Dear Abby: I’m a 15-year-old girl who has two younger brothers. My parents are good people, but they can be extremely harsh and cruel. They curse us out and scream at us for petty things almost every day. I told my best friend about it and she said that it is emotional abuse. I disagree.

I have always been told that every parent yells at their kids. Maybe not every day, but regardless, everyone gets mad sometimes. I honestly didn’t even think there was such a thing as emotional abuse.

I don’t know what to do. I have been suffering this almost my entire life. I didn’t think that it was abuse. Am I being emotionally abused? I would appreciate your help.

– Tired of the Tirades

Dear Tired: The answer to your question is yes, your friend is correct. Because your parents have been doing this on a regular basis, it qualifies as verbal/emotional abuse. Be glad you now recognize it, because their lack of control isn’t normal.

Their anger and frustration may have nothing to do with you and your siblings. The problem with this kind of abuse – as opposed to physical abuse – is that although it is damaging, it is often not taken seriously.

If there are family members or close friends who can intervene, help your parents to see how damaging their lack of control is and convince them to get help, you should confide in them. It might be a good idea for you and your brothers to spend as much time with friends in healthier families as you can. This will get you out of the line of fire and enable you all to see what normal family interactions are like.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.