Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Abuser must see the light

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DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: I overheard a terrible thing happen when I was at a barbecue with a couple who are our best friends. We were outside when they got into a serious argument. They went in the house to continue it in the bedroom and I heard him yell at her and the sound of a hard slap. Then nothing, and then sobbing as someone quickly cranked the window shut. A while later he came back out in the yard with a beer in his hand and acted like nothing had happened. He said his wife (my girlfriend) had a headache and wouldn't be coming back out, but we could stay on if we wanted to. I said I had to go to the bathroom and pushed by him into the house. Her nose was bleeding and she had a red handprint on her face. She was sobbing, but trying to stifle it in case he came back. I told her I was going to phone the police and she begged me not to or he'd beat her worse. I had no idea this was going on. I asked her to come with us but she wouldn't. She won't take my phone calls now. Probably he won't let her. Should I call her at her work or just go there? What can I do to help her? -- Totally Shocked

Dear Shocked: Ask her to call Osborne House just to talk to one of the counsellors there anonymously. People (both men and women) in her situation often feel trapped, whether it is the case or not. They need to talk to people who have been through it, gotten out of it. Then it can be the beginning of the end. Give her their counselling line verbally (942-7373) and on a piece of paper. Say it several times in the conversation, as it's an easy number and she might internalize it and memorize it, even if she rejects the idea at first. Report the situation to her family. Make sure this isn't an ugly little secret she's keeping for her abuser. That just allows him to isolate her and do more bad things to her. Abuse grows in the dark and bullies like this guy have a harder time operating when have a light shining on them from friends and family. I once went to a dad's office and reported abuse to his daughter (my good friend). Risk being unpopular; don't look the other way.

Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: My parents went away to the States for the weekend. I came home sick from swimming and discovered my sister in my room going through my private stuff. I yelled, "What the hell do you think you're doing in my drawers?" Then she said the weirdest thing: "Looking for drugs. Mom thinks you're doing drugs and I was checking." I looked at her in disbelief. I am the goody-goody in the family; she is the bad one. I screamed, "Get out of my room!" and she ran out because I was boiling mad and shaking. I waited until she left the house and went to Canadian Tire for a doorknob with a key and got my boyfriend to put it in before the folks got back from their trip. Now my parents are home and want it removed "in case there was a fire and they had to get me out." But I am kicking up a fuss. I don't feel I have privacy anymore. What should I do? -- Lock and Key, Wpg.

Dear Lock: You parents' worry is understandable -- unless you give them a key. No matter what, you should lock up everything that's dear to you in a box with a key and hide that one. What needs to happen is for your parents to get to the bottom of what your sister was doing. She needs to learn some (verbal) lessons in respecting privacy before she goes out in the world and has roommates and a partner. Being known as a snoop leads to general mistrust. She needs a parent to explain this stuff to her before she loses people close to her, like you, for good. She really needs to apologize to you so you can see she's sorry -- if she is -- and won't do it again.

Dear Miss Lonelyhearts; I keyed my neighbour's car because I hate him. He keyed mine back the next day. Neither of us has gone to MPI in a month so I guess we're not stupid enough to do that. We both look at each other and glare if we meet in the parking lot of the apartment. Is it safe to get my friend to fix the key mark in my car? His is not fixed and he might just do it again. -- Bad Vibes, Downtown

Dear Bad: Move away from this neighbour as fast as you can. You're in an apartment, so get a sublet and another place. You two have bad blood and that's not going to change, plus you're both very immature people. Once you have moved, get your car fixed because he can't see it and won't feel he has to even the score again. Look, keying a person's car is just plain stupid. It's against the law and doesn't resolve any problems. Plus it earned your vehicle an identical scratch. If you can't talk about the problems between you, and don't care about fixing them as you're not family or friends, just get away from him, rather than getting into trouble over a stranger you dislike.

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Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 18, 2011 G9

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