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by Abigail Van Buren

Distance Grows Between Woman and Family After Boyfriend Moves In

DEAR ABBY: For the past year my sister has been involved with a guy she went to high school with. He moved in with her and her 4-year-old son.

Before he moved in, my sister, my mom and I had a pretty decent relationship. Since this boyfriend has come into the picture, our relationship has become strained. He doesn't work, doesn't like her son, and she pays for everything (rent, food, car payments, etc.). Whatever he says, logical or not, she does it.

Recently, my nephew's father reached out to me because she hasn't let him see their son. When I asked my sister why, she had no reasonable explanation. I don't know what to do at this point. She won't even let the family see my nephew now. What should I do? -- MAD IN MARYLAND

DEAR MAD: Your sister's boyfriend has succeeded in isolating her, and it is a very dangerous red flag. This is what abusers do, and you should worry not only about her, but also her son, whom the boyfriend doesn't like. Could they be hiding the child because he has bruises?

As to the father of the boy, if he has been contributing financially for his son, he may, with the help of a lawyer, be able to exert enough influence to get his visitation back. Please suggest it.

For now, all you can do is tell your sister you are concerned for her well-being because she is carrying the whole load. Tell her you are also concerned for the child and that no matter what, you love them both and will be there for them. She needs to hear it. And if necessary, contact child protective services.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Love & Dating | Abuse