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by Abigail Van Buren

Friends Think Clumsy Woman's Bruises Are Evidence of Abuse

DEAR ABBY: I'm a 27-year-old woman who is a "klutz," which explains why I often have bruises on my legs and elbows. The other day, while lunching with friends I hadn't seen in a while, one of them brought up the subject of my bruises. (I had rolled up the sleeves of my blouse and was wearing a skirt.)

I laughed and explained how I got them -- running off an elevator before the door had opened all the way, tripping while climbing some stairs, and crashing into the coffee table and nearly breaking my leg. My friends exchanged knowing looks and told me if I ever needed anything -- ANYthing at all -- they were there for me and offered protection!

It became obvious that they think my fiance caused the bruises. I explained that I am often in a hurry and accident-prone. They didn't believe me. They just nodded and said, "Uh-huh ..."

I feel so humiliated. My fiance has never laid a finger on me. I have never had a healthier, more loving relationship, and it hurt that my friends think I'm a victim of domestic abuse.

A birthday get-together is coming soon and I don't feel comfortable going now. I'm worried they may tell others what they "think" may be going on behind closed doors. How do I set the record straight? -- JUST CLUMSY IN AMARILLO

DEAR JUST CLUMSY: You won't set the record straight by hiding out and refusing to face them. Doing so will only fuel their unfounded suspicions, so attend the party. And at the next girls' lunch tell them, warmly, that you appreciate knowing they'll always be there for you, and if they ever need you for anything -- ANYthing at all -- you'll be there for them, too. Say it sweetly, with a smile, and above all, do not appear defensive.

P.S. In the future, how about slowing down, trying to be more careful and watching where you're going? One of these days you could seriously hurt yourself.