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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I am a 29-year-old woman who recently bought my own home and moved out of my parents' house. I am delighted to finally be on my own. I can come and go as I please, entertain my friends and watch anything I choose on television. All of these new freedoms were "issues" when I was living with my parents.

My mother has recently been having trouble with my dad. She has told me that if the situation doesn't improve, she's going to come and live with me. She doesn't ask if she can live with me; she says she's going to.

I have urged her to talk out her differences with Dad, but she refuses. She says it's no use. I've told her that I enjoy being able to live my own life. She said, "Oh, you'll still be able to do that," but I'm not so sure.

Abby, if I say I'm happy on my own, she lays a guilt trip on me and says, "Fine, I'll go live with your sister ... she'll take me in."

I've tried telling her she is perfectly capable of living on her own and mentioned several women her age that we both know, but she gets upset and says I am a terrible daughter.

Abby, am I terrible to feel this way? At 29, I need my freedom. -- FEELING GUILTY IN THE DESERT

DEAR FEELING GUILTY: Your feelings are understandable. However, bear in mind that your mother is in turmoil at the moment. If the situation with your father does not resolve itself, consider offering her temporary refuge for a specific amount of time. When that time is up, if she is still determined to live apart from your father, help her find a place of her own, or let her move in with your sister.

DEAR ABBY: When I saw the headline in your column about domestic violence, and read that you had received letters about women who physically abuse their boyfriends and husbands, I could hardly believe it. I thought I was the only one.

I have been married for 10 years. The first five years were great. Then one day my wife hit me and we got into a terrific fight, which she won. Since then, every once in a while we have another fight after an argument and she beats me up. It is awful.

I never told anyone because I didn't have the nerve. I still love her and she makes over me afterward, which is nice, but other times I don't know what to do. I read about domestic violence, but it is always the women who are the victims. Is there any special advice about what a man should do when he's the victim? -- CONFUSED IN ARIZONA

DEAR CONFUSED: Females abusing males is nothing new, and it is far more common than most people suspect -- for the very reason you gave: Men are embarrassed to admit it.

I offer the same advice to men that I give to women: End the abusive relationship. Although there are few shelters for men because it is believed that it's easier for them to leave than it is for women, if you need moral support and suggestions, call a shelter for battered women and inquire if they also counsel men. If they do not, see a private counselor.

Now is the time to take action because the situation isn't likely to change unless your wife gets long-term counseling -- and even then, there is no guarantee the leopardess will change her spots.

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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