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Dear Dr. Romance: I feel my sister's life is in danger

Posted Aug 01 2013 12:00am

Dear Dr. Romance :

I recently stumbled upon your article "Friends in Need: Interventions for Domestic Violence." The information you provided resounded heartily with me. Last fall my brother in law discharged a weapon DIRECTLY NEXT to my sisters head. She was 8 months pregnant at the time. The following weekend he disposed of the old tub box and had a brand new one installed, mud and taped and painted, covering the damage that he had done.

I found out this is not the first time he has hurt my sister. He has slammed her up against walls leaving giant Sheetrock holes. She has had bruising on her face ( to what extent I don't know). They now have 3 boys under the age of 5. She would not leave him. She recently (in the past week) found out that he has been cheating on her for the past 2 years and has been unfaithful since they were engaged. Her new baby is less than a month old. She STILL wont leave and is frankly living in some alternative reality.

I must also mention that she has had suicidal thoughts in the past. I must also say that she is a medical professional... educated, smart and beautiful woman. Most information about domestic violence says to support, but not overstep boundaries, but I feel like we are past that. He has demonstrated that he can be lethal. Is it reasonable that I consider intervening in a more direct way? If I believe that her life or her children's life is in danger? Any response would be appreciated. 

Dear Reader: Please call the Domestic Violence Hotline   (800-799-SAFE) or your local Child Abuse Hotline. Violence toward a spouse is also considered abusive toward the children. Child protective services will come to the home, and if they find any evidence of abuse or violence (It's important to tell them what you know) they will take the children and not allow your sister to have them until she agrees to refuse to let her husband in the house. I know this is drastic, but if it saves the lives of her and her children, it's worth it.

She probably has Battered Wives' Syndrome, and feels incapable of handling life on her own. Abusers systematically undermine their victims until even intelligent and seemingly self-sufficient people feel incapacitated. Your sister won't like your interference. "How to Keep Yourself Out of a Violent Relationship"  has information that may be helpful for your sister.   The Domestic Violence Hotline will give you more information for help in your area. Please don't let this go on. Your sister is incapable of helping herself.   It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction  will help you understand the underlying psychology of this problem.

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