Dear Straight Talk: I grew up with my stepfather regularly knocking my mother around when he was drunk and being emotionally abusive to both her and me.
She would never stand up to him or leave him and I hated both of them for it. In college, I joined a group dedicated to ending rape and abuse, but I find myself emotionally abusive to women who try to get close to me. I am ashamed to talk to my friends about this. Please help. — Anonymous, San Francisco
Ashley, 25, Auburn: Much of men’s anger toward women stems from anger toward their mothers — in your case, she didn’t defend herself or protect you from abuse.
To learn to respect women, you need professional counseling to break the cycle of abuse. It can feel impossible, I know.
Colin, 19, Whittier: The thought of hurting someone I love, emotionally or otherwise, is totally abhorrent and foreign. But then, my parents’ relationship is entirely healthy. It is quite natural to model one’s upbringing.
Christina, 20, Marysville: You’ve taken a huge first step by writing. Recognizing your upbringing as the source of the problem is great — so many guys don’t even see it — but don’t use it as an excuse to continue. Counseling is your best bet and college provides it for free.
Dear Anonymous: Thank you for your honesty and courage. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, boys who witness domestic violence are twice as likely to abuse their own partners and children when they become adults. The panelist’s advice doesn’t get better. See a counselor. With perseverance and professional help, I’m confident you can break the pattern.
Straight Talk TNT is a 501c3 nonprofit. Ask a question or join our work with a donation at StraightTalkTNT.ORG or P.O. Box 1974, Sebastopol, CA 95473.