Woman who suspects abuse should resist accusations

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DEAR ABBY: When I was 10, I faked an injury so I could quit playing soccer. I couldn’t articulate why the coach, who was clean-cut, friendly and fair, made me uneasy. After he died a few years ago, it came out that he had molested dozens of girls.

Over the subsequent 20 years, those same instincts have screamed at me three more times — and twice I was proven correct. The third man to set off this alarm is in my social circle, along with his wife. Several of the couples in our group are starting families.

I feel like I’m in a terrible position. Should I say something and risk destroying an innocent man’s reputation and the group dynamic, or remain silent and risk the kids being around a predator? I don’t have a shred of evidence, just a gut-punch feeling.

I never said anything about the prior abusers, but I don’t sleep well wondering if I should have — even if it was based solely on a sixth sense. What should I do? — NOSE LIKE A BLOODHOUND

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DEAR NOSE: Child molesters belong to every race, both sexes, and come in various age ranges. The problem with criminals of every sort — child abusers and con men included — is they look like the rest of us.

I’m sorry you’re having sleep problems, but the solution to them is NOT to accuse someone about whom you have no proof. To falsely accuse him could destroy both of you, and I don’t recommend it.

DEAR ABBY: I’m struggling in my marriage. I have asked my husband to treat me as an equal, but it falls on deaf ears. I work part-time, attend school full-time and care for our two children, basically on my own. I pay for almost everything. If I’m broke, he’ll pay one of the smaller bills.

He refuses to help with any of the housework, and he has the freedom to go when and where he pleases. I’m only allowed to go to school or work; otherwise I must take the kids with me. He’s very controlling and, in the past, when I have threatened to leave, he said he would kill himself. He is verbally and emotionally abusive.

I no longer love him and want a divorce, but I’m scared of what he’ll do if I ask for one. I don’t know what he is capable of. The stress has taken a toll on me. I’m depressed, angry and bitter. I wish the kids and I could simply disappear, but that’s not an option, nor healthy.

Is there an easy way to ask for a divorce, or somewhere I could turn for help? Is there financial help where someone could help pay for a divorce? — WANTS TO DISAPPEAR

DEAR WANTS TO DISAPPEAR: There is no easy way to ask a spouse for a divorce, particularly one who is controlling and verbally abusive. If you are worried about him killing himself, please don’t. From your description, he is too selfish and self-centered ever to do that.

Because I know of no individuals or organizations that pay for people’s divorces, talk to your family and see if one or more of your close relatives is willing to help. However, if you are afraid that your husband might harm you, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline. The phone number is 800-799-7233. Its counselors can help you form an exit strategy.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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