Annie Lane: Wanting daughter to leave abusive husband

Published 6:30 am Saturday, August 15, 2020

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Dear Annie: You’ve probably heard this story a hundred times before. One of my daughters is in an abusive marriage. It is not physical but verbal abuse. Her husband is incredibly controlling: My daughter has no access to money or even mail. She has no freedom of choice in what she does, and he attempts to isolate her from family. He manipulates every situation, every possible situation to his advantage.

My daughter knows that she has full support from her parents and siblings, yet she freezes when she thinks of actually taking the step to leave him. They have a 6-year-old daughter who seems emotionally fragile; I suspect this is from what she has observed at home.

How do I support my daughter when I am so frustrated and saddened by how broken she is? What do I say to assure her that I am ready to help her, but she has to do the heavy lifting?

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— Always a Mom

Dear Always: I know it’s frustrating and heartbreaking to watch a loved one in an abusive relationship. But if your daughter feels as though you’re angry or frustrated with her, it only plays into his hand. You must keep the faith and keep the patience.

According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, on average a survivor will leave their abuser seven times before leaving them for good. And it isn’t because they’re broken or weak; it’s because it’s an extremely difficult situation for anyone to leave, for a variety of reasons: fear of retaliation, a sense of shame or embarrassment or a lack of financial resources, to name just a few. The more you understand the complexities of abuse, the more you will sympathize with your daughter’s apparent hesitation. or call 1-800-799-7233 anytime for information, resources and support. It’s free and confidential.

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Dear Annie: “Deliberating Diarist” and others who have asked about what to do with a diary of their most intimate thoughts and experiences might do well to take the long view. As a historian, I have read many diaries, journals and memoirs, some of which were never intended to be read by someone decades or even centuries later. What I have found in those diaries is the spirit of people who conquered life’s tragedies and difficulties and moved forward often to a good life. Personal diaries can be roadmaps for future generations. They help us navigate our own rocky roads.

“Deliberating Diarist” has a great treasure in her complete diary. Her children will see her and her husband’s struggles and their triumph over alcoholism. This might increase their affection and admiration for their grandfather and offer lessons in persistence and love. Even the saddest diaries help us understand how real lives are lived and help us find beauty and goodness in our own lives.

For those who are wondering about leaving a diary to a historic institution, they should ask if their diary can be set aside for some period of time — maybe 50 years — so that sensitive names and events will not hurt living people. This is often possible and eventually gives historians the raw material from which we recreate the history of ordinary people.

— Historian

Dear Historian: I appreciate your wide-lens perspective and professional opinion. Thanks for taking the time to write.

“Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to