Teenage Problems/Am I being emotionally abused?
QUESTION: Hi I'm 16 and I think I may be being emotionally abused and I'm sick of it.
For as long as I could remember my little sister was favoured over me. She get away with everything I couldn't. I would do the exact thing she would and I would get yelled, she would get explained to how the behaviour was wrong. Sure I was older but it didn't make it fair. I never noticed till I grew older. I began to notice it and I had huge expectations to fill. I am very shy, each year I get shyer and shyer. I was always a lonelier than my sister. I have always been withdrawn.... Than the blaming started and she got angry more frequently. I still didn't really notice. Than we moved. My mom became more stressed. I was told I couldn't clean up after myself, she'd blame me for not cleaning up when I would leave a sweater or a book laying about, she'd have all her stuff laying around. Once it was a hard day for her. I left something laying about. She screamed at me... I ran to me room in tears... She burst open the door yelled more. She shoved stuff off my shelves and desk. And through my little black table that I use as a nightstand against the wall. It was the hardest I ever cried. She told how I would like it if she came into my room and made it a mess and didn't clean up. I was only 13. Another time I made a poster, usually my mom would help with it. Practically doing everything, I would just get to pick the colours. I made this one all by myself, I was so proud. Sure it wasn't the prettiest, I couldn't cut straight. But I was happy to me it was perfect. It looked slightly better than I knew the other eighth graders posters would be. I gleefully showed my mother, I hoped she'd share my pride. No, she didn't, I was one of those kids who cared about grades and wanted to get into a good collage. I wanted to be a doctor. I wanted to be a doctor since I was 4. She told me it was a piece of (bad word that starts with an S), she kept saying that over and over. I cried, she than asked why, I said because I liked it, I thought it was good. She'd told I'd only get a 60% on it. And I mays we'll go work at McCdonalds because I was never getting into collage with a sixty. I would never be a nurse, (showed how much she listened, I said doctor she heard nurse). Those words broke my heart. I don't care about the poster, it's those words imprinted on my brain and I never got in gold honours again. My grades have been slowly dropping since then.
She still expects me to be this perfect little angel, this innocent, mature perfect girl. But I can't be, I don't want to be naive, I no the world isn't perfect, I've always known. Some days I'm scared to go home, especially if I've done poorly on a test. I'm so shy I can't ask a teacher for help. I feel worthless all the time. I'm depressed and have anxiety. In always grounded, the stuff I used to have fun with, I don't anymore. It's like I'm not allowed to have fun anymore. I took this extra course, because it sounded fascinating to me. Still haven't finished it. I wanted to have fun last weekend for once. I watched a little bit of a tv series I have, and I read a book. Later that day I got grounded from my room in only allowed to go the re to sleep or get a sweater or something.
She yelled at me for leaving somthing laying around that I've been grounded for since min January. A few days ago I got I. Trouble. She called me a bad kid. She said good kids don't lie and have good grades, bad kids like you who hide lie and fail go to boarding school or boot camp. Where everyone is mean. I only hide or lie so I don't get yelled at. They're little too like I didn't eat my sand which to I tried to stuff it down the garborator. Sometimes she's nice though and acts like how I mom should act. But mostly other times she's horrible or just okay. Some days it's like walking on egg shells. She has a daycare, she treats them better than me or worse. Yelling at them, threatening them. For one she but them down in the cold dark basement. I just have enough. I'm tired of being scared of my mom. I'm tired of how she treats those kids it hurts. When she yells or blames it hurts. When she favors my sister or yells at her, when she fights with my dad, because either he's standing up for me or she starts it (than plays victim) it really hurts. I wanna tell her stuff without worrying about anger being the first reaction. I don't wanna lie so I don't get yelled at, it's scary when she's mad. I never get mad anymore. She'd yell at me than suddenly stop and be perfectly calm and say, "you can get mad, you know?" I don't say or do anything just stair at her for a moment than continue whatever I was doing previous. She'd yell again. It's almost like she's trying to provoke me. It doesn't work though. I guess I don't see the point In Getting angry it's not like I have a say anyways. I'm always have a cold it seems like. I feel like in just waiting for the day I snap. Some days I don't even recognize myself in the mirror. Others I feel disconnected from myself. Some days don't feel real, sometimes I can't decipher memory from dream or something I made up. I play movies in my head or make up stories and play them out as if they were. I even make up things where I'm part of my favourite shows or movies and interacting with the characters. To forget for a moment of how I feel, to feel happy. Sure they have sad or bad parts but always happy endings. My friend was making really bad choices I wanted to tell someone. So I told my dad he never got mad in fact he wasn't surprised. He told me his advice and what he'd do. But most importantly not to tell my mom. Because he and I both knew if she found out it would be just as bad if was doing those things. I lose everything. Sure I usually don't have anything. But my life would have probably been worse.
Sorry if I wasted your time. I'd hate to do that. Thank you for reading and I hope you can help. But what really gets me on edge almost angry is when my dad and sister agree that little kid should be put in the cold dark scary basement.
ANSWER: Hi RJ,
Thank you for writing to me. First, let me inform you that you are not wasting my time and I enjoyed reading your story. Secondly, you are being emotionally abused and it is not your fault or anything that you did. The blame lies solely with your mother.
It is very difficult to say why your mother is treating you differently than your younger sister. It could be for a number of reasons. However, some of the things in which she did or is doing is uncalled for. Such as responding to the poster that you made. That was just a mean and hurtful thing for her to say.
You are important and you are somebody. The whole problem with you is that you have been so emotionally abused that you don't believe in yourself or your worth anymore. Let me tell you, I believe in you and every young adult that is trying to keep positive in this mean and cruel world.
I empathize with you. I too was a very shy person and cried easily when my feelings were hurt or if I didn't get the approval from my mother that I thought I should have received. I had to learn, because I didn't have anyone I could share my feelings with, that "I" am responsible for how much I let another person, including my mother, interfere or determine my worth. You cannot stop your mother from yelling at you but you can control how much her yelling effects you. You stated that your grades are dropping, stop right now and concentrate on bringing up your grades so that you can get into college and study to be a doctor. I have confidence in you that whatever you set your mind to do you WILL succeed.
Again, we don't know why your mother is acting or treating you the way she is. Perhaps she is jealous of you but she don't feel that threat in your younger sister. If you can get your mother on one of her "good" days and try to sit down and talk with her about your feelings, it may help. Or you may want to ask her what is it that she sees that you are doing wrong so that you can correct it. Tell her how she makes you feel and that you are 16 years old and you would like for the two of you to have a better communication. If you don't want to talk with her like that, maybe you can suggest that you two just talk about your future. See what she thinks about your career as a doctor. Ask her how she feels about you becoming a doctor or do she think you should start out your career as a nurse. I know she made the statement that you will never be a nurse, not acknowledging that you were talking about being a doctor and not a nurse, but trying to get her to open up to you in communication.
If you can't get her to open up in communication with you, you will just have to concentrate on yourself, being the best person that you can be. You can't let your mother determine what your life will be. Soon you will be an adult and responsible for your own actions and future. I know you would like to get your mother's approval, we all would like to get the approval or our parents, especially our mother, but sometimes we have to realize that we need self-approval first. If you are satisfied with yourself, you don't need anyone else to approve of what you do.
I know this is not what you wanted to hear, however, you do not have control of your mother's feelings or actions. Ask your mother what you are doing that makes her so angry with you. It seems that she needs someone to take her frustrations out on and you are her target because you just cry and therefore she can say and do what ever she wants to you. You have to let her know in a RESPECTFUL way that her yelling, punishment, and grounding is not acceptable anymore.
You are reaching adulthood and her behavior of you is unacceptable. If you don't try to talk with her and find out what is the problem she is having with you, she will continue to take out her frustrations on you because she can and you do not object.
Please feel free to write to me whenever you wish.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Thank you very much, for reading and answering my previous question. I really want to make a change, I want to believe in myself. But it's hard. My dad says my mom acts they way she does is because the youngest was treated the best. But wouldn't she have wanted that not to repeat itself? When she treats the kids she looks after by spanking them, or smacking their mouths, slapping their hands, threatening them with no lunch or not be able to go their grandparents house or preschool and putting them in a high chair in the basement, in the dark and it's freezing down there because the heat is shut off during the day. I don't think any of these punishments are fair, sure I was raised with some of these, but it's hard watching it. Is it wrong to feel this way, about how she treats them?
I don't always feel safe at home.... I also still sleep with stuffed animals is that bad? They make me feel safe and I feel happy when I hug them or whisper stuff to them. I never grew out of them, should I have?
Is it wrong to have trust issues with my mom? She does owe me and my sister $1500. The cash was from my great grandmother for collage...
When I was young sometimes my collage money, which I kept in the jar. Would always just go missing. Or she'd ask to borrow and I would never get it back. When it got to certain point she'd say we are going to start on a clean slate...
I have another question I don't know if you'll be able to answer it but is my mom allowed to force me and my sister to help her (which means do it for her), she expects us too, me more expected since the kids adore me. Don't kept me wrong I love too, I just feel like in expected too. Most of the time, actually almost everytime I don't get paid, I don't get allowance. Her excuse I didn't help her. I don't even get a thank you.
I haven't been to guitar lessons In weeks because of this and I haven't been able to practice either....
Thanks again, it just is really nice for someone to listen.
ANSWER: Hi RJ,
Thank you for writing to me again. I read your questions but it took me a while to think about how I wanted to answer, giving you my best answer. I am going to take your questions one at a time. Yes it is wrong for your mother to punish the children in the manner in which she does it. It is CHILD ABUSE and I am surprised that your dad would go along with this. If he is aware that your mother was bought up to think that the youngest child gets the best treatment, as opposed to all the children being treated equally, perhaps he should get some help for your mother. You are 16 and you are in an awkward situation. Because if you turn your mother in to the police for the treatment of the children, you may also be removed from the home. You are not wrong for feeling the way you feel. It is wrong for these children to be placed in a basement for any reason, especially in the dark. You have no idea what mental problems these children are going to grow up with. Also, they may have bad feelings about you because you are aware of what is going on. If anyone ever find out and call the police, or one of the children tell their parents, everyone in the home will be in trouble including you because you know what is going on is wrong and you said nothing, not even to a teacher or other adult.
You have a right to feel unsafe at home because of the child abuse and mental treatment in which you are experiencing. It is not strange for you to sleep with your stuffed animals. A lot of young girls sleep with there teddy bears or stuffed animals as comfort, even though they might not admit it. My granddaughter is 20 and I have been buying her a stuffed bear every year since she was 5 and she still insist each Christmas that I buy her a stuffed bear and they are all in her bed. I laugh at her but she does not care. She said they keep her company when she goes to bed. It is okay.
Your mother is not going to pay you your money back. She will continue to make excuses and her final excuse will be that she is your mother and she has been taking care of you and she does not owe you anything. If you have or get any more money, you will have to hide it from her in order to keep it. It is sad but that is the way parents are when it comes down to taking or borrowing money from their children. If she intended to pay it back she would have made some effort considering it is for your college. Don't worry about the money, it is gone.
Again, I am afraid that if the police or authorities get wind of what punishments are being done in that home, some of the blame with go to you because you are involved with the children. Don't be surprised if all the blame be placed on you. You are in a very bad situation. You live in your mother's house so you can't tell her that you are not going to help, or do most of the taking care of the children without consequences. She is not going to give you an allowance because in her mind this is what you are supposed to do. Your mother needs a lot of help. I just hope that she gets it. However, as long as you and your dad ignore what is going on it is as if you are agreeing with her. Sooner of later everything is going to come to a head. I am praying for you that you do not get caught up. I would advise you to speak with someone, perhaps at your school about the situation and they can try to protect you. Make sure it is someone that will not inform your mother or dad that you were the one that told. It can be done in a way that a child protection person can come to your house just to see how the children in her care is being cared for. At that time, they will check the entire house and know what questions to ask and what to look for because you will have made them aware. Your name will not be mentioned. I know you are afraid but think of those poor little defensive children that are looking for someone to help them. I cannot even as an adult imagine being placed in a dark basement in the cold by myself. Please help them. Your conscience will be clear because all your life you will know that you helped someone. Apparently, your dad does not want to help. I am always here to listen to you. You have so many decisions to make. Thank God you are 16 and you don't have another 16 years to go through this. I just hope you don't get caught in the middle and blamed for the abuse of these children. I know this is a lot for your young brain, but just think, if you had a child and you had to work would you like someone to spank your child or hit them in the mouth and place them in a dark basement and no one tell you about it? These children are entrusted to your family. Please think about it. I know you are afraid, but please do the right thing for these children. When it all comes down, I don't want your mother and dad to say that you are the one that put the children in the basement and they were not aware of it in order to save themselves. I wish you God's Speed.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: I want to thank you so much. This decsion is going to be so hard... The idea of getting those kids justice and maybe leaving sounds great. But some days I don't want too, some days my mother is the best in the world..
But how she treats the kids I can't take it anymore, the yelling, the threats, the hurting. My mom needs help. I feel so guilty about even talking about this, like I'm going against my mom. Than on the other hand the way she yells, blames me, and talks down to me like in five, making me feel stupid in worthless. In really happy your listening. I'm getting help sort of. About my anxiety and depression.
The kids deserve to be in a safer, nurturing environment. Not one like this, they're play area is always under a thick layer of dust, the only reason it's clean now, because my family's trying to sell the house. I keep telling myself it will get better when we move. But I'm scared that it won't that it'll get worse...
My friends offered to call the police for me, because she gets it, but I don't know if her intentions are good.
I feel like in stuck, I no longer have fun, I feel trapped....
I want to tell someone, but I don't know who....
I'm really shy and can't talk to people that good. I don't have the confidence to ask a teacher for help even or when they ask a question, to answer it...
Who should I tell? A teacher? The cousiller? I don't want to go straight to the police, I know it's childish but I'm scared of them for some strange reason, now that I think about I have lots a strange fears. Like crossing the street, passing someone in a parked car, or someone on the street. It's strange, I get tensed up, look down and pretend that in not actually passing them. For crossing the streets though I usually walk up and down the sidewalks until the traffic is cleared up. Sorry, got off topic.
I hope I'm not being a bother.
Thanks for listening.
Thank you for writing to me again. As I said before, you are not bothering me. I am very concerned about you and your state of mind. I am equally concerned about the children in your mother's care. You are now 16 years old and old enough to seek help if you need. Those children do not have anyone to help them and they are not old enough to seek help so they have to rely on people like you and me to help them.
You do not have to go directly to the police. You can tell a teacher, a counselor, or any responsible adult. I don't know if you have children protective agencies where you live. There should be a phone number in which you can call and make a report about children being abused or neglected where you do not have to give your name.
It is not childish for you to be afraid of the police, passing someone on the street, or passing a parked car. You need to be afraid. This world is a crazy place to live in these times. I don't see you as being afraid, I see you as being careful and concerned. You must understand, you are only 16. You are still a child. I know sometimes you feel as if you have to be all grown up, but you are not. You should be enjoying your teenage years. You are doing fine and I am very proud of you for opening up to me the way you have. Some of the things that you have discussed with me is very personal to you. Thank you.