Everyone has the right to grow up in a healthy and nurturing home environment. No one should live in fear or have their basic needs unmet.
If you have experiences that make you feel uncomfortable, unsafe, or hurt, there may be something wrong in your home environment. If your parents or caregivers harm you on purpose, tell you that you are depraved or worthless, touch you in ways that feel violating or uncomfortable, or withhold food or bathroom access, what you are experiencing is wrong. Know that you are not the problem. You are never to blame for the way your parents or caregivers treat you.
You may know that your home environment feels off or that you are unhappy, but you may not have words to express that feeling. In some communities, parents use words like “necessary” or “godly” or “punishment” to describe actions that are actually harmful or abusive to their children. If you are unsure whether what you are experiencing is abuse, you may find it helpful to read more about what constitutes abuse and about common warning signs of abuse.
If you are being abused or neglected or feel otherwise unsafe or unhappy, please reach out to someone you trust—a friend, a family member, a relative, or some other figure in your life that can help you. When something is wrong in your home environment, having outside adults to support and encourage you is very important. You do not need to suffer in silence.
There is additional help available to you as well. If you have access to a phone, you may be able report your parents’ abuse to social services. Reports are anonymous and confidential. The phone number for reporting child abuse in your state is listed HERE. If you are unable to find the number or are worried about making such a call, you may be able to receive advice or other help by calling the National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-422-4453. Finally, you may also want to have a look at the links on our Additional Resources page.
Reporting your abuse to social services can be a scary and daunting step. You may have been taught to fear social services. Please understand that it is social services’ job to make sure that children are safe, and that their parents do not hurt them. They are trained to work with children and are there to help you. Be honest with social workers and other social services personnel about your fears.
You may have been told that social services will take you away from your parents, and this may worry you. While this may be true in situations that are especially bad, social services places a priority on keeping families together when at all possible. In all likelihood, they will focus on working with you and your parents to make your family healthier and improve your home.
If you are a homeschooled student growing up in a home characterized by fear, you are not alone. There is a whole community of homeschool alumni at Homeschoolers Anonymous, many of whom have backgrounds like yours. As you grow older, you may want to look at Homeschool Alumni Reaching Out (HARO), which provides informative links for homeschool graduates transitioning to adulthood.
We asked several homeschool alumni who grew up in troubled home environments what advice they would give to homeschooled students in similar situations today. This is what they said:
“Hang in there. It gets better. Life improves when you leave. If you can stand it, if the abuse is not life-threatening, if you only have a few years left until you turn 18, then hang in there. Tutor yourself as much as you can. Apply to community college, get out as soon as you can. If your situation is life-threatening, if you feel suicidal, if you are denied resources to tutor yourself — then get out now. Call CPS. Call someone who you trust and know can help… It’s not your fault, you are a beautiful human being.” ~ Lana, 29, homeschooled 5th-12th
“You will turn 18 and you can leave. If you’re safe but disadvantaged in education you should read as much as you can. And try to learn algebra now before you’re out in the world working and can’t find time. But if you’re being abused physically and/or sexually just call the police. It’s not your fault that terrible things are happening and getting out of there is the only thing you can do.” ~ Emily, 24, homeschooled 2nd-12th
“Be strong. You will make it through. You will find people who are willing to help you. You’ll make friends, you’ll find a job, you’ll find love. You will be free to be you. You can still get an education, as long as you are willing to keep an open mind and work for it. Read as much as you can, from as many sides of an issue as you can. It may be extremely difficult at times, but I promise, someday you will wake up and look around you and breathe deep and know that you are happy and that the journey to that place was worth every step.” ~ Rachel, 23, homeschooled K-12th
You are not alone, and your life is not over. It is only just beginning. Reach out for support. Believe in yourself. You are important and your dreams matter.
This advice is designed for homeschooled students who have problems at home. If you are being homeschooled and receiving a poor education, we have more advice for you HERE.
This article does not constitute the giving of legal advice.