Verbally abusive family


Verbally abusive family


your avatar   Stac, 19-year-old woman

My family is always shouting at me. I get the feeling like I'm always left out. I want to kill myself. I haven't had the best week. I have been punching walls. I just need to know what to do.


    Bob Rich, Ph.D.

Stac, if everyone else is abusing you, why do you want to join them instead of defending yourself and fighting back? If you kill yourself, or do things like punching walls, you just provide evidence that they were right to abuse. If you start to respect yourself, and act in a way that demands respect, then you prove them to be wrong.

When they are shouting at someone, this has two parts:

1. That person may have done something or said something or done something that you would not like in another person. For example, people might be annoyed with me if I was often late and kept people waiting. If that got them to be angry, then it is actually a service to me: if I pay attention, I can learn to do things better.

2. They may have a problem that has nothing to do with the person they are shouting at. For example, a person may shout at me because he'd had a bad day at work, and is cranky. He'll shout at me whatever I do. This is HIS problem and not mine, and I can ignore it.

Any one situation may be a mixture of these two causes. I may decide that the problem is mostly the other person's, but there is a little bit of a lesson in it for me. So, I can learn that lesson and move on. I might even thank the person for the lesson.

At the same time, no one has the right to shout at me and abuse me. At 19, you are an adult, and have the right to be treated with respect and dignity. So, you can surprise these people who abuse you by saying something like "You are right, I was late and held you up, and I am sorry. I will do my best to be on time from now on. But at the same time, you have no right to abuse me. Treat me with respect, and I'll justify it. Keep abusing me, and you'll just push me further into not coping."

Of course, you don't need to make a long speech like that, but you get the idea. That should be behind how you respond to them. You can put it like, "I am not your dog, and you shouldn't even treat a dog the way you treat me. If you speak decently, I'll do my best to act decently."

And if acting assertively like this only gets more abuse, then plan to get out of the situation and build a good life for yourself away from these people. You can.


This question was answered by Dr. Bob Rich. Dr. Rich has 30+ years of experience as a psychotherapist. Dr. Rich is also a writer and a "mudsmith". Bob is now retired from psychological practice, but still works with people as a counselor.For more information visit:

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