My family are controlling me? What can I do?

Many families, particularly within diaspora communities, implore children to behave in a way which is deemed socially and/or culturally acceptable, in order to preserve the family’s ‘honor’ (or izzat in some cultures). This concept of “honor” refers to a person’s and/or family’s righteousness in the eyes of their community. It is often utilized to ensure that people act in accordance with a certain code or set of rules. As such, if people follow what is considered socially good, they are honored; if not, they are shamed.
In order to uphold this ‘honor’, your family may prevent you from doing things they deem inappropriate, such as becoming involved with friends or a boyfriend or girlfriend from a different culture or religion, wearing certain clothes or makeup, taking part in activities that might not be considered traditional within a particular culture, or being of a certain sexuality. They may use physical, sexual or emotional violence to prevent you from partaking in such activities and damage your self-confidence and independence. This is a form of abuse known as honor based abuse, and it is a crime. The London Met police have an informative page explaining what actions constitute as honor based abuse –
There is nothing ‘honorable’ in a parent mistreating their child preventing them from having their liberty and freedom. Despite what your parents may make you believe, you are not ‘dishonoring’ yourself or anyone else by making your own decisions about your own life and how you live it.
If you feel as though your parents are controlling you, and forcing you to adhere to the rules of an honor system to point where it is adversely affecting you and your life, there are people who you can talk to who can help provide you with support and guidance. It may be difficult to talk to members of your family or wider community, as they may play an active role in restricting your life, or they may support those who do. If that’s the case, speak to someone you trust or another responsible adult outside of the family, such as a teacher or member of staff at school. You can also contact helplines like ChildLine and ourselves/Karma Nirvana, to talk to a professional who can offer help and advice. The most important thing is that you speak to someone; no issue is too small to discuss. It can be difficult to talk about personal issues regarding individuals in your family, but it is important to remember that although you love your parents, what they are doing is wrong, and it is better to come forward and talk about it instead of getting hurt in the future or continuing to be unhappy.