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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.

DEAR ABBY: A few days ago, my 8-year-old daughter, "Mira," told me that one of her best friends, a girl named "Brittany," was handing out envelopes in class. When Mira asked what Brittany was doing, Brittany told her she was passing out invitations to her birthday party and that my daughter wasn't invited.

I understand that the birthday girl can invite anyone she wants to her party, but this was one of Mira's closest friends. I am also friendly with Brittany's mother. The girl did tell Mira that she is on the "cancellation list" -- and if someone cancels, then she can attend.

My daughter is hurt and confused, and frankly, so am I. This was a huge blow to Mira's self-esteem. I can't understand how Brittany's mother could allow her daughter to do this, knowing full well that the girls are close friends. Mira is the only one in the group who was excluded.

I need your help, Abby. How should I handle this without blowing things out of the water? -- FEELING HER PAIN

DEAR FEELING HER PAIN: It appears that Brittany's mother isn't as much of a friend as you thought she was, or she would not have allowed her daughter to snub your daughter the way she did.

Being put on a cancellation list (a "B" list) is no compliment, and your daughter should not attend that party even if there is a cancellation. My advice is to make a point of doing something special with your daughter on that day so she won't feel so left out. She should also become involved in extracurricular activities where she can meet other children, so she won't be so dependent upon the clique that cliqued her out.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)

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