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by Abigail Van Buren

Woman Can't Shut Her Eyes to Peeping Tom's Intrusion

DEAR ABBY: Our family recently went to visit my in-laws at their cottage. While we were there, the septic system stopped working and my mother-in-law, "Doris," suggested that my niece and I relieve ourselves behind the shed.

After I followed her suggestion, I noticed my father-in-law, "Ralph," standing not too far away watching me. I was shocked and offended, but didn't tell my husband until we left a few minutes later.

We have had a problem in the past with Ralph. Once when I was nursing, he sat close to me and stared at my chest. My husband said, "There's only enough room for one head, Dad." Immediately afterward, I spoke to Doris and the peeping stopped.

The nursing thing was weird, but this goes way beyond that. I like and respect Ralph for the most part, but I don't know what to do. We go to my in-laws' every other weekend. I can't go over there and pretend nothing happened.

My husband wants to talk to his father alone, but I feel Ralph needs to account to someone other than his son -- he should also account to Doris. Is this taking it too far? -- UPSET IN CONNECTICUT

DEAR UPSET: I don't think so. Your father-in-law appears to have a serious problem with "boundaries." He also appears to be a voyeur -- a Peeping Tom. Since "peepers" have been known to escalate their behavior, it should be called to Doris' attention before her husband gets himself arrested and has to register as a sex offender. Please don't wait. It is possible that you are not the only person Ralph has been watching.