Visitor Question

Do I have a legal case against my family for abuse?

Submitted By: R (Arizona)

I turned 18 recently, and I am a college student. All my life my mother has been very emotionally abusive, taunting me, throwing me in the middle of family arguments, and has even gotten violent enough to break furniture in the house, hit me, and threaten me with extreme physical violence.

She isn’t my legal guardian, because she was too young at the time. My father left when I was a very young child because she was so abusive to him as well, and he attempted to file to take custody of me. My legal guardians, my mother’s grandparents, have done little to stop her abuse.

My doctor said I have signs of severe PTSD and anxiety, likely due to the abuse.

The problem is, even though I am an adult, she has followed me, hit me, threatened my life, threatened my friends who were attempting to help me, and forced me back into the home. I would permanently leave, but I am still financially dependent on them for college money, as they have a whole savings account with money that was intended for my use. They have threatened multiple times to cut me off from it.

All I want is that money for college, that I was promised by them I would have, and to be able to live safely away from them. I am stuck with them otherwise, in an abusive situation. If I were to leave, I wouldn’t see another penny of it. But I know due to ‘legal guardianship’ it complicates things further.

Do I have a case for abuse? What can I do to stop this abusive relationship and separate myself, while keeping the money to pay for college? Thank you.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear R,

From the facts you present, your family history was quite dysfunctional. You do, however, have a legal duty to mitigate your circumstances. In your case, mitigation means you must remove yourself from the abusive family environment.

You aren’t a minor anymore, you’re an adult. You can’t stay in an abusive home because you don’t have enough money to move out, and concurrently claim the type of abuse which would form the basis of an abuse case. It’s not likely you’ll have enough to bring a case for the PTSD, but you should consult an attorney to be sure.

The prior promise to pay for your tuition is also not actionable. There are many reasons why the promise to pay might have been broken, including, but not limited a change of financial circumstances. If you do have a trust in your name, which they have control over, you’ll need an attorney to pursue that money on your behalf.

It’s time to take care of yourself. You are among thousands of other young people who don’t have enough money for college. You can get a part time job, share an apartment with a friend, and otherwise separate yourself from the abusive relationship. If your mother’s behavior rises to the level of harassment, you can file for a restraining order.

Learn more here: About Child Abuse & Restitution

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney.

Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call 888-972-0892.

We wish you the best with your claim,


One comment on “Do I have a legal case against my family for abuse?

  1. Aly says:

    This is an old post, but for those like me who may be reading: if your parents were abusive and you remain financially dependent on them for school: take a year off. Check into a shelter or transitional living house. Spend some time healing and reflecting, maybe. The next year go back to school but file your FAFSA under homeless/unaccompanied youth and request documentation from the shelter. I did this and got financial aid to continue school under the Pell grant. It wasn’t planned but God bless because it allowed me to obtain safety and I can still pursue my education.

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