Dear Annie: Is financially cutting off your spouse and refusing to put her on your medical insurance a form of abuse?

Three years ago, I found out my husband was embezzling funds from our joint accounts by purchasing items for work, getting reimbursed by check and then hiding the money in another account. I discovered it when my kids' school called and told me we were four months behind on tuition.

When I confronted him, he denied it. The next thing I knew, he had transferred all the balances of our credit cards onto one for which I was the primary cardholder, and had removed my name from his accounts and closed them. He then changed all the passwords so I now have no clue who we owe or how much.

My husband spends huge amounts of money on himself, and takes vacations and day-trips with the kids knowing full well I can't afford to go (and he won't pay for me). He refuses to help with child care, won't fix things in the house or car, and won't buy groceries or clothes for the kids, nothing. I make less than a quarter of what he does, and now I have no medical insurance because he said it was too expensive to put me on his plan, although the kids are on it.

Counseling doesn't work. Every time we've seen someone, he calls the person a quack and ends the session. What on earth do I do? — Sadly Broke in Simi, Calif.

Dear Simi: Controlling the money so the spouse does not have access and then refusing to pay for a spouse's necessities or insurance is indeed a form of abuse. Your husband's behavior is unacceptable. Before taking any action, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline (ndvh.org) at 1-800-799-7233 and ask for help. Then call an attorney.

Dear Annie: My friends and I are concerned about the well-being of a couple we've known for years. (We are now in our early 60s.) Two years ago, "John and Martha" were involved in an auto accident. John hit the windshield pretty hard and a short time later suffered a heart attack. We then noticed a drastic change in his personality. Out of concern, one of the guys spoke with Martha and was told in no uncertain terms to mind his own business.

Things have gone downhill since. Today, John and Martha have difficulty taking care of themselves. Last fall, some friends took four hours cleaning out their garage so they could park their cars inside, but the vehicles sat out all winter. Martha is now in failing health and spends her days in bed drunk.

They are estranged from their children, whom we've never met. Their house is a firetrap, with ashtrays overflowing onto the floor. The walkways have newspapers piled up and garbage everywhere. We've seen feces on the walls in the bathroom.

This couple could afford to pay someone to come in and clean, but they are not interested. We don't know where to turn. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. — Concerned Friends

Dear Friends: Call Adult Protective Services and explain the situation. Ask if a social worker can be sent to investigate. Between the car accident, heart attack and drinking, it sounds like your friends need to be evaluated for physical and mental impairment. Bless you for caring.


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