Dear Annie: I'm a police dispatcher in Vermont and have attended a great deal of training regarding domestic violence. The letter from "Winnipeg, Canada," set off alarms in my head. She said her husband had moved her to a new city and wanted to sever all ties with her family. I hope she will read the following precautions from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence:
Predictors of Domestic Violence
UDid he grow up in a violent family? People who grow up in families where they have been abused as children, or where one parent beats the other, have grown up learning that violence is normal behavior.
UDoes he tend to use force or violence to "solve" his problems? A young man who has a criminal record for violence, who gets into fights, or who likes to act tough is likely to act the same way with his wife and children. Does he have a quick temper? Does he overreact to little problems and frustration? Is he cruel to animals? Does he punch walls or throw things when he's upset? Any of these behaviors may be a sign of a person who will work out bad feelings with violence.
UDoes he abuse alcohol or other drugs? There is a strong link between violence and problems with drugs and alcohol. Be alert to possible drinking or drug problems, particularly if he refuses to admit that he has a problem, or refuses to get help. Do not think that you can change him.
UDoes he have strong traditional ideas about what a man should be and what a woman should be? Does he think a woman should stay at home, take care of her husband, and follow his wishes and orders?
UIs he jealous of your other relationships -- not just with other men that you may know -- but also with your women friends and your family? Does he keep tabs on you? Does he want to know where you are at all times? Does he want you with him all of the time?
UDoes he have access to guns, knives or other lethal instruments? Does he talk of using them against people or threaten to use them to get even?
UDoes he expect you to follow his orders or advice? Does he become angry if you do not fulfill his wishes or if you cannot anticipate what he wants?
UDoes he go through extreme highs and lows, almost as though he is two different people? Is he extremely kind one time and extremely cruel at another time?
UWhen he gets angry, do you fear him? Do you find that not making him angry has become a major part of your life? Do you do what he wants you to do, rather than what you want to do?
UDoes he treat you roughly? Does he physically force you to do what you do not want to do?
Please tell Winnipeg to pay attention to these signs. Diane Gagnon, Dispatcher, University of Vermont Police Services
Dear Diane Gagnon: Thank you for sending us such excellent information. Any woman (or man) whose partner displays one or more of these signs should consider getting help or getting out. For more information, contact the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence at www.ncadv.org. Those who need more immediate help can call the hotline at (800) 799-SAFE (800-799-7233) (TDD: 800-787-3224).
XE-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, Ill. 60611.