My father is abusive and I'm afraid to leave my mother to go to college. What should I do?


My mom says that my dad has changed dramatically since they first married. I  don't know how he was before because I wasn't born, but I can't imagine that he was anything like how he is now. He is easily irritable, violent, and constantly demeans her. He also tries to control everyone in my family . My siblings and I think that she should leave, but she keeps that saying that she will do something and yet postpones it. She used to say that she would be gone as soon as my oldest sister turned eighteen, but she has yet to leave.

I turned eighteen recently, and I don't know what I should do. I did not apply to any colleges this year because my dad would not allow me to. I want to go to college, but I don't want to leave my mom like this.  I used to think that I had to obey every single thing my dad said, but now I'm beginning to realize that there are a lot of times when I should not obey him. When he gets physical with my mom, I get so scared and angry, but I never call the cops. I don't know what he would have done if I did. My mom is always calling them for herself, which makes me feel ashamed because I feel like my siblings and I should do more to protect her. When the cop came over to our house the other day, he was encouraging my mom to get an injunction which would mean my dad would be forced to leave and we could stay in the house, but my mom said she is not sure about whether to do that, so he is still here. She does not know which moral choices to make, and I am uncertain also.

Please help.


You and your mom are very much alike. You know what ought to be done, but you put it off.

In the end, you are responsible for yourself. You cannot blame anyone else for the results of your own decisions. You chose not to go to college and that is a shame. It isn't your dad's fault or your mom's. You allowed yourself to be pushed into a decision that you don't think is best.

You and your siblings cannot protect your mom from your dad because she is choosing to remain. You all agree that is not the best choice, but you can't force her to make the best choice. The most you can do is encourage her to make a stand and you can set an example by making your own stand.

When the Bible says, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right" (Ephesians 6:1), too many people skip over the phrase "in the Lord." That means under the Lord's authority. While your dad is telling you to do things that are morally correct, then you had as a child the obligation to obey. But a father, who exceeds his authority and wants to control everyone's life, is not operating under the Lord's authority. A child does not owe obedience to a dictator. Nor does a wife owe loyalty to an abuser, for that matter.

You are old enough that is it time to leave home (Genesis 2:24). Find a place of your own and let your mom know that she is welcome to come whenever she makes up her mind. Get yourself a decent job and start going to college.

I have done a lot of thinking about what you have told me. You make everything seem really easy, but It doesn't feel so simple.

I am choosing to go to college. There is still time left. I am in the process of applying to different schools behind my dad's back. I've mentioned it to my mom and asked her to help me pay the application fees and fill out financial aid and so on, but she is hesitant. Using your counsel, I have come to the conclusion that I cannot wait around for my parents for this. I don't mean to be disrespectful and it is not as if he is doing it purposely, but my dad is extremely cynical of the world. I think that attending a church or a worship service would benefit our family, but he believes that churches today are more concerned about money, or how many members they have rather than the right doctrine. The only church we have ever attended is Kingdom Hall when we used to be Jehovah's Witnesses because my dad said that they taught a doctrine closest to the truth that the Bible relates. In a way, I utilize your web site as a church because it offers spiritual advice in almost all areas of life.

Yesterday, however, I begun to question whether or not to leave when I graduate high school. Miracle is too strong of a word, but an odd incident happened yesterday. Well, my parents had not spoken for over a week since that day the cops came. I prayed for God to change my dad's heart and to give my mother wisdom in this situation. Normally, she would run back to my dad and apologize just to prevent him from continuing to break things or interfere with the computer she uses to do her job. But yesterday, my dad called my mother into his room and they had a long talk. I don't know what was said, but since then my dad has been a bit humbler.

I think that maybe he apologized, but I am not sure. This does not happen often so I think that maybe God is helping my parent's marriage. I do not want to get my hopes too high, however. When I did before, the change lasted only a short amount of time and he ended up going back to normal. I think that I should I continue to apply for college and be prepared for the worst, but what if I am wrong and God just wants me to be patient with His Plan?

The apparent complexities only arise because you are of two minds whether to go or stay. The result is that you've doubled every plan because you have the one where you go and the one where you stay in mind.

You are correct that you aren't going to get much help from your parents, so you'll have to do this on your own. Your choice of moving on with your life has nothing to do with respect or disrespect for your parents.

I'm glad your parents are getting along better at the moment. It is an improvement but it is not a miracle. It is a part of the dance your parents have developed over the years. It is their way of coping with each other. But realize that you aren't a part of this dance. They came to an understanding on their own, as they have done so in the past. So don't use this cycle to fool yourself into thinking that you have to be around to keep this cycle going. The only people responsible for your parent's marriage are your parents.

When God does things, it isn't dependent on people's cooperation. Your presence or absence isn't going to change things -- other than which tool He might decide to use at a particular moment. God gives people free will to make good and bad choices. God doesn't force parents to resolve their differences and be good people. He encourages it, but always the choice is for the people involved to make.

You dad has been, and continues, to make choices contrary to what God taught. That is why there are problems in his life. For example, he doesn't want to be around other Christians, and he has a long list of excuses as to why. But the truth is that God said, "And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching" (Hebrews 10:24-25). God knows what He is talking about. Your dad is trying to justify ignoring God. However, you don't have to continue his mistakes.