Dear Abby: I am in a relationship I can’t get out of. I was told by my “boyfriend” that what he’s doing is normal. He says it’s what people who love each other do, and he loves me more than anyone has ever loved me. I have told him repeatedly that I don’t love him.
He drives by my house and follows me to work. He has also watched to make sure I’m going where I said, like to the gym and the store. He tells me that every man wants to have sex with me, and that I dress too sexy (I mostly wear leggings and tank tops). He has monitored Zoom meetings that I go to.
All of the watching and following is without my permission or knowledge. He usually tells me about it later, saying he only does it “out of love.” This has been going on for a few years. Why do I put up with it? I have tried to break up. It started after a few months together. But he guilted me into staying, saying he’d be all alone. Or he’d kill himself. Then I found out he filmed us having sex a few times, and he’s threatening that if I don’t stay, people will see it.
Please tell me what to do. I have no self-esteem left, and yes, I feel like the slut that I am made out to be. I’m not sure what you can do to help me. I have no one to talk to. — Anonymous Prisoner
Dear Prisoner: This person doesn’t “love” you. Your boyfriend is an abuser, a stalker and an extortionist. You are right that you need someone to talk to. Actually, I can think of more than one. Pick up the phone and call 800-799-7233. It’s the toll-free number of the National Domestic Violence Hotline. A counselor there will be happy to offer suggestions on how to deal with your abuser. During the conversation, ask whether his threat to make the sex tape public should be reported to the police. (I think it should be.)
P.S. And please stop feeling guilty. If you are worried that he might kill himself if you end the relationship, don’t be. He has no intention of following through.
Dear Abby: Our son died suddenly a month ago. It was a terrible shock. That same day, his mother (my wife) announced, “We are done!” as a couple. We’ve been married 41 years, but our relationship has always been rocky. She hasn’t spoken to me since then. I have two areas of deep grief and no one to talk with to share the agony of losing a son and a marriage simultaneously. Family members and close friends have been sympathetic, but most don’t know what to say. Any advice would be welcomed. — Mourning in Tennessee
Dear Mourning: Please accept my deepest sympathy for the death of your son. Because you have no one to confide in, it’s important you start talking with a grief counselor about the double loss you have experienced. It will take time to work through the sadness you are feeling in the aftermath of your son’s passing. While no one can blame you for your anger at your wife for her poor timing, once your sadness lessens, you may realize how fortunate you are to finally be freed from a 41-year unhappy marriage.