Dear Ann:

The letter from "M.A.D." prompted me to write. She said her ex-husband was obsessive and potentially violent. That train can run both ways.

I was an abused husband. During 10 years of marriage, starting on our honeymoon, my wife became more and more abusive, first verbally, then, physically. Years of counseling resulted in very little improvement. Every day, I lived in fear of her unprovoked attacks and storming rages. Finally, one night, my wife brutally beat me in front of our 7-year-old daughter. That was the night I decided I had had enough, and packed up and left.

Why is there such silence about women who abuse? And why was I silent? First, I loved her, and hoped she would change. Second, I wanted to stay in the marriage to protect my daughter. Her anger was often directed at our child, too. Third, I was ashamed for putting up with it.

After years and $55,000 in legal fees, I was finally successful in defending myself against her charges that I was the abuser and got custody of our daughter. My ex-wife was ordered by the court to get therapy as a condition of being allowed to see our daughter.

I am now in a wonderful, happy relationship with a gentle, mentally healthy woman. My daughter is doing better in every aspect of her life. I regret all the years I wasted hoping my ex-wife would change. Tell your readers that women can be abusers, too. It's time to break the silence and get out of those sick situations. And please tell us, Ann, if there are resources available for abused men. They need all the help they can get.

Finally Happy Dad

You were brave to write, and I thank you. Abused husbands are not as rare as you think. I have heard from several over the years and printed their letters. The Domestic Violence Hotline helps abused men as well as abused women. For more information on local resources, please call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or, for the hearing impaired, TTY: 1-800-787-3224.

P.S.: It is not wimpy to seek protection from a physically abusive woman. Violence sometimes escalates to murder.

Dear Ann:

I just read the letter from "Nearly Smothered in the U.S.A.," who complained that her in-laws visit every two months, call twice a week, constantly mail cards and gifts, and take up precious "family time." I have a very similar situation, but I feel quite differently about it.

Although my husband's parents live more than 1,000 miles away, they consider the family a priority, and sacrifice their weekends and hard-earned money to visit us every six weeks. My mother-in-law went back to work part time to finance these trips. We phone each other every two days because our 3-year-old daughter and younger son insist on hearing their grandparents' voices often. My in-laws also mail cards and gifts frequently, and our children love to receive them.

The whole family looks forward to their visits because our children get undivided, one-on-one, loving attention from them, and my husband and I are free to spend some much-needed time alone or with our friends.

It's too bad "Smothered" is so ungrateful for her in-laws' attention. Her attitude is selfish, and she is denying her children a wonderful relationship with their grandparents.

Loved and Fortunate in Dallas

Your response was a case study in what good family relationships are all about. You are doing a splendid job, and I congratulate you.

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