DEAR ABBY: My mom got married about four months ago, and although it has been only a short time, it's all gone haywire. Her husband has an awful temper, and he's hit her several times. We have even had to leave our own home to get away from him because he is so brutal. Yet my mom keeps going back to him.
I begged her to get the police involved, but she wouldn't. Finally one night, after he had broken her wrist and thrown me out of a chair, he left. We didn't hear from him for three days. Then he came back during the night and tried to break in. My sister called the police and we had three weeks of freedom until my mom dropped the charges against him. My siblings and I were scared and angry, yet Mom brought him back on my sister's birthday.
Now that my stepdad is living with us again, I am scared, and I don't want to live with my mom if she's going to let him stay here. My dad died, so I can't live with him. I have considered running away, but I would like to know -- is there a better way? Please help me. -- NOWHERE TO TURN IN ARIZONA
DEAR NOWHERE: You appear to be intelligent and strong, and deserve to be commended for seeking advice from an adult. You should not have to run away in order to get away from your stepfather.
There are two ways to handle this: The first would be to go to a teacher or counselor at your school and repeat what you have told me. It may be easier to clip this letter and take it with you.
Should your stepfather become violent before you can talk to a trusted adult at your school, you and your siblings should get out of the house and go to a neighbor's home to call for help. Ask the telephone operator to connect you to the 24-hour Child Protective Services Hotline. It is staffed seven days a week and will send the police to remove you to a safe place.
Please write again and let me know how you are. Meanwhile, you are in my prayers.