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I have a 15 year-old friend who has an extremely controlling boyfriend. I have done a little bit of research and I know that control is a possible sign of abuse. She calls me every now and then to fill me in on how she is doing. She tells me some terrible stories of what her boyfriend has done. He pressures her to have sex, he pushes her out of his car in the middle of nowhere and makes her walk to a phone, he doesn't allow her to have any friends, he prohibits her from talking to me at school, he insults her and her family constantly, he won't allow her to leave her house without him, and he has physically restrained her. I try to give her good advice and to convince her to break up with him, but she won't do it because she is afraid of what he will do to her when she does break up with him. She doesn't think she will be strong enough to resist him. She has told me several times that she is afraid he is going to hit her and she is always telling me that she wants a new life. The worst part of all this is that she believes what he says and she obeys him. I ask her, if she could break up with him, would she, and she always says yes.

I have debated getting her parents involved and I have given her many hotlines to call, but nothing seems to be helping. I need some advice on what I can do for her. I would be very thankful.

Thanks for your note to FEMINIST.COM--and for being such a great (and concerned and insightful) friend. All of your observations clearly indicate that your friend is in a dangerous and potentially more dangerous situation. What you have said so far is enough to warrant concern--and the biggest indicator is that she herself is afraid to leave for fear of the consequences. That acknowledgement alone is a serious--and also genuine concern. Because there are people far more qualified to help your friend than I--I suggest you contact them directly. The first thing to come to mind is Victim Services. They offer one-on-one counselling and group counselling. Knowing a little bit about their approach, I think they will encourage your friend to leave her boyfriend, but will also understand the potential danger and therefore, help her to leave in a way that protects her in the process. Please contact them--and continue to be a good friend throughout the process--although I have no doubt about that. Let me know if you think I can help in any other way. In the interim good luck to you and to your friend.

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