Trigger Warning - Abuse 

I apologize for the length, advice desperately needed!

*

*

*

*

I took Fanny to the dog park this morning. There was a young woman there that I have gotten to know pretty well. She comes several times a week, Fanny adores her so we talk a lot. She’s around 19 and is neurodivergent.

This morning her eyes were puffy and red. I didn’t think much about it, allergy season is here. But after the crowd broke up a bit and we were alone she told me she had been crying all morning because her father is abusive. She started to sob so I held her until she calmed down. I asked what he did, she said he held her hand above the lit burner on the stove, threatened to press it down, and called her a dumb ass. He didn’t do it, I looked at her hands. I sat her down and told her listen to me. That she is not a dumb ass, that she is smart and good, kind, loving and strong. Strong because a lot of people who experience abuse use drugs and alcohol. Or hurt themselves in other ways. I asked her if she was doing any of those things. She said no. I asked her to tell me if she ever did or even thought about it and she promised me she would. She told me he’s always angry with her and has been since her mother married him when she was 13. So, stepdad I guess. I asked her if she told her mother, she had but he’s abusive to her mother as well. I asked if her mother might leave him. She answered that she always says she will but... I assured her I understood, that it’s a hard choice to make and that I wasn’t judging her mother. She asked me why he treated her like that. I told her he was broken. That it was so important that she not allow him to break her too, to make her believe it is ever her fault or she is any of the things he claims. I repeated that she is smart and good. That she’s my friend and I respect her. That my telling her won’t make living with this asshole any easier but she needs to think about what I said, stay strong until she’s able to somehow get away from him, and at least know that I see her differently than he does. By the time her mother picked her up she was smiling again. But my heart broke watching her get back in the car that was returning her to her abuser.

I’m so angry. And I don’t know what to do next. I’m afraid if I talk to the mother she may not drop her off at the park anymore. I don’t want to make things worse. Is it enough to just be there, listen to her and offer comfort? Help me GT.