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Are Step-Fathers Allowed To Hit You?

Published: June 19, 2012
Dear Are Step-Fathers Allowed To Hit You?,

I,ve been wondering are step-fathers allowed to hit you, It first starts of like this.I currently live with my father and one brother but i visit my mum from time to time in the holidays who lives with my stepfather.But my dad has travelled to another country so he has left me and my brother to live with my mum and step-dad for a while. And this is where my stepfather hits my 2 younger brothers (one brother which live with my mum) and i cant stand it when he does and i don't say anything when he does as he might turn against me and i would retaliate i don't also say anything as i dont like getting into to conflicts with people so i just try and tell me mum to let it stop but she wont listen.Also my mum tolerates it in front of her when it happens and i've been wondering what to do,if i should call the police or child line. Its also a really big problem because if i do my step-father will file a complaint against me and my brother who are "guests" in the house and might take us away to the social services or whatever as we have no relatives in this country to live with besides my mum and which my dad is currently away. My step-dad is not officially married to my mum but only in the "Islamic marriage" so his also a "guest" of this house. I really help and how i can solve this without getting into trouble, thanks

Dear Are Step-Fathers Allowed To Hit You?,

TeenHealthFX does not believe that hitting children or teenagers is ever okay, whether by a parent, step-parent, boyfriend/girlfriend of a parent, or any other caregiver. Whether a mark is left or not, permanent damage is done or not, there are more effective ways of dealing with problems that can arise that do not cause the physical and psychological harm that hitting can and that do not hurt the parent-child relationship in the way that hitting can.

As for what is legal in this country, your step-father is not allowed to hit you or your brothers – the laws of the United States govern such behavior, not a person’s country of origin or religion. And regarding your step-father filing a “complaint” against you, your mother and father are responsible to take care for you. It is illegal in this country for them to abandon you and your brothers. At least one of them would need to ensure the three of you are properly taken care of – so even if your step-father refuses to take care of you, you cannot be thrown out on the street. 

As for what to do from here, it sounds like talking to your mother is not going to be helpful as you have already tried that and you see that she has done nothing to intervene in this problem. FX wonders if it is possible to talk to your father about it. You did not mention why he is away or how long he is away, but is it possible he can intervene or come back to the States to be with you? It sounds like you have a better relationship with your father – if that’s the case FX cannot imagine he would want you in this situation and would think he would do whatever he could to help you.

Regardless of whether or not you speak to your father, FX thinks it is extremely important for you to speak to a trusted adult about your concerns. It is important for an adult to get a better understanding of the nature of the hitting, as well as to know more details about the situation with your father so that he/she can intervene in the best possible way. Whomever you speak to, ask your questions and express your concerns as clearly as possible – you could even bring a copy of this letter to get the conversation started. You could speak to a school social worker or psychologist, a school nurse, a trusted teacher or your school principal. You could even call your local police station to report what is going on.  

If you are worried about revealing anything yet to someone you know, then call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453) then push 1 to talk to a hotline counselor. The hotline is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The hotline counselors work with translators who speak 170 languages to help callers who speak a language other than English. All calls are anonymous (The Hotline counselors don’t know who you are and you don’t have to tell them.) so you could get detailed information on your options without anyone even knowing who you are.

FX can appreciate what a difficult and scary situation this is for you – so we want you to reach out for help with this so you are not feeling alone and so that you can have a better understanding of your options of how to deal with this. Whether you speak to someone at school, call the police, or call the hotline above, please reach out to someone soon – you and your brothers should have to endure this any longer.