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Readers weigh in on Whiskers and the abusive Tom

Dear Readers: A great many of you wrote in expressing concern for Whiskers and her owner. Your letters bring up a number of insightful points about the correlation between animal abuse and spousal and child abuse. All of you warned that Tom’s behavior should serve as a red flag that he could end up abusing his wife or their future children.

I agree with all of you that, for everyone’s safety, she must leave with Whiskers, and Tom can seek therapy on his own. Here are just some of your letters:

Dear Annie: To the woman whose husband’s behavior has changed toward her beloved cat: This is a giant red flag! Your suggestion, Annie, of telling her to leave makes the most sense. People can fake responses in therapy, and it sounds like this man probably won’t go anyway.

If he acts this way toward something that means so much to her, what will happen with children? If they have a child and the child resembles a family member he doesn’t like, then what will be his reaction? What if he resents the affection and time given to the child? Wishing her the courage and strength she needs to move forward. — A Concerned Follower of Your Column

Dear Concerned Follower: Thank you so much for your suggestions and praise. Let’s hope she has taken our advice.

Dear Annie: I am concerned about “Depressed and Confused.” Her poor cat cannot talk but is telling her the only way it knows how by hiding or running from her husband. That’s about as clear a sign as she can have that the husband is abusive. I doubt counseling will help him because, for some reason, he thinks he has a right to abuse that poor, helpless animal.

I would never, ever trust Tom to be alone with animals. You bet I’d get out, now! — Defending Whiskers

Dear Defending Whiskers: Thank you for sharing your concern.

Dear Annie: Please tell Depressed and Confused to run, not walk, out of that marriage. I, too, was in a similar marriage and wish someone had opened my eyes. Instead, I took his (verbal and cat) abuse for 29 years. Everything was always my fault. After years of therapy, I am finally free of him — going on 11 years now — and am very happy with my four cats. They bring me more joy than my husband ever did. — Cat Lover in Florida

Dear Cat Lover: Thank you for sharing your story. Abuse is never acceptable, whether it is aimed at people or animals. I agree with you. Tom has got to go!

Dear Annie: I am writing with concern about the husband who was mean to his wife’s cat. When I was young, I had a dog named Holly. My parents had refused a dog for years, so when I finally got her, she meant the world to me. At the time, I was dating my husband and he would mock the dog, making fun of her and putting her down. Unfortunately, I dismissed this and married him anyway.

Annie, you are absolutely correct. The way he treated Holly became the way he treated me. I had an awful marriage with him, and he was emotionally abusive. This woman must consider his behavior a giant red flag and leave that marriage as soon as possible. This is the behavior of a narcissist. They do not change. He cares only about himself. A caring person would manage to be kind to the cat, if only for his wife’s sake. Consider yourself lucky to see the signs, because you could be in the cat’s place soon enough. He is already disregarding you. — From Experience

Dear From Experience: Yours is one of a great many letters pointing out that people who hurt animals will eventually hurt people. The reason I wanted to print yours is because you speak from experience. Thank you for sharing.

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“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 dearannie@creators.com.

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