Dear Abby: I have been married to "Ken" for 10 years. He is a successful business owner. It has been a struggle to stay married to him because he has control issues and when he doesn't get his way, he begins a verbal assault on his victim -- usually me. He has no friends because he runs them off, claiming they did him wrong (not true), and his employees don't like him and talk badly about him behind his back. They stay because he pays well. He uses his money to control people.

I love Ken, and life can be normal at times, but once he thinks I'm getting out from under his thumb, his destructive behavior begins. He treats me like his worst enemy. The pain is becoming unbearable. One minute he tells me he loves me, and the next he is punishing me for not coming home from the store on time.

I researched online and learned he has many of the traits of a narcissist. It scares me because he doesn't know he has a problem. He thinks the rest of the world is messed up instead of him.

How can I approach him in a way that won't send him over the edge? When I say anything to him he thinks is an attack, he comes back at me viciously. I don't know whether to stay, hoping he'll see the light one day, or get out before I'm emotionally damaged beyond repair. -- BROKEN IN TEXAS

Dear Broken: Your husband may have a personality disorder, but YOU are a victim of emotional and financial abuse. Much as you might want to, you can't "fix" him because he appears to be comfortably in denial about having a problem. It is important, however, that you get some help for yourself.

Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline and talk to someone there about what has been going on (thehotline.org, 800-799-7233). They can help you formulate a safe plan of escape, should you need one.

Next, consult a lawyer about what your rights are as a wife in the great state of Texas. If you can find out what the marital assets are, do that as well -- but do it quietly, because if your husband realizes, he will likely try to move/hide them or retaliate to get you back under his control. I don't have to tell you how unhealthy his behavior is, but it may take your leaving to make him take a look at himself.

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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