What should I do if I suspect my neighbor of abuse?

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To start out with-I happen to be thirteen years of age.

For the seven years I have resided in my current home, certain, cryptic signs have revealed to me that my nextdoor neighbor is abusing her husband, severely.

Firstly, she is constantly shouting obscenities at her husband, and locking him outside after particularly loud, physical arguments (during which much pushing and shoving is done on her part against him). She often abandons him, locked outside within their fenced-in backyard, for at least two hours worth of time! The fence is far to massive for escape, you see. She committed this very act once again just yesterday!

Secondly, there is never a sole window ajar at their residence, especially during fights, which may not let up until a generous three hours!I hear mostly her screams of scorn, after which come resounding crashes, then the sound of her husband literally bawling!These scenes occur weekly...

Thirdly, I often witness him out of doors, each day with newfound bruises!

I have mentioned the whole of my suspicions to my parents, but as we scarcely know this couple, my parents shrug it off, assuring me I should do the same.

I am utterly mortified at how frequently this chain of events occur and am growing excessively concerned for the welfare of this neighbor's husband!

Please, I am in dire need of advice and guidance as to how I should respond to this predicament!I'm afraid my neighbor might eventually murder her husband and I would be held partly responsible for not reporting this information...

-- Anonymous, April 05, 2002


I don't know what country you are in but I would report what you have described to the local social services. You may be able to get to them through your school or through the town council. Failing that you could go to the police. If you are feeling particularly brave you could talk to the man himself

-- Anonymous, May 13, 2002

Thank you for your reply, Mr. Melnick. I even went so far as to take your advice of speaking to this neighbor's husband, even while it took some time to gather the courage. You see, it was on a night when, by chance at passing by, I overheard quite a scuffle kicking up inside. Caught up in the tension of the moment, I ducked behind a nearby bush and listened as this man's wife proceeded to holler, "You're nothing but a &##**! Get outta my house, NOW!"

When her husband replied that she should calm herself, perhaps lie down, a resonant bang reported through what could have been the entire neighborhood-and was indeniably yet another of her attacks on him with any choice of blunt objects, as he cried out in pain following the distinct noise. At sight of him bursting from the house, to break off across the lawn, I leapt up from my hiding place and continued what was meant to appear a casual walk along the sidewalk.

Noticing me just outfront, he stopped short, breathing hard. Inside, his wife slammed the door, cursing under her breath. Naturally, I asked him what was happening. All he could do was shake his head. Trying to convince him to stay the night at my house until she cooled off proved particularly difficult, yet when I pointed out that he was bleeding excessively at the head, he submitted.

The only problem is, he refused to press charges against her for assualt. He claims that the police would never believe him, mostly due to the fact that she's a teacher at the local elementary school-- and partly because her father himself is a police officer, and would certainly protect her. My parents seemed worried, but didn't interfere further.

Ever since that night, I've felt INCLINED to interfere further, most likely due to the fact that no one else will and I don't like to see anyone suffer. What should I do now that this man refuses to let anyone help him? If there is indeed anything I can do...

-- Anonymous, June 21, 2002

Les: Same situation from both directions. If he's unwilling to acknowledge he's in a dangerous situation and seek help, there's nothing you can do except watch and wait. There's a little phrase called "co-dependency" and this sounds like a perfect example---she's the abuser and he's the abusee. One or both of them have to see the problems that exist there and seek help before anything will change--- otherwise, all the talking in the world wont bring this man to his senses.

-- Anonymous, August 26, 2002

In most jurisdictions in the United States, if a call is made to the Police department, they will come to investigate. When they find any evidence of abuse, The District Attorney will press charges against the abuser. The charges will be pressed whether or not the man whishes to testify. Even if he refuses to press charges, the District attorney will pursue the case based on the Police report.

-- Anonymous, May 06, 2003

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