Take control of your life immediately

I am struggling with my family. They are abusing me physically and mentally. They do illegal things to me. I have dreams and want to live my own life but they control everything of mine. I am 23 years old and financially dependent on them. I tried to contact the Saartjie Baartman Centre but they said they were overbooked. I don’t know what I must do anymore. I feel trapped and want out. I feel I have to fight this all by myself and have nobody to turn to. I have no family. Please can you help me.

I am sorry to hear that you are struggling with your own family and that they are abusive towards you.

You are in a complex situation and I feel there are no easy answers to help you. I understand that you are desperate for help and even more so that you tried to contact an NGO that deals with abuse and you say they turned you away.

It is a pity that our NGOs are not funded sufficiently so that they can support more people who desperately need help.

I would encourage you though not to give up; to find other support systems that are available and could help you.

Firstly, I was wondering if you tried making contact with your local police regarding the physical abuse specifically.

Abuse is abuse whether you are 10 years old or 23 years old. Police are required to intervene and assist with any abuse case. It may be that if your family is controlling everything about you, and that any kind of help that you seek may be sabotaged by them but you still need to empower yourself without needing to inform them of the steps you take to do this.

I am also left wondering why you have not dared to get away from them, to move out and stay in a shelter temporarily.

Perhaps you could contact Mosaic on 021 761 7585 and ask them if they can refer you to any shelters for abused women where you can be given a new start away from your family.

Being in a safe space, away from your abusers, will allow you to start focusing on your own life and goals and will enable you to find work so you can earn your own money.

Moving away will require enormous courage from you as victims of abuse often dread that they will not be able to cope in life without the abusers, more so if they are financially and materially dependent on them.

Emotional dependence plays a pivotal role in not leaving an abusive situation and I would strongly encourage you to seek psychological counselling. Mosaic also offers counselling services or you could contact the Cape Mental Health Society on 021 447 9040.

My mother is severely depressed and has lost so much weight and does not want food from any of us. We tried to take her to Valkenberg Hospital and they sent us around from pillar to post to get all kinds of forms. I even wrote to government to help us but we have not heard from them again. I don’t know what we must do next and am totally desperate to get her out of her depression.

It sounds like your mother has been depressed for a significant period and it would be best that she receives help as soon as possible.

If your family has the financial means, I would advise that your mother sees a private psychiatrist so that she can be assessed psychiatrically and provided with the appropriate medication for depression as well as get her referred to a psychotherapist so that she can talk about the underlying reasons for feeling depressed.

She could start off with seeing a counsellor at Cape Mental Heath Society (021 447 9040) and if you can afford it, for her to see a private mental health practitioner. You can obtain various mental health practitioners’ details on therapist-directory.co.za

It may be that she had been traumatised in earlier years and the depression is her psyche’s way of communicating that there are unprocessed past painful experiences which have been suppressed and are now surfacing and which she is not able to deal with on her own.

The most highly recommended treatment for anxiety and depression is the combined use of anti-depressants and psychotherapy.

My son from my current marriage was on tik and with our help he has come off it. But my other son from a previous relationship is also on tik and has no respect for us and is influencing his siblings in a bad way with his drug abuse. He comes into our house whenever he wants to and walks around with a knife all the time, taking and doing what he wants to. He has destroyed our lives with his addiction including my husband losing his entire business. We have tried to get him help but he returns to the drug every time. We are feeling totally lost about this and don’t know what to do.

As I mentioned in my previous column, tik addiction is very destructive not only to the addicted individual but also to those around them (“Devastating effects of tik on users”, Help is at Hand, June 14).

Your son’s behaviour including threatening you with weapons requires stronger action on your part.

You will need to use tough love and be more firm and definite about your decision to stop him from destroying your current family. You have tried to help him and he does not seem to use the help he has received. It’s a pity that, despite your help, he has decided to continue using drugs to the detriment of himself and his family.

Many argue that addiction is very hard to break and this is true, however, continuing to allow him to come into your home and cause mayhem will further burden and shatter you, your other children and your entire family. You need to ask yourself is supporting him and being there for him worth it and is it enabling his behaviour to continue?

For any parent with an addicted child this is a very difficult decision to make because of the instinctive bond of love towards your child.

However, you and your husband have to act resolutely and obtain legal as well as policing intervention, including an interdict, to stop him from coming into your home.

If this does not help it may require that you move out of the house, if possible, and move into a different area which is unknown to him.

Carin-Lee Masters is a clinical psychologist. 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 helpmecarin@inl.co.za Send a WhatsApp message or SMS to 082 264 7774.