DEAR ABBY: I am a 14-year-old girl. Lately I have been dealing with overwhelming feelings of sadness and depression. Just recently I found out that my sister's ex had physically abused her and her daughter. When my sister told me, she made me swear I wouldn't tell our parents. Not only do our parents not know, but she refuses to take it to court or to report it. When I confronted her, she told me she would rather put it behind her and forget about it.
I don't understand how she can let this man get away with what he did.
I don't know who to turn to. If I tell my parents, my sister will never trust me again. But if I don't tell, he might come back and hurt them. Please tell me what to do. -- TERRIFIED FOR MY SISTER
DEAR TERRIFIED: Your sister, like many victims of domestic violence, may blame herself for what happened to her and feel too embarrassed to report it. It is also not uncommon for men who beat up their partners to also abuse their children.
For her daughter's sake, the crime(s) should have been reported when they occurred and there was solid proof. However, because she didn't do that, I can only hope that she will keep the child away from her father -- who obviously hasn't enough impulse control to safely act as a responsible parent.
Some secrets are meant to be kept, but this isn't one of them. There is no reason you should carry this burden alone. Tell your parents and don't feel guilty about it. I have been advised that depression is anger turned inward. You are sad because you feel helpless to do anything about your sister's circumstances. Once your parents know what happened, they can help your sister ensure her safety and that of her daughter.