Dealing With An Emotionally Abusive Situation

I don’t know if this site is limited to just relationships or if you can discuss family relationships as well, so sorry if this is out of line.

I grew up in an emotionally abusive environment. My wants and needs were never as important as what my mother and father wanted for me. I wanted to be a writer, but that didn’t matter “You need a job that is high paying. Screw writing. You should be an engineer,” my mother would always say.

Any time I screwed up, even the smallest thing, I was called “fucking stupid,” and “worthless.” They took all of my flaws and focused on them all the time, and said things like “You’ll never be as successful as your brother will,” or “I don’t know why we even had you.”

Fast forward to today, and I’m twenty and still living in their house. Why? Because they’ve made it impossible to leave. Until I’m 24, I cannot file as independent when asking for financial aid for college, so I have to say I have my parent’s income. BUT they refuse to help out at all, so I can’t get enough aid to afford it.

I can’t get a job and move out either because I don’t have a car. To buy one, I’d need a job, but they refuse to transport me to any job that I get. And I can’t walk because we live in the country and the nearest job would be at least a 10 mile walk.

And yet, they talk all the time about how they can’t wait until I move out and that they are sick of having my “worthless ass” around all the time, but they are the ones making it impossible for me to leave.

None of my family members can afford to take me in while I search for a job either, and that was my only other idea.

So I have two questions really: 1.) Why would they intentionally put me in a situation like this? 2.) What can I even do about it?

6 thoughts on “Dealing With An Emotionally Abusive Situation

  1. Metacognition says:

    [First off, your parents are dicks. My own mother was like this as well, so I know how harsh it can be. When I was getting ready to go to college, my mom told me that I would have to do it all myself because she was saving money so my brother and sister could go to college. I got a lot of the same derisive statements you are. I’m saying this so you’ll know you’re not the only one out there that’s been there.

    Your first question is actually pretty easy to answer: control. As long as you’re under their house, with their rules, they know they have leverage on you. Doesn’t hurt their cause when they can also destroy any confidence you start to build up. If you were to leave or not be there, they wouldn’t have you around to direct their frustrations on. Then they’d have to deal with those feelings themselves and why should they want to when they’ve got a good old-fashioned whipping boy around? The important thing to take away from this is, like in Good Will Hunting, it’s not your fault. They’re using you for their own ends.

    As far as what you can do about it…. Well, this is where things get messy. This is one situation where trying to talk to them isn’t likely to help. I don’t think they’ll listen until they can start looking at you like a human being.

    I’ll tell you what I did, but I don’t necessarily recommend it. First off, I joined the Army. They not only can help you build back up some backbone again, but they offer some decent assistance for college. Plus while you’re doing your Basic Training and AIT, you won’t be at your house, so your parents will have had time to maybe find another, better outlet for their frustrations. If not, you’ve set yourself up fairly well once you get back to go to school.

    Another option is to talk to your friends. Perhaps one of them would be willing to give you a place to stay so you can find a job and start paying them rent. It’s harsh because not only are you pretty much just leaving everything behind, but you’ve got to take on a TON of responsibility at once. You have to pretty much hit the ground running and you won’t have time or resources to learn as you go. I speak from experience.

    I got out about 13 years ago and where I don’t think my way was right, it was what I needed to do. That’s something for you to consider as well. What do YOU need to do. Find out what that is and then figure out how to make it happen. If it requires walking 10 miles, then walk 10 miles because you have to. You’ll only get out when you’re ready to make that your first priority.

    I’m going to leave it with that because I’m at a loss for other ideas at the moment, but before I go, you should know that your parents more than likely do love you. They just have no idea how to show it and are doing a piss poor job. That doesn’t excuse them, but later on, knowing that makes a difference.

  2. Maracuya says:

    [You’re not alone! Although only a stepparent was emotionally abusive, this was my situation. But I definitely heard”You’re worthless/waste of life, etc,” “You won’t amount to anything,” too many times. Did I hate living there. I counted down the days until I graduated high school.

    Here’s what I did; the circumstances aren’t the same but you might find it useful nonetheless. My stepfather only wanted me to apply to local colleges, but I applied to ones further secretly. I ended up getting accepted into one ~500 miles away that paid the majority of my tuition and housing. My family was not particularly rich so that actually ended up helping me. Even though I was attending a fairly prestigious college, my stepfather would still say things like, “Well, you got in but are you going to get a job? Your (decade-younger brother) here is going to go to Harvard.” My mother had a few thousand saved up for me, but when that ran out I ended up putting it on credit cards when no bank would give me a loan without a cosigner. Then I graduated four years later and got money for my own apartment, and paid off that credit card debt. I had an uncle lend me $1000, my mother lent me $500 and I had saved up $1000 so I got a car that had done a fair share of traveling.

    To answer your questions: 1) As far as I can tell, whoever is telling these things to you is upset with their own life. They’re frustrated that their life isn’t what they wanted, and rather than take the more difficult steps to change it they’re taking their frustrations out on you in order to feel better. If they shift the blame to you, it can always be someone else’s fault they’re not happy. When I left, this played out with the verbal abuse just shifting to the next person in line. I was mostly forgotten about and my life got easier.

    That ties into 2) Move out. I don’t know what your finances or savings look like, so this is not an instantaneous plan. Since you live at home and not close to your college, can you ask a friend to let you crash in their dorm/suite/apt for a month? A part-time job you could walk to would pay your rent if you split it between roommates. Other things various friends did: lived in a shack of a place ($250 rent in an avg $700 rent city), rotated friends couches for a couple months until they got a job, found random roommates on craigslist, traveled long distances by bus after finding a place in town. More conservatively, you can continue to endure living at home and slowly save up for a car. However, my money was so tight during college, that I couldn’t do that until just after graduation. To me the important thing is putting space between you and your family.

    That’s all I’ve got. Sorry for the novel. The only thing I can say is that I’ve been there, and I hope things work out for you. Good luck!

    P.S. I’m an engineer but one of my best friends is a writer. He also bootstrapped it out to California for school and, while it took him a while of living with cents in his bank account, now has a pretty fantastic and comfortable life. Seems like a great career to me!

  3. resullins says:

    [I agree with Meta… if you can’t go to school, and you can’t get a job, your only other options are to deal with it or join the military. Or hell, join the Peace Corps if that’s more your style. I had a friend that did that and it was the best experience of her life.

    I would suggest that you save every penny you can and put your stuff in storage before you leave though. If your parents are as mean as you say, you don’t want to leave your stuff sitting there.

    Get out. Get out any way you can. And leave them to their own devices.

  4. Dave Jag says:

    [You’re 20 years old, so you are legally an adult. I don’t understand the screwy system you’re under that says you can’t be an independent until you are 24. I teach college, and we can’t disclose grades or any other information to the parents of students over 18 without the STUDENT’s consent! It sounds like your parents are just keeping you as a legal dependent for the tax credit (about $3k a year). But… back to the point: You ARE an adult, so it’s time to move out of the nest. Find a friend to live with and offer to do housework/cleaning/cooking until you can get a job and pay half the rent. Regardless of the job you eventually get (and it won’t be as a writer), be the absolute best person they have ever hired. Be on time, be polite, and stay late if they ask. This is the key to your 2nd job, which will probably pay twice as much… and now you can afford to continue college, buy a car, and begin being what you want. I know it’s tough giving up the security of a warm place to sleep, but life IS tough, which means the tougher you become, the easier the rest of your life will seem. Doing 4 yrs in the Air Force might be a good option too as you can study and get on-the-job training at the same time, so by the time you’re 25, you are ready to go out and land a career job.
    Remember: Whatever doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger. And if it does kill you, no worries!
    Have faith in yourself and your God and fly out of that cuckoos nest!

  5. Dennis Hong says:

    [Ugh, sorry. That’s a horrible situation to be in. I wish I had some words of wisdom for you, but it seems like other people have some pretty good suggestions.

    But, yes, questions like this are of course welcome on LemonVibe. We’re not just about dating and relationships!

  6. DavidIsGreat says:

    [I have only two things I can offer you, I hope that at least one is helpful.

    1) leave that environment now. I know, easier said than done, and I wish I could tell you how. What I can tell you from experience is that you’ll figure out how once you’ve for no choice. Where you are now is so much worse for you than struggling on your own, where you control your fate. I recommend finding a bike or walking to every place you can submit an application until you do get something. I don’t know how you are going to do it, I just can tell you that determination is the only thing that will get you there.
    2) you’re a writer? Are you familiar with’s Comedy Workshop? A few here write for the
    Cracked website And can probably tell you about the open opportunities for new writers.
    for new writers. It might give you something to do just because you’re passionate about your craft.

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