DEAR AMY: My husband is a very well-known and admired member of our small community. What people don't know is that he is physically and mentally abusive. My children are grown and gone and I am trapped in this relationship. I have kept my mouth shut and slept alone for many years. He calls me stupid (when I have a graduate degree and he never graduated high school). He hits me and tells me I provoked it. If I leave he will always come out looking like the good guy because I have never told anyone about the abuse. I'm feeling so sad and lonely and know I deserve love, but have no idea how to find it.
Grateful for a Response
DEAR GRATEFUL: You need to leave this relationship. How people view your husband is completely out of your control. It's time to stop thinking about him and start thinking about yourself, and to value your own emotional and physical safety by leaving.
If there is a trusted family member or friend you can rely on for help, you should reach out, tell your story, and ask for support to leave the marriage.
Gather all of your important documents together (checkbook, passport, birth certificate, financial records) and put them in a safe spot -- perhaps in your car. If your computer use is monitored, go to your local public library to research resources and shelters.
Find a place to go to that is safe and secure -- domesticshelters.org is a very helpful website that lists hundreds of shelters around the country. The National Domestic Violence Hotline offers phone counseling 24/7 and online live chats during the day: 800-799-7233 (thehotline.org).
You will need legal advice to protect yourself and your assets. If you cannot afford a lawyer, shelter workers can direct you.
I hope your children will rejoice and be supportive to you when you leave (you should assume they are aware of at least some of this mistreatment), but remember that you must take care of yourself, regardless of how others react.
DEAR AMY: My mother, who lives across the country, wants to take a road trip to Idaho to see my brother and his family (and especially her new great-grandson). I am anxious to take the road trip with her and am looking forward to some one-on-one time with her. It is a 12- to 14-hour trip. We enjoy each other's company and have been planning a leisurely trip, shopping and stopping at sights along the way. My uncle (Mom's brother) heard about us going and has invited himself to join us. He is exhausting. He talks nonstop -- seriously you cannot get a word in. He came for dinner earlier this week and we were both completely exhausted when he left. He also does not ever offer to pay for his meals, gasoline or lodging. The thought of being in a car with him for 12 to 14 hours is more than I can stand. Neither my mom nor I want to hurt his feelings, but we just wanted a nice time together and neither of us knows how to tell him we would rather go alone. Any suggestions?
Road Trip Blues
DEAR BLUES:I do have a suggestion. It's called saying "no." Here's how you do it. You (not your mother) call your uncle and say, "So sorry, Uncle, but Mom and I have discussed it and we have decided to take this trip by ourselves. We had planned it as a 'girls' getaway' and we're going to follow through with our original plan. You understand that, right?" He may bluster a bit but your decision is final and he will have to find a way to accept it.
You will "high-five" yourself in your kitchen the minute you are able to do this.DEAR AMY:I was pretty taken aback by the letter from "Confused," who kept referring to his stepson's partner as a "cougar." This man should understand that as parents, they should make the choice to accept (if not "love") the person their child loves. It's pretty simple.
DEAR PARENT: I agree. Thank you.