DEAR ABBY: I'm a 16-year-old girl and desperate for advice. My parents' fighting has gotten out of control lately. It got so bad one evening that my mom, my sisters and I had to leave for the night.
I should also mention that my dad is abusive, so I fear for my life when I'm getting yelled at by him. I do not feel safe living with him near me. Call me crazy, but I can't trust my own dad. He has hurt my mom, my sisters and me so badly that I have begun to cut myself trying to heal the pain, but it only makes things worse.
I have tried talking to friends or a counselor, but I didn't like it. I am independent. I like doing things for myself. I am not comfortable talking about my feelings. What can I do to protect my family? -- TRYING TO COPE IN MINNESOTA
DEAR TRYING TO COPE: As much as you might wish to, there is nothing you can do to protect your family from an abusive bully. That is your mother's job. Because it appears she is unable to calm your father or successfully assert herself, the person you must protect is yourself.
Because your father sometimes becomes violent, suggest to your mother that she contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Their toll-free phone number is 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). The counselors can help her assess whether she needs to get you all out of there to ensure your safety.
While I respect your desire to be independent, please understand that some problems need to be discussed with a licensed professional in order to be resolved. Cutting to relieve depression is one of them. That is why it is extremely important that you make the effort to talk to a counselor at school if one is provided, because it may take professional help for you to stop self-injuring.