Ask Amy

Friday, May 24, 2013 at 4:32pm

DEAR AMY: I am a senior in high school. I have some former friends who have turned on me, and one of them who has a violent streak has started threatening me verbally.

I try to stay away from them, but there are times during the school day that we are almost inevitably going to meet. This friend has been known to bite people and her boyfriend carries a knife around campus.

I was threatened into secrecy about this a year ago, but do not feel safe sleeping in my own bed. I am thinking about talking to the police officer at our school, but I fear my ex-friends will want retribution if I say anything!

I don't know what I should do. Should I risk getting stabbed or brutally beaten by telling someone about my insecurity, or should I suck it up and try to endure their threats?

— Freaked Out Ex-Friend

DEAR FREAKED OUT: Given that you are graduating soon, laying low until then might be your best and safest option. You are in the best position to gauge this threat against you.

I shared your letter with Elizabeth Englander, director of the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center, which works to reduce bullying and violence in schools. She suggests a strategy if you choose to act.

"This kind of incident is very similar to situations where children or spouses are being threatened. You're terrified about your safety, but you're also terrified that reporting it will make it worse. You need to think carefully about how and to whom you report these threats.

"You need to choose an adult who you feel confident will make sure first and foremost that you're physically safe. That might be a parent or an adult at school, or another relative or community member. When you report, be very specific about your fears about being bitten or, worse, attacked with a weapon.

"Ask, 'How can I feel safe? Because I'm extremely scared that by telling you, they'll take revenge.' After you've established a way to stay safe, then you can go ahead and discuss how this came about and other details. The details, ultimately, are going to be very important in helping you to resolve the problem, so don't leave anything out.

"Threats of violence are a crime. If you trust the police officer at your school, he or she may be a good place to start. If possible, have a parent or a friend come with you when you report, to support you. That person's presence will make talking about the situation a little easier. If you're not sure what to say or how to start, print out your letter and take it with you."

DEAR AMY: Our 24-year-old daughter lives in Indiana. Her hometown is in western New York state (where we still live).

She is planning her wedding, and it will be in Indiana. The majority of our relatives live in New York state. His are in Minnesota. What is the etiquette for invitations? I do not believe many of our relatives or friends would attend but we don't want them to think we didn't want them there. Should we still invite them?

— Sleepless Parents

DEAR SLEEPLESS: The couple should invite everyone they would genuinely like to have at their wedding. Leave no one out and make no assumptions in advance about who will or won't decide to travel.

I traverse Interstate Highway 90 from New York state to the Midwest and back several times a year. This is a long but easy drive, nicely broken up by a pit stop in Cleveland. Your family members might enjoy a caravan or car sharing; they should be given the opportunity to decide about attending this event.

DEAR AMY: "Concerned" wrote to you about his on-again (mainly off-again) relationship with a woman who had cheated on him and would not relinquish her ex-boyfriends.

My criteria for dating back in the day was, "If I am going to be by myself, I would rather be alone."

— Sue

DEAR SUE: I agree. Some relationships are so depleting and degrading that you feel lonelier in the relationship than you would by yourself. This was one of those.

Send questions via e-mail to Amy Dickinson's memoir, The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter and the Town that Raised Them (Hyperion), is available in bookstores.

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