mentioned that the man they were looking for was blind. Only then did Abe realize that the person he was helping to search for was himself!

There's no doubt that Abe was gifted in his ability to her, feel and think, and this story proves that while we rely heavily on vision -- in its absence, other senses can compensate. -- DORCAS PEARSON, HOQUIAM, WASH.

DEAR DORCAS: Abe is obviously a remarkable man who has managed to focus on his abilities rather than his disability. More power to him.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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