Dear Ellie: I was 19 when I met my future husband. He was everything I wasn’t — self-confident and cool. He was 24, claiming to show me “what life is all about.”
I was smitten, but my father said I was too young for such intense dating. So, I started sneaking out before my father arrived home from work… cheerily telling my mother I was going to a girlfriend’s house, a movie, or studying with someone to get into a college course.
The lies worked. Six months later, I was engaged with a modest ring on my finger and beaming happily. My father said he “hoped it’ll be alright.” My fiancée said we must marry immediately so my father couldn’t break us up.
Three months later, I was back home with a black eye.
I lied that I’d bumped into a door when I awoke in the night, so my soon-to-be ex wouldn’t be charged with physical assault. My father feared that otherwise, he’d stalk me forever after.
A lawyer helped me get a quick divorce and I moved far east across the country to relatives I’d never met before. I wasn’t easily traced.
My new-found protectors also made sure that I left no trail — they “lent” me a car registered in their family name, took me to counselling where I learned more than I’d ever known about myself, and got me a job within the family.
I had a new life! Two years later, I was introduced to a man and my life started to become “normal.” Within the next years, I had a new married name, gave birth to two daughters and later a son, worked part-time and thanked my parents profusely for all they did to help me.
It Can Happen to You Too
This is a strong message to young women and men, eager for love but not mature enough to recognize when it’s false.
To an adult out in the working world, such as your father, it wasn’t hard to spot a “user” with too much self-importance and nothing to merit it.
You thought you were in love, but only daydreaming about it and missing all the warning signs — his rush to control your time, interfere with your studies, lash out at any “disobedience,” and no doubt other threats.
To any young person reading this: If, in a seeming-romantic relationship, you see signs of mental, emotional and most worrisome, physical abuse, RUN!
Seek safety through notifying police, and talk to a lawyer if considering taking a charge of abuse to court.
Dear Ellie: I’m recently divorced. Last night my friend’s husband was in town for business and the two of us went for dinner. We’ve known each other for years. After one drink he started complaining about his wife and their marriage.
He started flirting with me and I was extremely uncomfortable. I left as soon as possible.
I’m so disappointed as he was one of the “good ones!”
I don’t know whether I should tell my friend, and don’t know how to act with him or them next time we meet.
Instead of raising this directly, which could make her think you were somehow at fault, approach the matter gently. Example: Say you were hoping she’d join him on the trip, so you two could have some girlfriend-time together. Listen to what she says. If there’s any trouble between them that prompted his flirting, better to hear about it from her.
Send relationship questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.