Sasha, my parents’ marriage has never been good, like ever. My dad is an alcoholic and can get pretty violent. He's hit me, my brother and my mother at various times throughout the years. He's still angry all of the time, can't stop drinking etc. etc. but hasn't tried anything physical with us since 16 (I'm 20 now), but takes it out on us through verbal attacks, sly comments, generally being a massive d-bag. But I can deal with it most of the time.
But the main problem is that the past year it’s gotten WAY worse. He has serious control issues and hates the fact that my mum has a pretty good job. So this resentment that he has for her has been building and building and he treats her like absolute crap. The house is tense and a pretty scary place to be at the moment.
I'm at uni so I try and get home as often as I can and when I went back recently me and my mum had a long talk and she basically decided she was going to leave him. But the fact is, she is scared of him and what he will do to her and my sisters.  I told her that she needs to leave asap but there is a genuine fear there with regards to my youngest sister. I'm not exaggerating in that when my Dad flips he goes totally insane and has made some serious threats that even I am nervous about. (My brother is my age but i have two younger sisters who are 14 and 6 and are completely terrified of him also)
Basically I'm just super confused about the situation. My friends are saying go home and look out for my mum but I'm worried that me being there would exasperate the situation as my dad and me have a pretty strained relationship. What should I do? From, L

I know how out of control an unhealthy relationship can get, and if you add alcohol and or drugs into the mix, sh-t, you really do have a ticking time bomb on your hands.  L, my main concern right now is to make sure that you and your family are safe.

Do you know what your mom’s plans are to leave him?  I’d love to know because the way she goes about it will really determine how things will unfold.  Leaving in the heat of an argument is not the ideal way, because as soon as tempers are flared, as you well know, things can get straight up crazy and dangerous.   Instead it’s best to do it when he’s not in the house so that she can make sure of a clean escape.  I really hope she is seeking help from a counselor or some relationship professional as to how to go about this, but if not, please email me back so we can help her find someone.  In the meantime here is a helpful link for tips on how to leave an abusive relationship. Click here.

As for you, L.  For now, I would stay put and here’s why:  

If your relationship with your dad is really that volatile, you coming back will not only throw him off, but it’s just another person your dad will perceive is against him.  When someone with his personality feels ganged up on, the first instinct is to be defensive and fight back, and that’s not what you want.  

I know the biggest struggle for you is that you want to be there to protect your mom, but when it comes down to it, this situation can only be resolved by your mom and your dad.  So I think the best thing for you to do is to sit tight and try to carry on with your life as best you can until your mom has a plan.  When she’s figured out the day she’s going to leave, that’s when I think you should be there, NOT at the house but in town.  Again, I can’t stress enough that she needs a well formulated plan not only to leave, but to stay gone as well.   

Please let me know how everything goes.  Xx