Desperate to Help Friend Being Abused By Boyfriend


One of my closest friends has been in an incredibly emotionally and mentally abusive relationship for over three years. This person essentially controls every single aspect of her life–from how she spends her time, to who her friends are, to the way in which she views her own self-worth.

It’s heartbreaking to see someone I care about go through this, and I feel as though our other friends and I have done everything we can to help her, but nothing is working. I know that the want to leave has to come from her, but my greatest fear at this point is that before she finds the strength to leave, they’ll move in together and eventually get married. I can see her hurting and suffering, but I just don’t know what to do. How can I help her???  Continue reading

What is a home and how do I find one?

Dear Liz,

They say home is where the heart is. But I don’t know where my heart is…

My life has been one of inconsistency. I am 21 years old and already I have lived in 15 different “homes” (houses). That number doesn’t include the two separate places where both of my parents currently reside while I attend school (also not counted) on the opposite side of the country. I see them for a few weeks every 6 months, the case for the last 3 years. If I define a place I’ve lived as a place where I have a permanent bed I can call my own, the number is nearly 20. Almost one for every year that I have walked this earth. This doesn’t bother me, except the inconvenience of travel (I’ve had to drive cross-country about 4 times now, once by myself which was fun). I like to be independent.  Soon I will be faced with a strange predicament where I could choose Oregon, Nevada or New Hampshire as my state of residence. This is not where my struggle lies, though.

Small talk with peers always includes my least favorite question: So where are you from? Sometimes I say California, sometimes New Hampshire, other times I just say it’s complicated and that I’m from nowhere and everywhere. I have discovered a very interesting form of homelessness. While I am not living on the streets, I feel as though I have no real home. There is Continue reading

Sexual Abuse

Dear Readers:  The person who submitted this question is a young woman—as such, I’ve decided to engage the topic of sexual abuse as it pertains to girls/women.  I am very aware that boys/young men are also victims, and I in no way intend to marginalize their experience by speaking solely about girls/women—I am simply tailoring my response to the circumstances presented to me by this questioner.  

Dear Liz,

I had a horrible relationship with my mother in high school because she was dealing with her newly diagnosed bi-polar disorder.  We would always clash because I didn’t know what she was going through, but now I fear I am turning into her. I see myself lashing out sometimes and getting upset over things that seem to have no substance, and when I do calm down I realize that I shouldn’t have gotten angry. Most of the time I take it out on my boyfriend, and that’s what I fear the most.  I don’t want to upset him over tiny fights and push him away. It’s like I have in my head this “self-fulfilling prophecy” that of course I’m going to turn into my mother—I feel like I’m making that fear come true.  My boyfriend is very supportive of me trying to deal with this situation. He never gets mad at me in return—when I am angry he tries to solve where it is coming from and why.  My worst fear is pushing him away while trying to figure this out. 

I don’t know if this aggression I have is stemming from me thinking I am turning into my mother, or from the sexual abuse I suffered in high school from my first boyfriend at the age of 14. My boyfriend would hit me, cheat on me, and sexually assault me—this was all very frequent for 9 months.  I was so young and sensitive and he was 17 and I didn’t know what to do, so I put up with it.  When I’d tell him I wanted to end it, he would threaten to kill himself.  He finally hit me in public once, and my best friend and her boyfriend saw, which gave me a way out because he got scared that I wasn’t the only one to know anymore. 

While all this was going on with my boyfriend, my mother was dealing with her anger over being raped by her cousin.  When she returned home for a wedding, she saw him and he hugged her as if nothing happened.  It brought up so many emotions for her and she ended up taking it out on me—she would lash out and hit me—it got so bad that my dad and I had to move out for a few months.  I went to a therapist for a while and I thought I had dealt with my pain, but with all these emotions now I’m not sure what to think. I get so angry at little things, like my personal short comings and when things don’t go as planned—it’s starting to affect my life.  I just want to get my anger or whatever seems to be happening to me under control before I turn into my ex or my mom.  I’m lashing out like I did before I went to my counselor in high school.  I’m not sure where to go from here. I don’t know if you have any insight for me, but I’ll wait to hear back.         Continue reading