Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

Man's Abuse Leaves Wife Bruised but Not to Blame

DEAR ABBY: A couple of days ago, my husband and I got into an argument. It led to fussing, yelling and cursing each other in front of our 8-month-old baby. When I thought the worst was over, he pushed me down, grabbed me by the ankles and dragged me over the kitchen floor. Then he left with our son and went to his parents' house. A few hours later, I looked in the bathroom mirror and saw that I had bruises from head to toe.

My husband says it would never have happened if I had kept my mouth shut! He says I nag him until he can't stand it and I drove him to do what he did. Now that the bruises on my legs and face are apparent, he has told his family that our son is ill, and it would be better if they waited a week or so to come over.

Somehow he makes out that I am the one who brings on his violent behavior. I admit I do let too much get to me sometimes, but please, Abby, tell me, am I to blame for his actions? Or is it just an excuse for his violent behavior? -- BRUISED AND CONFUSED

DEAR BRUISED: You are not responsible for your husband's physical abuse. If your husband didn't like something you said, he could have left the house to cool off. His insistence that it wouldn't have happened if you'd kept your mouth shut is a classic tactic of a batterer. Unless your husband is willing to get professional help, your marriage is in serious trouble -- and you, and possibly the baby -- are in physical danger.

This problem will not go away by itself. Do not remain silent and out of sight. Your family, his family and your friends should be told about the battering. You need all the support you can get. Photographic evidence would also be helpful.

When it happens again, the police should be notified immediately. And you should waste no time in getting away to family or friends or a battered women's shelter so you can decide what to do with the rest of your life -- without him. You are in my prayers.

DEAR ABBY: I'm a 35-year-old single English teacher. During my lifetime, I have had many failed romances, but recently I have fallen in love again. The object of my affection is a history teacher at the school where I work. (I'll call him Richard.) He is absolutely the man of my dreams. He is handsome, charming, and we share the same interests. I am absolutely sure I want to spend the rest of my life with him.

I have been reluctant to ask Richard out because I fear it would be improper for two professional teachers who are co-workers to be involved in a relationship. I don't know what the headmaster would think about this. And what would the children we both teach think about our dating?

My decision rests with your opinion, Abby. What should I do? -- HOPELESSLY IN LOVE IN BOSTON

DEAR HOPELESSLY IN LOVE: Some schools have policies forbidding teachers in their employ to date one another. Ask your headmaster if there is such a policy at your school, or review the policies yourself. If there is no policy against it, ask Richard out. Remember the old truism: Nothing ventured, nothing gained. If he doesn't accept, you've lost nothing; but if he accepts, it could be the beginning of a love story.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600