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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My mother is married to a pervert I'll call "Harry." He has destroyed our family. Harry has made sexual comments to my sister and me about our bodies until we finally moved out of our mother's home when we reached 18. His behavior stopped for a long time, until my daughter, "Allie," began to develop. After she turned 11, the sexual comments started again. Harry also began calling her names, and saying that if she were his daughter he would slap her mouth.

It has reached the point that we no longer visit Mother nor do we attend family functions. At the last one we attended, Harry kept staring at Allie and following her around. It made her sick to her stomach, so we went home.

My grandmother died last December. She was very ill the last six months, but we would see her only when she was in the hospital because Mother and Harry live in the house next door to hers, and he kept showing up when I was there.

Now my grandfather is all alone. I'd like for my children and me to be able to visit, but again -- Harry is always there. I have tried talking to my mother, but it's one excuse after another. I had hoped she would have a relationship with her grandchildren, but we can't invite her to our home for a picnic or a party because she won't come without him. Please help. -- HEARTSICK IN BUFFALO

DEAR HEARTSICK: If your grandfather isn't already aware of the problem with Harry, he should be told. You do not have to visit him at his house; you can pick him up and take him out for a meal or take him to your home. If you haven't already resigned yourself to the fact that your mother isn't going to have a relationship with your children, please rethink the wisdom of her having one. You have described a woman who tolerated the sexual harassment of her two daughters and grandchild. She made her choice long ago, and you are all better off keeping your distance from her and her husband.

DEAR ABBY: I'm ready to tear my hair out. My boyfriend of two years refuses to divorce his wife. He tells everyone he wants to marry me. He says he doesn't love her, he just "doesn't have time" to go and get the divorce.

She was in a mental hospital for a while for killing her boyfriend. Now they talk a lot, and he says he feels sorry for her. I want him to get the divorce so he can marry me.

Am I pushing too hard on this, because I told him if he isn't divorced by July 4, I am leaving. -- CONFUSED IN INDIANA

DEAR CONFUSED: I don't think you're pushing too hard, and I also don't think he is being completely honest with you. Your timing seems logical to me. What better time to declare your independence than Independence Day?

DEAR ABBY: Twice now, I have inquired about the beautiful accents of strangers. One was a cashier and the other was a bank employee. Both seemed embarrassed and unwilling to reveal their country of origin.

Was this attempt to show personal interest actually a tactless invasion? Is there a rule of etiquette on this subject? I never meant to put anyone on the spot. -- SEAN IN AFTON, VA.

DEAR SEAN: Some people are sensitive about revealing their background because of the circumstances that brought them to this country -- war, poverty, torture, loss of family members. Although your question was well meant, it is better to let time pass, let them get to know you, and get to know them before venturing into such personal territory. If they want you to have the information, they will volunteer it. It should not be necessary to ask.

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 $6 (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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