I have been going through a lot of trouble at home. My parents are continuously emotionally abusing me. I have been planning on telling someone but the question "What comes next?" always pops in my mind and stops me. I have an incredible fear of being put into group homes and such, but I honestly can’t bear to stay in my home any more. Examples of my emotional abuse include constant rants about how I have no life, and how I am always an ***. This is only the beginning. In addition I don't have any friends nearby so getting out of the house is hard. I don’t know what to do, and how I can lighten the situation. Is there anything I can do?
Raoul (age 13)
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Before I answer your letter at length, I have a question or two. First of all, have your parents ever physically abused you or deprived you of food, clothing, shelter, education, etc.? Second, are your parents literally ALWAYS deliberately making you feel bad, or are there also occasions when they are nice to you and show that they love you? If you were to assign a percentage, about what percent of the time do they put you down, what percent do they compliment you or do something nice, and what percent is their treatment neutral (neither good nor bad)? When they call you an ***, was it during an argument or was it just an offhanded remark?
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Well they do hit occasionally but I've gotten used to it, so the hitting isn't really a problem. In addition they don't deprive me of any necessities. And on circumstances (very few) there have been times when my parents do show some signs of affection, although in many cases in the next minute or so there will be some sort of comment. Things like "Get a life" or "You know, you’re a real a**" just seem to come out of nowhere. It’s incredibly frequent for me to be called “Stupid” and other insults. I would say it’s around 70-75 percent of the time. And 20% neutral.
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Please pardon all my questions, but I want to be sure I have a clear picture of what is going on. Please note, it is NEVER okay for a parent to strike a child. That's a very big concern! I'd like to know a couple other things: 1) are your parents having any difficulties in their lives, such as financial stress or the potential for divorce or family members who are dying or grievously ill? and 2) do you suffer from any physical, mental, or emotional problems? (I'm trying to figure out why they call you "stupid," and that makes me wonder, for example, if you have a form of autism?)
Thanks. Please respond when you can.
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Oh, it’s fine :D. My parents quite often fight, and I have seen some things that could mean a possible (but not likely) divorce. Such as they would fight, then my dad would drink some beer and occasionally get drunk, or he would smoke. I don’t suffer from any problems. I didn’t know why they called me stupid, but I noticed that I started to believe them after a while.
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Okay, I'll work on your question now. One more question that is not so relevant: are you using someone else's email account? The return email says Stacey, but you go by Raoul. Just wondered if you might need to exercise caution in these emails.
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This is an old email. It because of something that happened at school. I was in a computer class and someone changed my info when I stepped out. I sadly took the nickname "Stacey" because of my sexuality and I just didn’t bother to change it because I barely use this email. I accidentally used this email when I set up the form on the website. But I’ve overcome the whole bullying thing (Thanks to you I really have a better school experience *hugs*) And I just wanted to say thank you for all you have done. *hugs tight*
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Ohh, okay. Wait a second: do your parent know you're gay?
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Yes, they found out because they raided my backpack and found a note someone wrote to insult me.
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NOW we get to the crux of the matter. Did all this calling you "stupid" etc. begin before or AFTER they discovered who you were?
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Well it was there before they found out, but it got harsher when they found out. My parents are kind of the bad package. Biased, sexist, and un-open to new things.
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Thanks for all your answers to my questions. Reading through them, it’s evident that your elders are poor parents indeed. They are both physically and emotionally abusive. Such behavior often arises from a couple of things: 1) the parent is stressed for some reason (not an excuse to abuse), and 2) the parent was him/herself abused as a child (also not an excuse, but being psychologically injured leads to poor behavior; I’d bet a thousand bucks one or both of your parents were abused as kids).
Child abuse is self-perpetuating, with one generation of abusers passing it on to the next. The risk here is that you yourself will become abusive to any children you might have in the future because you are being educated that this is how parents treat children, you are being desensitized to violence (“the hitting isn't really a problem”), and they are ruining your self-esteem (people with low self-esteem often become bullies).
Not only is their behavior injuring you, but it is completely ineffective as a way to discipline a child (if the goal is to correct some misbehavior, which doesn’t even seem to be the case here). If you would like to take the time to read all the reasons hitting children is wrong, read this helpful article.
What I think is happening here is that your parents sensed that you were “different” (even before the letter was found) and, because of their poor upbringing, they don’t know how to handle you. You make them uncomfortable, and so, in their limited intellectual capacity, they call you names. Then they discover you are gay and that abuse intensifies. If you ask me, they are the stupid ones.
Now that we understand the problem, what’s to be done?
First, recognize that your parents’ abuse is not okay. They are damaging you more than you probably realize. Now, it’s often true that young teens resent disciplinary action from their parents, but what you are describing is not discipline for the sake of trying to nurture you: no, it’s malicious.
I would like to recommend that you visit the Boys Town page, which is an outstanding organization that helps troubled young people such as yourself. They have a hotline you can call, and they help all people regardless of race or religion or sexual orientation.
Should the abuse escalate (or just become more and more intolerable) and you haven’t gotten enough help from Boys Town, you can contact the Family and Child Services Department in your hometown at 760-554-7751. Finally—and God forbid—if you feel in immediate physical danger, call 911 and get the police over to your home.
But start with Boys Town. Perhaps they can suggest ways for you to talk to your parents (you know, they might not even be aware they are hurting you—giving them a huge benefit of a doubt and probably crediting them more than they deserve) or some other way to resolve the issue through improved communication.
At any rate, it’s important that you stop this abuse and help yourself where your parents are failing. Sadly, this means you will have to do a lot of growing up early in life, but it’s better than having your parents ruin your spirit.
The good news is that you recognize what they are doing and are taking steps to try to improve your life. This means they haven’t broken you yet—great!
We know from your earlier letter to me that you can stand up for yourself when it comes to your peers at school. That was brave of you, and it improved your life. I’m proud of you. Now, even more challenging, standing up to your parents—not physically, but there are things you can do. For example, when they call you stupid, have you ever looked them in the eye and said, “No, I’m not stupid.” Don’t whisper it, but don’t yell it. Just say, in a very calm and clear voice that can be easily heard, “No, I’m not stupid.” This is a good thing, too, to rehearse in the bathroom. Look at yourself in the mirror and repeat that sentence 10 times each morning. Also, any other names they call you, counteract them in the same way.
I don’t think you’re stupid at all. You have the antivenin for your parents’ poison. It comes from inside you. Don’t buy their crap. It’s a very hard thing to do, but you can do it (it took a long time for me to overcome being called “useless as tits on a boar” by my Texan father, but I did it, and I was probably a much wimpier kid at your age than you.)
Please write again and let me know how it goes. Papabear’s here for you.
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