Ask Amy Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

DEAR AMY: My family refuses to forgive my boyfriend for hitting me seven years ago. After this incident we went our separate ways, but after a lot of work we slowly came back together. My boyfriend and I have now been together for the past three years. He worked very hard to make changes and prove himself to me, but my family refuses to budge. We live a very happy life on our own and work very hard on our relationship, but when the holidays and family events occur, I am dragged back to that awful place I was in seven years ago. My family excludes him from events. They are not willing to take any steps to move forward. They don’t understand when I try to explain that by punishing him through exclusion, they are dragging me back and keeping me in the role of victim. I am 53 years old and the oldest of three sisters. Everyone came together while I was going through open heart surgery, but as soon as I was back on my feet, my family went back to judgment and refusing to forgive. My boyfriend supports me in whatever I decide to do, but I am getting tired of feeling like I have to leave myself outside the door when I attend family events without him. I miss my nieces and nephews, but my sisters do not want them associating with me. How can I get this stalemate to end?

No Victim

DEAR NO VICTIM: You probably can’t get this stalemate to end.

Your guy, however, should certainly try. You don’t mention that he has made any effort at all to bridge this gap with your family, which, after all, he created.

You make a profound point — that when your family continues to banish and punish him, you are thrust back into the role of being a victim.

However, you need to understand what a terrifying experience it is to have a loved-one ensconced in a violent and abusive relationship. It is truly traumatic for family members to be pulled through this particular knothole. Often there is a long period of escalating abuse before the final act — if that was the case with you and your guy, your family members would have had many reasons to despise his role in your life.

If he is back in your life as a full partner to you and if he truly wants to be supportive of you, then he should be brave enough to apologize for causing you and your family members so much pain. He should apologize and ask for forgiveness.

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DEAR AMY: I am very sad to confirm that my cleaning woman, who has been coming to my home for about 10 years, is taking items from my home. I thought it was happening, but I didn’t want to accuse her because I wasn’t sure. However, something occurred that proved that I was right. I asked her if she knew where she had put a specific utensil. She said she didn’t see it and she wasn’t sure what it was. The following time, another utensil reappeared that had disappeared a few weeks before. I believe this item is what she thought I was looking for. These things are inexpensive, $10 to $25. I really like her and don’t want to lose her. Can you give me any suggestions so I can let her know not to keep taking things and yet keep her cleaning my house?

Perplexed

DEAR PERPLEXED: You have already let your cleaner know that you are aware of missing items. If you are certain she is pilfering, beyond this incident, you should tell her, “I’m concerned that you are taking these things home with you. Maybe this is happening accidentally, but it needs to stop. I really like you and think you do a great job, but I also need to know that all of my belongings will stay in the house.”

DEAR AMY: I agree with “Disgusted,” who took you to task for saying parents shouldn’t spank their children. Spanking works, and you are an idiot not to realize it. I assume you don’t have children, otherwise you would know that your so-called “advice” flies out the window when you’re dealing with a bad kid.

Also Disgusted

DEAR ALSO: I have five children, all now adults. Spanking doesn’t work. If it did, the people who always advocate for it wouldn’t be so angry all the time.