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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I read with interest the letter in your column from "I'd Rather Be Alone." I agree with what you and she said, but I was disappointed that you let her get away with saying there are far too many verbally abusive HUSBANDS out there. Out of fairness, there are too many abusive PEOPLE. It is a stereotype to think that only men are abusive.

I was in a verbally abusive marriage for 11 years. My wife would yell, scream and swear at me in front of our children. When I tried to leave the house, she would block the door with her body and tell me I couldn't leave. She would belittle me, call me names and berate me for things that she had done.

Years of counseling did not help. She was powerless to change her behavior, and I finally had to file for divorce. Please, Abby, it's not always the man who is the abuser. -- ALONE AND RECOVERING IN OREGON

DEAR ALONE AND RECOVERING: If I implied that only males are verbally abusive, I apologize, for that was not my intention. A pattern of verbal abuse is far more serious than an occasional lapse of temper; it's about controlling one's partner. It's intended to drain the victim of confidence, and its volume increases so that the victim is thrown off balance and reeling from emotional battering. If abusive behavior cannot be resolved with therapy, the sensible solution is to end the relationship -- as you did.

DEAR ABBY: I am a widow. How do I announce my daughter's engagement? My daughter and I want to include her late father's name, but are unsure if it is proper. Is there a correct form for this? -- ASKING IN OLYMPIA, WASH.

DEAR ASKING: According to Emily Post's "Complete Book of Wedding Etiquette," the wording for the newspaper announcement of your daughter's engagement should be: "Mrs. Bob Smith announces the engagement of her daughter, Miss Roberta Smith, to Alan Jones, etc. Miss Smith is also the daughter of the late Bob Smith."

When it is time to send the wedding invitations, use this wording:

"Together with their families, Roberta Smith, daughter of Alice Smith and the late Bob Smith, and Alan Jones, son of Mr. and Mrs. Mark Jones," etc.

DEAR ABBY: I am a 32-year-old, well-built woman who is often told that I'm very attractive. I am also gay, and have been in a committed relationship for six years.

At work, men frequently hit on me and ask, "Do you have a boyfriend?" Although the town I live in is fairly open-minded, I don't really want to "out" myself to clients, because not all of them are open-minded, and I don't want to cost my company any business because some clients may be bigoted. How should I rebuff such verbal advances? -- ANONYMOUS IN MICHIGAN

DEAR ANONYMOUS: Say, "I'm flattered -- but I'm already involved with someone."

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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