Dear Abby: A friend of mine was a victim of domestic violence. When I asked her why she didn't phone 911 for help, her response was, "They play those 911 calls on the radio all the time." She didn't want her prominent husband's career damaged by adverse publicity.
Today, a group of us discussed the issue over breakfast. Many of the women said that because of the popularity of 911 calls being broadcast on the Internet, radio and TV, they'd be hesitant to phone for help when needed, too.
Abby, someone is going to suffer serious harm out of fear that their call for help will be publicized. Do you know what can be done about this new "drama entertainment"? I wouldn't want my terrified call heard by the public either, so I'd take my chances without calling for help. I just hope I don't wake up dead one day as a result. – Publicity-Shy in Florida
Dear Publicity-Shy: Nothing can be done about "drama entertainment" as long as the public has an appetite for it. The reason for the practice of "if it bleeds, it leads" in the media is that it draws viewers and listeners -- which means advertising revenue.
In the case of domestic violence, calling 911 is the lesser of two evils. Out-of-control abusers have been known to maim and kill the ones they "love." Ask yourself if your friend's husband's career was worth risking her life for. It makes more sense to risk a 911 call being broadcast than to have cameras and TV reporters camped on your lawn while the EMTs or the coroner carry your battered, bloody body out on a gurney.
Dear Abby: I'm overweight and have a family history of heart disease and diabetes. An injury to my back severely limits my ability to exercise, so diet is an important part of my health plan.
My problem is people CONSTANTLY try to get me to eat. I explain my situation, but they still urge me to have "just a taste." If I go to a party and shy away from the buffet, the host feels I'm being rude. Recently, my supervisor at work became insulted because I refused some food she brought to a work meeting.
These people wouldn't be upset if an alcoholic refused a drink, so why are they so hostile to me? (Another thing that upsets me is when somebody dies an early death, these same folks say, "He should have taken better care of himself.") – Under Attack in Arizona
Dear Under Attack: For many people, food has become something other than fuel for the body. It can symbolize love, caring, acceptance – and when it is refused it can seem like a personal rejection to the person offering it. (Yes, I know it's crazy.)
Your best defense is to remind your hosts, your supervisor, your co-workers and friends that you have a family history of health problems and are on a doctor-advised restricted diet to manage it. Remind these generous souls that socializing is more about the company than the food, and you are grateful that they understand.
Dear Abby: You give so much great advice, I'm wondering if there is a basic principle you abide by in order to help guide you when giving advice. – Curious Reader
Dear Curious: I hadn't really thought about it, but I suppose it's something like this: Show up for work ready to put forth my best effort. Be honest enough to admit that not everyone agrees with me or that I'm sometimes wrong. Tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Don't pull any punches, don't preach and always try to be succinct.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.