Dear Annie: I have a friend, and I suspect she is being abused by her boyfriend. The boyfriend has been to jail before, and I have honestly always had a bad feeling about him. I asked her if she is scared of him or if he hurts her. She told me no, but she came to me one time with a black eye and a few bruises. She said she fell.
I am really at my wits’ end, and I’m not sure what to do. She comes to me crying when they get into an argument or fight. I have seen him raise his hand to her before. Please tell me what to do. — Terrified
Dear Terrified: You need to contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 immediately. They will counsel you on how to proceed and how to talk your friend into getting the help that she needs.
Ideally, your friend would be contacting them herself, but it sounds like she is unwilling to do so at this point. Good for you for keeping your friend safe.
Dear Annie: A small group of “friends” from work has been cultivated over the past one to two years. We are all in our 40s-50s. We’ve bonded through some after-work events and activities. At first, I was really happy with this development because I felt like I had finally found my people. However, as time wears on, I realize that I’m the background friend.
I have been myself with this group and have invested a great deal emotionally. On occasion, two of them seem to flaunt their get-togethers (just the two of them), which I think is rude. Since this is an unavoidable situation due to our work environment, it wears on my mental health and affects my work. It’s like middle school all over again. How do I gracefully divest myself emotionally and physically from this clique? I’m not going to be irrelevant, and I’m not anyone’s background friend. I’m tired and I’m done. Thanks. — Not Your Third Wheel
Dear Third Wheel: Whether it’s on the playground or around the water cooler, being excluded from any social group stings. Before fully removing yourself from the clique, consider whether you’ve made a concerted effort to be active in the group. The two co-workers you mentioned who spend time together one-on-one — is this because they have purposefully nurtured their individual friendship or because they aren’t sure whether you’re interested in being a bigger part of it, too? Suggesting a group lunch or weekend excursion, if it’s appropriate, could be just what the others need to see you’re breaking out of the background and diving into the foreground.
On the other hand, if it’s truly immature and alienating behavior on your co-workers’ parts, you’re better off keeping things cordial and professional with them at work, but pursuing the more meaningful, two-way friendships you have outside the office.
“How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?” is out now! Annie Lane’s second anthology — featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected]