DEAR ABBY: You say a wife should never stand for being slapped around, pushed, pinched or hit. My husband is good to me. He doesn't drink or run around. I have a fur coat and nice jewelry. He doesn't deny me anything, but he does manhandle me. I've asked him not to, but he won't listen. He says it's because he loves me so much.
For example, he will jerk my arm when I pass him and pull me off my feet so he can kiss me. Or he will grab the front of my shirt and pull me to him and kiss me so hard my lips hurt. He will kick me when I'm bending over, or slap me on the behind really hard, calling it a "love slap." He has tickled me until I can't breathe and scream for mercy. When I get angry and complain, he says he can't help it - he loves me. I've told him that kind of treatment turns me off. He says he will try to remember, but the next day it's the same thing all over again.Abby, I am not a cold woman. I give him plenty of love and attention, and I tell him I love him every time he calls me from work, which is about five times a day. He's really not a bad guy, and he's good to my mother, but I wish I could stop him from being so physically rough with me. But how? - BLACK AND BLUE IN LOUISIANA
DEAR BLACK AND BLUE: I do not doubt that your husband "loves" you, but when he kicks, slaps, jerks and kisses you so hard it hurts, that's ABUSE.
He may tell you that he is expressing his "love," but the kind of treatment you describe - "manhandling" you while your protests are ignored - is veiled hostility.
If he really loves you, he will go to family counseling with you and learn how to express his love without physically abusing you.
DEAR ABBY: Thank you, thank you for publishing the letter from "No Name," the battered husband. While I do not deny or condone the reality of abused women, it's high time we: (a) start referring to "spouse abuse," (b) recognize that "spouse" can and does include the husband, and (c) recognize that abuse can be verbal and emotional as well as physical - regardless of the abuser's gender.
In my own case, after tolerating years of physical and emotional abuse in the futile hope that my wife would change, two things woke me up. The first was the realization that I was nearing the point of physical retaliation. The second was when her assaults began to turn against our 1-year-old son. The day she began throwing things at him and screaming that she hated him, I took the boy and what personal possessions I could carry and walked out. I may have allowed her to manipulate me and abuse me, but she was not going to do it to him.
By then I was emotionally drained and close to a breakdown. However, through treatment and counseling for depression, and with the support of family and friends (who had seen it coming long before I did), I regained my self-esteem and strength of will sufficiently to fight and win the ensuing custody battle. It was an uphill fight, and the legal expenses very nearly finished me. Two years later, I'm just getting my head above water financially. But I have my son, my self-respect and a good beginning toward a new life.
I am not suggesting that my experience mitigates - let alone excuses - the very real violence that many women endure. My heart goes out to them in their efforts to escape and rebuild their lives. However, abused husbands exist as well. Their story deserves to be told, and I thank you for doing so. - BEEN THERE IN OHIO
C) 1989 Universal Press Syndicate