DEAR ABBY: I have always tried to be a compassionate person. I have experienced a lot of abuse, and I'm sensitive to others who go through it. A man across the street from me has been arrested three times in the last six months for domestic abuse. I rarely see a woman there, so I don't know if the victim is a woman or a child. I moved into the neighborhood only six months ago. My elderly mother lives here with me.
I'm torn about what to do. My heart says I should reach out to the people who live there and make friends with them. My head says stay out of their business because I don't need the drama.
How do we as a society not turn a blind eye to abuse in our neighborhoods and still protect ourselves and loved ones? I don't want to put my mother or myself in jeopardy, but I don't want the person/people in that house to think they are alone. -- NO MORE IN TEXAS
DEAR NO MORE: While I applaud you for being so caring, for your own safety, I caution you to proceed very slowly in getting to know these people. Some communities provide anonymous tip lines so citizens can report a crime without endangering themselves or their families. The best thing you can do is to keep your eyes open and if something is happening, call the police and report it. If it involves a child, contact child protective services.
DEAR ABBY: My parents and I were always close. However, recently they stole my debit card, my PIN and child support check. They forged my signature and spent the entire check, which was more than $1,000.
I am always lending them money. I have never said no when they needed it. To top it off, they lied to me about the check for an entire month. I only found out when I turned the fraud in to the bank and heard it was my parents who had committed it.
Now my account is frozen and I am wiped out. I have two kids and one on the way, and recently I lost my job. My mother keeps trying to make me feel guilty for turning them in and doesn't understand why I am mad. I am having trouble forgiving them. I am just so angry. Should I forgive them, or do I have the right to be mad? -- FORGIVE OR FORGET IN MICHIGAN
DEAR FORGIVE OR FORGET: One of the hallmarks of abusers is that they try to make their victims think the abuse was in some way their own fault. Your mother fully understands why you are angry. You must not allow her to make you feel guilty.
Your parents stole from you and their grandchildren. They appear to have no conscience. Now you know what they are capable of, it is important that you keep your distance from them, or they'll do it again.
DEAR ABBY: Can an atheist be a godparent? -- WONDERING IN WISCONSIN
DEAR WONDERING: Yes. Today, the word "godparent" does not always have explicitly religious overtones. A godparent can be anyone the parents trust to take care of their child in the event of the parents' deaths. However, the potential godparents and the child's parents should discuss this in detail before any decision is made about conferring such an honor and responsibility.
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