Q. I have been friends with my college roommates for 32 years. We live in the same city and have gotten together every couple of months for dinner. One of our roommates has always been the “party girl.” This wasn’t cute at age 21 and is really awful when she’s older than 50. She lost her driver’s license years ago. She is usually half in the bag when we pick her up and is passed out by the end of dinner.
If this weren’t bad enough, her husband is abusive. The last time we dropped her off after dinner, he came running out to our car screaming and swearing at us, and kicked the car, damaging it. We know he hits her.
One of the reasons we always kept in touch was to offer her options. She has left him in the past but always returns. No one wants to go to her house now to get her because we are scared of her husband. We are very worried about her and are afraid she is going to accidentally overdose or that her husband may kill her.
We would like to stage an intervention, but we don’t think it would work. Her husband drives her everywhere and buys her drugs and alcohol. He has successfully driven everyone away from her, including her family. We don’t want to abandon her. What do you suggest?
A. I applaud your efforts to offer your friend a true lifeline. I don’t believe this is a good time to discuss her addictions but to focus on her safety. I shared your question with Katie Ray-Jones, president of the National Domestic Violence Hotline. You should research this issue by reading through the hot line’s informative website at www.thehotline.org, and/or calling the hot line at 800-799-SAFE (7233). You may be able to contact your local women’s shelter directly to bring your friend for a visit.
Her husband is dangerous — not only to her but also to you. If you can find a way to meet her without interacting with him (perhaps meeting her in a busy public place), you could spend time with her and urge her to go to a shelter, where her location would be kept a secret. At the very least, make sure she has the emergency hot line phone number to call and a bag packed (stored in a secret location). Let her know that if (and when) she is ready to leave, she will have support to do so. If you witness violence or have threats leveled against you, you must get the police involved.
Q. My close relative recently had a miscarriage. The parents want a funeral. If they do, I think it should be private. This is the first time this has happened in our family, and we want to do the right thing.
A. Your family should follow the parents’ lead and do whatever they want to do, without commenting on the propriety of their choice. Many parents want to hold a memorial service after this sort of loss; this would be an important part of the family’s healing. Be supportive, kind, and compassionate.
Q. Like “Of Sound Mind,” when I was in my mid-20s I knew I did not want children and went to a doctor to seek permanent surgical sterilization. It still ticks me off that he felt he had the right to tell me he would not do the procedure because I would “change my mind.” Counseling is one thing, but it is not a man’s role to tell a woman what to do with her body. I never had children, and that was the right choice for me and my husband.
A. I see your point, but I could imagine a female physician offering the same perspective.