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Dear Harriette by Harriette Cole
DEAR HARRIETTE: My friend was a little tipsy the other night and confessed to me that her current boyfriend has gotten violent with her in the past. She assured me that it happened only one time and that it was minor, but I’m furious. A man should never put his hands on a woman under any circumstances. She said that if I repeated what she told me, she would never forgive me. I don’t think that I have probable cause to report her boyfriend to the police. I genuinely don’t know what to do. My friend will absolutely not break up with him. I’m feeling helpless and scared for what’s to come. What should my next step be? — Scared for My Friend
DEAR SCARED FOR MY FRIEND: It’s good that your friend disclosed this frightening information to you. At least she has opened a door to communicating about her pain. As hard as it will be, you should not attempt to intervene. Instead, do your best to be a supportive friend to her. Avoid bad- mouthing her boyfriend, though you shouldn’t praise him either. Whenever you have an opportunity, encourage her to do things that will build her self- esteem. Talk to her about her hopes and dreams for her life and what strategy she wants to develop to reach them.
According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 800-799-SAFE, you can help your friend by pointing to resources. You can suggest that you will take her to see an attorney or a women’s shelter. You can point her toward making a “safety plan,” which can help her to escape to safety if she needs it. For more information, go to thehotline.org/support- others/ways-to-support.
DEAR HARRIETTE: When I graduated from high school, my dad and stepmother threw me a graduation party at their house. My mother and stepmom never had the best relationship, but they put their differences aside to celebrate my special day. Four years later, I am about to graduate from college, and my mom has decided to throw me a graduation party herself. She did not invite my stepmother to the celebration. I think it’s wrong that she wouldn’t invite my stepmother, but the celebration was going to be exclusively for my mother’s side of the family, so it does make a little bit of sense. My father told my mother that he isn’t going if my stepmom can’t go. What should I do? — Mom Vs. Stepmom
DEAR MOM VS. STEP- MOM: Talk to your mother face-to-face. Thank her for wanting to create a special event to celebrate this momentous time in your life. Especially now, when people are just coming out to physically be together, this party means so much to you. And it is hurting you, your father and your stepmom that she is being excluded. Point out that this woman is family now. Tell your mother that you want your father to come to your celebration and he, naturally, wants his wife to attend. Ask her to put her personal feelings about this woman aside, as was done four years ago, so that your desire for both parents to be with you at your graduation party will be realized.
Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAM- LEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and acti- vate their dreams. You can send questions to askharri- [email protected] or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.