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by Abigail Van Buren

Man Considers Reaching Out to Dangerous Former Friend

DEAR ABBY: I cut off contact with a friend I'll call "Mick" after my wife and I had our first child. He was a gambling addict, an alcoholic and a serial abuser of women. He was violent when he drank and once broke my nose because of some perceived slight.

Mick had a troubled childhood and then served in the Army in Afghanistan and Iraq. By the time he returned home, his mental health was extremely compromised, and I believe this is what led to most, if not all, of his issues and shortcomings.

I have always believed that, at heart, Mick is a good person. As someone who suffers from mental illness myself, I feel I can understand his issues on some level. I would like to reconnect with him, but I need to protect myself and my family, both emotionally and physically. How might I approach rekindling a relationship with Mick in a safe and reasonable way? -- MISSING A FRIEND

DEAR MISSING: Drop that idea. You are not a therapist, and you can't "fix" what's wrong with Mick. The man is a violent abuser, and you have no proof that he has sought counseling for his issues. Offering the hand of friendship to someone who broke your nose because he had been drinking could be dangerous for you and your family. Your first responsibility is their safety.

Read more in: Friends & Neighbors | Family & Parenting | Addiction | Mental Health | Health & Safety