Focus on helping abused child

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar

Creators Syndicate Inc.

DEAR ANNIE: I was married to "James" for seven years before our separation in November. I have since filed for divorce.

James was always loving and supportive. We both wanted children from the beginning, but it took three years to get pregnant after going to numerous fertility clinics. When I finally gave birth to our beautiful daughter, "Jill," James slowly fell into a depression.

I work full time and James was left caring for Jill. When she was 18-months-old, I noticed bruises. When I asked James about them, he said he had no idea where they came from, so I ignorantly let it pass. Over the next year, I continued to see more bruises. Finally, when Jill was 3-years-old and able to talk clearly, she asked me why Daddy hated her. I was surprised and asked her why she thought that. She said he punished her all the time for hugging me and talking to me too much, or "because Mommy loves me more than him." Needless to say, I was freaked out.


I confronted James with Jill in the room, and he crazily lunged for her neck. I grabbed her, packed my bags and we left. I have not spoken to James since that night. Our lawyers are handling everything.

My question is, how could a man who wanted a child so much do this to our little girl? How do I deal with the guilt of knowing I could have stopped the abuse earlier if I had only paid more attention? — Kicking Myself

DEAR KICKING: It is difficult to believe the person you married could hurt your child, which is why many parents are in complete denial when confronted with signs of abuse. It serves no purpose for you to wallow in guilt over the past. What’s important now is providing Jill with a safe environment and seeing that she gets counseling to deal with the repercussions of the abuse, as well as the separation from a father from whom, despite everything, she may still want love and approval.

DEAR ANNIE: I am an 18-year-old girl and have had a lump in my left breast, near the armpit, for about eight months. It doesn’t hurt, but it’s there all the time — it doesn’t come and go with my menstrual cycle.

I talked to my doctor about it six months ago and she said not to worry. I’ve read a lot of stuff online that says my chances of having breast cancer are pretty slim and it’s not unusual to have lumps, but I’m still worried. I don’t want to upset my mom by telling her about it. So, should I be concerned? — Unsure

DEAR UNSURE: Lumps in or near the breast are fairly common and most are not cancerous. Your doctor probably prefers to keep an eye on it rather than have you submit to an invasive procedure like a biopsy, although it wouldn’t hurt to get a second opinion if it will put your mind at ease. You should do regular self-exams, and if you notice any change, notify your doctor immediately. You won’t upset your mom by telling her. In fact, she may have some family history information that could prove useful and, hopefully, reassuring.

DEAR ANNIE: I worked in food service for over 20 years and have some advice for "Disgruntled in Denver" and other potential diners who arrive with a large party and expect to be seated promptly.

If you number more than four and are under time constraints, it’s a good idea to make reservations or at least call ahead to see if the establishment can accommodate you. A little planning and common sense can leave you with nothing to gripe about but the food. — Former Waiter


DEAR WAITER: This is true, although not everyone has the foresight to make a reservation for a last-minute bite after another engagement. "Disgruntled" was willing to wait 30 minutes, but should have been warned that the slow turnover might increase the delay.

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.

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