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by Abigail Van Buren

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.

DEAR ABBY: I have a horrible secret. I have cheated on my husband with multiple strangers. I have tried to tell him I have an addiction, but he blows me off. When I first met him, I had been with two people. Since our wedding, I have lost count.

I think about sex constantly and often arrange to meet men anonymously many times during the week. I have tried to stop, but I just can't seem to. Believe me, I have tried.

I have attempted to talk to my husband about this so he will listen -- but I'm afraid to estimate how many times I have cheated because I fear he will leave me. Please help me. -- CAN'T STOP DOWN SOUTH

DEAR CAN'T STOP: At this point the only thing worse than telling your husband what's been going on would be not to. People who engage in anonymous sex can carry all kinds of STDs, and you have exposed not only yourself but him to them. You both should see a doctor and be tested immediately -- and if you love him, you will give him that important message.

There is an organization that may be able to help you regain control of your life. It's Sexaholics Anonymous. It originated in 1979 and is based on the same principles as Alcoholics Anonymous.

Its Web site is and the e-mail address of the Sexaholics Anonymous International Central Office is Please contact them ASAP because they will take you seriously, nothing will shock them, and they may be able to help you break the news to your husband in a way that won't end your marriage.

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