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by Abigail Van Buren

Program Smooths Physical Scars of Domestic Violence

DEAR ABBY: Recent letters from "Sick and Tired," and "In the Trenches in Philadelphia" have spotlighted the very serious problem of domestic violence. One aspect of this problem often overlooked, however, is that while many of these victimized individuals have fled their abusive spouses and sought treatment and counseling, they are still left with the physical scars. The emotional healing may have begun, but the smashed cheekbone, the twisted nose or the cigarette burn on the face serves as a constant reminder of a painful past. Unfortunately, the majority of victims scarred by acts of domestic violence are not financially able to correct the damage caused by their abuser's rage.

We would like your readers to know that there is help available. The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS) sponsors a program called Face to Face: The National Domestic Violence Project, which matches victims of domestic violence with facial plastic surgeons for consultation and reconstructive surgery at no charge.

AAFPRS and the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) are proud to offer this service to an often overlooked segment of society. With just a phone call, these individuals can begin to gain the confidence to look in the mirror and smile again. Thank you, Abby, for helping us to spread the word, so that we can help them. -- PETER A. ADAMSON, M.D., PRESIDENT, AAFPRS, AND RITA SMITH, NATIONAL COORDINATOR, NCADV

DEAR DR. ADAMSON AND MS. SMITH: I'm delighted to inform my readers about this effort. What a generous gift!

My congratulations to you and your organizations for conceiving such a compassionate and life-changing program. I wish you much success.

Readers, the Face to Face program can be accessed by calling 1-800-842-4546, the toll-free number operated by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

DEAR ABBY: I have been engaged since late last year. My fiance and I are planning our wedding for next summer. We decided to have a long engagement because we want to save and pay for the wedding ourselves.

The problem: My sister wants to have a family portrait taken with her husband and children, my mother and me. Our father is deceased. I politely asked if my fiance could be included in the picture, but my sister argues that he is not part of the family until he says "I do."

Our mother loves my fiance and considers him a son because of all the help he offers around the house, but she refuses to get in the middle of our discussion. My fiance and I do not live together; we are going to remain with our parents until we get married. I know that legally he is not part of the family, but emotionally he is. What do you think? -- PICTURE PERFECT

DEAR PICTURE PERFECT: Your sister has a point. A family portrait should include family members only. Although your fiance is accepted by your mother, many things can happen between now and the wedding date. Your sister may not want to risk being stuck with a "photographic memory" all of you would rather forget.

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.)

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