Dear Annie: I am a clinical social worker and have some training in, and experience with, domestic violence in my work.
I think you do a fine job educating and counseling people. I read a recent column that gave the National Domestic Violence Hotline number (800-799-7233). I have one crucial point to add: As important as it is for women (or anyone) to get out of a domestic violence situation, it is very important that she has support and safety while escaping. If an abuser knows she is leaving, he is more likely to intensify his violence, which can be fatal for the person trying to leave.
Domestic violence workers will assess the person's situation and help her (or him) to stay as safe as possible while trying to escape. They will also help create a safety plan for the future. Perhaps this has already been said in your column, but I'm pointing it out in case it hasn't.
Thank you for all the good work you do! — Escaping Safely With a Plan
Dear Escape Plan: Thank you for your letter. I love hearing from professionals with firsthand experience. In creating a safe escape plan, also consider one's children and animals who might be at risk. Try to find a shelter or a family member that will help you out with your children and pets. Abusers sometimes use pets and children as a threat to keep the victim with them.
Dear Annie: You have printed many letters from readers who were alone, or felt lonely, in one way or another. I am writing to suggest that, for those individuals, volunteering might be the answer. It is a great way to meet people, in addition to offering a service to one's community.
Readers could search for volunteer opportunities in their communities via the internet, the local newspaper or perhaps at a nearby senior center. Of course, not-for-profit groups, such as local hospitals, public libraries and the Red Cross, are often looking for volunteers. After learning of possible volunteer jobs, pick one or two to follow up with that seem to involve working with others or that are near other people with whom one can socialize. — Big on Volunteering
Dear Volunteer: Volunteering is a great suggestion to help make friends. You know from the beginning that you share a common interest, and you are doing something for others, which always feels good.
Dear Annie: Many years ago, I attended a conference where the issue of loneliness and lack of close friends came up. Several ladies suggested that feeling lonely was related to what they called "stinginess" in sharing themselves.
As an introvert, I could identify with their explanation. As I near 80 years, it takes a bit more energy to reach out to others, but that seems to be the best solution I have found to avoid loneliness. — Tip from an Introvert
Dear Tip from an Introvert: Thank you for your suggestion. It is wonderful advice.
"Ask Me Anything: 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 http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected]