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

by Abigail Van Buren

Husband's Nightmare Attack Leaves Wife Trapped in Fear

DEAR ABBY: My husband, "Bob," and I have been married 12 years. One night three years ago, he beat me as I slept in our bed. Bob says he must have been having a nightmare and that he would never beat me.

His fists were clenched as he was hitting my head and body that night. I was pinned by the covers and couldn't defend myself. He has been sleeping in the guest room ever since. I lock my bedroom door every night.

I have gone to counseling, but Bob refuses because he says it's too expensive. I am unemployed and feel trapped financially by him. How long can a middle-aged woman survive in a loveless, passionless and distrustful marriage? -- ALL ABOUT BOB IN ALABAMA

DEAR ALL ABOUT BOB: That depends upon the reason your marriage is loveless, passionless and distrustful. You say your husband says he has no memory of striking you. Has he ever raised a hand to you while he was awake? If the answer is no, then he should be evaluated for a sleep disorder.

People have been known to do unusual things in their sleep -- including sleepwalking, driving a car, eating compulsively and striking out. Once you know the reason for what happened that night, you will then have enough information to decide what to do about your future.