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by Abigail Van Buren

Wife of Alcoholic Found Courage to Finally Leave

DEAR ABBY: I'm writing about the letter you printed from "Fed Up in Richmond, Texas," whose husband's idea of an evening out or a day off is getting drunk. I hope she takes your advice to go to Al-Anon.

I fell in love and married a man who exhibited similar drinking behavior. It became worse during the 20 years we were together. I was verbally abused, humiliated and, at the end, feared for my safety as well as the children's.

I was very naive. He convinced me that I was crazy, threatened my family and threatened to take off with the children if I left. At age 40, I finally found the courage and strength to do it.

It took lots of counseling, but I now understand that I was caught up in his sickness. I regret that I wasted my youth on this man. I hope "Fed Up" opens her eyes and won't be caught up like I was in what domestic violence counselors call "the honeymoon cycle." That's where you bring his behavior to his attention, he promises he'll change, it's a great month or so -- and then he starts drinking again. I look back over those years and see a bad movie filled with heartache for me and my children.

It wasn't easy, but it has been worth it. I am now treated with the love and respect I deserve. My children and I are happier than we've ever been. I'm a stronger person now, and we're blessed with a wonderful man who saw us through outrageous court battles, restraining orders, stalking and intimidation tactics.

"Fed Up" deserves love and respect, too. But she and her child won't get it from her spouse if she doesn't DEMAND it. I wish her strength, courage and no regrets. -- REBORN IN PORTLAND, ORE.

DEAR REBORN: I, too, hope that "Fed Up" will take your letter to heart and find help before her husband's problem escalates to the point that your husband's did. Addiction problems cannot be ignored. If the problem isn't addressed, it doesn't "level off"; it grows worse until the addiction takes over the lives of everyone around the addict. I'm pleased that you finally found the strength to free yourself and your children. Thank you for writing.

DEAR ABBY: I'm 14 and my name is "Pearl." I just found out that I might have chlamydia. I really like this guy and I need to know if I should tell him. What should I do? I am a little scared. Please answer soon. -- NEEDS TO KNOW IN LANCASTER, CALIF.

DEAR NEEDS TO KNOW: You should be examined by a doctor right away. If you do indeed have chlamydia, your partner must be notified so he can also be treated.

Ask your mother to schedule an appointment for you. If you cannot talk to her about this, then call the county health department and ask for the location of the nearest clinic where you can be treated confidentially. DO NOT PUT IT OFF. If you have chlamydia and aren't treated, it could cause fertility problems for you in the future.

Since you are sexually active, it is important that you learn to protect yourself against an unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases so that you are not reinfected or infect others.

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