When Online Dating Hurts

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There we were, sitting with our faces to the setting summer sun, our toes dug into the warmth of the Stinson Beach sand, a weathered wooden table full of cheeses and crackers, a glass of chardonnay in our hands.

Most of us had just turned 40, and we had gathered to celebrate (or, perhaps, mourn) that momentous event.

So we started to assess where we were in our lives, our hopes and dreams, our parenting, our marriages.

And that's when I heard a story that still haunts me today.

"He calls me all the time — 'Where are you? What are you doing? Who are you with?' I'm so scared, and I don't know what to do. I want to leave him, but I'm afraid he'll go crazy and hurt me or the kids. I'm stuck."

This was the kind of story I've read about in the newspaper or heard on KCBS. It wasn't the kind of story I expected to hear coming from a 40ish Marin mother who lives in a spectacular house on Mt. Tam, drives a luxury SUV and whose kids have gone to the finest private schools.

And, sadly, she isn't the only woman I know who fears her husband. Another tolerates her controlling hubby's infidelities because he tells her over and over again that if she tries anything, he will make sure he gets custody of the kids and she'll never see them again.

When I heard these stories, I was shocked. This sort of thing doesn't happen to smart, beautiful, talented, loving women and mothers. And here, in Marin? And yet, it does — and I just don't understand it.

I've written before about my scary brush with a violent man. And that, you know, was nothing. A one-time event. But one that opened my eyes.

Do you know people living like that?

Are you, or have you, lived like that?

What do we do with this?

Hi, I am team coordinator for the Marin County District Attorney's Family Violence Unit, a specialized prosecution unit devoted to domestic violence cases. There are resources available in the community for people who feel trapped in a physically or emotionally abusive relationship. A great place to start is at Marin Abused Women's Services. Their dating site website can be found at http://www.maws.org/. Another resource is http://www.co.marin.ca.us/depts/MC/main/domesticviolence.cfm a website that has information about our courts and obtaining restraining orders. Information about the Marin District Attorney's victim / witness program can be found at http://www.co.marin.ca.us/depts/da/main/dist/VWMain.cfm.
Finally, the Marin Superior Court has instituted a special Family Violence Court in order to address the special issues presented in these types of cases.

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