DEAR ABBY: I’ll make a long story short. I was married to an abusive man I’ll call Tony. We had a child together, which I suppose is why I stayed with him for four years. Anyway, we separated, and now I’m in love with his brother, “Joe.”

I thought I was so in love with Joe that I let my heart take control. The problem is, he’s abusive to me, too. He tried to choke me to death. I want to leave him, but I’m scared because he told me that my husband and his family are trying to take my daughter away from me – and he says if I leave him he’ll make sure they get her.

I’m scared to go to the police because I’m sure I’m going to lose my daughter, and I love her dearly. I can’t stand the thought of losing her. I have spoken to Tony about this. He says he would never take my daughter away from me. But I have heard so many things I don’t know what to do. I no longer want to be with Joe. I just want to be alone with no headaches. Please help me. – AFRAID AND CONFUSED IN NEW YORK

DEAR AFRAID: One way abusers control their victims is through fear, and that’s what Joe is trying to do with you when he threatens you with losing your child. Because this man can be violent, it’s even more important that you get your daughter away from him. Many abusers have no compunction about acting out on a child if they feel provoked.

Pick up the phone and call 1-800-799-7233. It’s the toll-free number of the National Domestic Violence Hotline. They will help you to formulate a safe escape plan for you and your child. I wish you the best of luck.

DEAR ABBY: Something happened on a flight to the southwest part of the United States recently, and I’m still seething about it. The flight attendant was taking drink orders. When she took the orders for my nieces, she instructed them to say “please” when giving their order. My sister and I looked at each other in stunned silence. There were other children seated around us, and we listened to see if she would ask them to also say please. They didn’t, nor did she ask them to.

Please note that my sister and I are African-American. My nieces are of mixed-race parentage; the children sitting around us were Caucasian.

When the drink orders arrived and were being distributed, the flight attendant told my nieces to say “thank you.” Abby, my nieces are very polite girls. They were always taught to say please and thank you. Having someone demand that they say it before they had an opportunity to do so on their own was humiliating not only to them but also to my sister and me.

What should we have done? Should we have taken the attendant aside and asked for an apology, ignored it, or spoken to the airline about it? The whole incident has left a bad taste in our mouths. – EMBARRASSED IN ELGIN, ILL.

DEAR EMBARRASSED: The flight attendant’s behavior was patronizing, presumptuous and discriminatory. If you had called her on it during the flight, the situation might have escalated into an incident that was even more embarrassing.

Do not ignore it. Write a letter to the president of the airline and describe what happened, including the date it occurred, the flight number, and a description of the person who insulted you. She needs further training, and you deserve an apology. If I were that person’s employer, I would certainly want to know.

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. (Postage is included in price.)

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