My co-worker, 48, has been married for 27 years. Her husband, 72, emigrated here and helped bring her here. Her family remains overseas, and has little contact with her.
They have a daughter, 24, and a son, 21. Her husband’s controlling and has abused his family for many years.
His sister calls him regularly and my co-worker hears him saying that his wife treats him cruelly and has many boyfriends. None of this is true.
He’s abused her and their daughter emotionally, verbally, and mentally. When the children were young he was also physically abusive to both. They grew up terrified of him.
When a child couldn’t finish a meal, their mother would take the leftovers to work to dispose of them, as he searched the garbage and created trouble if he found uneaten food.
Their daughter now attends university on a scholarship. She’s not returned from school to visit and her mother isn’t allowed to visit her. Their son still lives at home and works part-time. His father calls him a “loser”.
They live in a new house, mortgage-free. But her husband, who doesn’t work, controls her earnings. She doesn’t drive, and is given only $10 each week.
She cooks and cleans everyday and isn’t allowed friends outside of work. He accompanies her grocery shopping weekly but she isn’t permitted to speak with anyone when out, not even a co-worker. She’s allowed a daily walk only if he accompanies her.
She can’t answer the home phone and isn’t allowed a cell phone.
She’s developed high blood pressure over the last couple of years.
Her husband often accuses her of having sex with men at her workplace, and of sneaking men into their house at night. If he hears a noise, he goes searching for “the men” with a baseball bat.
He’s placed chain locks on all the doors and carries the keys with him. She can’t go to the bathroom alone, he follows here there.
She sometimes shows up to work crying and shaking. She’s been kept up most of the night by his questioning her.
She’s a kind, caring woman who loves her children and needs help to get away from this man.
I’ve pleaded with her to seek help, speak to her doctor, speak with someone from a women’s shelter, or go to the police. I’ve known her for eight years and she’s asked me to send this letter.
Her husband’s paranoia is getting more out of control. I firmly believe he’s a serious threat to my co-worker.
She needs to make a safe plan to leave her husband, and know that her children will also be safe.
Help her do this, during her only time away from him, at work lunchtime and breaks.
Contact a woman’s shelter and go with her there to make confidential arrangements.
She must document that she’s kept like a prisoner at home, threatened, isolated, and abused. She’ll need this report for the police, whom she should contact immediately after she’s left him.
Once safe at the shelter, she should contact her daughter and reach her son at his job too, to say that they mustn’t go home to their father.
She also needs to contact a lawyer about her financial situation, since she’s likely entitled to get back some of her earnings and a portion of their marital assets like their house.
Readers: Email your suggestions to help this woman, to email@example.com and I’ll publish a selection.
My daughter-in-law gave a faux-hawk haircut to our grandson, eight. I was shocked. All of his head was buzz-cut except for a stiff three-inch patch from the middle of his head towards his forehead.
She’s been shaving our son's head for years. He says it's healthy for the scalp.
But a child’s at the mercy of a parent's choices. Our grandson says it's OK. He goes to a private school. It's been three years of this haircut.
Every time we see him my heart breaks. His father knows how I feel but says there are more important things to argue about.
I've always looked forward to spending time with our grandson but not when he looks like that.
I’m with your son on this one. It’s their child, and the school apparently doesn’t disapprove.
His classmates likely think he’s cool. Otherwise he’d balk at it.
Spend time with him. It’s only hair. Love and acceptance matter most.
Tip of the day:
Prepare a safe, confidential plan ahead, to leave an abusive relationship.