DEAR ABBY: I am a 17-year-old girl who has been in a relationship for a year and a half with "Richard." I love him with everything in me, but he is mentally and physically abusive. He is also addicted to cough medicine.
I knew I should have stopped talking to him before we started dating, but he was such a mess I thought I could help him -- and I did. He's no longer an alcoholic. He went to jail for seven months because of our age difference, but I refused to testify, so he got out. While he was in there I thought he had changed and wouldn't hit me anymore, but he still does.
Anyone in their right mind would get up and leave, but the one time I did, he pretended he didn't care and I attempted suicide. I don't know what to do. I love him, but I know I shouldn't. -- ABUSED TEEN IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR TEEN: I'm glad you wrote. Richard may no longer be drinking liquor, but cough medicines contain alcohol, which means he's still an alcoholic. His violence toward women will probably never stop unless he is incarcerated for it, and even then there is no guarantee.
Regardless of how much love you give him, you can't fix what's wrong with him or make him love you back because he isn't capable of it.
Because you are so emotionally fragile, you should seek refuge with relatives who can help you heal physically and emotionally from this experience. If that's not possible, then contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Its website is www.thehotline.org, and the toll-free phone number is 800-799-7233. Ask for a referral to a women's shelter where you can receive counseling and support.
Help is available for you if you are open to it. Staying where you are is not an option because if you do, this man could kill you.