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  • Paranoid

    I'm 19 and I'm living at home while I complete my degree online and work part-time. My parents (and especially my mother) are very controlling and emotionally abusive, despite the fact that I am a legal adult. I have always been respectful of their rules, but I feel that some of them are unfair. For example, they insist on being authorized signers on my checking account, and they have taken my money before without my permission. I'm too afraid to open a new account or close the old one, because I don't know how they'll react. When I asked about it before, they became very angry and told me that I was being disrespectful and ungrateful.

    They also give me very little privacy. They monitor my bank account constantly, so I am questioned about all of my purchases. In the past, they read all of my text messages between myself and my boyfriend and threatened to never let me see him again. They come into my room sometimes when I'm not home and snoop around and dig through my drawers - I'm not sure what they're looking for, because I have never done drugs, and there's nothing for them to "find." They also tell me all the time that I am still a child and that I have no rights to my possessions or to any privacy as long as I live with them. I hate it, but I can't afford to go anywhere else, and my boyfriend (who is in the military) is in Germany. I have no other friends or relatives to stay with.

    Because of how controlling my parents are, I constantly feel like I am being watched. I often feel scared and anxious when I leave the house, because I never know when they are going to go through my belongings or take my money, which they say they have a right to do because they pay the rent. I sleep with my phone under my pillow every night because I'm afraid my mother will take it, and whenever I make her angry, I delete all of my messages because I worry that she'll try to read them or take my phone. She has caught me telling other people (my boyfriend, for instance) how I am being treated, and she gets very angry and takes my phone and computer away so that I can't contact anyone. She's never been physically abusive, but I feel that if I made her angry enough or tried to stand up for myself, she would get that way very easily.

    In the past, I have even been afraid that she follows me around when I leave the house, even though I know that she's at work and I'm just being paranoid. I hate feeling this afraid and worried all the time; it's exhausting. I just don't know what to do because I can't afford to leave.

  • #2
    Re: Paranoid

    Hey there,

    Thanks for reaching out to the National Runaway Safeline. The situation you described sounds extremely frustrating. It’s completely understandable that you would feel anxious and paranoid when you know that your parents might go through your things, read your private text messages, or take your money without asking. Nobody deserves to be emotionally abused or have to worry about the possibility of physical violence, no matter their age or where they are staying.

    It seems you’re feeling stuck. Further, while you have the right as a legal adult to manage your own money and property, your parents also have the legal right to ask you to leave their home. That sounds like a very fine line to walk, although there may be some ways to try making the situation a little more bearable. You didn’t mention whether or not you have a job, but if you’re able to balance that with your schooling that could be one way of supplementing some of the money that your parents are taking out of your account. We also wonder if you might be able to work out an agreement with your parents about them taking your money. You told us that your parents are taking money without your consent even though you’ve asked them not to; perhaps an arrangement could be made where you provide a small amount of money on a regular basis and, in exchange, your parents agree not to take money or go through your things without your permission. If you think an arrangement like that might work for you, we do have a conference call service available where you and a parent can talk on the phone with one of our liners to try negotiating terms. You can learn more about this service by calling 1-800-RUNAWAY (786-2929).

    If some kind of arrangement isn’t possible, there may be other ways to try coping with this very stressful situation. You mentioned that you don’t have other friends or family in the area, and that your boyfriend is in Germany. Also, since your parents look through your phone, you might be feeling like you don’t have many options to talk about what you’re going through. If you’re comfortable doing so, perhaps you might be able to work with a counselor or therapist who can provide regular support. We can look up counseling services that are in your area if you call us at 1-800-RUNAWAY.

    Finally, know that nobody deserves to in an abusive household. While there hasn’t been physical abuse in the past, you have every right to contact the police if your parents become physically abusive in the future. We can also identify shelters in your area if there is ever an emergency situation requiring you to leave home right away.

    You must be an incredibly strong person to keep up with your school work while also coping with such a difficult home environment. You should be proud of yourself for that. We hope that some of these suggestions are helpful, and we are more than happy to talk about these or other options any time over the phone. Our liners are available 24/7 if you need to talk to somebody. Good 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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