Is My Step Father Abusive?
TeenHealthFX is glad that you are being honest about how you feel. We can certainly appreciate that you would have hateful feelings for someone who treats you so poorly and calls you such horrible names. We can also appreciate the distress you must be feeling that you want your step-father out of your life, but you are worried about how your mom will react given her comment about killing herself if he leaves.
FX would like to start by talking about abuse. There are four types of child abuse: physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse and neglect. The way your step-father is speaking to you is not ok, is certainly abusive, and could be seen as emotional abuse. You did not specify how your step-father hurts your siblings “on purpose,” but depending on what he is doing there could be physical abuse going on as well.
FX understands that you do not want your mother to be mad at you or to do something to hurt herself. Unfortunately, your mother is not in a healthy place in terms of dealing with how your step-father treats her, you and your siblings. However, that does not mean that all of you should be enduring his abusive behavior because she is not ready to deal with it on her own.
That said, it is important for you to tell a trusted adult what is going on so that someone can intervene to keep you and your siblings safe, as well as to intervene to get your mother the help she needs to deal with this situation in a healthier way. It can be difficult and scary to do something that a loved one might feel angry about. But in this case, telling someone about what is going on is actually being loving to you, your siblings and your mother because you’re making a statement that how your step-father is treating all of you is not okay (which it certainly isn’t!).
FX recommends you speak to a staff member at school, such as the school nurse, a counselor, teacher or even your principal. If you are at all concerned how your step-father or mother might react to your talking to someone (whether you worry they will hurt you, a sibling or your mother will try to hurt herself), then make sure you are clear about that concern with whomever you talk to.
If you are not ready to take the step of talking to someone at school, you could start by contacting The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453). The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline is dedicated to the prevention of child abuse. Serving the U.S. and Canada, the hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with professional crisis counselors who—through interpreters—provide assistance in over 170 languages. The hotline offers crisis intervention, information, and referrals to thousands of emergency, social service, and support resources. All calls are confidential.
If you are even concerned about your immediate safety, or the immediate safety of anyone in your home, then call 9-1-1 right away.
FX is so sorry that you have had to ensure this terrible situation. We want to stress to you that it is not your fault or the fault of your siblings that your step-father treats you this way and that your mother is not able to deal with it in a healthier way. Your step-father and mother need professional help for each of them to get to a healthier place. And FX imagines that you and your siblings would benefit from meeting with a therapist, as well, to give you the support you need given what you have been dealing with. All that said, we hope you will reach out for help as soon as possible so your family can get the help they need and so that you are not dealing with this difficult and complicated situation alone.