DEAR ABBY: On Oct. 19 you printed a letter from "Bruised and Abused," a man who is dating a woman who becomes physically violent when they argue. I know this is a touchy subject. I have heard from authorities that about half of domestic violence occurs when a woman throws the first blow.
Most women believe, as the abusive girlfriend said, that her attack on him isn't violence because she's a woman and he is a man. As difficult as it may be, we need to talk about the role women play in the domestic violence cycle as well as the responsibilities of men. I'm saving the letter from "Bruised" to remind me. -- DONALD, A CALIFORNIA DENTIST
DEAR DONALD: Since I printed that letter I have heard from readers telling me my answer didn't go far enough. (I advised him to end the relationship.) Among those who wrote to me were doctors, members of law enforcement and mental health specialists -- as well as former victims. My newspaper readers comment:
DEAR ABBY: Because we are bigger and stronger does not mean we don't get abused. I was abused by my former wife and an ex-girlfriend before I recognized it for what it was and got myself the help I needed. Nobody else was there for me.
If she is hitting him, he needs to call the police. If he has marks on him, she will go to jail. Men are too often ashamed to call the police because men think it reflects on their manhood. However, they need to put that shame aside and get the help they need. -- JOE IN MISSOURI
DEAR ABBY: I'm a retired cop. "Bruised" asked you if what his girlfriend is doing is domestic abuse. Your reply did not mention that his girlfriend hitting him is domestic abuse. It doesn't matter if the abuser is male or female, nor the size of the victim.
"Bruised" should call the cops and report this before she goads him into a response that gets him arrested. The courts can mandate the therapy she apparently needs. -- RUSS IN HELENA, MONT.
DEAR ABBY: I was a victim. People asked me why I didn't fight back. I wasn't raised to hit women.
In the end, my wife put me in the hospital twice and left me blind in my left eye. She spent nine months in jail for everything that happened.
Violence is violence regardless of who is throwing the punches. Tell that man he needs to get out now! God forbid he ends up dead. -- BATTERED IN ARIZONA
DEAR ABBY: It doesn't matter if he is a boy and she is a girl, or that he is bigger and stronger. Women do abuse men. It's a crime that too often goes unreported. He should contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline (800) 799-7233 or SAFE (Stop Abuse for Everyone) at www.safe4all.org. -- CLAUDIA, Ph.D., LONG BEACH, CALIF.
DEAR ABBY: I agree with you that the man needs to leave "Carmen." But something he wrote in his letter concerns me. He said, "I don't want to end the relationship, but I think it's the only way I can make her see things from my perspective."
This indicates to me that he thinks he can "teach her a lesson" by breaking up with her, and that this would stop her behavior. That would be a huge misconception on his part.
Carmen's behavior isn't something that can be modified through a breakup. It is something that will require intense counseling to correct, if it can be corrected at all. The boyfriend needs to end things for good -- and run like the wind! -- BRUCE IN HOUSTON
DEAR ABBY: Domestic abuse isn't just male-on-female. It is very often female-on-male, and partner-on-partner in homosexual relationships. "Bruised and Abused" needs to notify the police, get a restraining order and stay away. -- STUDENT NURSE IN CHAPEL HILL