Dear Annie: I'm a very concerned mother of a 30-year-old son, "Jesse," who's in an abusive relationship with his girlfriend "Adriana." They share a newborn child together. Adriana is divorced. Not long ago, her ex-brother-in-law physically attacked Jesse, because Jesse exposed the secret affair that Adriana and her former brother-in-law had been having. I'm convinced that she is a narcissist. She has caused so much unnecessary grief, having Jesse arrested under false pretenses, manipulating the law to fit her sick, twisted selfishness and greed.
Jesse is a hardworking good man, and unfortunately, these are his decisions. However, I've chosen not to participate in any of their family gatherings, due to Adriana's disrespectfulness toward me. She uses manipulative antics to divide my family.
I love my son; it upsets me to watch him suffer in silence. I appreciate any suggestions you might be able to offer. -- Mom in Turmoil
Dear Mom in Turmoil: Stay outside the fray. Report the assault of your son to the police, if you haven't already, and call them if you believe violence is imminent. Aside from that, don't involve yourself in the dysfunction. Detach as much as possible -- not only by sitting out those family gatherings but also by putting Adriana out of mind. Your son is mired in a toxic situation, but you can't pull him out of it until he's ready to take your hand.
Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 for more guidance on helping a friend or family member who you believe is in an abusive relationship.
Dear Annie: I am writing regarding the letter from "Sickened," regarding a man that is being sued for a supposedly delinquent student loan from 30 years ago. This sounds like a scam to me, much like the ones that say your car warranty is about to expire or the IRS is calling you. If they have not, they should directly contact the company that originally gave the loan and see if there is any outstanding debt. -- Wanda in Pleasant Plains, IL
Dear Wanda: I'd initially discounted the idea of its being a scam, since the couple in question has a lawyer (who, I should hope, would have looked into that possibility). However, I received so many responses from readers insisting that this is indeed a common scam, I felt compelled to print your letter to account for the possibility. Read on for yet another perspective.
Dear Annie: Reading the letter from "Sickened" made me think about how bad things happen to good people.
There are companies that make a significant living by purchasing "accounts receivables." They are purchased in bulk for literally pennies on the dollar. These companies collect what they can and then sell the remainder again for pennies against their pennies. It goes on forever. This poor soul's name was probably on such a list. The AR purchasing company cares not whether it is a legitimate debt or not. Their only concern is how they can "strong-arm" a victim and collect from them.
My first response would be to insist the "collector" forward to me all the documentation they have to support their claim. If they cannot, then a second letter would be to advise them that any further attempt to "prey" on me will be reported to the state's attorney general.
There is a lot of hearsay in this letter and a 25-year lapse in collection efforts seems odd. The fact that the victim is making payments of principle and interest might legitimize the claim. Again, the attorney general will contact the collector and ask for proof. This will generally end all correspondence. -- Tom B.
Dear Tom: Thank you for this thorough assessment and your recommendations. I'm printing it for "Sickened" and anyone facing a similarly sickening situation.
Ask me aything: 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 www.creatorspublishing.co m for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org