Her choice of abusive men hurts family

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Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

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DEAR AMY: I have a sister-in-law who in many areas of her life is outstanding, except for her choice of men. She was recently beaten up by her boyfriend, who broke her clavicle. Six weeks later, it has come to light that she has gone on a weekend trip to the beach with the abusive boyfriend. This isn't the first time the family has endured this cycle with her and other boyfriends. My wife (her sister) wants to cut her off from our children, and my brother-in-law is barring her from his wedding. Should we sever ties with her -- or stand by and let it play out?Frustrated in Portland

DEAR FRUSTRATED: The reality of severing family ties is that your sister-in-law will have no support to make the extreme changes she needs to make to leave this violent relationship.

I can understand why your wife doesn't want the kids to be embroiled in this extreme drama, but the flip side is that relating to these children may provide an inspiration or incentive toward change. I also can understand why your sister-in-law's violent partner would be barred from a wedding, but I wonder about the decision to exclude her.

Urge her to get professional help. Give her the name and number of a local therapist, as well as the National Domestic Violence Hotline, thehotline.org, 800-799-SAFE. Don't abandon her, but know you can't rescue her either. She must take the steps to rescue herself.

DEAR AMY: I am 21. Before I went to college, my parents told me that if I moved home after college, I would be asked to pay rent. Since I was going to be paying rent anyway, I got my own place -- very modest and with roommates. I urge parents to tell their children this. It pushes them to become independent. I see my friends who stay home indefinitely, and it is not doing them any favors in terms of motivation.

Happy Renter