DEAR ABBY: I'm dating a 15-year-old girl who was seriously physically abused in the past. She and her mom had to move away for a while, but have now been told by Department of Children and Family Services that it's safe for them to move back with her father, who abused her.
After seeing what goes on in this house and hearing her describe how they treat her, I think the physical abuse has changed to mental and emotional abuse. I'm not sure what to do because I'm 18 and it's "illegal" that we are dating. It scares me that they can use anything against me. -- WHAT TO DO?
DEAR WHAT TO DO?: You are not in a position to do anything yourself. If you try to get help for your girlfriend, her parents could create problems for you that would last a lifetime. However, that doesn't mean you shouldn't encourage the girl to help herself by talking to a counselor, a trusted teacher or a clergyperson about the difficulties she's experiencing at home. If she does, they are mandated by law to report abuse. And this is a family that's already been in the system.
DEAR ABBY: I have been unable to ask "Mary" out -- or at least see if she's into me -- because we both work at the same place. I am not the type to be shy with my feelings, but with her it's different. When I see her, I forget everything else. It's as if my whole world stops when I see her smile. She's amazing!
I want to ask her out, but I'm unsure how to, considering that I am a woman. She does not know how I feel about her. What should I do? -- HAS IT BAD IN ARIZONA
DEAR HAS IT BAD: First, see if there are regulations in your employee handbook that discourage employees from dating. If there aren't, go slow and let Mary get to know you as a friend before trying to start a romantic relationship. And before declaring your feelings, be sure that a lesbian relationship is one that your co-worker would welcome.
DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend of three years, "Sam," came home from basic training in the Army and told me he wanted to go active. (He was part of the National Guard.) He has asked me to go with him and I agreed, but in order to do that we have to be married.
I love Sam very much and we have talked about marriage before, but not elopement. He hasn't really "proposed" because he doesn't have a ring. We will be married, but without a real wedding -- yet.
I have no problem with this. It's a bit unconventional, but I love Sam and want to go with him. It will be an opportunity to travel, and I could finish my degree online.
The problem is, how would I define us as a couple? When we move onto the base, I'm worried people will see my ringless finger and ask questions. What should I tell them? And when we do have the actual wedding, what will that be called? -- DON'T WANT TO BE EMBARRASSED IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR DON'T WANT TO BE EMBARRASSED: Not all married women wear wedding rings, although most do. If you are afraid there will be questions if you're not wearing one, you and Sam might consider getting a used gold band to wear until he can buy you something else. If that doesn't appeal to you, then you'll just have to tell people that you are married and you have the license to prove it. (I doubt it will come to that.) And when you and Sam are finally able to have the wedding of your dreams, call it a renewal of your marriage vows because that will be accurate.
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