Remove yourself from bad situation

I am 21 years old and live at home with my father and older siblings.

I am studying full time to be able to become independent one day. My family abuses me emotionally and spreads rumours about me to others. I feel helpless to defend myself against them. In the house, they do all kinds of things to hurt and humiliate me, and my father even abused me sexually.

I don’t know how to get away from them, as I have nowhere to go and no money to look after myself. I am trying my best to stay focused on my studies, but their constant abuse is becoming unbearable for me, and I am even thinking of suicide. Where can I go to get help please?

Your experience really touched me and made me feel so sad but also angry at your family for being so terribly abusive toward you.

You seem to be a very committed and talented young woman, and I admire you for trying to stay focused on your goals in spite of the abuse you suffer at the hands of your own family.

It’s so shocking to know that human beings can be so cruel and malicious even to their own kin.

I am wondering if the way that they treat you may be linked to their envy or jealousy of you because you stand out, are different to them and they seem to want to destroy and sabotage your efforts to grow.

You will rise up from this situation, you will be free one day, you will be an example to many others.

Don’t give up even though it is very difficult for you right now.

Soon, you will be free and will be able to make your own way in life without them.

I support your need to find a way to remove yourself from a terrifying home situation as soon as possible. I am aware that the Saartjie Baartman Centre houses women and children who experience abuse.

You can contact them on 021 633 5287 or Mosaic, an NGO providing services for women and youth experiencing abuse, on 021 761 7585 or email them on

I am a 39-year-old mother, and my husband left me and our children. I have to raise three children on my own and have developed a drinking problem. When I drink, I lose control and blame the children for the divorce. I don’t want to do this to them but feel helpless. Where can I go for help?

Experiencing a divorce is very painful, more specifically if you are the partner that did not want the divorce.

This is further complicated when you are left to raise the children on your own and without emotional and financial support from their father.

That you are feeling depressed and are mourning the end of your marriage is totally understandable.

Trying to self-soothe and drown your sorrows through substance abuse is very common.

However, this is not helpful for you and for your children regarding finding functional ways to manage difficult feelings.

I would advise that you seek professional help as soon as possible, including attending Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) where you can get the support you need.

This will be of great benefit to you and your children.

It is very positive that you realise that you cannot carry on like this and are seeking help. You can do something about it by obtaining help that is available to those in your situation.

Take the first step and contact an Alcoholics Anonymous group in your area.

Your children would also be feeling a deep sense of loss of their family and having lost the safety of home as they knew it.

Home is supposed to be a safe place where children can feel held, contained and free to be a child.

This has all been shattered for them too.

They need you and cannot lose their mother as well.

Seek the help that you all need to pick up the pieces of shattered dream and carry on with life, perhaps with new beginnings and greater possibilities. You are not alone, and you will realise this when you share your experiences with others in a group support setting such as AA.

There is nothing to be ashamed of but a lot to be proud of; your courage and resolve to start again, being two of them.

Additionally, seek the legal advice from the child maintenance courts regarding the financial and other responsibilities of your children’s father.

Contact them on 021 696 2825 or 021 697 1735 in Athlone or 021 370 4200 in Mitchell’s Plain.

I don’t know what to do as my sister is addicted to tik. We all live together with my mother and our children in one house. She abuses all of us, including my mother, but my mother protects her as soon as I stand up to her or say anything against her. She threatens to report me if I try to stand up to her or try to protect her or my children when she is abusive.

Her boyfriend has now also moved into our house, and they use tik together in the house. We are all living in fear of her angry outbursts. I am desperate and don’t know what to do. The situation is totally out of control.

Your sister is not taking responsibility for her life and her family, and abusing all of you single-handedly.

The abuse of your and her children is totally unacceptable, is criminal and should not be tolerated. I would advise that you obtain an interdict against her and get social services involved as soon as possible.

Your mother is clearly afraid of her and wants to avoid any further conflict.

Although this is a very common response when dealing with a drug addict, it is not helpful and is counter-intuitive.

Drug abuse, especially the abuse of tik, often makes the drug abuser unpredictable and very aggressive.

The symptoms have been well documented.

However, somebody needs to stand up to her, as difficult as this may be, or she will continue to sabotage the lives of your family, especially the innocent and vulnerable children involved.

Contact the offices of the Department of Social Development in your area as soon as possible.

Carin-Lee Masters is a clinical psychologist.

While she cannot enter into correspondence with individual readers, she will try to answer as many queries as possible through this column or refer you to organisations that can assist.

You can write to her at Send a WhatsApp message or SMS to 082 264 7774.

Ensure you provide sufficient information about your difficulty as this will help Carin to give you a more considered reponse.