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August 14, 2000   CONTINUED e-mail e-mail to a friend in need

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5. From moving out to moving on.

Unhealthy relationships are terribly hard to leave -- and terribly hard to leave behind. Even when you've found something good! Read this letter from A Little (But Not Quite So Badly) Damaged for a place to start and a source of reassurance.

6. Hey BG, are boys the bad guys here?

No. We all -- boys and girls, been-there and naive, Buffy and Angel -- have been confused about how to behave in relationships, about what "love" means, about who we are when we're alone. And the most vulnerable among us get data from the least reliable, yet most readily available, sources. That's where we get the skewed results: somewhere, somehow -- at the movies? at Hooters? at home? -- certain boys have gotten the idea that Being the Man is how relationships work, and certain girls have gotten the idea that they should shut up and put up.

So yeah, both statistics and "Society" do bear out the fact that women/girls are more likely than boys/men to be abused by partners. "A boy may become domineering, controlling, and manipulative if he is insecure or afraid of losing his girlfriend to someone else," says Barrie Levy, L.C.S.W., author of In Love and In Danger and co-author (with Patricia Giggans) of What Parents Need to Know About Dating Violence. "Popular culture may also shape his attitudes about masculinity and the dynamics of male-female relationships. Also, he [and she] may have firsthand experience of domestic abuse within his own family."

We are not, then, talking only about Evil Monsters and the Women who Love Them. BG has gotten plenty of letters from boys/men practically ablaze with guilt over one slap that landed on their partner but seemed to come from someone else's palm. And from boys/men who are being bruised, emotionally and physically, by their female partners. And, of course, from people in abusive same-sex relationships. You'll find resources for everyone below.

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