DEAR ABBY: I read your Jan. 8 column about the warning signs of an abuser. Would you use your influence to say that men are also victims of abuse?
My son was in a three-year relationship with a woman who scored 15 out of 15 on your list. We knew it was a toxic relationship, but he couldn't see that.
The night he came to us for help, battered and bloody, I finally took a stand. It took six months to get her out of his life. My son was ashamed to be a battered man, and she had told him that men who call 911 go to jail. It kept him from calling.
Please, Abby, help to change that. If you use this, please keep me anonymous. He thinks I'm an "interfering mom," but at least he's not being abused anymore. I love him and miss him terribly. -- INTERFERING MOM
DEAR MOM: I'm glad you wrote so I can emphasize that abusers can be members of both sexes, from every economic level and sexual orientation. I received a TON of mail about this:
DEAR ABBY: Thank you for including both "he and she" in the warning signs of abusers. My second marriage was a sad and unhealthy rebound affair. My ex was attractive, talented and host to multiple addictions -- risky sexual encounters with men and women, cocaine, alcohol and marijuana. I became aware of her blackouts and outrageous behavior just before our wedding.
I finally left after two years to avoid committing a crime in response to her physical abuse, chronic infidelities, psychological cruelty and pathological intoxication. Please urge men to report their abusers, file charges and flee bad situations! I had no way of knowing what lay ahead for me back then.
Do you have advice for other men contemplating marriage to a pretty party girl? Today I'm happily married to a deeply beautiful and noble woman, and grateful to have found her. -- SET FREE IN NORTH CAROLINA
DEAR SET FREE: I think you've stated it well. All I can add is that men who suffer physical abuse at the hands of a partner should go to an emergency room for treatment so their injuries can be documented, then file a formal complaint and end the relationship.
DEAR ABBY: Gay people need to read those warning signs because abusers abound in the gay community, too. I have gay and lesbian friends who were involved with abusers. Gay and lesbian centers offer counseling for this. LGBT people face the same problems as straights do. -- MIKE IN DAYTONA
DEAR ABBY: I spent four years in a relationship before I realized I was being abused. My lady friend pushed for a lifelong commitment within a month of our meeting, was jealous and controlling, shut my friends out, cursed and hit me on more than one occasion and, when I protested, she'd say she was "just trying to get my attention," or "I only got what I deserved." When I finally told her I was leaving, she threatened to kill me.
I have since learned that lots of men suffer psychological damage and physical danger from an abusive spouse or partner. Please inform your male readers they can get help from a skilled therapist or counselor by calling the Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men and Women at 888-7HELPLINE (888-743-5754) in the U.S. and Canada. The website is DAHMW.org. -- PROFESSIONAL MAN IN ATLANTA