DEAR ABBY: You printed a letter from a woman who signed herself "Living a Nightmare," who had been a victim of domestic violence dating back to her honeymoon. You provided her with some solid advice; however, some information was missing from your reply that would benefit all women involved in violent relationships.
Victims of domestic violence need to be made aware that their abusive spouses are breaking the law. Domestic violence is a crime, and it should be reported to the proper authorities. "Living a Nightmare's" husband has already broken her nose, her wrist, her shoulder, and caused a miscarriage by kicking her when she was four months pregnant. In her case, calling the police is long overdue.
In addition to ordering the booklet you recommended, women should know that help is a phone call away. Confidential assistance is available 24 hours a day through domestic violence hotlines throughout the country. I suggest getting started by calling 1-800-799-SAFE, a nationwide toll-free hotline that can provide immediate help and connect women with the resources nearest them.
Those in violent relationships also need to understand that an entire generation of children are at risk, because domestic violence is a learned behavior that's passed along to the next generation. Research shows that in homes where a father is physically abusing his spouse, the children are more likely to grow up to participate in violent relationships themselves. This should be of great interest to "Living a Nightmare," as she already recognizes that the home lives of her children are "terrible." If she understands that her children are likely to repeat the pattern themselves, I'm sure she'll want to call for help at once.
Abby, please print this to make "Living a Nightmare," and everyone in a similar situation, aware of these facts. Last year I was fortunate enough to become involved in a public awareness campaign to generate awareness of, and put an end to, domestic violence. If it helps just one woman, we will have accomplished a great deal. -- SCOTT A. LYNCH, HALES CORNERS, WIS.
DEAR SCOTT: I hope it does, because I have been told that the problem has reached epidemic proportions in this country. Domestic violence cuts across all social, economic, educational, religious, ethnic and cultural lines, and there are no stereotypical perpetrators or victims. I have received letters concerning women who physically abuse their boyfriends and husbands, and domestic violence also occurs in same-sex unions.
When people hear about a physically abusive relationship, the first question they usually ask is, "Why doesn't she leave?" Only when people start asking, "Why is he using violence?" will we be able to end the problem.