DEAR ABBY: My oldest sister, “Daisy,” is married to an emotionally unstable man. I’ll call him Dwight. Dwight’s claim to fame is bragging that he can kill people with his bare hands.

Last year, at a family get-together, he grabbed my sister-in-law “Myra” from behind without warning, pulling her hair, getting her into a choke hold and physically hurting her. Myra barely knows Dwight. She was terribly frightened and upset, and ended up pressing charges against him.

The next day I called and asked Daisy about it. Her reply was that Dwight often shows off his “abilities” by grabbing people. Abby, her husband is old enough to know better. He’s in his late 50s, but Daisy’s attitude was “boys will be boys.”

Because Myra pressed charges, Dwight was arrested. Daisy hasn’t spoken to me since. She won’t return my phone calls or acknowledge birthday cards and has generally been giving me the silent treatment for a year. Is it right for her to hold me responsible, since it was Myra who pressed charges? – SNUBBED SISTER IN BURBANK

DEAR SNUBBED SISTER: What Dwight did was childish and dangerous. Martial arts were intended as a form of self-defense, not a way of getting attention at social gatherings. For an adult to have such a lapse in judgment is shocking, and he deserved to be arrested. Your sister should direct her anger at her husband, where it belongs, instead of at you. Myra was right to press charges. I hope it taught Dwight a much-needed lesson.

DEAR ABBY: I am 41 years old and in my seventh month of pregnancy. I am a professional, the second-highest ranked woman in my office. I have prided myself on my professionalism during my pregnancy and didn’t announce it until I was 21 weeks along.

One woman in my office insists on calling me “Little Mother” and rubbing my stomach. I am not comfortable with her touching my abdomen and have asked her not to refer to me as “Little Mother.” I explained I didn’t want others in the office to hear such comments.

Today, in our office lobby, she again made the “mommy” reference and rubbed my stomach – with both hands. I lost it. I told her to stop it and leave my stomach alone. Now she gives me funny looks and says I am not happy being pregnant.

Abby, I have worked all through my pregnancy. I don’t want anyone making a big deal of it. I feel the woman’s conduct is unprofessional. I have tried hard not to let my pregnancy interfere with my work life, and I feel she is not allowing me the dignity and professional respect I deserve.

Where do people get the idea that rubbing a pregnant woman’s stomach is acceptable? I wouldn’t do that to someone I considered a friend, much less a co-worker. Ditto for the “Little Mother” comments. Your thoughts, please. – PREGNANT PROFESSIONAL IN HOUSTON

DEAR PROFESSIONAL: Believe it or not, your complaint is not unusual. I have heard from many pregnant women complaining that people they barely know – even complete strangers – feel entitled to touch their abdomens. I have no idea why anyone would feel entitled to invade someone’s personal space that way.

As to the “Little Mother” moniker – since you have spoken to the woman and she persists, take her into your office and tell her in no uncertain terms that you consider her behavior disrespectful and unprofessional, and if she does it again you’ll complain to the human resources department or the boss.

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.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents is in “What Every Teen Should Know.” To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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