Dear Annie: While going for snacks at a professional baseball game, I walked past a college-age couple arguing loudly on the stairs. The man punched the girl in the face. Not sure what to do, I yelled, “Stop! Stop!” The man pulled the woman outside by her arm. The only other people around were three young guys who looked in our direction and kept walking. I wasn’t sure if I should notify a police officer because I didn’t want the boyfriend to blame the victim for drawing attention to the situation and beat her up again later.
When I got back to my seat, I told my boyfriend what had happened and he said there was nothing more I could have done. My sister later insisted I should have written down their license plate number and reported it, to send the message that society does not tolerate violence against women. If this ever happens again, what should I do? — Megan in Milwaukee
Dear Megan: It can be risky to interfere in a fight. Your exhortation to stop was worthwhile, even if it seemed useless. It is always good for an abuser to know that others are aware of his behavior. We also discussed your question with coordinators at the National Domestic Violence Hotline who emphasized that contacting the police or the security staff would have been a good option. (Any young person who may be in an abusive relationship can call 1-866-331-9474 or go online to loveisrespect.org for help.)
Dear Annie: I have a tremendous fear of talking on the phone, especially to people I don’t know. I can’t make reservations or access my accounts if it requires a phone call. As a favor, my boyfriend sometimes will claim he’s my husband or my friends will pretend to be me in order to get information. The few calls that I am forced to make myself are excruciating.
This makes no sense to me since I am normally a confident individual. I am college educated, have a great job and interact with many people on a daily basis. I am not afraid to talk to anyone in person, and I can send e-mails all day long.
I don’t know why I have a fear of the telephone, but I would really like to get over it. The worst part is, my children have seen me with this problem and are now showing the same fears. I try to encourage them to make phone calls, not only so they will overcome this fear, but also so I won’t have to make the calls for them. What do I do? — Phone Phobic in Michigan
Dear Michigan: You have a social phobia, which is a type of anxiety disorder. People with social phobias are overly worried about embarrassing themselves or being judged by others. When a social phobia interferes with normal activities, it’s time to get help, which may mean medication and therapy, but it’s worth it — not only for yourself, but for your children. Make an appointment to see your doctor and ask for assistance. You also can call the National Institute of Mental Health at 1-866-615-6464.
Dear Annie: This is in response to “Snubbed,” whose in-laws didn’t include the spouses in the family photo at her father-in-law’s birthday.
I can do her one better. My in-laws didn’t want to include me in my own wedding photo. My husband’s parents have all of their other children’s wedding photos on their wall, but not one of them includes the in-law grooms or brides. They are only shots of their own children, plus the parents.
I put a stop to that. I made sure I was in my wedding photo, along with my husband, his siblings and parents. — Midwest Wife
Dear Midwest: You’re right — not including the spouse in the family wedding photo takes the cake. With all the layers.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
Published in The Messenger 6.2.08