Dear Abby: My cousin’s with an abusive man, and I worry about her

The rude boyfriend belittles her constantly and moved her far away from the family that loves her.

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DEAR ABBY: I have always been extremely close to my cousins; we even refer to ourselves as sisters. The problem I’m having is with the boyfriend of one of them. They have been dating for almost 10 years.

For the first few years we were all close, and I enjoyed spending time with them. The past three years, however, have been heartbreaking. He’s rude to her and her mother and belittles and ridicules everything she says and does. We all walk on eggshells when he’s around, not to mention he constantly stares at our chests.

They recently moved hours away for his job. I feel he has purposely isolated her from all of us, and is mentally and emotionally abusing her. She used to want to get married and have a family with him, but now she is calling me selfish for being pregnant. He’s dragging her down and has bought himself more time by getting her a dog.

Even if they did get engaged, I’d feel sad she’s spending her life with this man. If he treats her like this in front of all of us, what is he doing behind closed doors? My cousin is very prideful and shuts down any criticism. How can I explain to her that I’m worried about her without risking our relationship? — SCARED FOR HER IN THE EAST

DEAR SCARED: Tell your cousin you love her dearly and will be saying this only once, so you want her to remember it. Then repeat to her what you have written to me. Explain that abusers erode the self-esteem of their “love object” through constant criticizing and belittling. Say you realize she has invested 10 years of her life in that relationship, but if she ever has doubts or changes her mind about living away from the family, you will be there for her. Then give her the contact information of the National Domestic Violence Hotline (800-799-7233; if there have been any instances in which he has hit or threatened her — or the dog — when he’s angry.

DEAR ABBY: My husband will not do things unless I “remind” him. He has a medical issue and experiences painful symptoms if he forgets to take the medication his doctor prescribed. He’ll then have a flare-up, take his medicine and not take it again until another flare-up happens.

Also, he’ll need to have an important doctor’s appointment for a procedure and he won’t even think about making the call to schedule it. I used to remind him about all these things but, frankly, I’m not his mother. I’m his wife. Please help. — NOT HIS MOTHER

DEAR NOT HIS MOTHER: Being a loving spouse requires us to fill varying roles in the life partnership. Not only are we lovers, best friends and sometimes nurses, but we must sometimes act as “parents.”

It’s hard to believe someone who has a chronic condition that brings painful flare-ups would forget to take a medication that would avert them, which makes me wonder about your husband’s mental state. Doctor visits can sometimes be uncomfortable, which may be why he hesitates to schedule them.

If you love him, please shoulder that responsibility as you would want him to do if the situation were reversed.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

Good advice for everyone — teens to seniors — is in “The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It.” To order, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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