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Verbally/emotionally/physically (?) Abusive Father

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  • Verbally/emotionally/physically (?) Abusive Father

    Hello, i apologize in advance for the lengthy post.

    I am a 16 year old girl who lives with my dad, step mom, and 3 younger siblings, who are 14, 13, and 4. I'm the oldest, and a lot of responsibilities fall on me, which I am normally willing and capable of doing, but lately, nothing I do ever seems to please my dad.
    It started about 5 years ago, after our family had moved into a large house with a lot of acerage, which required a large amount of upkeep, cleaning, yard work, etcetera. It was extremely stressful for everyone. My dad started taking it out on us. He called us names, sweared at us, and took away priveledges for little mistakes we made (leaving dishes in the sink, forgetting to switch the laundry). I remember vividly the threats he made and his outbursts at our "lack of common sense" and "stupidity". It wasn't completely unwarranted, because my brother had started to steal and lie to us about school and money, but it wasn't anything that deserved physical abuse, which is what he did. I recall my father dragging my brother outside by the ear, twisting it so hard he would bruise, holding him upside down, kicking him in the stomach, and throwing him around while screaming into his face and calling him a p***y for crying. I also remember him yanking me by the clothes and threatening to hit me with his tools, him literally kicking me in the a**, and smacking me over the head whenever I didn't know how to do something or did something wrong, followed by a string of "you f****** retard" and other expletives. I'm not sure if this is considered real physical abuse, since he technically had a reason to be upset with me.

    Things got a little better after my brother went to military school and got out of the house and moved into a new, smaller house which requires less work (we have lived their for about a year now). I however, became the new scapegoat. Everything that goes wrong around the house is my fault. I wrecked it, I broke it, I lost it, I forgot to do it. He also takes it out on my mom, talking about how she spends all his money (she absolutely does not, she has her own business), wears stupid clothes, buys useless crap, and doesn't listen to him or support him or love him. I'm very worried they will get a divorce, which would make his emotional abuse and accusations 10x worse. I have foolishly tried to stand up and defend myself and my mom, and to call him out on his actions. He mockingly says "Oh, you're soooooo abused. You have no idea how good you've got it here in my house. You think things are bad now? Just wait until I....." and continues with threats or how I will never amount to anything in the future because I've ignored his "advice and lessons".

    I've recently tried to ignore the abusive words and names, but it is unbelievably difficult. I know it is abuse, but part of me still believes the things he says. I want to be tough, I want to just ride out these last few years until I graduate and go to college, but my anxiety just seems to take over.

    I have talked to my mom about this. She is a child psychologist and understands what is going on with my dad, but she can't share this with anyone or go to anyone. She says if people find out that she didn't not speak up to authorities about this the moment it started to happen, she could lose her job and her licence. She's warned me to be very careful about what I disclose to people about the situation. She knows things are difficult and she tries to console me in covert ways so my dad does not feel like he's being turned against.

    I love her so much, but it's not enough. I want to go. I want out of this sh**** situation. I've talked to her about suicide, but she said if I'm that desperate she'd rather have me run away and live at a friend's house. And as crazy and impulsive as it sounds, I am running out of options and it seems like the best one. I don't know what to do. If I stay, I know the verbal abuse will continue and my self worth will plummet to rock bottom, but if I go, I run the risk of being returned to my dad. It would not be good, a guarantee that things would never be the same within our relationship. I have so much guilt for making my dad angry and abusive already, I don't know if I could handle the guilt of tearing our family apart as well.

    Again, i apologize for the long post, but thank you to anyone who reads this or replies.

  • #2
    Hi there,

    Thank you for reaching out to us. We understand how hard it must be talk about this, especially with the pressure your mom is putting on you not to, so thank you for recognizing the importance of your safety, health, and wellbeing. It sounds like your father is physically and emotionally abusing you and your siblings. There’s no excuse for him to hit or yell at you in this way, no matter what mistakes you may have made. You deserve to be in an environment where you are safe and supported. We’re so sorry that you don’t have that right now at home.

    You said you’re considering running away to a friend’s house. It makes perfect sense to want to get out of the situation you’re in right now, it doesn’t sound crazy or impulsive. We’re not legal experts here, but we can give some more general information about how running away tends to work. Running away is a status offense---it’s illegal only due to age and will not go on a criminal record. Your parents would have the legal right to file a runaway report and normally police would have the right to try to return you home. However, because your father is abusive you also have a legal right to report the situation and get to a safe place. This means that if you want to go to a shelter or if police attempt to return you home, you could tell them about the abuse and they would report it to Child Protective Services. Abuse reporting is always an option, and if you’d like to talk about what that would mean or get help filing a report, you can always call us at 1(800)786-2929 or Child Help at 1(800)422-4453.

    It sounds with your parents’ potential reactions to you leaving it is understandable to be wary. However, your health and happiness are incredibly important. It is so admirable that even while you’re going through all of this you’re still thinking about your family and their happiness, that takes a lot of empathy. But there’s no reason to feel guilty for wanting to be able to live safely and take care of yourself. It’s okay and in this case seems necessary to prioritize your own life. If you want to talk through your options and how you can get to a place where you can be safe, know you can always call us or use our chat at

    You mentioned feeling suicidal at times and struggling with anxiety. Your life and happiness are important, and if you ever feel in danger of hurting yourself please reach out to 911, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1(800)273-8255, or our phone or chat. Thanks again for reaching out.

    We wish you the best of luck,

    Please remember you can reach us directly by calling our 24 hour hotline, 1-800-RUNAWAY (786-2929) or through our Live Chat.

    National Runaway Safeline
    [email protected] (Crisis Email)
    1-800-RUNAWAY (24 Hour Hotline)


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