Dear Ms. Savvy,
I am currently separated from my husband, after a very traumatic incident where he pushed me on the ground and threw a chair at me. I have filed for an order of protection (restraining order) and have only had communication through family members or the police since this happened. I have a few questions for you about other people's reactions to what happened. First, a few friends and family members have asked me what happened in a way that seemed to imply that I must've provoked my husband. Or rather, that it takes two to tango, and I must've said/did something equally harsh. My own sister told me that, "all couples fight," as this were a normal everyday spat. And more recently, after watching the Grammies, I saw that several women had tweeted about how much they loved Chris Brown, and he could "abuse" them anytime he liked. I know that most people would say domestic violence is wrong, but in more subtle ways, people still minimize abuse and blame the victim. I'm not sure how to handle this within my own circle or in a larger context with society as a whole. What's your advice on this? -Trying to be Strong
Dear Trying to be Strong,
I'm so sorry that you've had to go through such a traumatic event with your husband. It sounds like you have taken steps to protect yourself and seek the help that you need. I don't know the history of your relationship and whether there has been any violence in the past, but it is simply never ok to be physically abusive to your partner. Whether it be the man or the woman who is violent, it is unacceptable and there is no place for that in a healthy relationship. Violence is not something that just goes away-it usually escalates and gets worse, so it needs to be dealt with and taken extremely seriously. I want to suggest that you seek counseling as soon as possible. The Mid-Shore Council on Family Violence provides excellent resources for victims of domestic violence. As far as the comments from some family and friends, you have the right to not discuss this with anyone or to spend time with unsupportive people. You are dealing with a very personal and painful situation and you need to surround yourself with loving and supportive people only. Now, as far as your question of how handle this in the larger context of society, I'd say it's not your job to worry about that. You have enough on your plate, without taking on other women's tweets or opinions on domestic violence. Although it's unfortunate that some men's fame seems to excuse them from their bad behavior, focus on yourself right now and getting the help you need. And, if any other readers are facing abusive behavior from a significant other, please get help immediately.
Dear Ms. Savvy,
My current boss is a very difficult person. He is loud and belligerent in meetings and is not terribly respectful to the women in our office. His favorite phrase is, "Get your ass in here!" He also has some boundary issues and expects everyone to be "on call" for his demands. He has called me late on a Saturday night, yelling at me to re-do a project or send him a file. I love the work (I am a graphic designer and have a lot of creative freedom), but I often feel like I'm walking on eggshells around my boss. I know most of the creative people in the office feel this way, while the sales team seems to take it more in stride. Do you have any suggestions for how to deal with him? -Bossed Around
Dear Bossed Around,
If I were watching an old tv show from the 1950s, it might be ok for a boss to yell to his staff, "Get your ass in here!" But, seeing as how we are in a different era, that kind of language and questionable behavior is strictly off limits. Do you have HR person you can talk to about this? If not, you may need to have a sit down with your supervisor, where you let him know that screaming at you and referring to you posterior, in any way, is simply not acceptable to you. Maybe he's sort of a tough character who will respond to some direct feedback. You could say something like, "My ass and I don't like to be yelled at. So, can you simmer down?" If he has a sense of humor, he might appreciate the witty comeback. If he doesn't, well, prepare yourself for some more yelling. I wonder if he's burnt out and needs a long vacation? Whatever it is, try not to take it personally. It sounds like he's gruff with everyone. As for him calling you on a Saturday night to berate you, that has to stop. Send him an e-mail, letting him know that you don't accept any work calls on the weekend and then don't pick up the phone. Whatever it is, it can wait until Monday. If none of this works, it may be time to take it a step further and get in touch with his boss or someone higher up in the company. I'm sure that person doesn't want to be slapped with a lawsuit of some kind. So, try to work it out with him first and then take it higher, if need be.
Stay tuned for Ms. Savvy's next blog entry where guest blogger, Mr. Savvy, will weigh in with a male perspective!