Dear Amy: My closest friend from college is 65 years old. We talk on the phone regularly.
He related a serious incident to me yesterday about his wife (of 35 years) physically attacking him.
She punched him in the head and split his lip with an ashtray. He fell to the floor, and she continued punching and kicking him, bruising him in several places.
I tried to encourage him to leave, but he won’t. He plans on staying in a completely loveless, and now violent, relationship.
I don’t know what my next step should be. He got angry when I mentioned that I would call his son. However, what if I don’t do anything and this behavior escalates?
— Concerned Friend
Dear Friend: The National Domestic Violence Hotline (thehotline.org) quotes an alarming statistic: One in seven men in the U.S. age 18 and over has been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in his lifetime. Male victims of IPV (intimate partner violence) are often reluctant to involve the police because of a perceived bias toward female victims (and the fear that the man will be arrested, even if he is the injured party).
Your friend told you about his abuse, which is an important step. Keep talking and continue to be concerned and supportive. Instead of urging him to leave the marriage, ask if he would come to visit you (if possible).
Helpguide.org has extremely helpful information and resources specifically for male victims of domestic violence. Share this with your friend. In terms of reaching out to his son, you will have to decide if this would further isolate him. His injuries, however, are alarming, and I believe the son should be told.
Dear Amy: My father is 87 years old.
My mother died when I was a teenager. Dad met a great woman almost 20 years ago and moved a couple of states away to be with her.
My brother and sister have both lost contact with him, but Dad and I talk every week on the phone, and I visit once or twice a year.
He has been battling cancer for years, but now the cancer has spread, and he is no longer receiving any medical treatment. He is very weak and not able to talk on the phone for more than a minute or two.
My husband and I made plans to drive several hours to see him.
Initially this plan seemed fine, but a few days later I got an email from his lady friend. She said that he didn’t want to see me. He knew it would be the last time, and he couldn’t handle saying goodbye.
He wanted me to remember him the way he was the last time I saw him.
She just doesn’t want to put him through the emotional upheaval.
Deep down I understand my father, and know that I would probably feel the same way.
Everyone is telling me that I will regret it if I don’t go.
What should I do?
— Sad and Confused
Dear Sad: People who are near the end of their lives sometimes withdraw from even close friends and family members.
I have experienced this with family members, and understand that it is painful to be on the receiving end of this sort of decision.
Shoot a video of yourself and send it to your father’s partner so she can show it to him. Tell him how much you love him, share some happy or funny memories, and express your gratitude to him.
Yes, you should also travel to where you father lives (do not ask to stay in their home). Tell his partner that you understand that he doesn’t want to see you, but that you want to be nearby.
Do not sweep in and make this last period of your father’s life about you and your needs. In being present, mindful, respectful, and helpful, you will find that some of your own needs will be met, and yes, you will have fewer regrets.
Dear Amy: No, no, no! Your response to "Rightful Owner" was so off base. This man’s wife basically commandeered the family car to take her daughter-in-law and her kids to the airport, when the DIL had a perfectly good car of her own.
Yet another example of male bias.
Dear Disgusted: What I objected to was the way he responded to this challenge, which was to take off in the car on the day of the trip, leaving others to scramble. I thought his behavior was cowardly.