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Annie’s Mailbox: Domestic violence complex issue

THURSDAY, SEPT. 24, 2009

Dear Annie: A young co-worker came into the office last week with a horrible black eye. Her boyfriend had punched her in front of her young children and some of her friends. She spent the entire workday worrying about the safety of her children and reading abusive text messages from the boyfriend. I spent the day doing her share of the work and wondering what I would do if the boyfriend showed up. She told me the friends called the police, and they were looking for him.

That day, my co-worker vowed to never see the guy again, but they got back together. What I’m wondering, Annie, is if you can help me deal with this girl. I know domestic violence is a complicated issue, but this seems black and white to me. She’s in danger, and her children, even if they aren’t in physical danger, are learning some twisted lessons. Any advice? – Disgusted

Dear Disgusted: Those “complications” you mention can include the victim believing she deserves the treatment she is getting, thinking the boyfriend is the only one who will ever love her, and worrying that he may try to kill her if she leaves. You cannot “rescue” this co-worker, but if you truly want to help, let her know she and her children deserve better, and encourage her to call the Domestic Violence Hotline (800-799-SAFE) (800-799-7233). We hope she will.

Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Dreamer,” whose husband is infatuated with a co-worker.

Eight years ago, our neighbor told my husband she was afraid of me. I couldn’t figure it out because I was always nice to her. But if I said anything detrimental about her to my husband, he would defend her.

It turned out the two of them were having a full-blown affair. “Dreamer” might believe her husband is faithful, but she should look more closely. I have been divorced for more than seven years and enjoy my life completely. My husband married the neighbor, and now all he does is complain about her. – The Ex

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