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Annie’s Mailbox: Teen’s beau may be potential abuser

Tue., July 28, 2009

Dear Annie: My 14-year-old daughter, “Sara,” thinks she’s in love with a controlling boyfriend who is two years older. In the past six months, she’s become a different child. She recently informed me that she and the boyfriend are having sex.

Sara has a wonderful group of girlfriends who are equally concerned, but most have given up on her. They told me they are not allowed to hang out with Sara anymore. The Boyfriend tells her who her friends can be, where she can go and when, which, by the way, is apparently never.

Sara stays in her room when she’s not with The Boyfriend. I’ve tried talking to her, insisting that she get out more, but she only wants to be with him and begs me to drive her to his house. I’ve said he can come to our home, but he won’t. He claims we hate him, so he hates us, too. I’ve recently even received notes from him, accusing me of not loving Sara as much as he does. He says I am a horrible mother.

The more I try to keep him away, the more she clings to him. Sara says his family loves her and wants her to live with them. When a friend died recently, Sara began seeing a counselor and I have updated him about these new developments. But I’m concerned she will persuade the counselor that we are just too strict. What can I do? – Worried Mom

Dear Mom: A boy who convinces his girlfriend that her family doesn’t treat her right, then isolates her from her friends and controls her activities is a potential abuser. Many young girls mistake possessiveness and jealousy for love. A competent counselor will recognize this pattern, and you should call and make sure he understands the reasons behind your concerns. In the meantime, tell Sara every day that you love her, that she’s a smart, capable, terrific person, and that you will always be there when she needs you.

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. E-mail your questions to anniesmailbox

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