Dear Annie: I have been married for over 15 years and have two children. Our son has a severe disability and I stay home to care for him.
Annie, I think my husband is a sociopath. I have been enabling his Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality by letting people think everything is wonderful, but behind closed doors, he is physically and emotionally abusive to my daughter and me.
Every problem in his life is someone else’s fault — usually mine. His main problem is that I don’t satisfy his sexual desires.
He is addicted to Internet porn and expects me to act out his sexual fantasies, which involve bondage and torture.
I had no idea he was like this when I married him, and I have no interest in participating in such sick and revolting fetishes. Knowing that he finds this type of thing sexually exciting repulses me.
The last few years, the abuse has gotten worse. I am worried about how this is affecting my daughter, who already caught him looking at sadistic porn. He told her it was my fault because I don’t make him happy.
I don’t have family support, and counselling is out of the question because I don’t have the money. My husband has no respect for me or our family, but he’s so charming, I doubt anyone would believe our situation.
From outward appearances, he seems like a dream husband. What should I do? — Married to an Invisible Monster
Dear Married: No one should live with an abuser, especially when children are at risk. Please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline (ndvh.org) at 1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233) and ask for help. You also can receive free or low-cost counselling through your clergyperson, university psychology departments, United Way, the YMCA, local hospitals, the American Association of Pastoral Counselors (aapc.org) and the American Counseling Association (counseling.org) at 1-800-347-6647. Don’t wait.
Dear Annie: Last week I was told by our office manager that the director “doesn’t like your hairstyle and you need to do something with it.” Annie, my hair is growing back from chemo. I was extremely upset by this and went home in tears.
Today I met with our director, who read from our employee manual: “If it is determined that an employee is inappropriately dressed or groomed, he or she will be instructed to make necessary changes.” She thought my hair looked unprofessional.
Annie, I could understand if my hair was green or in dreadlocks, but it’s not. Now I’m being told I may lose my job. What do you think? — Trying My Best
Dear Trying: We think your director may be in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act since your hairstyle is a result of chemotherapy treatment. Check with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (eeoc.gov) at 1-800-669-4000. The director’s reaction to your hair seems peculiar and punitive. If she has a boss, we strongly urge you to take this to a higher authority.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Washington, Ill.,” who is sensitive to fluorescent lighting. You can get diffusion filters to replace the light covers at most lighting and hardware stores.
Tell “Washington” to get the ones with the smallest grid because they work the best. She will still have plenty of light, but it won’t give her headaches like it used to give me. Hope this helps. — Brighter Now
Dear Brighter: We appreciate the suggestion and hope Washington will give it a try.
Dear Readers: We are carrying on the tradition that April 2 be set aside as Reconciliation Day, a time to make the first move toward mending broken relationships. It also could be the day on which we agree to accept the olive branch extended by a former friend or estranged family member, and do our best to start over.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.