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

Domestic Assaults Have Nothing to Do With Love

DEAR ABBY: Thank you for your continued support of victims of domestic and dating violence. Tomorrow is Valentine's Day, a day filled with romance for many couples. Unfortunately, for some, it is like any other day -- filled with fear, anxiety and violence.

The sad truth is, every year, close to 4 million American women experience a serious assault by someone who said they loved them. I would like to remind your readers that domestic and dating violence is not just physical abuse. It can also be sexual, emotional, economic or psychological abuse. It is actions, or threats of actions, meant to frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure or wound someone.

Domestic violence can happen to anyone of any age, race, sexual orientation, religion, gender or socioeconomic background. It can happen to couples who are married, living together or dating.

With Valentine's Day only a day away, let's work to keep our loved ones safe. -- SHERYL CATES, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE

DEAR SHERYL: Thank you for your important letter. As readers of my column know, your organization is one I have relied upon for years to help victims of abuse. If anyone reading this column today feels she is being abused, or knows of someone who is being abused, I hope she will call the National Domestic Violence Hotline. The toll-free number is (800) 799-7233 (SAFE). The number for people with hearing disabilities is (800) 787-3224 (TTY). You can also log onto the Web site at www.ndvh.org. There is help available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The danger is great, so please don't wait to contact them.

DEAR ABBY: My dear friend "Rose" has a 3-year-old great-granddaughter I'll call "Andrea." I am concerned because the child does not play nicely with her dolls. She chokes them, bashes their heads against the wall and "drowns" them in the bathtub.

Rose and her daughter think it is funny. I think Andrea needs help.

The little girl doesn't get hit or abused herself, but she has an on-again, off-again father who has beaten up her mother on more than one occasion. And there has been a new baby in the house since November. Should I suggest counseling? -- WORRIED IN ST. LOUIS

DEAR WORRIED: Andrea appears to be a very angry little girl who is using her dolls to channel her aggression. She may feel displaced by her new sibling. It might help to suggest to Rose that she and her daughter give Andrea more attention because you are concerned that she might take her resentment out on the baby. If that fails to improve the child's behavior, then point out that a visit with a child psychologist might be in order.

DEAR ABBY: Two years ago, a male friend and I decided to save our spare change in a jar for a road trip. There are now three large jars, and they're all at my house.

During the time that we've been saving, my friend and I have grown apart. It's not that we don't like each other anymore, but sometimes that's the way things go.

There is nearly $300 in the jars, and I'd like to give him his share, but I have no idea how to do it. There is no way of knowing how much of the money is his and how much is mine. There isn't an even amount in the jars, and I'm considering giving all of it to him. What do you suggest? -- TRYING TO BE FAIR IN N.C.

DEAR TRYING: Either get a neutral friend to help you count the money, or "guesstimate" the amount in the jars and write the man a check for half. It's better than cheating yourself out of your share of what you have accumulated. Or, with your friend's approval, the entire amount could be donated to charity.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Teen 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