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Spousal abuse goes both ways

Dear Abby: I was a victim of domestic abuse by my wife, and I don't feel I have been treated fairly. There are many programs for abused women, but I haven't found any for men. This problem is more common than people realize, but men are embarrassed to say anything. I'd like my voice to be heard to encourage men to speak up.

I did not hit my wife back after she beat on me. I still love her, but I refuse to be abused any longer. Abby, please help me help myself and others.

-- Bill in Arkansas

Dear Bill: Gladly. Among the problems with spousal abuse is that it escalates. Over the last decade domestic violence groups have become more aware of female-to-male domestic violence and violent behavior in same-sex relationships, and are better prepared to offer help than they used to be. That's why it's important you contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline. The toll-free number is (800) 799-7233. Counselors there offer guidance to women and men who are being abused by their spouse or partner.

Another organization, SAFE (Stop Abuse for Everyone), also assists victims of abuse regardless of age, gender or sexual orientation. Its website is www.safe4all.org.

> Truly disappointed

Dear Abby: For a lot of reasons -- many betrayals among them -- I have almost lost my faith in the basic goodness of people. I have started isolating myself because I believe that more contact with people will destroy what little belief I have left. I don't want to be so bitter and cynical, and I need help overcoming this.

-- Wounded Soul in Minnesota

Dear Wounded: I'm sorry you have suffered disappointment. But isolating yourself from others isn't the solution.

Trust is something that has to be developed, and building it takes time. While I agree that relationships can be risky, unless you are willing to take some risk, there will be no reward.

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