Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I are proud parents of our first child, a girl. Despite his excitement and pride, her arrival has caused his childhood sexual abuse by his stepfather to resurface with more detail than he previously remembered. It has reached the point that if he isn't thinking about suicide, he's grilling me for reasons why I love him, which he doesn't believe.

He recently told me he's afraid of holding our 4-month-old daughter or changing her diaper in case he does something abusive by mistake. Besides constant reassurances and encouragement, how can I help the man I love when he refuses the outside help denied to him as a child? -- WORRIED WIFE IN MISSISSIPPI

DEAR WORRIED WIFE: It is extremely important that your husband get professional help now! What his stepfather did was not his fault. He may think he's unlovable because he somehow blames himself for what happened to him.

There are at least nine rape treatment centers throughout the state of Mississippi. Your husband needs to go to one before he does something to hurt himself. If he won't do it for himself, then he should do it for the sake of his daughter, who needs him, and his wife, who adores him.


DEAR ABBY: I am a 20-year-old female college student who often comes home to sleep because it's close to my job, and it's my primary residence during the summer and holidays.

I love my family very much, but I'm having a problem because my mother insists on sleeping in my bed with me while I'm there. My stepdad snores incredibly loudly, and he refuses to get help. Mom often can't sleep because of it.

Sometimes he sleeps on the couch and she'll get a reprieve. However, several times a week, Mom will sleep in my bed. Not only does this disrupt my sleep, but I would love to have my privacy back. She has tried earplugs, but they help only a little bit. How can I get my personal space back? I would value some advice. -- OVER IT IN BUFFALO

DEAR OVER IT: Because your stepdad's snoring can't be heard from the couch, on nights when your mother needs to sleep in your bed, why don't you take the couch? That way all of you can get a good night's rest. However, until you are independent and able to make other living arrangements, you may have to sacrifice your need for privacy in the interest of practicality.

P.S. Individuals who have a serious snoring problem should let their doctor know, because it could be a symptom of a life-threatening medical condition called sleep apnea. Please tell your mother that if her husband's snoring is irregular and he "holds his breath" between snores, it shouldn't be ignored.

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. Shipping and handling are included in the price.

More like Dear Abby