January 3, 1999
I am a 15 year old female. Recently, a lot of trouble has occurred
in my household, causing sessions with therapists, even for me, despite
the fact that the problem is between my parents. I'm not sure what
has happened recently, but my mom has become what you call an "abuser."
In the last few years and she has made my dad and I victims. One day,
she came into my room and threw a copy of The Verbally Abusive Relationship on my bed with
highlights saying this is how my *dad* has been abusing my *mom.* I
took a look through it and found myself agreeing with it. Then I found
your site and found myself agreeing with your defined
characteristics of verbal abuse. However, it is not my dad abusing my mom,
it is my mom abusing my dad. This abuse also is directed
I found a section of your site that said if any of the following applies then your situation is critical.
I personally find myself expressing opinions less and less for fear of
being yelled at for expressing them. I find myself trying to find
ways to gently say something as well. I feel emotionally unsafe, and
I am becoming afraid of her more daily. My litte sister is only 4, but you
can see her fear too.
I've tried several times to make my mother understand that it is her and
not me or my dad. Every time I try, she comes down on me harder and
harder. One time I had to open the window while she was yelling at
me because I knew she wouldn't yell if any neighbors could hear. She
repeatedly threatened to call the cops on me (although I don't know why)
and wouldn't leave me alone for the rest of the day. The other day
she overheard me talking to a friend on the phone. She wouldn't stop stop
yelling at me about confiding to my friends - when she actually goes to
all of her friends and tells them lies about me and my dad to get them to
boost her ego and hate us!
My question: Is there any way for me to make her understand that she
just might be the abuser here? I doubt that she will ever understand
that, but I don't think that there is a way to tell her this without her
yelling at me for even trying to talk to her about it.
Thanks for your time.
I'm sorry about
your situation; sounds as though things are coming to a head. Mom sounds
out of control. I don't know what's going on, but I do know that its not
at all unusual for the angrier and more controlling of the two to believe
they are the victim. Sometimes they are the victim who has had
it and are at their wit's end. Except in extreme cases, many couples could
exchange roles, at least at a behavioral if not
psychological level. Both are
angry. The bottom line is not to identify who is the
"victim" and who is the "abuser" (remember, you don't
know what goes on behind closed doors!), just to stop the
out-of-control behavior that is hurting you! Neither parent is
being responsible if you are being hurt.
There is nothing
you can do other than understand that this has nothing to do with you. All
you can do is tell mom that her behavior towards you is not fair to
you. If this doesn't help and you are feeling intimidated by her, I
think you need to tell your dad and/or one of the professionals who is
involved with your family. Your dad is the only one who can help mom
control her behavior towards you. You need to be real clear with dad on
how you are being affected. If he doesn't get it, he may need help
understanding that his inertia, or whatever, towards your mom's acting out
is hurting you. Perhaps you can convince him to have a session with
just the two of you. Or, maybe your mom will agree to a session between
the two of you.
As a last resort,
if your mom won't listen, your dad won't help, and you can't get hold of
one of the therapists, you can always call the child protection agency in
your state, anonymously, if this option frightens you. Perhaps they can
advise you what your options are.
Hang in there. I
wish you and your family peace. Dr. Irene