DEAR ABBY: I'm writing to praise all those friends and family who support their loved ones through and after abusive relationships.
A year ago, I ended a 2 1/2-year relationship with a controlling, emotionally abusive man. During those years, I almost completely ignored my best friend. I was never available to see her socially, and our telephone conversations were few and far between.
I didn't deserve the generosity she showed me after the breakup. If I was sad or lonely, she was there for me every second of the day. She stayed with me long hours while I adjusted to single life, and even dragged her nauseated self (she was pregnant) out with me while I attempted to resume a social life.
I know I am not the only woman who has received friendship, support and love even when they haven't given the same. Readers who have helped loved ones to restructure their lives after an abusive relationship should know that we regard them as angels. They have given us an enormous gift just by answering the phone, sitting with us, or giving us a much-needed hug. I hope all of you know how valuable you are. -- INDEBTED IN ILLINOIS
DEAR INDEBTED: I am printing your letter not only because of your tribute to your good friend, but also because of an important point that may have escaped you. Please stop flogging yourself for being unable to give your friend the attention she deserved while you were involved with an abuser.
One of the first things abusers (of both sexes, by the way) do is to isolate their victims from friends and family. It is often done gradually, so the person doesn't realize what is happening until it's too late. After all, when we love someone we don't want to do anything that would make him (or her) uncomfortable, or cause him/her to sulk -- so we allow them to monopolize our time until there isn't any left to give to anyone else. That is what happened to you, and it appears your friend understood that fact. Kudos to her.
DEAR ABBY: I work in retail, and one of my regular customers is a man who stutters. It takes him 10 seconds or more to speak certain words. Would it be considered rude to provide the word for him until he gets caught up? I feel it would relieve him from an uncomfortable situation. My co-worker says it would be rude and would only add to his frustration. Who is right? -- WANTS TO BE HELPFUL, SOUTH DAYTONA, FLA.
DEAR WANTS TO BE HELPFUL: I agree with your co-worker. Do not finish the man's sentence for him. Not only would it be a breach of etiquette to draw attention to his problem, you could also lose a regular customer.
DEAR ABBY: May I comment on a sensitive issue I have never seen addressed in your column? I have noticed an increasing number of memorials at accident sites along freeways and roads.
While I sympathize with the bereaved families, is it necessary to have two places to mourn the loss of their loved one? Isn't the cemetery enough? -- M.H. IN L.A.
DEAR M.H.: The memorials you describe are intended as a gesture of respect, and also to remind motorists that the area can be dangerous. However, if a memorial becomes a distraction, the authorities may order it removed.
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.)
4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600