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I wanted to post this a few weeks ago and now I finally have posting privileges, so here goes.

I need some advice. I’m really, really worried about my younger sister.

We both grew up very, very conservative, in a Protestant Christian household, in a small town. My dad is emotionally and sexually abusive to my mom and completely ignored us when we were growing up, leaving 100% of parenting duties, including paying bills, to my mom. I became the “black sheep” as an adult and am no longer religious; she is still devoutly religious and completely entrenched in my dad’s church group. Because we don’t agree on religion we are no longer close, although we were inseparable as kids.

She is 22 years old. She finally moved out of my parents’ house for the first time a couple months ago. She is a virgin and plans to save her virginity for marriage. She is now dating a man who is 39 with a 15-year-old son, and word around the community is he has been physically abusive to and completely neglectful of his son. On top of that, she is a runner and obsessive about her diet - she eats only vegan food. My mom just told me she hasn’t had a period in more than 3 months, and she’s not on birth control. Obviously she has amenorrhea. Not only is this potentially dangerous, I think it’s an eating disorder that stems from a need to control something in her life.

I’ve been in multiple abusive relationships. I think I can potentially help her, if she lets me. The food problem and the attraction to an older, abusive man both stem from the way we were raised, I think, which was extremely misogynistic and emotionally damaging. But the problem is, because I’m not religious and because I myself have made so many more obviously stupid decisions, I’m not sure she’ll listen to me. I’m afraid she’s just going to get angry and not talk to me anymore. I don’t want to judge her; I know from experience that no one can save you from an abusive relationship. You have to recognize it for what it is before you can be free of it. But I wish I could help her somehow. What should I do? How should I approach this? I am going to kick myself if she marries this asshole and I don’t at least say something. And in the community she is part of, that’s entirely possible. My parents were married after knowing each other for only three months. Help me! I’m so worried. :(

EDIT: All of you have given me kind, thoughtful advice, and I really appreciate your willingness to listen, to tell your own stories, and to take the time to help me. It seems like the general consensus is what I already suspected: this is something she won't listen to me on until she is ready. So I think I'll write her a brief message telling her if she ever needs someone to talk to or vent to, I'll listen, and that I miss her. And maybe...just maybe...she'll at least feel comfortable talking to me about it when she's ready.


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