From a teen in Australia: My mum and dad divorced when I was around 9, and for years he took it all out on me and did things like starve me, hold me to the ground and lock me in my room for days. I don’t see him anymore, and I still feel guilty. I feel as though I could have stayed there longer, could have been less prideful and tried harder.
My mother ended up remarrying another man, who I despise. He stands for everything I hate, including being homophobic, bigoted and thinking that his opinion in the only the only opinion. I hate coming home to him because, after what I went through with my dad, I’m really nervous around men, and my step dad’s a massive jerk to me.
I’m just lost between feeling the issues between my relationship with my father is causing the bad relationship with my step dad (my fault) or just that they’re both jerks (not my fault). I’m also growing to resent my mother for marrying him and not standing up for me. She didn’t believe me / help as soon as she should have when I was 13 ish and dealing with the worst of my troubles.
I think my step dad I disagree on many things, regardless of him supposedly being a father figure. He thinks gay people shouldn’t have the right to be married, transgenders don’t exist and loads of conservative catholic stuff that I think is wrong. I think everybody should be equal, and this has led to many heated arguments. Of course, being the adult, he always “wins.”
After years of being emotionally bullied by my father, my anxiety around my step father, and men in general, is growing and I don’t know what to do about it. I can’t talk to my mum, I’m too scared to talk to my teachers and I just feel like I can’t tell anybody…
Thank you for writing. The best time to deal with issues like these is when you are young.
From what you wrote, it sounds like your mother has a pattern of marrying bullies. Her choices are her issues, not yours. It becomes your issue because you have to live with them.
Since you are only 15, you can’t leave physically but you can withdraw from the fight. No one wins in a fight with a bully. It’s pointless to try. Your stepdad is entitled to his opinions and you are entitled to your own. You aren’t going to bring him around to your point of view so why bother trying?
To resist the temptation to fight, stay away from your stepdad as much as possible. Join a team or club that meets after school and on weekends or sign on for some volunteer work. Get busy with homework after dinner.
I don’t think you should give up on talking to your mother if her husband bullies you. If he ever — ever — lays a hand on you, you need to report it to her. If your mother doesn’t listen, you absolutely need to talk to an adult at school. No kid should ever be afraid of an adult they live with.
All men are not like your dad and step-dad. Do study men in your life who can offer a counter-balance. There are probably male coaches, teachers and fathers of friends who are very different from what you’ve experienced. Think about positive examples of men who treat women and girls positively. If you are starting to hang out with boys, don’t put up with bullying for even a minute. You deserve better. You may not be able to choose the “fathers” your mom provides but you absolutely have the power to choose a caring, supportive and sensitive boyfriend.
If you can find a way to get some therapy (now or in the future), it might help you be clear that none of the things that your father did are your fault and that you do deserve a good relationship in your future.
I wish you well.