Ask Sam letter


To Sam

Deafness & Abuse

Hiya Sam,

I'm 12 years old and i am Deaf. I lost my hearing completely when i was 7 years old. Although it was a big change for me, I got through it and now fluently know british sign language. I use BSL and lip reading to communicate on a daily basis.

​Usually, i am very good at reading peoples emotions and knowing when people are getting angry through their body and facial expressions. However, at times i may not quite fully understand what is going on with peoples emotions around me.

​My mum communicates with me through bsl however her partner does not. At the dinner table, no sign language is used. I have to rely fully on my ability to be able to sense emotion with my eyes.

​Unfortunately my mums partner is abusive towards her and a handful of times now ive been sat at the dinner table, thinking everythjng is fine and then had to witness her partner jump up suddenly and attack my mum. Its a shock every time, i never expect it to happen as im not always aware that a disagreement is happening. I cannot sense the tension in the room.

​I always feel that i am letting my mum down with not always being aware and thrre for her when he gets abusive.

​What can i do?

Ask Sam


Hi there,

When one person in the household is being abusive it's not your responsibility to stand up to them. If your mum's partner is physically abusing your mum this is domestic abuse and you're not expected to be able to stop him. If you want to support your mum, the best way to do that is to privately let her know you think what's happening is wrong and that you’re there for her. This doesn't have to be in front of your mum's partner and you should never put yourself in any danger.

Being deaf can make some situations more challenging. Although there are many ways of communicating - such as reading lips, sign language and body language - if someone isn't trying to communicate with you then it can be much harder to read them.

It's really important that you understand that you’re not letting your mum down. Her partner is the one that's in the wrong - nobody should use violence to finish an argument. Disagreements will always happen in families and between couples, but they should never be violent.

Together you and your mum can work out what the best way of handling this is. You have a say about what happens next because this affects you too. Try finding a time when you and your mum can be alone and tell her how it makes you feel when you see this happening. It’s important to make sure she understands that it's shocking when it comes out of nowhere.

If your mum isn’t in a place where she's ready to accept help for this, you still need to be supported yourself. It's always okay to talk to someone at school or someone else in the family who you trust. You wouldn't be doing anything wrong by looking for help - you are being affected by the abuse as well.

I hope this helps. This is something you can talk to our counsellors about if you'd like. You can chat online or send an email through your Childline inbox. And we also have a video signing service. Using your webcam you can use a signing service who will interpret between you and the counsellor. You can contact a counsellor through a qualified BSL interpreter anytime from Monday – Friday, 8am-8pm. Or on Saturdays, 8am-1pm. Find out more about contacting us.

Thanks for sending this letter, take care.


Need help straight away?

You can talk privately to a counsellor online or call 0800 1111 for free.

Ask me a question

You can ask me about anything you want, there's nothing too big or small. I read every single letter but I can only answer a few each week. My replies are published here on my page.

Write me a letter