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Section: abuse, health-and-wellness, relationships, marriage, mental-health

Dear Ann Landers,
You printed a letter from a woman whose husband beat her up on the street in front of their house. She wanted to know why no one came to her aid when she screamed for help. Well, there are two sides to every story. I have a neighbor who has been beaten up and seriously injured by the man she lives with, and I no longer call the police. The first time I heard her screaming, I almost broke my neck getting to the phone to call for help. Then, I knocked on her door, thinking my presence might prevent the situation from escalating. After the police came, she told them she didn't want to press charges, and that was the end of it. The second time, I heard screaming and breaking glass, and I again called the police. They arrested the man and took my neighbor to the hospital, where she had her jaw rewired and several stitches on her forehead. She refused to press charges. The next morning, her "live-in" was back in the house. That very night, he threw her down the outside concrete steps (all 15 of them), and I called the police. The woman spent several weeks in the hospital with both legs in casts. Guess what. Her live-in picked her up from the hospital and brought her home. As soon as the casts were off, he beat her up again. Now when she screams, I turn up the TV. The police are tired of coming, and I am tired of calling them. This woman needs help, but the police aren't the answer. Several neighbors have suggested that she get some counseling, but she insists that her boyfriend loves her and has promised it's going to get better. It's been nearly five years since I moved here. They are still together, and he is still beating her up. I am minding my own business. -- Gave Up in Pennsylvania

Dear Penn.,
In most cases of domestic abuse, alcohol or drugs play a big part. It's difficult to help people who refuse to help themselves, but please don't give up. Intervention by neighbors can save lives. I will continue to recommend it.

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A Note from Margo:
Hi! It's Margo here. I'd love to know what you think of the letters -- and the answers!

Also, any additional thoughts you might have. Thanks!

Reader Comment
Ann Landers: Yes, alcohol and drug abuse does play a big part in domestic violence situations. If you "continue to recommend that neighbors intervene" in these volatile situations, you are potentially endangering the lives of innocent people and telling them to be responsible for adult people who refuse to be responsible for themselves. It isn't "difficult to help people who refuse to help themselves." It is IMPOSSIBLE to help people who refuse to help themselves. If the police's attempts to help have all been in vain, and the victim is still willing to be abused, it is INDEED time for the neighbor(s) to quit getting involved.

Sally's Comment
The cycle of abuse is hard to break. This woman likely grew up being abused as a child, or watched her mother being abused in the same way. She probably believes she deserves it, and this is what love should be like. This is an extremely complicated and difficult situation. This isn’t “people refusing to help themselves”. This woman may also be fearing for her life if she does not take him back. There’s an awful lot of victim blaming going on, and I’m surprised Ann didn’t speak up more for this woman. I’m not necessarily saying Gave Up should personally intervene to fix this woman’s situation, but it is awfully hard-hearted to refuse to call 911 when you hear someone in physical danger. It’s almost like he is saying she doesn’t deserve intervention, because she hasn’t been able to break free. His calls could literally mean the difference between life and death for this woman. Every time he calls, he is giving her another chance. This is also another example of why we need more social workers and counselors involved in policing. In the short term, even if the police feel “tired“ I’m going to the house, that doesn’t mean they should stop going. This is how people fall through the cracks.

Reader Comment
My brother was a police officer who dealt with women and men like these. He told me it ended in murder in many cases, and although he was an idealistic man when he started his job, he ended up saying he PREFERRED to deal with the murders because then he would k is he wouldn’t be having to this one anymore. He said they also didn’t press charges and when charges were brought anyway, the women would defend their abusers and tell the court the police committed brutality against her “baby.” Some women are stupid and desperate.

Reader Comment
When are you going to stop printing that idiot "Jennifer Sanchez" comment about her Dr. Odunga. Enough already! Jennifer-put this on your Face Book page because it doesn't belong here, you dip-SH*T! Your ex husband will undoubtedly leave you again, you idiot!

CSC's Comment
My older brother beat me for nineteen years. Mother started with the, "Oh, all brothers and sisters fight." excuse. That sufficed until he got into his teens. Mother then progressed to, "You can't let your poor brother go to jail. If he does to anyone else what he does to you, he'll go to jail. If you tell anyone or try to get help, I'll tell the police that you attacked him. They'll believe me and not you. You'll be the one who goes to jail!" I stopped it by dating a Marine Corps weightlifter who scared my brother. Once Mom died, I changed my name, moved, and have not seen my brother in 47 years.
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Our Reader to Reader Question of the Week:

Dear Readers,
, whatever they needed I provided. What really hurt my son and I the most was the obituary - we were not mentioned at all. Our friends (mine and hers) were appalled. I was embarrassed and upset for not just me, but for my son-who loved her also. I never been so upset. Her x-husband put his wife and kids and their grandchildren in the obituary, who my girlfriend barely knew. They live an hour away from us. I know its silly to be mad over a little section of the newspaper, but it still hurts. Will time let this devastating loss of her and this article ever go away? I am so angry at this whole situation, its not like we can go and rewrite an obituary notice.

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"Nobody gets to live life backward. Look ahead, that is where your future lies."
-Ann Landers