Dear Annie: I have been married for more than 15 years and have two children. Our son has a severe disability and I stay home to care for him. Annie, I think my husband is a sociopath. I have been enabling his Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality by letting people think everything is wonderful, but behind closed doors, he is physically and emotionally abusive to my daughter and me.
Every problem in his life is someone else's fault - usually mine. His main problem is that I don't satisfy his sexual desires. He is addicted to Internet porn and expects me to act out his sexual fantasies, which involve bondage and torture. I had no idea he was like this when I married him, and I have no interest in participating in such sick and revolting fetishes. Knowing that he finds this type of thing sexually exciting repulses me.
The past few years, the abuse has gotten worse. I am worried about how this is affecting my daughter, who already caught him looking at sadistic porn. He told her it was my fault because I don't make him happy.
I don't have family support, and counseling is out of the question because I don't have the money. My husband has no respect for me or our family, but he's so charming, I doubt anyone would believe our situation. From outward appearances, he seems like a dream husband. What should I do?
- Married to an Invisible Monster
Dear Married: No one should live with an abuser, especially when children are at risk. Please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline (www.ndvh.org) at 1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233) and ask for help. You also can receive free or low-cost counseling through your clergyperson, university psychology departments, United Way, the YMCA, local hospitals, the American Association of Pastoral Counselors (http://aapc.org) and the American Counseling Association (www.counseling.org) at 1-800-347-6647. Don't wait.
Dear Readers: We are carrying on the tradition that April 2 be set aside as Reconciliation Day, a time to make the first move toward mending broken relationships. It also could be the day on which we agree to accept the olive branch extended by a former friend or estranged family member and do our best to start over.