DEAR ABBY: Recently you printed a letter from "Bruised and Abused," a man who is dating a woman who becomes physically violent when they argue. I know this is a touchy subject. I have heard from authorities that about half of domestic violence occurs when a woman throws the first blow.

Most women believe, as the abusive girlfriend said, that her attack on him isn't violence because she's a woman and he is a man. As difficult as it may be, we need to talk about the role women play in the domestic-violence cycle as well as the responsibilities of men. I'm saving the letter from "Bruised" to remind me.

- Donald, A California Dentist

DEAR DONALD: Since I printed that letter I have heard from readers telling me my answer didn't go far enough. (I advised him to end the relationship.) Among those who wrote to me were doctors, members of law enforcement and mental-health specialists - as well as former victims:

DEAR ABBY: It doesn't matter if he is a boy and she is a girl, or that he is bigger and stronger. Women do abuse men. It's a crime that too often goes unreported. He should contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline 800-799-7233 or SAFE (Stop Abuse for Everyone) at www.safe4all.org.

- Claudia, Ph.D., Long Beach, Calif.