DEAR ABBY: Your recent references to the National Domestic Violence Hotline moved me very much. I have read Dear Abby for many years, and have seen many letters from women who say they can't leave their husbands or go to the police.
I was married last October. The only family I had left in the world attended -- my awesome older sister, "Karen," and her two kids, along with her husband, "Jack." After we returned from the honeymoon, Karen informed me that things had been heated and abusive with Jack for quite some time, so she was moving out. I was shocked. I loved her husband. Never in a million years would I have thought that of him. He seemed so laid-back -- but Karen was scared. She said he had threatened to kill her numerous times, but she didn't want to involve the police.
My wedding was the last time I ever saw or held my big sister.
On Nov. 11, Jack tied her up and shot her, then himself, killing both of them. There are no words to describe the hole I feel in my heart. My only family is gone, and at the hands of someone I never thought would be capable of violence.
Abby, PLEASE urge your readers who are caught up in abusive relationships not to end up like my sister. I know they are scared, but the police are there to protect them. I wish now that I had made Karen go to the police or called them myself. Instead, I'm left trying to explain to their kids how this could happen. Please, people, get help before it is too late. If she had, my sister would be here today and her children would not be motherless. -- GRIEVING IN TEXAS
DEAR GRIEVING: Please accept my most profound sympathy for the tragic and untimely loss of your sister. It's understandable that you are left wracking your brain for answers as to how this could have been averted.
However, I urge you not to torture yourself with "if onlys." Your sister's husband, the "laid-back" Jack, appears to have been a clever psychopath, and my experts tell me that the most dangerous time for victims of spousal abuse is when they announce they are leaving. That is why I urge these people, once they have made the decision to go, to contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline. (The number is (800) 799-7233. TTY: (800) 787-3224.) The people who work the hotline can help victims to formulate a safe plan of escape -- which, I'm sad to say, is sometimes absolutely necessary.
If you haven't already done so, I hope you will look into some professional counseling for your sister's children. The trauma of losing their parents will take time -- and work -- to process. You are all in my prayers.