DEAR ABBY: I am a young girl with a problem. My dad beats me and sexually abuses me. When I lock myself in my bedroom, he says he’s going to change the doorknob so it doesn’t lock. I can’t tell anybody because I am ashamed of what they will think. What can I do? Help! – ASHAMED IN OHIO

You have nothing to be ashamed of. When a young person is physically and sexually abused, it is never the victim’s fault. It is urgent that you tell a trusted adult what is going on.

If you don’t know anyone you feel you can trust to help you, pick up the phone and call Childhelp USA. The hotline number is (800) 422-4453. Tell the counselor what you have written to me, and that I told you to call. He or she WILL help you. Your call will be kept strictly confidential.

Please let me hear from you again. You are in my prayers.

DEAR ABBY: My husband, “Howie,” and I were married right out of college. We are now 27. When we were dating, we shared our life goals. Howie planned on going to medical school. I aspired to (and did pursue) a career in interior design so that when we had children I could work from home.

It’s now five years later. Howie has taken the MCATs (medical college admission tests) but scores poorly because he never takes the time to study or take the preparatory classes. I’m frustrated, because he seems to want a different career every three months. He has talked about becoming a college professor and a biologist. But it is all talk and no action. I’m beginning to wonder if we’ll ever be financially secure enough to start a family.

A couple of months ago, Howie told me he was going to become a paramedic. Last week he dropped another bomb – he wants to join the Army. I think it’s a mistake for anyone as indecisive as my husband to join the military because he won’t be able to back out when he changes his mind in three months. He claims he has “always” wanted to serve his country, but this is the first I’ve heard of it in the seven years I have known him. I wish Howie had told me this was his life goal when we were dating.

My friends tell me I should tell my husband to grow up and accept his responsibilities. I love him, but I want to get off this emotional roller-coaster. I haven’t slept well in months, and we rarely speak without an argument erupting. What should I do now? – FEEL LIKE A YO-YO IN COLORADO

Your husband is floundering. He needs you right now, so calm down.

Ask your husband to promise you that before he joins the military or pursues any other “career moves,” he will consult his doctor and arrange to be tested for adult attention deficit disorder. That may be the reason he is unable to focus long enough to choose a career and stay on the path to attain it.

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

Abby shares more than 100 of her favorite recipes in two booklets: “Abby’s Favorite Recipes” and “More Favorite Recipes by Dear Abby.” Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $10 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby – Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447.

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