From what professionals have told me, and what I have read about dreams, what we dream is a way of processing things in our life. The dreams don't have to be specifically about an issue in your life, like a tumultuous family life, but you may dream about going through something very stressful. If you have fear about something in life or a feeling of powerlessness, you might dream about trying to get away from some threatening or dangerous situation but you can't move or move very slow.
A few years back I was going through tremedous stress in my life. I had no control over the things that were going on and I was trying as hard as I could to try and control things. One night I dreamed that a friend and I were patients in a dark and dank insane assylum. In spite of the ominous surroundings, it started out as a positive experience. Then these old people in like white nightgowns started coming after us begging us to help them. They were crying out and begging us to help them. We were greately annoyed and tried to hide from them. At one point I got separated from others ane one specific woman was following after me. No matter where I hid she found me. She was absolutely terrified by something and pleaded with me to help her. I was terrified because I didn't have a clue how to help her and she had a scary look and sound to her voice. Finally she grabbed hold of me and shook me. She had such a tight grip on me I couldn't get away. Shortly thereafter I woke up quite stressed. I shared this with my therapist and she reminded me of all the stress I was going through in my life and that I felt powerless to help my son and powerless to solve other extreme stresses.She said this dream was a processing of all the stress I was under.