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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Last month my boyfriend, "Mack," broke off our live-in relationship to be with another woman, who was supposed to be my friend. I'll call her Lois. Lois said she feels bad about it, but that doesn't heal my broken heart.

I recently discovered that Mack has given me a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that can cause cancer. He and I talked on the phone one evening, and I asked if he and Lois had slept together yet. He refused to answer. When I asked him if he had told her about his STD, Mack was adamant about not wanting to discuss it.

The following morning I called Lois and asked if I could come over because I had something important to tell her. Talk about being nervous! I was a wreck, but weathered it. I explained everything I knew about the situation. Lois told me Mack had said nothing to her about any STDs, and told me she would ask him about it.

Later that night, I got a call from Mack. He was madder than a wet hen! I feel I did the right thing by telling Lois because he didn't sound like he would. After all, he never told ME he had an STD -- I found out from my gynecologist. Now Mack claims he didn't know he had an STD, and I'm wondering if that's true or not.

Someone told me I could sue Mack for giving me this life-threatening disease. Tests can be given to determine how long he's had it. Should I sue him, Abby? I am angry because he jeopardized my life when he supposedly loved me. I don't want him giving this disgusting disease to anyone else. -- HURT AND MAD IN OKEMOS, MICH.

DEAR H. AND M.: I suspect you have a valid legal case, but law is out of my area of expertise, so talk to an attorney.

DEAR ABBY: I am a 55-year-old woman living with my son, daughter-in-law and their 5-year-old daughter. When she was born, they asked me to leave my home and job to take care of my grandchild. I have been with them ever since. I keep the house spotless, do all the laundry, cooking and 99 percent of the yard work. I baby-sit 24/7.

My problem is I have no money and no clothes. I have to beg them to buy me shampoo, creme rinse, everything! My son cusses me out and treats me terribly.

Abby, I want to leave, but I'm afraid I'll never see my grandchild again. How do I get out of this situation? -- TRAPPED IN THE EVERGLADES

DEAR TRAPPED: The situation you describe is called slavery. It is against the law in this country. Your son and his wife have not demonstrated that they care about your welfare. More important than whether you see your grandchild is what is going to happen to you in your old age. If you haven't saved money and paid into Social Security, you may not have enough benefits to keep you housed and fed.

If there is a relative who can help you make the transition back into a normal life, please call him or her. If there isn't, you may have to call the police to help you escape to a shelter until you can find a job and a place of your own. Please don't wait another minute.

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)

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