Domestic abuse

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Domestic abuse

Postby candlejar » Tue Jul 01, 2014 5:04 pm

At the weekend, I got a text message from my older brother telling me that my Dad used to beat my Mum up. My brother is very troubled and paranoid so I initially wrote his message off as more of his nonsense, however I called my Mum to discuss his mental state with her and she told me that it was true and that basically he beat her up for a number of years when I was a child (I'm in my mid-20s now), but eventually went to anger management and hasnt laid a hand on her for more than 15 years.

My parents dont have a particularly happy marriage, and I remember them fighting a lot (the screaming and shouting at the top of their lungs kind of fight) when I was a kid, but they superficially appear to get on much better now, although to be fair it's been quite a lot of years since I lived with them so things might be worse behind closed doors than they seem. When I spoke to my Mum about it, she said it was a long time ago, he's a different person now and she has no interest in leaving him or pressing charges and basically wants everyone to ask her any questions they have and then leave it behind them.

I've always had a difficult relationship with my Dad. He's been very depressed as far back as I can remember and although he was usually in the house when I was a child, he didnt play any sort of active role in my parenting, he stayed in his study and we rarely saw him. I resented him for a lot of years for this, but in my late teens/early 20s I decided that since he was the only Dad I was ever going to have, I should build a relationship with him and since then I have done - I'll never be a 'Daddys girl', but I've found that it turns out I get on well with him as an adult, we're very alike in a lot of ways and in the last year or so I would have actually described our relationship as 'close', which I never thought I'd achieve.

But this has just shaken everything for me. I decided to bond with him because I decided that although he was a rubbish Dad, he was a good man and that's more than a lot of people have. But now this - is he a good man? Do good men go around beating up their wives? Can people really change? I feel like the ground has been ripped out from under me and this image I had of my Dad, and my Mum, my childhood has just been shattered. My Mum was telling me about it and hearing her say the classic victim stuff ("Well to be fair to him, I did make him angry") just broke my heart. She's kept this to herself (she never told anyone) for more than 25 years and she's had to live with it by herself, living in the same house and sharing a bed with the same man and I hate him for that.

But then he's always been so depressed and I've spent so long just wishing he'd be happy that I can't bear the thought of him being so sad - but then the other half of my brain is going "why the eff shouldnt he be sad, it's HIS fault, he brought this on himself.

I just dont know how to process this. I know people who were witness (or subject) to domestic abuse as children, but they all either witnessed, or found out as children and have dealt with it in their own way - some built a different sort of relationship with their Dads and some cut their Dads out, but I dont know anyone who's found it out as an adult. It completely breaks my heart to find this out, that a man who I genuinely believed would never hurt a fly, could do this to my Mother (the kindest, most caring woman in the world), under our noses for years.

Has anyone ever been through this? Can anyone give me any advice on how to come to terms with it?
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Re: Domestic abuse

Postby Bel Bel » Wed Jul 02, 2014 1:21 pm

He has already made the change and has been fine for the last 15 years
If your mum chooses to stay with him and is unhappy that is her choice

I think it would be wrong to pass judgement on him after all this time, you had your issues with him and you got over those
Have you never done anything wrong, would you want it to be dragged up for the rest of your life?

You also don't know why your dad was doing what he was doing, I don't condon it but without all the facts you can't really pass judgement

What motive did your brother have for suddenly telling you this, is he jealous of your new relationship with your dad ?
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Re: Domestic abuse

Postby flashcampbell » Thu Jul 03, 2014 2:30 pm

What a shock! I can understand why you're still reeling and I don't think it is realistic to just move on. While its old news for the rest of the family, it's not to you.

Regarding his character, I am certainly not condoning what he did but I don't think he falls into the evil category. In many respects, he may well be a rather ordinary man who couldn't control his temper. Not all abusers are as extreme as those depicted in the media which is why your mum chose to stay with him.

I don't think talking to your mum or brother is going to be helpful but could you talk to your dad?
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Re: Domestic abuse

Postby Tarantula » Tue Jul 08, 2014 2:41 pm

Now I'm not condoning domestic abuse, but... I'm condoning domestic abuse.

Seriously guys?? I gotta disagree. Regardless of the facts, domestic abuse is NEVER okay, end of. So I totally get why OP is shocked and appalled by this new information. I think it's difficult to have a close relationship with someone when there are secrets like that. And just because your dad didn't lay another finger on your mum after anger management doesn't mean that things were 'fine' from then on. I'm sure OP never questioned whether staying was their mum's choice or not.

Whenever I've done something wrong, I've 'fessed up and talked about it to all who may have been affected; not just kept quiet and expected everyone to just get over it. Also if OP was around when the violence was happening then, even though he/she (sorry) may not remember it, it could have had an impact so that needs to be looked at and not dismissed as 'oh well, it was a while ago, what's the fuss?'

OP I think the only thing you can do is have an honest conversation with your dad about it and see what his stance is. If he's oh so much the Better Man now then he'll totally understand your concerns and reassure you that it was a dark period in his life where he behaved shamefully, but that he has now come out the other side of. What he WON'T do, if he's moved beyond that version of himself, is get reactionary, turn it back on you, say it's none of your business, or basically get defensive. You can then adjust your respect levels accordingly.

I suspect, unfortunately, from what you've said about your mum taking responsibility for his actions even to this day, that he's not so much Mr Renaissance and even if the violence itself cleared up (and are you sure about that? Your mum sounds pretty good at keeping quiet about things), the marriage itself didn't suddenly become a happy one.

But y'know... if he wasn't a decent parent to you anyway... then I would wonder what you're fighting for.
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Re: Domestic abuse

Postby flashcampbell » Wed Jul 09, 2014 10:39 pm

I tend to agree but I think OP needs to be prepared not to get the reaction from her father she wants or expects. She may get it, she may not. But sometimes, however much you want it, you don't quite have the relationship you want and things aren't quite how they should be. Does that mean she should not have a relationship with her father? I'm not sure it's that simple. Her relationship of late has been good and really ought to provide something to work on. One could argue that it has been based on a lie but I would say that would be oversimplifying the issue. I very much doubt either her mother or father were proud of the early years so they chose, not so much to lie, but to sweep it under the carpet. Perhaps they themselves convinced themselves it didn't happen or wasn't that bad. Who would want to talk about this with their children? I know I certainly wouldn't, had it happened to me.

I lost my beloved father two years ago. He was far from perfect in my earlier childhood but I come from a generation where we talked about the above issues less, which is not always a good thing, I agree. But, like OP's father, he mellowed and we got on brilliantly in my 20s, 30s, 40s - not that we didn't not get on when I was younger but there were a lot of stresses when we were growing up and it was not a calm household. I know if I had been in the situation where I had decided to cut him off, I would have bitterly regretted it and it's not a decision to be taken lightly.
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