DEAR ABBY: I am a 16-year-old girl. My parents have been divorced for many years. Just before starting high school, I moved in with my father and my older brother an hour away, because I was not getting along with Mom's new husband.
It didn't take long to realize how bad my father's drinking had become since the divorce. He had a gun and shot holes in the walls, took a shot at my brother's car, and cursed my brother and me almost daily.
Just weeks after I moved in, my brother went off to college, leaving me alone with Dad. Two days ago, I was driving him somewhere, and he got mad and yanked the keys out of the ignition while we were going down the highway at 65 miles an hour. The steering wheel and brakes locked and we almost crashed.
I was so upset that I yelled obscenities at him before retrieving the keys to drive back home. Once we were on our way, Dad began throwing things at me -- then he hit me. He yelled, "Go live with your mother!" When we got home, he called her and she came right away to pick me up.
Now I'm back with Mom and my stepfather, and she wants me to stay. I am torn. As disgusted as I am with my father, I am heartbroken at the thought of moving away from all the new friends I made there. They provided the only stability in my life and kept me going. I feel lost at the prospect of once again starting a new school with strangers. And I miss my dad's black Lab, whom I have grown to love. Dad would never let me take him. I don't know what to do. Please help. -- SOUR AT 16
DEAR SOUR AT 16: As much as you love your father's dog, you were living in an abusive and potentially fatal situation when you were with your dad. For your own safety, you must remain with your mother.
You do not have to lose touch with your new friends. You can remain in contact with them via phone and e-mail. And since you miss having a canine companion to love, ask your mother and stepfather if you can have a family dog. Pets can be a bonding experience.