Dear Annie: I’m 14 and have a good friend I’ll call “Emily.” Emily recently told me she is having trouble with her boyfriend, and she is scratching herself.
Her boyfriend is controlling. He’ll call her when she’s at the mall and ask, “Where are you?” “Who are you with?” “Are you hanging out with any boys?” She says he does this frequently, and sometimes she gets mad and lies about being with other guys and he says, “Don’t you love me?” I told her she should probably break up with him before it gets worse, but she insists they love each other.
Emily also told me she scratches herself with needles, safety pins and anything else sharp. She showed me the scars. They’re everywhere – all over her arms, legs and stomach. I asked her why she does this, and she said it feels good when she’s upset. I asked if she was seeing a therapist, and she said yes, but she only had one more session because the rates were about to go up and her family couldn’t afford it.
Annie, I don’t know what to do. I’ve told my mom, and she doesn’t know what to do, either. I’m afraid if I tell Emily’s parents, she’ll never speak to me again, but if I don’t and something bad happens, I’ll feel guilty for the rest of my life. Please help. – Scared Friend
Dear Friend: Ask your mother to speak to Emily’s parents. Scratching herself is how Emily takes control of her feelings, although it is self-destructive and harmful. Her boyfriend sounds overly possessive and potentially abusive. We’re glad she’s seeing a therapist, and if money is an issue, the school counselor may be able to help. You are a good friend. Don’t let fear of Emily’s reaction stop you from doing what you can to help her.
Dear Annie: A female friend of mine invited me to a concert, and I accepted. On the day of the concert, she called to say she wouldn’t be able to attend as she had to go out of town on business, but her boyfriend of a few months (with whom she lives) would be accompanying me to the concert instead.
I had met her boyfriend only very briefly one time and hardly knew him, so I was very surprised by this. I mentioned that I thought it would be more appropriate if I invite another friend of mine to accompany me. She immediately became miffed and hung up. We haven’t spoken since. Was I wrong? – Left Hanging
Dear Left: It would have been very gracious of your friend to give you her ticket so you could have the escort of your choice, but unless you wanted to reimburse her for the cost, she was entitled to give it to whomever she wished. Please call her up and apologize for being skittish about attending a concert with her boyfriend and ask if you can put this behind you.
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