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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I am 15 years old. My mother and father are divorced. Dad remarried a woman with three kids. I have a younger sister and brother. We live with my dad.

Last week, I heard my stepmother talking on the phone to a friend about my brother, sister and me. She said, "I didn't bargain for them." She is always complaining to Dad about us. Our mother wasn't very good to us either, and she gave us to Dad.

Whenever my brother, sister or I gets sick, my stepmother complains if she has to take us to the doctor. We don't eat dinner until 7 or 8 at night. She dishes out our food. We're not allowed to serve ourselves. If we don't like what she gives us, she yells at us. Her kids wait until she leaves the room to throw their food in the trash can. If she sees it, she blames us and doesn't believe we didn't do it. Her kids sit and watch TV while we get in trouble for not picking up after ourselves. We try. She and her mother are always saying bad things about Daddy behind his back.

My grandma says I should tell Daddy. If I do, I know he'll get mad at me. He yells a lot, too, and believes everything my stepmother tells him.

After my mother gave us to him, I heard him say to her, "This wasn't in the plan."

If you print this, Abby, I would like to tell my dad: Please believe us. We don't lie to you. Give us a hug now and then. Tell us you love us. See that we are trying. Please stop yelling at us. How can we be good when all you see is bad? Daddy, can't you see how sad everyone is?

And to my stepmother, I'd like to say: We try to be good so you'll like us. You say you raised your kids right. Teach us the right way, too. Please stop yelling. I want to love you if you will give me a chance. We just need someone to love us in our house. -– NO NAME, NO ADDRESS, NO PHONE

P.S. I'm sorry this letter is a mess. I had to write it at school. Abby, if you print this so my dad will see it, please, please, please don't reveal where it came from.

DEAR NO NAME: It saddens me to say this, but you are not alone in your plight. Please read on:

DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend's little sister is being abused by her stepfather. He threw her into a closet door. She has a noticeable black-and-blue mark on her arm. I don't know what to do. I'm not sure how often this has happened before.

Part of me is screaming to tell. Another part of me warns me not to for fear that he will do something bad to me. I'm so confused. I don't know what to do. -– NO NAME, NO ADDRESS, NO PHONE

DEAR NO NAME, NO ADDRESS, NO PHONE I & II: I understand why neither of you felt comfortable revealing your personal information. I have received many similar letters over the years, and I always feel frustrated that I cannot personally contact you.

I'm printing your letters as a reminder to all young people who find themselves in similar situations to speak to a school counselor, a trusted relative, family friend, neighbor or member of the clergy, AND TELL THEM WHAT IS GOING ON.

Also, there are several toll-free hotlines to call, including The Childhelp USA National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-422-4453. Also, there is Boys Town National Hotline for boys and girls at 1-800-448-3000. All calls are confidential.

Adults who suspect a child is being physically or emotionally abused should call local child protective agencies, local law enforcement or the above hotlines. Help IS available.

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