DEAR ABBY: In your reply to "Worried Neighbor," you asked that the couple who found the neighbor peeping not tell his wife. As the wife of a Peeping Tom, let me tell you the kindest thing they could do would be to tell her. This behavior becomes riskier and riskier in order to achieve the same thrill. With therapy, the couple may be able to salvage their marriage and his self-respect. But, like all addictions, only when he reaches bottom will he get the help he needs. Please reconsider and suggest that they tell the wife.
Please do not reveal my name or location. It has been 15 years since my husband acted out, and our children are unaware of his past. -- BEEN THERE
DEAR BEEN THERE: I advised the neighbor to inform the woman who was being victimized as well as the police -- but not the wife -- out of concern that the wife would go into denial if she heard it from a neighbor. I felt she would have more difficulty denying it if she heard it from the police. Please read on:
DEAR ABBY: My letter is in response to the one in your column about the Peeping Tom. Your advice was 100 percent correct. My first husband was a Peeping Tom. If someone had told me about my husband, I wouldn't have believed him or her and probably would have gotten angry with that person.
My husband was well thought of, and you can't imagine that someone you love and admire would be capable of doing something like that. He lied so convincingly about why he was late -- and even when he was eventually arrested -- I not only believed him, but most people other than the police did too.
Abby, Peeping Toms do not get over it. They just get worse. They think there is nothing wrong with them.
We were trying to have another baby when he was arrested the first time. Naturally we put it off until the trial was over. Can you believe he was only fined for trespassing? The witnesses were a policeman and a minister, but the jury believed my husband. He explained it away.
My husband was arrested three times in our 12-year marriage for peeping. I finally had to face facts. When I did, I had a nervous breakdown.
He married again, molested his stepdaughters and was sent to prison. He could have gotten out on probation after he served a couple of years if he had agreed to have therapy. He chose to stay in prison rather than seek help because he insisted there wasn't anything wrong with him.
If you print this, please do not use my name. It has been 25 years since I left him, but I remember the shame and disbelief as if it were yesterday. Even today some people think it was all a mistake. -- TRUSTING WIFE IN TEXAS
DEAR TRUSTING WIFE: Thank you for relating your personal experience. Others can learn from it. The problem with getting hooked on danger -- and this can apply to things other than peeping -- is that increasingly stronger doses are required to satisfy the addict.
P.S. I was curious about where the term "Peeping Tom" originated. According to the Webster's Deluxe Encyclopedic Edition of the English Language, it originated in the 11th century. When Lady Godiva rode naked through the streets of Coventry on a dare from her husband, Leofric, Earl of Mercia, to obtain a reduction in taxes, everyone averted their eyes from the lady except for one man named Tom, who became the first "Peeping Tom."