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To Sam

How can i stand up for myself in a deeply misogynist family?

dear sam, i come from a very conservative family. My parents force me to wear a certain dress and do not allow me outdoors. unlike my brother who gets to go and come at will. they believe that women are not safe outside and 'good' women belong at home. none of my cousins find it awkward. however iam a more liberal woman. But this has strained me a lot. especially in lockdown. i feel very anxious about my is taking a toll on my health. I know gender inequality is still common. but battling it with your own family can be deeply stressful at times. sam, i want to be comfortable with what i wear..i want to travel and work really hard. i know iam not wrong but iam unable to express myself. At the very least i want to start the dialogue of gender equality at home. do you know what to do in such situations?

Ask Sam


Hi there,

Standing up for yourself takes courage, especially when there's nobody to back you up. Your family should be a place where you can feel able to be yourself without judgement. Unfortunately, that's not always the case. There are lots of people who live in fear either because of their gender, sexuality, religion or something else – this is discrimination and it’s always wrong. You’re not alone and Childline has advice and support to help.

When it comes to standing up for yourself at home, everyone's situation is going to be different. In some cases standing up for yourself might make things worse. Being who you are and standing up for what's right are good things, but it's important to think about any consequences there might be as well. If you’re worried about being abused or hurt for speaking up – your safety always comes first. It doesn't make you a bad person if you don't stand up for yourself – you’re not responsible for how the people around you think and act.

If you think it's safe to talk to your family about how you feel then it’s a good first step to take. Sometimes people don't realise they’re being discriminatory because it's the way they were brought up. It's good to give people a chance to change and recognise that what they're doing is wrong. How you begin that conversation is also important because choosing the right time and place might mean they’re more open to listening. You might want to talk to one family member when they’re on their own - if there are lots of people around or you’re in public, it might be harder for them to listen to your views. Childline has advice about how to be assertive and get your views across without being aggressive or starting an argument.

Sometimes parents’ rules can be so restrictive that they’re abusive. It's not okay for you to never be allowed to go outside - and if you're made to feel bad about yourself for how you look or what you wear, that's not okay either. You have the right to be yourself, to feel safe, and to be supported. Talking to someone outside of your family can help you get a different perspective on how they’re treating you. It can be difficult to see things clearly when you’re too close to the situation. Try thinking about who you could talk to and see what they think about the way you're treated. Childline has advice about asking an adult for help, or you can talk to a counsellor to help you decide who to open up to.

If you wanted to talk about what you can do next then Childline counsellors are always here for you. You can also reach out to other young people on Childline’s message boards. I hope my reply has helped, thank you for writing to me about this.

Take care,


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