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To Sam

Stuck in quarantine with emotionally abusive stepdad

Hello Sam, ​ My stepdad and I have never really gotten on. He often calls me names, insults me, gaslights me, berates me and just genuinely isn't a very nice person. Usually, I've been able to stay out of his way. I'd often go out with friends on the weekends or take my little sister out to avoid contact with him. But unfortunately, due the outbreak of COVID-19, I've had to stay indoors with him. This has resulted in many arguments and issues within our household. I have no idea what to do, because I am at my breaking point with him, and my mother is too caught up with working from home and educating my sister to help. What can I do to avoid him? Thanks

Ask Sam


Hi there,

Lockdown and quarantine is hard for many people but can be extra difficult for those who are stuck at home with someone who hurts them. You don't have to be physically hurt to be abused - emotional abuse can hurt as well and can affect your mental health.

Normally we would all be going out and doing other things, seeing other people and not spending so much time in one place with the people we live with. It's more likely people are going to start having arguments and getting on each other’s nerves from time to time – that’s normal. Emotional abuse is different. If someone’s emotionally abusing you they might do things like call you names, put you down all the time, shout at you even when you've done nothing wrong or make you feel like you shouldn't be there. Being stuck at home with someone who’s abusing you in any way is really hard.

It can help for someone else to know what's going on for you - this can be a friend or someone else you trust that you're able to talk to on the phone or online. Keeping in touch might help you to remember that the things your stepdad says about you aren’t true. Having an outside perspective that you trust can really help when you’re being emotionally abused.

Avoiding people is hard when you're all in the same house, but if you have your own space it can be a safe haven for you. Try to make it a positive place - put things that make you happy on the walls, like messages from friends and photographs of memories that make you smile. Keep your favourite things in your positive place and try to come here regularly when you need to re-charge and get away from people for a while.

Remember also that you are allowed outside during lockdown for exercise so be sure to take a walk - as long as this is okay with the latest government advice in your area. I hope this has helped but if you need to talk about abuse that's happening at home, our counsellors are here to help. We can keep most things confidential so it's safe to talk to us.

Take care and thanks for writing to me.


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