Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.
DD abusing me - distressed(320 Posts)
Have posted about dd on parenting teenagers board under a different user name. If you recognise me, please don't out me, as dd sometimes searches mn to see what I've said about her. I don't think she has ever looked at this board though. I lurk on this board a bit. I thought I'd post after realising that what I'm feeling at the moment is not a million miles away from what what I read here from women in abusive partnerships with adults. I really need to off-load.
There's a special kind of sadness and shame attached to being abused by your young teenage child because underneath you are constantly asking yourself the question - are they like this because of the way I've parented them? And fear for them - for their future and their well-being. I strongly believe that behaving in a violent and abusive way doesn't just harm the person who's being abused, but in a spiritual and emotional sense also the person who's behaving abusively. That's really hard when you are a parent on the receiving end of abuse from your child.
A bit of background: dd is going to be 14 in August. Up until the end of primary she was a very easy and happy little girl. Unusually happy, confident and high spirited I'd say. She had a massive sense of fun and loads of energy, to the point that she'd always be the last child standing at any party or sleep-over. She breezed through primary in top sets for everything, despite being one of the youngest in her year. Her teachers LOVED her. She was very, very pretty too, to the point that people would stop me in the street and say what an adorable little girl she was.
Fast forward to year 9 and she's unrecognisable as the happy, lovely little girl we knew before. She's still sociable and has a lot of friends, including a couple she's known since nursery. But that's all that's left of what she was before. On the days she's not actively refusing to go to school (about 2 or 3 out of every 5 days at the moment - she just won't get out of bed), she deliberately makes herself very, very late. She regularly argues with teachers - just point blank refuses to do things she doesn't feel like doing at school, whether it's an assessment for PE, moving desks because she's been talking, whatever. She walks out of detentions if she thinks they've kept her long enough, refuses to do any homework, is MASSIVELY disrespectful to the teachers she doesn't like.
Obviously I've tried to do something about her behaviour. I've moved her school (she asked me to and I was unhappy with her old school), I have kept in regular touch with her tutor and her head of year. We have tried to put sanctions in place for bad behaviour (ie grounding and losing her phone) and made our expectations clear but we aren't the most organised people and her behaviour has been so universally bloody awful that it has got to a point where sanctions become a bit meaningless. And in the meantime she has become so angry, and so resentful of me in particular, and it's got worse and worse to the point where I can't see how we can go on, despite the support we've had from the school and from other agencies (CAMHS) to get to the bottom of her behaviour.
If you've read on to this point you might be thinking - So far, so typical of some teenagers, but I'm posting specifically because of her behaviour towards me and how it's made me feel.
Over the last few months she has become more and more aggressive towards me. She
- daily tells me I'm pathetic and a failure as a parent because I have an autistic child (her youngest brother who is 7) and a daughter (her) who has been referred to CAMHS and who I can't control
- tells me I'm old and stupid. Tells me constantly to 'shut up' and if I don't do what she says, says 'Are you stupid? Did you hear me? SHUT UP'
- tells me I'm a failure because the house is messy and because I buy my clothes in charity shops
- says that DH should leave me and could do much better than me
- walks into the bathroom when I'm in the bath, even when I have the door locked and have said not to come in - she sticks a card through the gap in the door and unlatches it, pushes her way in and shoots disgusted looks at my body. Says she needs to wash her hands and won't go downstairs to do it because she can't be bothered
- walks into my bedroom and pulls things off my shelves when she wants something of mine, without asking me if she can have it. She walks past me into the room, ignores me when I say 'what do you want?', literally physically barges me out of the way and laughs at me, just takes what she wants and walks out.
- she has locked me out of the house when I've stepped outside to put something in the bin
- she has trashed my room
- she body-blocks me in the hallway of the house, sticks her face in mine and shouts at me that I'm pathetic and scared to make eye contact with her.
- she gas lights me
- she tells me I should just leave and why don't I give up and move out
- she constantly points out that DH earns more than me and that therefore he is 'in charge'. I have pointed to her that this is not how finances work in a marriage (at least not in ours thank god). She ignores me.
..... and then yesterday she snatched my mobile after I refused to allow her something she wanted. When I tried to get it back off her she hit me around the face, knocking my glasses to the floor, laughed at me when I cried, and shoved me out the front door of the house.
She weighs 10 and a half stone and is stronger than me. I'm frightened of her.
I found myself sitting crying in the car and too frightened to go back into my own home. I ended up going around to my SIL's house. She came back home with me and persuaded dd to be driven round to my mums, where she stayed last night.
I don't want her to come home. I feel completely traumatised by the last few months - I have this constant feeling of exhaustion and a weird sense of vigilance - like I am living under siege. I suspect a year or two more of this and I'd have a heart attack or something. The atmosphere in the house is often awful and it's affecting my ability to parent my other two children.
And although I'm the one who is the target of most of her spite and anger, DH is also very stressed by it. He's a 45 year old manager and someone who I would have said had 'cast iron' good mental health. Yet she managed to make him cry last week. First time I have seen him cry in the 20 years we've been together. He's a brilliant dad, very patient and caring. He's made loads of time for dd the past year, knowing that she's struggling with growing up, taken her shopping, to the theatre and out to lunch.
I keep asking myself what I've done to make her like this. DH and I have been together for 20 years, and we have always been loving and respectful to each other, in front of the children and at every other time. We NEVER speak to each other in a disrespectful way.
I have not been a perfect parent to dd - I have nagged her too much about her lack of effort at school (and when I say lack of effort I mean lack of ANY effort, not a failure to reach some impossible standard of perfection), I have lost the plot at times and shouted and pleaded with her about her truanting and lateness. On a couple of occasions I attempted to push her into her bedroom when she attacked me. I should have walked away and shut myself in my bedroom instead of engaging with her physically. DH has admitted he's made mistakes with her as well, and has apologised for telling her she was a 'waste of space' (in fairness, this was a comment on her absolute refusal to ever lift a finger to help at home, including refusing to do even such basic things such as remove her plate from the table after eating, put rubbish in a bin instead of just dropping it on the floor wherever in the house she happens to be standing, or flush the toilet after she's done a crap in it). Can her abusiveness be our fault? Is it always learned behaviour?
How do I survive the next few years being abused and disrespected in my own home until she grows up and either leaves or stops doing it? How do I keep myself intact and strong as a mother?
If you've got this far - thanks! I'm going out to walk the dog (stress relief). Will come back and respond later if anyone answers this.
Oh, you got there first, Springy.
On phone sorry so not sure if I am linking right. I have programme on work computer (not at work atm) with more details.
This is not my project btw. Just a link to one which explains it. Am in Ireland
Haven't read it all, but that looks amazing, FarelyKnuts. Thanks for the linky. It works fine.
I have been part of it working in some fairly serious situations (child ending up in foster care and excluded from school due to his violent behaviour, as well as in trouble with the JLO etc). He is now home full time, back in school and JLO involvement is finished. Violence in the home is nil etc.
Its hard work on everyones part but it does work
That sounds fantastic FarelyKnuts.
I would have given my right arm for such intervention. Interestingly, I have actually developed many of those strategies on my own, over years.
But it does buy into what I always say on these threads - there comes a time when a parent has to recognise that they cannot force compliance, they cannot stop their child from acting out, and that's the point at which they need to recognise that they themselves need to change their reaction to the child. And concentrate on themselves for a bit.
Unfortunately, it seems unlikely to me that any "normal" family will get such intervention. It is intensive and probably expensive. And as I couldn't even get social services to visit us, and couldn't get anyone at all to take us seriously (because we were obviously caring parents, therefore we were left to cope alone), I doubt a family like mine would ever access such a scheme .
It's obviously very intensive and very hard work - but the fact that it gives results so quickly must be a huge plus with the children, they don't get trapped into negative behaviour patterns/self image/public image for the rest of their lives.
Its such a pity Maryz. I know here (in the west) its only really taking off now as an intervention, and to be honest that is mostly down to one social worker and myself (Im a project worker working in Family Support) doing our research and deciding to try it out.
It will hopefully become more "mainstream" in our project anyway and then slowly get adopted out across more projects.
It is so frustrating though to depend on a system where as you say it depends on getting professionals to take you seriously, and often on where you live and what they offer.
You need to clone yourself, FarelyKnuts.
FarleyNuts how does it work? Is there something I could do without all the support that report talks about?
Just some tips on how to deal with aggression would be good
FarelyKnuts - that's very, very interesting and sounds completely appropriate for our situation. The information on the parent page rings a huge bell for me.
The comment about the child using violence and intimidation to control others - yes.
The issue of individual temperament - dd is and always has been very, umm, persuasive (not the right word I know) and self directed. I remember years ago joking that she'd have a bright future as a time share salesman because once she'd decided to get her own way she was unbelievably forceful and persistent.
The lowered parental presence - I suffered from a fairly significant bout of depression a few years ago when physical ill-health and severe health anxiety coincided with a period when my autistic child's behaviour became more difficult to manage. At the same time my father's health was failing. He died the following year. I think around this time I was a bit 'absent' emotionally, and didn't have the strength to respond in a solid and consistent way to dd pushing boundaries as she moved into adolescence.
I'm in London. I wonder what chance there is of being referred? Problem is, as Maryz says, we are a stable and solvent two parent family, with a good extended family network of support. I'm wondering how high on the list of priorities we'd be when it comes to 'investing' in us....
I think with all the commissioning going on in the NHS it is possible that they would consider this as a valuable 'cost-effective' way to manage your DD. You may be stable and solvent, but in a couple of years time she won't be and will be dependent on them for help.
You've got to sell it to them.
ooh mini it does sound interesting I hope you can get some support to try it.x
Good therapy is worth its weight and if it is at all possible to get the money from somewhere - anywhere! - then houses, cars, holidays, extension etc come second. It's rather like paying for a good lawyer - yes it stings but the alternative doesn't bear thinking about. It's an investment. Sometimes we have to shift our thinking about therapy being an unattainable added extra or luxury.
I hope I'm wording that well enough!
Ok, on the premise that I really would recommend that if at ALL possible you seek out someone who is trained in this type of therapeutic intervention, and that these are only some basic tips and not the whole programme in detail then....
Firstly you absolutely HAVE to have an outsider for this to work. It cannot be a family member or anyone who is invested in your family dynamics. It is pretty much why it needs a "professional" input, its the neutral outsider. But if you can find someone willing to be a part of it, a family friend perhaps, then that might work too.
The basic reason for this is that what you are doing is taking the "secret" of your child's violent behaviour outside of your family. You are not doing it to shame or blame your child, but you are doing it to make them accountable for it and be "seen"
and therefore showing them them that it will not be normalised nor accepted any longer.
Then you are going to sit down as a family and have a family meeting. Your "outsider" will be there to chair it. Have a talking stick or wand or pen or something that means that whoever holds it talks and the rest must listen, everyone gets a chance to talk.
Talk about what is working in the family, and what is not, include the violence. Get the child/children to come up with appropriate /reasonable sanctions for violence (remember that swearing is a violent act). Include sanctions for parents if they are guilty of any violent acts including shouting/swearing.
Come up with rewards for good behaviour.
Write them down. All must agree because all must sign off on them.
Print two signs for the house and put somewhere very visible. New house rules for everyone. The first should read: NO VIOLENCE. The second: RESPECT.
At your family meeting everyone should get a chance to talk about the impact that the current situation in the house is having on them. Basic family meeting rules are that no one becomes abusive, if they do they must leave the table/take a break. Try and use I statements. I feel sad when.. Not you make me angry when..
With teens it might take a few attempts to have the family meeting. Explain beforehand what it is for, not in a blaming way, try and be positive, again with the I statements. Ie: I feel so unhappy that I am fighting/shouting at you and would like to find a different way for us to interact etc
The next thing you need to do is identify a "check in" person. This needs to ne an adult who your teen respects and would be willing to be a positive influence in their life. This person is going to need to be willing to check in every single day for a whole so its a big commitment. Make sure they are on board.
This person is going to phone every day, check with you how your teenager did that day re: violence/goals etc. You are going to be 100% honest. They are going to then talk to your teenager, express their encouragement on a good day, disappointment and re-encouragement on a bad one.
If your teenager has a violent outburst you are going to tell them you refuse to tolerate it and walk away, you will not engage, you will not shout/argue/fight back. You will ignore until they are calm and then put in place the consequence agreed at the family meeting.
You may need to use your "outsider" and your check in person as well as yourself and other adults in the family for a sit in situation if your teenager continues to use violent behaviour.
It is a united front to show them that you are not being isolated by their bullying and intimidating behaviour and it will not be accepted.
You would all need to be very calm and controlled to use a method like this however
OP, I read this and wondered if your DD had been sexually abused even before I saw others had suggested it. I do think it's worth trying to figure out if this is the case. I know you say your mother's instinct would tell you, but I'm afraid this is pretty unlikely. It's actually more likely that you wouldn't realise, due to various natural defence mechanisms we tend to unconsciously employ. It's entirely possible this anger is being displaced from somewhere else.
I realise this is just a theory, but I find it interesting that you've dismissed the idea of sexual abuse without actually asking her. I think it's wrong to talk about an 'excuse' for her behaviour - if there's a cause, it's just that, a cause, and it's worth trying to understand it.
Join the discussion
Please login first.