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Straight Talk: Cut off abusive parent

By: Lauren Forcella
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Dear Straight Talk: I’m 15 and a sophomore in high school. My mom and dad are going through a divorce because my father is a depressed alcoholic and marijuana addict who refuses to seek help. I have kept hidden the fact that he used to beat me all the time and tell me he wished I were dead, but I recently told my mom about it. Despite his actions, my dad thinks we are very close. I guess he doesn’t see what he did as wrong. I want to completely cut him out of my life, but I feel guilty about this decision. I want to know if I am making the right choice. — K From Mariah, 16: You are making a very good choice and you should not feel guilty about it. My mom is a drug addict and alcoholic, too. Most of my childhood memories are of her in the living room drunk and depressed. When I was in kindergarten, she left us after cheating on my dad. In first grade he let her come back because he felt we children needed a mother figure even though she wasn’t a good one. But she left again and over the next two years, she kidnapped us twice and would do nothing to stop her boyfriend from beating up my brothers and his daughter from beating up me and my sisters. To this day my mother is an alcoholic and drug addict. I’m now a sophomore in high school and I didn’t have the guts to emotionally cut her off until now. I wish I’d done it a long time ago because it’s the smartest thing I’ve ever done. Now I see that none of this was ever my fault. I have a lot of depression and trust issues, but now, after cutting her off from my life, I am starting to deal with them. From Katrina, 15: You are making the right decision. I have nothing to do with my mother for many of the same reasons. I told her she has to enter rehab before I will have anything to do with her. From Britney, 15: You are making the right choice.  I had a verbally abusive boyfriend once who thought it was normal to treat his girlfriend like a piece of trash. Every time I’d start to break up with him he would make me feel guilty and selfish, which I now realize was part of the manipulation abusers are known for. As in your situation, he honestly thought we had a close and normal relationship. Talk to more people about it, a police officer or your best friend. I told my best friend and she made me see that I deserved better.  Physical abuse is totally wrong, morally and legally, and will hinder you from going forward with your life. As much as he begs you to forgive him, which he will, don’t fall for it.  Dear K: Your father has beaten you repeatedly, told you he wished you were dead, and he assumes you are close. Isn’t abuse cozy? That you feel guilty over wanting to leave him is classic. Deep down, you feel ashamed that you weren’t “good enough” to win his love. This is the classic pattern that keeps victims in abusive relationships. They keep making excuses for the abuser so they can keep trying to win that love. Listen to the teen panel: Don’t fall for it. You will never win it. And until you emotionally separate yourself, you will not be able to work on healing the damage. (And you need to work it so you don’t hook up with an abusive boyfriend or husband, which is often the next step.) Bravo for telling your mother, now cut him out of your life and get yourself professional help. You deserve love, not abuse. Write to Straight Talk at www.StraightTalkForTeens.com or PO Box 963, Fair Oaks CA 95628.