Dear Abby:

My husband, "Gene," and I met a week before my 13th birthday. Gene had always been a poor student and preferred a job making money to learning. (He never learned to read past kindergarten level; therefore he doesn't write well.)

We moved into our own home in 1999. We both wanted children, and our daughter was born in 2001. Our relationship was great -- until we had someone else to care for. Because Gene was brought up old-fashioned, he decided I was to stay at home and care for the house and kids while he worked and provided for us.

Things got physical not long after our daughter arrived. We'd argue and I'd try to leave, only to result in my being choked. Or he'd throw me against a wall to prevent me from calling 911. One time, he broke my nose. He was never violent toward the children -- I had a son in 2004 -- only toward me because of them. He said I never did things right or I took up for them.

I left for good six weeks ago. I have left many times before, but went back because of dependency. This time I have a lot of support, plus I'm enlisting in the Air Force. My father served in the military for 21 years, and is quitting his truck-driving job to care for my children while I attend basic training and tech school. Gene knows I'm not coming back this time. We're on speaking terms only because of the children.

Abby, I find myself wondering if, after my six years in the service, I should try to reconcile with Gene. On some level, I know it wouldn't work and it's wrong to even think about going back to that life after being given a chance for a better one. But then, I picture Gene with us in that better life. Would it be a slap in the face if, in the end, Gene and I worked out our differences and forgot about the past?

Needs Answers in Mississippi

It could be a slap in the face; it could also be a broken jaw, another broken bone -- the possibilities are endless. Although your husband "wasn't violent toward the children," by failing to control his rage he exposed them to violence. Nowhere in your letter did you mention that he has any desire to change. Because your 4-year-old daughter knows no different, she thinks her daddy's behavior is normal. It is urgent that she learn it is not normal, and it's your job to teach her that lesson by example.

You are making positive strides in the right direction. My advice is to keep marching forward and don't look back.

Dear Abby:

Last April, my nephew, "Frank," a first lieutenant in the Army, was on the third day of a road trip from Fort Campbell, Ky., to Seattle to deliver his pickup truck to his parents' home for storage during his second tour of duty in Iraq. He was on I-80 near Cheyenne, Wyo., in a snowstorm when his truck skidded on an icy patch, collided with a big rig, rolled over multiple times and landed off the roadway in the snow. Frank had multiple deep lacerations to his head, legs and feet, crushed bones in one foot and back, and neck injuries.

Several passers-by stopped to help. One was a nurse who held his neck straight until the paramedics arrived, and a trucker couple who called Frank's parents. However, while these good Samaritans were helping him, another group was going through Frank's things and stealing whatever they wanted. These scavengers took his cell phone, digital camera, Army helmet, wallet with military ID, the truck radio -- even his keys. The tow truck driver finally shooed them away.

I have never considered myself naive. I have lived on I-80 for 20 years and never heard of this happening. Abby, those people actually stole the military ID off a bleeding soldier. Is this as shocking to you as it is to us?

Appalled in Roseville, Calif.

Shocking and deplorable, yes. Unheard of, no. To paraphrase a quote I heard many years ago, "We have seen the enemy, and it is us."

(c)2005, Universal Press Syndicate