For the last couple of years, since my mom and step-dad married, he has been treating my siblings and me badly. I’m the oldest, being 16, and I have a younger sister who is 12,and a younger brother who is only a little over a year old. My step-dad gets up in my face quite often yelling and screaming. Other family members and my friends have witnessed it. No one in my family likes him except for my mother, (who seems to have a thing for abusive men. She divorced my father to reconcile with the man that punched her in the stomach and put a loaded revolver to her head while she was pregnant with me). My step-dad has come at me several times, asking if I wanted a piece of him and getting a little too close for comfort. I’m afraid that he’s going to actually hit me sometimes.
He tells me that I’m wasting my time with sports because I’m slow and fatter than I was last year (I’ve actually slimmed down sense track season last year). I don’t want to leave my school behind because I’m receiving connections here that will make it possible to go to my dream college. Also, I would have to leave my horse behind (I’ve been barrel racing and riding horses my whole life. My horse means the world to me), and I would have to leave my boyfriend. My dad lives 3 hours away. I can’t handle living here anymore. There’s not a day that goes by that I’m not crying. I have depression. Thoughts of not wanting to live anymore have always been there. But being in this situation makes it worse. I don’t think that I could ever take my own life, but the thought of wanting something to happen to me so I wouldn’t have to live anymore are still there. I want help and I want to feel okay again. I can’t do that here. The last time I asked for help from my doctor, my step-dad flipped out on me and screamed telling me I ruined everyone’s lives. I don’t know what to do… Is there any way I can deal with this without leaving my home and the people and things I care about? I’ve lived in this house almost my whole life.. I don’t want to leave with him still here. (age 16, from US)My Stepfather Causes Me to Hate Home Life
My Stepfather Causes Me to Hate Home Life
Thanks for writing in with your question. You are in a very difficult situation and there’s probably not going to be a simple solution, but I believe there is always hope. It sounds like you have a lot going for you and things you care about such as school, sports, your horse and your boyfriend. Having positive things to put your time and focus on can make intolerable situations tolerable many times. However, I think it’s also important to know when you’ve had enough.
If you feel like you can handle the current situation a couple more years by putting your energy into the things you mention, you may be able to handle the unhealthy home environment. I agree it would be immensely helpful if you could speak to a therapist to help you with this. Ohio has a law that supports teens getting a certain number of sessions without the parents being involved. You said your stepfather was upset by you asking for help but how did your mom feel? If seeing an outside therapist just doesn’t happen, speak to your school counselor for additional support.
On the other hand, if moving in with your father is an option, you might want to seriously consider it. It would be hard to leave the things you care about but living in a respectful environment might be worth some sacrifice. Can you talk to your father about bringing your horse (even if you have to board it close by) and how often he could help you visit your friends and boyfriend, as well as your younger siblings? Also, have you tried talking to your mom about how stressful the home environment is becoming? Let her know that you feel scared and intimidated by your stepfather’s behavior and that you hope she can support you and your siblings more.
Finally, if your stepfather does cross the line and hits you, or if the verbal abuse gets too intense, you need to alert the authorities. You can call the police or call Child Protective Services directly. You can also speak to a teacher or your doctor and they will help you.
As difficult as your home life is right now, you have some strengths that you can fall back on and future goals to help see you through. Whatever you do, don’t give up.
All the best,
Dr. Holly Counts