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by Abigail Van Buren

Visits to Mother-in-Law Feel Like Stepping Into a Fight Ring

DEAR ABBY: I am dreading an upcoming trip that includes a visit to my husband's mother, "Harriet." She is prone to "accidents" when I visit, and I always end up getting hurt. Harriet's "oops" moments usually involve my toes and feet, although the last time I was there she managed to strike my face.

I have taken the precaution of looking up the phone number of the police department in her city, just in case she hits me again. Is there a way to keep her at arm's length so she can't get close enough to punch me? In the 20-plus years I have known Harriet, she has always been a bully. She strikes out at me because I stood up to her. -- APPREHENSIVE IN LOUISIANA

DEAR APPREHENSIVE: Because this has gone on for 20 years, I'm inclined to agree with your suspicion that these "mishaps" haven't been accidental. An effective way to prevent further injury would be to avoid being in the same town with Harriet. The next time your husband decides to visit her, take a detour and let him deal with his mother. She sounds like a handful.

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