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Terrified of My Father, Nightmares that He Will Kill Me

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My father has always had issues with drugs, drinking, and anger issues. All three together are just toxic. He is fine, fine, fine – for weeks/months – then will decide he doesn’t need his meds (for his anger problems) and go off them. Within a day, he is a raging lunatic. Screaming, yelling, hitting my mother, breaking doors, snapping his cell phone in half, kicking the dogs. Recently he started cheating on my mother as well, he keeps denying it even though he has been caught. He is driving while extremely drunk, ignoring all calls, and coming home from work 5-6 hours late.

I am trying to continue living at home until I finish college, so I can save and have money for a house when I graduate, instead of moving out and paying rent. If I moved out, I’d likely need to quit school to work two jobs to support myself. I really want to just finish school and get on with my life, have a good life – but living in this house is starting to effect my mental health. I have dreams about my father killing me and my family, several times a week. I have to tip toe around him – sometimes, even just making eye contact will set him off. I’m extremely stresses and worried in my own house. I’m scared to leave my mother and sister and dogs alone with him. Often, when I get home from school at night, I brace myself to walk in and find that he had killed them.
I really just don’t know what to do. I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety since my early teens but I’ve learned to cope fairly well – but in such a toxic environment I find it hard to stay in a good mental place.
I’m faced with choosing between living in constant fear and worry, or finishing school to have the life I always wanted. Help, please?

Terrified of My Father, Nightmares that He Will Kill Me

Answered by on -


Your mental health is more important than anything. Living in that kind of chaos and fear won’t serve you well. Don’t defer your moving out. Start the process of looking for solutions rather than tolerating the abuse. I recommend talking to financial aid at your university — asking about housing (both on and off campus) — and speaking to the counseling center (and the women’s center in your county.) There may be resources to help you with finances, living arrangements and therapy as you transition out of your house — and into your independence.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

Terrified of My Father, Nightmares that He Will Kill Me

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2018). Terrified of My Father, Nightmares that He Will Kill Me. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 6, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 26 Apr 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.