This question was submitted to Kids Help Phone by a young person and answered by one of our professional counsellors. Before you start reading, we want to let you know the following question mentions experiences of family abuse that may be upsetting.
I’m 15 and my mom and me are soon moving out because my dads mentally abusing me and her. It’s getting to the point where it’s getting slightly physically abusive too. I just don’t know what to do…today I’m home with him because there’s no school and my mom works and he is yelling at me and smashing stuff on the floor and he’s putting my mom down and saying horrible stuff about her and it hurts me when he puts her down. I am in my room crying because I don’t know what else to do and he told me to act like a 15 year old and not a 5 year old and he’s making fun of me crying and I hate crying because it makes me feel like a baby but I don’t know what else to do to get my emotions out… :'( every day I cry so much that I get to the point where I feel sick. I don’t know how to deal with him all day without having a breakdown…I feel like nobody knows how I feel and nobody cares. I try to talk to my older and younger sisters about how I feel but they don’t seem to fully understand. Even tho their going through the same stuff. I’m depressed and I don’t feel like talking to anyone about it because I feel like they won’t believe me or care. I think so horrible about myself and my dad doesn’t help because he says I’m going to have a horrible life because I’m living with my mom but my mom is one of the best parents out there. He says everything is mine and hers fault and he doesn’t take the blame for anything and I often blame myself 🙁 please help me :'(
I want to start by saying that what your father is doing is not you or your mother’s fault. Your father is responsible for his own behaviour. Unfortunately people often try to blame their actions on others because they do not want to accept responsibility. It is understandable that such actions can lead to blaming yourself however it is not your fault. When I read your post I pictured two individuals standing and one of these individuals is yelling at the other one. The individual being yelled at is shrinking and the individual yelling is slowing becoming larger as they place the blame for everything on the other individual. Does this sound right? I am hoping that my response provides you with some ideas of how to cope with the situation and some next steps too. You shared that your father was getting slightly physically abusive and that he was smashing stuff on the floor. This concerns me and makes me wonder if there are times when you do not feel safe. I want to highly encourage you that if you ever do not feel safe that you should call 911 (I know that it can be a big step to call the police). It is important to make sure that if you ever worry about your physical safety that you call for help. Your father may become angry but when the police arrive it would be important to let them know what your father was doing and what his behaviour has been like. It would also be important to have a safety plan for you and your sisters so that you can protect yourself. Some important things to include in a safety plan would be: Where could you go if you needed to leave your house in a hurry (this could be a friend’s house, a neighbour’s house, a store, a community centre, any place that would be safe)? How would you get safely to the safe location (a taxi, a bus, a car, etc.)? What would you need to take with you (i.e. money, clothes, phone, ID, etc.)? Who would you need to call to let them know that you had left the house (your mother, your sisters if they were not home)? The hope would be that you and your mother will move and you will never need this safety plan but I would encourage you to be prepared so that if you ever felt threatened that you could get somewhere safe. You spoke of how you had younger sisters. I am wondering if any of your sisters are under the age of 16. If they are Child Protection Services may be something that you want to consider (I know that this would be a big step but I want to make sure that you are aware of them). Child Protection Services main goal is to make sure that children are safe. They work with families to put supports in place to help children. These supports vary depending on the family’s need. If you would like more information about Child Protection Services in your area you can contact Kids Help Phone and a counsellor can help you. If you decided to make a report then a counsellor could give you the number or make the call with you. Some people find it helpful to have a trusted adult with them when they make a report. In your post you talked about how you were crying every day and that this provided you with a way to get your emotions out. I want to assure you that crying is ok and that a lot of people who find it a helpful method of getting their emotions out. I am wondering how else you cope with your emotions. Sometimes people find it helpful to listen to music, exercise, draw, or remove themselves for a time from the situation that they are trying to cope with (i.e. going to a friend’s house, joining an activity, etc.). You talked about how you felt like nobody knew how you felt and that your sisters did not seem to fully understand what you were going through. Everyone experiences abuse differently and copes with it differently. Some people find it helpful to talk to a safe person in their lives that will listen to what they are going through and who could support them by being there. This could be a teacher, coach, neighbour, friend, etc. Often times talking with someone can help individuals feel less alone and less sad. With everything that you are coping with it may be helpful to have someone listen to you and remind you that you are not to blame. I want to encourage you to contact Kids Help Phone if you ever need any support and do not know where to turn. The counsellors are always available by phone to help.