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

DEAR ABBY: Finally, someone was willing to point out that women can be as abusive as men. The letter I'm referring to came from "Worried Mother in Oregon." When I read the "15 Reasons to Leave Your Lover, Warning Signs of an Abusive Personality," I was disappointed, but not surprised. You have no idea how many men are in abusive relationships. People assume that women can never be as violent or controlling as men. It's even harder to believe if the man is much bigger than the woman.

Because of my ex-wife, I lost my dream job and several friends. This woman had kicked, punched, choked and scratched me. She had thrown things at me in the middle of the night. Possessions of mine were destroyed or tossed outside. I never wanted to fight with her. If there was a problem, I tried to communicate by talking things out. She preferred to hit or verbally assault me.

I tried to leave several times so I could cool down and the children wouldn't have to see any more violence. My wife would stop me by blocking the door or threatening to call the police. If one of us did call the police, I was always the one who had to leave.

Because I believe so strongly in family and having two parents in the house, I kept coming back. Things only got worse. I tried to convince my wife, whom I still cared about, to go to counseling with me. She refused, saying I was the one who needed help.

Well, I got the help I needed -- my dignity and self-worth are returning and I'm finally out of the situation. However, the problem remains unsolved because she still wants to control what I do with my children and the time I have with them. Since I will not allow her to do this, she has become more desperate and volatile.

I pressed charges when she hit me while I was picking up the children. The police would not take her to jail; they just talked to her. This is the main reason why you do not hear much about men who are abused. If we hit a woman, we automatically get a ride to jail. Unless you have it on camera, with 20 witnesses and the judge present, a woman can do what she wants.

For men in abusive relationships, all I can say is, "Get out as fast as you can. It will take time to heal, but you'll be much better off." -- THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STORY

DEAR OTHER SIDE: No one -- male or female -- should raise a hand in anger toward the other. Since your wife seems to have such poor control of her anger, it concerns me that your children are in her care. If incidents of female-to-male violence are not being taken seriously, I'm stating for the record that police should have further training to help them to deal evenhandedly with abuse by both sexes.

DEAR ABBY: Please advise your readers to take the time to get the telephone number of an emergency animal clinic before they need it.

Tonight my neighbor's dog was hit by a car. Valuable time was saved because she had the telephone number of an after-hours emergency animal clinic programmed into her cell phone. Luckily, I also had a card for the clinic with a map and directions on the back.

When an accident occurs, moments count. A moment of preparation now could save a precious life later. -- A.J. WARE, ATLANTA

DEAR A.J.: That's a terrific suggestion, and I'm pleased to pass it along to my pet-owning and animal-loving readers. Consider it added insurance against the unexpected.

P.S. It's also a good idea, when traveling with your pet, to take along its vaccination and medical records. In case of an emergency, the vet will need them.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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

More like Dear Abby