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Abuse doesn’t stay at the same level; it can escalate

Dear Abby: How can I help a friend who needs to stand up for herself and file for divorce? Her husband is in a high-profile job that’s connected with hers. He has been having an affair with a co-worker for years, and he is verbally and sometimes physically abusive. She has called the police twice, but didn’t press charges.

Friends are running out of sympathy, but don’t know how to help her. Is it wrong to report his behavior to his employer even though he might get fired because of it?

– Needs To Stand Up

Dear Needs To Stand Up: As your friend may probably be already aware, abuse doesn’t stay at the same level. It can escalate from verbal abuse to pushing and slapping to serious physical harm and sometimes even death. That’s why this woman’s friends should assure her they stand with her, and try to convince her to contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline (800-799-7233; and arrange a safe and effective escape plan. Trained advocates at the hotline have told me that not every caller will leave after the first – or even the second – episode of violence, but at least she will know what she needs to do.

If she comes to you injured, get her to an emergency room for treatment and so that her wounds can be photographed. If she shows up at work with bruises, it’s time to talk to human resources to see if you can get her some help, but I would not advise contacting her husband’s employer.

Small town, small minds?

Dear Abby: I’m a happily married gay man living in metro Atlanta. My 50th high school reunion is approaching and I want to take my husband. The reunion is being held in a small rural town in the Midwest. Of course, I haven’t lived there in 50 years, but I go there occasionally for family events.

I come from a large family, lots of brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, and grandnieces and grandnephews, many of whom still live in my hometown. I don’t know if all of them know about my situation and I’m not that concerned, but I am concerned about small-town gossip that can be mean-spirited. I wouldn’t want anyone to be hurt.

I know my relatives interact professionally and personally with some of my classmates and their descendants. Am I being overly concerned, or should I just go and let the chips fall where they may? That’s the thing about coming out as gay – it’s an ongoing process, even at my age.

– Gay Graduate in Georgia

Dear Gay Graduate: Go to the reunion, take your husband and have a good time. If anyone has a problem with the fact that you are homosexual and married, do not make it your problem. We can’t control what someone might say behind our backs. But whatever is said is a reflection on the speaker – not us or our relatives. Because people live in small towns does not mean they are all small-minded.