Families Frozen by Fear
Asked on Quora: Abusive father, what can be done?
Answer by Tamra Coveau:
This is a difficult and complicated situation and you are right to be worried. Your friend feels stuck, frozen in fear and unable to move. It is likely that her mother who is also being abused has felt frozen by fear for a long time.
The younger sister has not been “targeted” that you know of yet, but it is only a matter of time. Even if it is as you say and the abuse is a few times a year, your friend deserves to be safe 100% of the time.
Your friend is staying to protect her mother, which is common in dysfunctional households run by fear, but this is a mistake. She will not be able to protect her mother forever, and she cannot truly help her until she helps herself.
You can always make an anonymous tip to family protective services and share your concerns, but it would be best to encourage your friend to seek out a trusted adult friend, teacher or social worker.
You are a brave and caring friend. I wish you and your friend the best. Please take care to not put yourself in harm’s way. Talk to your parents or other trusted adult about your concerns. There are many people who care about you and your friend, and abuse is everyone’s problem. We need to end violence against women and children in particular. Thank you for speaking out.