DEAR ABBY: A couple of years ago, I was arrested for domestic violence against my wife. We are still married, but since then, I have become antisocial.
I don't like to go to public gatherings where I know the friends we used to hang out with will be, and I rarely communicate with them. I am extremely embarrassed and feel they are judging me. What do I do? -- ANTISOCIAL IN OHIO
DEAR ANTISOCIAL: Stop hiding. You aren't "antisocial"; you are ashamed of what you did -- and that's a good thing. Many abusers lack that capacity, and because of it they are unable to change their behavior.
I assume that after your arrest, you received counseling and have been able to find outlets other than violence for your frustrations. If you have, let your friends know about it. True friends won't judge you -- and people who do are not friends.
DEAR ABBY: During a conversation with my daughter "Jessica," who is a graduate student, I mentioned that one of her teenage cousins who attends a nearby university is getting poor grades. Jessica replied that she wasn't surprised. She said she knows her cousin drinks and parties a lot. Jessica went on to say that "Kristin" asked her to buy liquor for her once, but she refused.
My daughter asked me not to tell my brother and sister-in-law what she said because she felt it would be betraying a confidence. I'm unsure what to do. On one hand, I know underage drinking is common. On the other, I would feel horrible if anything bad happened as a result of my silence. Should I tip them off or keep my mouth shut? -- TORN IN IDAHO
DEAR TORN: "Kristin" appears to be immature, and her priorities are misplaced. Her grades might improve if she lived with her parents while taking classes until her judgment improves.
Ask yourself this: If the situation were reversed and the girl with the problem were your daughter, wouldn't you want to be told? If the answer is yes, then notify your brother and sister-in-law.
DEAR ABBY: I don't know what to do about my mother-in-law's unwelcome involvement in my home. She goes behind my back to rearrange furniture, buy decor "gifts" and take care of chores (often making things worse). Yesterday, I came home to find my dishes and silverware had been moved, new rugs and pillows in my living room, and my bedroom nightstand had been replaced!
I have asked her to please talk with me first, and have asked her to stop altogether. My husband stands with me, but she keeps doing it. I don't want to ban her from our home; my husband is her only child. Is there anything else we can do? -- HURT IN SANTA ANA
DEAR HURT: Your mother-in-law isn't trying to be helpful; she's trying to be the dominant female in your home. Stop "asking" and tell her to quit the accessorizing and rearranging because her efforts are not helpful and they are making you angry. Then collect the pillows, the nightstand, etc., and return them to her or donate them to a thrift shop. If she has a key to your house, get it back. She should also not be allowed in your house unless she's supervised.
A NOTE TO PARENTS OF YOUNG CHILDREN: Tonight is the night when wee witches and goblins collect their loot. Please supervise them so they'll be safe. -- Love, ABBY
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