I have a big trouble at home. I am 16. I pray; I do not commit sins; I do what God orders me to do. Since I was 8 or 9, my mother has abused me physically a lot for whatever mistake. My mother hit me even for the simplest mistake, leaving blue and red marks on my body. In 5th grade and up, I used to get bad report cards due to which she hurt me very hard. She even choked me multiple times which left marks on my neck. My grandmother saw me like that and got angry at my mother and told her not to hit me again but in vain.
My father does not abuse or hit me. He slapped me once and that was it. Almost no day passed by without my mother hitting and abusing me, whether physically or verbally - and it was usually both. She always slapped me on my face so hard; she had these thick TV or radio cables which she used to hit me with. Wood sticks, broomsticks, you name it, she hit me with it. Sometimes, I could not even walk because of the pain. My mother even abused me when I was 15! She always found a reason; studying or any other very silly reasons.
I was born in the US but moved to Jordan and lived there for almost 16 years. I have been living in the US now for 8 months. My mother demands me to do everything whether it is paperwork or bills or whatever, and I do it. When I say that something does not work or that paperwork will not work, or I can't do something, she gets very angry and sometimes hit me. Now, I made her stop this abusing, at least the physical one, but every day, she calls me by ugly names whenever she thinks I am wrong. Verbal abuse is going on every single day. My father lives in another state, and whenever I refuse to do something because I can't do it or it won't work, she calls my father and starts the drama. She even turned my father against me and now he won't talk to me.
As college is close, it is almost less than a year and a half to go, I say to myself, it's alright, I will go to college and get rid of this bad climate at home. They have never supported me with what I would love to do. My passion is politics and law honestly, but they never showed any support. Since I was in 8th grade, my dream is to go to an Ivy League, so what I did was that I became that straight A's and sometimes B student. I am proud of my achievements, but the situation right now is that my mom turned my father against me, and now they are threatening me that they won't pay my tuition fees.
I do not know what on earth I should do. I can't take this nonsense anymore. Whom shall I refer to? I have nobody here in the US. My younger brother, my mother and I are in one state while my father in another state. I do not know how to deal with this situation. I might manage to get a grant, but how should I deal with this awful situation at home? I simply want to live in peace. It saddens me that I have no love for my mother. Thank you, and may Allah bless you.
In this counseling answer:
• Abuse of a child is never Ok. Let your school counselor know that you are having family problems.
*The kind of abuse that you are describing usually results in some kind of intervention in the USA, especially if the child is young as you are.
One option is to let your school counselor know that you are having family problems.
• Another option would be to see if you can find a family therapist.
• Find a place to live that is agreeable to both you and your mother, and your father can approve.
Wa ‘Alaikum ‘As-Salam,
My heart breaks for you as I read your story. There are a few options for you which you will want to talk about with a trusted friend if you can before you make any decision.
First, I can say that you will very likely be able to get grant money for the first few years of college if you do not live with your parents once you are 18 years old. I am not a financial or legal advisor, therefore, I cannot say that you will get this for sure; however, you can explore this option now by asking your high school counselor. Now is the time to make an appointment with your high school academic advisor and find out what tests you should be taking, and how you would enroll in college.
With that said, abuse of a child is never ok. The kind of abuse that you are describing usually results in some kind of intervention in the USA, especially if the child is young as you are. For now, you might consider if you can peacefully leave with your parents’ permission and live with a friend. Sometimes this is an option.
Another option that you can consider is to let your school counselor know that you are having family problems. Be prepared, if you do this, your school counselor will be required by law to report the abuse to the authorities and your parents will likely be investigated. You could be put in a temporary foster home. This may or may not be in your best interest as I do not fully know your situation. But if you are in danger, then this would be in your best interest.
Another option would be to see if you can find a family therapist. But again, a therapist is required to report any suspected abuse to Child Protective Services. If you were younger, I would probably be leaning toward your getting Child Protective Services involved.
However, since you are only one and one-half years away from being of legal age, I would suggest that you see if you can move out of your home early instead. You might even be able to get a part-time job and pay rent for a room in the home of a trusted friend who also still lives with their parents. They would need written permission from your mother. But, it is very possible that your mother is experiencing extreme stress, and such an arrangement might actually be amicable with her.
One possible way to approach this might be to talk to your Imam and ask if there are any respectable families who might be willing to let you live with them (especially if you can work part-time and offer to pay for your own food, do some chores, and/or pay a little rent).
I am also worried because you are a young man and there might be a risk of your own inability to manage your own anger. I say this because after being subjugated to abuse for many years, while being helpless, you have no doubt accumulated some serious resentment and anger which, it seems, you are not acting on. For this reason, if you can find a place to live that is agreeable to both you and your mother, and your father can approve, this might be very good. If your Imam believes there might be a family who is willing to work with you on this, you might have your Imam approach your mother with respect and kindness and offer this as a solution and as a way to help her have a good relationship with you.
If you are not physically safe at home, you must either take the risk of talking to a school counselor or other therapist and let Child Protective Services know, or see if you can move out to a stable home environment as I described. If you feel you are physically safe at home, perhaps your mother is amicable to your spending many nights at a friend’s home until you get things sorted out. This might make your study schedule a bit difficult, but you can go to coffee shops or study at school if they have an after school program, or at the library, and you can make a habit of this.
Sometimes letting your mother know that you love her in a card or a note will make a mother more amicable to giving you these permissions. You can possibly schedule your chores during times when she is not likely to engage with you as well. And, you can give her your schedule and let her know where you are and how to contact you so that she knows that you are focused on your work as a young and responsible person.
Check out this counseling video:
Usually, when a teenager is having a problem with his/her parents, I advise them to open the lines of communication and ask their parents what his/her parents expect of them, and take good notes, then to really make a concerted effort to meet the expectations. This often involves things like completing their chores, doing their homework, coming home by a certain time (curfew), and always letting the parents know where they are and what they are doing.
The power struggles between parents and teenagers are usually around the parents fearing for their children’s safety and wanting the best for them but feeling powerless over being able to keep their teen safe, especially if the teen refuses to follow the basic safety rules. For example, street drugs are not safe, no matter what anyone says to you. Even the marijuana is often laced with things that no one would suspect and can put your life at risk. This is really true. Ecstasy will put holes in your brain.
This is the truth. I could go on and on, as I know a lot about most of the street drugs because I work with people who have been hurt by them. Even Spice is dangerous, and so is alcohol and basic partying. This is how our teenagers really get killed, and a lot of times a parent yells at his/her teen because s/he are so afraid for them, and s/he feels so helpless to help their child.
You have not mentioned any of these issues, and only you know if any of this is going on in your life. You presented yourself as someone who is very clean and very sober and who is very much focused on your future career, and that is how it should be at your age. I commend you for that. But do keep in mind that parents are only human beings with limited resources and are often very scared for their children and may not always know how to best support them. I know there are a lot of hurt feelings here, and it will take a while to sort through them and to heal. Take things one day at a time; don’t do anything rash without thinking it through.
If you are able to move out early and continue high school while preparing for college, you can seek out family counseling after you are 18 years old, and everything should be confidential. I highly advise you to get some counseling for yourself as well so that you can heal from the emotional trauma that you experienced growing up.
Do not forget to pray to Allah for continued guidance and protection. Make your decisions very slowly and seek counsel from someone who you trust has both wisdom and your best interest at heart to help you resolve this matter.
Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.