Monday, March 31, 2008

Battered Husband

Dear Blackheart,

I’m afraid of my wife.

Last week I had to stay a few hours after work to do inventory (I work at a sporting goods store) and when I got home, my wife kicked my in balls so hard I couldn’t get up for half an hour, and while I lay there, she accused me of cheating on her and told me to call when I’m going to be home late. From other attacks I also have a chipped tooth, a nose that’s been broken twice, and not one, but two stab wounds.

I have tried going to the police, and they don’t take me seriously, because I’m a “bear” of a big guy. Guys laugh at me, they say I should be able to defend myself, but I can’t hurt my wife. Maybe there’s a non-violent way I could handle this. I love my wife, and I want her to stop this before she does something really bad.

Scared Husband,

Dear Scared Husband,

I’m shocked that your local police force laughed this off. You are a victim of one of the most dangerous abusers I’ve ever heard of. Just because you’re a man doesn’t mean your situation shouldn’t be treated just as seriously as an abused woman. Everybody has a right to freedom, and nobody should live in fear. Not even a sporty “bear” like yourself. People often think about abuse being about physical power only, and they tend not to account for the “power of love” that prevents you from running away or fighting back. Often for male and female victims of abuse the power is just as emotional, and men can be just as frightened as women. We’re a lot more similar than people give us credit for.

For now, I can offer you a link to an online community that I think might help you: S.A.F.E. for All, (Stop Abuse for Everyone), is an online community devoted to equal care and attention to all abuse victims, be they men, teens, the elderly, or members of the gay community, not merely the overcompensated for “battered women.” (Maybe that isn’t fair. There’s no overcompensation for abused women, but rather undercompensation for the other groups.)

The only other thing I can tell you is that you need to get out of there, now. I mean right now. Crash with a friend or a relative if you have to, somewhere she won’t come looking for you. Then call her or e-mail her and tell her you need space. I know it will be very hard for you, and that you love her and want to make this work, but if this woman stabbed you twice, realistically it’s only going to get worse.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Big Bad Bully

Dear Blackheart,

My son is ten, and he’s having trouble with a bully at school. Sometimes he comes home crying because of this bully, and in one extreme situation, I had to sit in emergency with my son for four hours, because we thought he might have a broken rib from being punched. It turns out it was only badly bruised. This other kid is always being sat down in the office and given detentions, but nothing more. They say he’s too young for anything to be done about this, and I’ve talked to several other parents about this boy, and they say their children are also afraid of him. How are we supposed to protect our children?

Worried Montreal Mother

Dear Worried Mom,

Frankly, I find it appalling that this little turd hasn’t been expelled for this. Have you spoken to the principal about your ordeal at the hospital? If you have, and he didn’t do anything, try going one level higher, to the school board. This isn’t right.

One way you yourself can help protect your son is to help him learn to protect himself. You can’t always be there to step in for him, and neither can you expect any other adult to do it. Try signing him up for some martial arts classes. It’ll give him more confidence, with the added bonus that he’ll shortly be physically able to deal with this bully himself. I know you don’t fancy the thought of your son having to stand up to this monstrous kid, but clearly passive resistance isn’t sparing him any injuries. Bullies may tend to be bigger, but they’re also lazy cowards, and if your son becomes too difficult a target, the bully will move on.

Trust me, this is how I dealt with bullies in my childhood, (though admittedly I was a little older, 13), and I was just dying for a chance to pummel one particular bully. He sensed the change in me immediately and never gave me that chance. And nothing can take away that moment of freedom your son will feel when this bully finally backs down.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Dealing with Eavesdroppers

Dear Blackheart,

How do you prevent eavesdroppers from listening in on your conversations at restaurants? Whenever I go out, people always listen in on what my friends and I are saying, and I think they’re probably laughing at us.


Dear Sheryl,

First of all, I doubt people are “always” listening to you, because many people are far too self-absorbed to bother listening to strangers. But I do suppose the world has its fair share of voyeurs too, particularly if you and you friends are attractive or well-spoken. Hopefully both.

Anyway, if the concept of other people being able to listen to your conversation bothers you, don’t go out. Order take-out instead.

Anyway, you asked me for ways to stop eavesdroppers, so here are a few. Try talking about something really disgusting, like falling into an outhouse, or an autopsy you saw on TV, or a cyst they removed from inside your you-know-what. Of course, that may interest your listener, and you may wind up with more attention rather than less. The other idea is to be really dull. Talk about something that you like, that any one else would rather tear their own heads off than have to listen to. This might even cost you your friends, at which point, you won’t need to worry about talking at all.