Ashamed to tell family of abuse

I am 30 and my husband is 35. We have been married for seven years.

I am 30 and my husband is 35. We have been married for seven years.

When we met we were both heavy drinkers but I have been sober for three years. He is the sole breadwinner, so I rely on him for everything.

Over the past few years he has turned into a horrible person. He is abusive in every way and treats me as if I am worthless.

His drinking is uncontrollable. I might not bring money into the home but I make sure that his life is comfortable and I am active in community work.

I have always hoped that he would love and respect me for this.

My life has become unbearable and I can honestly say that I no longer love him. I think about leaving him all the time but I am too scared.

What will I do and how will I survive without him? I have never discussed mysituation with my family, so I feel ashamed to tell them about it.

I used to be such a confident woman, what is wrong with me? Please help.

In despair, Roodepoort

There is nothing wrong with you. Any woman living with such abuse loses her confidence and self-worth.

Your fear of leaving him is understandable but unless he chooses to stop drinking, your life is not going to change.

You should take charge of your life and start planning for your future. If you decide to stay with him you should contact Al Anon on 011-683-8002. This is a support group for people living with alcoholics.

If you plan to leave you must seek legal advice to find out what your rights are if the marriage ends.

You are active in the community so I am sure you have talents that can be used in the work environment. Consider doing part-time work while you study something that will help you earn a living.

You are a young woman and it is never too late to learn. You might not have told your family but they are probably aware of your problems.

You have nothing to be ashamed of because you are not responsible for his behaviour. Be honest with your family because I am sure you will need their love and support in the future.