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Section: grief-and-loss, abuse, manners

Dear Ann Landers,
I am writing about something that happened in our town not long ago. A woman was killed in her own home by her husband. The woman had neighbors who heard her scream for help, but they chose not to become involved. This will haunt them forever, knowing they might have saved her life and instead did nothing. I have been in a similar situation. I was out in the street one night, trying to get away from my abusive husband. He had knocked me down and was pounding my head into the pavement. I was screaming for help, but no one came. After he left me alone, a woman came out of her house and said she "hoped we had resolved our problems." Fortunately, I survived, and through Al-Anon, counseling and good friends, I finally got my life together. I know others who, like me, needed to be rescued but weren't because people "didn't want to get involved." People need to help one another. Even if they call 911 and it turns out to be a false alarm, so what? You never know when you might be saving a life. -- Santa Barbara, Calif.

Dear Santa Barbara,
There are times when MYOB is the best policy, but when someone is screaming for help is not one of those times. The next letter says it far better than anything I could come up with:

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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
In the event of overhearing a domestic dispute and cries for help, I would strongly discourage anyone from physically going outside of their home, or to another's home, to try to intervene. Instead, dial 9-1-1 and let the authorities handle what they are trained to do. Keep in mind that some cries for help are actually miscreants who are trying to lure a person outside to rob, rape or kill them. If the violent situation is real, an unprepared third party getting in the middle of it could escalate it rather than diffuse it. The "good Samaritan" could also face legal battles if the would-be abuser and victim decide to change their story and blame the third party as being the instigator and aggressor. That's the sad reality of today's world. Nothing is simple.

K's Comment
I have great empathy for the writer of the letter and it is awesome that she has gotten away from her abuser. She should know that yes, it would have been a good thing if the neighbors called the police but there may be a back story to this. How many times has this happened and the neighbors did call the police. How many times did the woman go back to the home? How often did the neighbors become targets of the abuser and often the abused for trying to help if only by calling 911? In a perfect world, a neighbor could call 911 and save the person being abused and that would resolve the issue, sadly we don't live in a perfect world.
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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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"Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don't recognize them."
-Ann Landers