Dear Amy: “Worried Aunt” wrote to you about refusing to be a part of her niece’s life as long as her niece stayed with her violently abusive partner.
I have been a prosecutor handling domestic violence cases for over 15
years. I have encountered many, many family members and close friends of
You urged Worried not to let her anger at the abuser cause her to cut
off her relationship with her niece and the niece’s infant child.
I could not agree more. It is extremely important for concerned family
members or friends of a person ensnared in an abusive relationship to
maintain a loving, supportive connection with the victim.
They should make clear that they do not support the abuser or the
relationship — but that they will be there for the victim, no matter what.
To do otherwise plays directly into the abuser’s hands. One of the main
goals of abusers is to isolate and separate their victims from outside
sources of love and support, in order to better control and dominate,
putting them at greater risk.
Worried should remain an ongoing source of love and support for her
niece, which in turn will give the niece a lifeboat if/when she chooses
to extricate herself from the relationship.
DV Prosecutor, Alaska
Dear Prosecutor: Thank you so much for sharing your valuable insight.
You can email Amy Dickinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a letter
to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her
on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.