Friend deserves better than family situation

Published 9:00 am Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Nice Advice by Leah Albert

Dear Leah,

I really need some advice. My 13-year-old friend told me that her stepmom said she hated her and wished she was in jail. She blames her for stealing things her friends give her (like jewelry). Her mother slaps her, and she is scared she is going to do something worse someday. The obvious thing would be to tell the police or move in with someone else, but her dad is under investigation and she would probably have to go into the foster system. She has no one she can live with or stay with. If she runs away, her mom will call the police and lie about everything. It doesn’t seem real — the things you read about and see on TV are actually happening. If you have any advice it would really be appreciated. Why are people like this?

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Signed, Afraid for my Friend


Dear Friend,

I am so sorry to read of the extremely difficult situation your friend is facing. Her mother should not be slapping her, her stepmother should not say she hates her and accuse her of being a thief, and her father does not seem to be defending her from either her mother or stepmother. Your friend needs help to protect her from the adults in her life.

The most important advice I have for your friend is she must find adults to help her figure this out, and to be on her side. She is too young to deal with this on her own. Since she is only 13 years old, she is still in school. Is there a teacher she especially trusts or a counselor or nurse at the school she could speak to confidentially? Perhaps she could go to the library to Google the name of the city or town where she lives and search words such as “help for abused teens” to get the names of local centers for women and teens who have been abused.

Since she has you as a friend, could your parents give her advice — or parents of other friends? Does she have grandparents, aunts or uncles she trusts who could help? Hopefully there’s an adult in the family who knows what’s really going on and could be trusted.

It sounds like she is living with her mother but also sees her stepmother and father. Until your friend gets help, maybe she should stop visiting her father and stepmother. If her father wants to see her, he can take her — and just her — out to eat or to a movie. If he asks why she does not want to come to his home, she should explain she wants time with just him.

As for her mother slapping her, if your friend can figure out what triggers that behavior (Is her mom drinking or doing drugs?), she might be able to know when to avoid her. For instance, if she comes home from school, and her mom is in a terrible mood, can your friend call you or another friend and ask to come over to study together, to get out of her home and potential danger?

There is no good answer as to why people are like this. There are so many possible reasons (they may have been treated that way when they were young, for example), but none are excuses for what is basically cruel behavior. Your friend has to start with the confidence that she is a good person and deserves better, and then she must be creative and strong to find adults who can get her into a better situation. I really hope your friend is able to get help. Take care.



Leah Albert is a fictitious character. She likes wine and writing. Don’t ask her to be a matchmaker. Do send your questions to Leah at