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by Abigail Van Buren

Friends Are Stymied on How to Help Wife in Bad Marriage

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.

Read more in: Marriage & Divorce | Friends & Neighbors | Abuse | Health & Safety