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DD abusing me - distressed

(320 Posts)
Minifingers Fri 03-May-13 12:39:13

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.

GirlWiththeLionHeart Fri 03-May-13 13:18:31

So sorry op sad

It really sounds like a hormonal imbalance as she changed so quickly. Is she on the pill or anything like that? Maybe it would help to balance her hormones? Gps could take a blood test to see what's going on.

Don't blame yourself for anything, you sound like a loving caring mother at the end of her tether and rightly so. X

Cerisier Fri 03-May-13 13:19:53

OP what a nightmare. Just a few thoughts that might help- you need to get locks on your bedroom door, and use it all the time and a better lock on the bathroom door. Make sure she can't lock you out of the house (by having a spare key outside or with a neighbour).

Be as devious as she is- she will realise in time that you can outfox her.

Don't engage with her when she winds you up. Walk away. Without an audience you won't get a performance.

As others have said, call the police if she threatens or assaults you or any member of the family. You will probably only have to do it once.

These are all the sticks, once you have a few of these in place look for carrots. As Cogito says, what do you do together that is fun? Don't be too ambitious. A shopping trip to buy a new top, a trip for frozen yoghurt would be enough to just have a nice time together.

Also do praise the good things. A calmer day, a tidy bedroom, cups taken to kitchen- notice and say something- she might give a sarcastic response but she will know you've noticed.

MinimalistMommi Fri 03-May-13 13:20:02

Oh my, I just read all this and it made me feel slightly dizzy what you must be going through. My instant thought is that maybe she does not feel loved or liked as there has been so much negative stuff going on recently. My gut instinct would be to suggest spending one on one time with her, maybe even get a budget hotel and take her away for the night so nothing can interrupt you both. Let her choose what you do for the day and just concentrate on having positive time with her. I know is is easier said then done with what you've gone through.

Could you check if your library stocks the book called 'Hold on to your Kids' ? I think there could be answers in that book for you. Also if you could look at 'Playful Parenting' it has amazing ideas for physical and emotional connection.

kotinka Fri 03-May-13 13:21:05

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

DistanceCall Fri 03-May-13 13:21:30

What does her father do about this? I didn't get on that well with my mother at her age, and once I spoke to her VERY disrespectfully, in front of him. He slapped me. (Once of three times in his life. And he was right to).

Does your husband not stand up for you?

MinimalistMommi Fri 03-May-13 13:24:14

I really think gradually lots of time spent, eye contact, finding something special for the two of you is what is needed. As she has been so awful to you, you probably don't want to do this sad but I think it could help you so very much. There's lots of talk about this in those two books I've mentioned.

LEMisdisappointed Fri 03-May-13 13:25:37

i think its a bit much to be suggesting some sort of sexual abuse from one post.

I do aree however that you do need more support OP.

Thinking about the bathroom thing - i would actually leave the door open, I think she is attention seeking when she barges in and by leaving the door open and maybe getting her to sit on the loo and have a chat (if she will) she might be more relaxed? Also if she doesn't have to barge in and turn it into a performance then she can no longer make an issue of it.

Is there a relative who she trusts who could talk to her? take her under their wing a bit? I was pretty wayward but i had a cousin who was much older who i used to confide in.

LEMisdisappointed Fri 03-May-13 13:27:43

Time together would be nice too -and lots of people suggesting it are right, but it can actually be quite difficult to get a disgruntled teen to agree to that. Even if its on offer, but its worth a try - offer to take her out to the shops? Something cheap? Just the two of you?

Chubfuddler Fri 03-May-13 13:30:18

It's a suggestion not a statement. It needs considering.

It is not your fault!!! What an awful, awful situation to be in.

It sounds to me as if she has very, very low self esteem. Secondary school is a big change and lots of children get bullied or learn to behave a certain way in order to conform and not get bullied. I have seen children have an almost complete personality transplant just to be accepted. Peer pressure is massive.

Read this, hits the nail on the head.

You definitely need outside help, call on family who can have her at their house for a while if you can, it will allow you time to regroup and form a plan of action. Does she show any respect for other older members of your family? Is their anyone who could take her under their wing (even older cousins she looks up to)? You need a unified front from all adults involved and your DH needs to be sticking up for you, what has been said to her about her latest actions?

The care system can be very chaotic (changes of placement and being placed with other children with complex issues can be difficult) and may push her further away from you, if you have other support call on that first before considering temporary care placement as last resort. A specialist boarding school would be better as it provides consistency.

You should report her to Police if she assaults you, she is old enough to understand the consequences of her actions. Might help give her a wake up call.

MinimalistMommi Fri 03-May-13 13:36:20

Lem 'Playful Parenting'and 'Hold on to Your Kids' discusses in a lot of detail how to get teens to spend time with you as I agree with a lot of what you have said. I absolutely agree with leaving door open too so she has less to fight against. She needs to be bought closer, not pushed away. Her making horrible remarks about you is probably her way of screaming for attention, a bit like a toddler, negative attention is better than none at all (I don't hunk you're not giving her attention by the way, just using a figure of speech)

Fluffycloudland77 Fri 03-May-13 13:36:51

You don't want her in the house, that speaks volumes to me.

You sound like you're living a terrible life with her. This is abuse, emotional and physical.

AndTheBandPlayedOn Fri 03-May-13 13:38:37

Wow, what a nightmare.
It sounds like she has absolutely no respect for you, for any of her teachers/school administrators, or for anyone at all (including herself).

Yes, she is abusing you, physically and emotionally, and the barging into the bath is a form of sexual abuse as well. How does she behave at mil' s house?

Imho, counselling is needed, urgently. That would provide her with someone who would listen to her without judgement, confidentially so she could say anything on her mind. And maybe that could reveal why she has chosen to behave this way and provide her with guidance in transforming into a civilized member of the community. Have your Dh make the offer in a very serious conference like conversation with the alternative being the police involvement.

What CES said is important to consider even though my feeling is that the youngster is already entrenched with such disdain for you, that she would not be cooperative, or use the caring outings as opportunities for more abuse...nothing you do will be right or appreciated by her. But, imho, it is worth trying, unless she is physically abusive during those efforts.

gruffalocake Fri 03-May-13 13:39:10

I just wondered whether there is a weight and body confidence issue? I didn't understand how a 13 year old girl could be so physically intimidating until you said she is 101/2 stone. That age is the absolute worst for girls bitching and I wonder if that might be a big issue which is affecting her?
I know this will sounds like a ridiculous idea but could you start running and invite her to go with you. You'd have to be strong and simply block out any criticism etc (maybe headphones) but if she wanted to engage with you in a different way one on one it might give her the opportunity as well as helping her get fit and help you feel better (endorphins) and connect away from the house.
I know it sounds too simple for the level you are at but sometimes just breaking a bad communication cycle and starting out on a completely different tack can help.

Snuffleupicus Fri 03-May-13 13:44:03

Look, I don't have a teenager, just a 3 year old. So sleep deprivation is frequently on my mind....

My mate at work used to sit in my office every morning sobbing her eyes out cos her 14 yr son went from a delight to a nightmare in the space of weeks. All the way up to drugs and suicide threats.
She had access to his mobile account and could see he was online at 3am most nights so after a big blow up she took the phone off him as punishment...
Normality restored.
Two weeks later she gave it back and he turned into an arsehole again.
I suggested sleep deprivation might be key, so she instigated an 8pm curfew on phone and Internet. Had several incidents of having to cut it off at wall and retrieve handsets etc, but stuck eventually.
4 months later, her lovely boy is doing well at school and lying on her bed chatting to her in the evenings.
Not a cure for everyone obvs, but might do the trick for some people.

But as LEM said another option is to let her stay with a trusted aunt/friend for a while.

smupcakes Fri 03-May-13 13:44:25

I work with children in residential care, ie they have been removed on the basis of child protection concerns or because their parents have given over parental rights because they can no longer care for their children (behavioral issues).

Basically being consistent / sticking to what you say is key. If you ask your dd to do x, and she doesn't, she gets nothing until she has done as you have asked, no engagement at all. Don't take her to school, don't do anything. I'm sure you don't want her to miss school but what's more important at this point - a day's lessons or her future?

Strip her room bare if you have to - all she needs is a mattress on the floor, her school uniform and pajamas. This all sounds like a lot of
work but it sounds like there are no
more alternatives. If you can't provide that type of environment for her then it might be best she is placed somewhere else until her behavior can return to a reasonable level.

Lemonylemon Fri 03-May-13 13:52:30

snuffle You might only have a 3 year old, but you've picked up on a point which might be very pertinent. Lack of sleep can be a BIG issue.

smupcakes Fri 03-May-13 13:52:41

Sorry another thing I wanted to add is to concentrate on: intended message v received message. So you dd barges into your bathroom and you ignore her instead of ensuring she leaves. Intended message: I don't want you in here. Received message; I accept that you're in here and I won't enforce your boundaries.

Once you give a direction, you cannot give up until it has been followed, it doesn't matter if it takes days. You can do it!!! Feel free to pm me if you want to talk further x

GirlWiththeLionHeart Fri 03-May-13 13:54:38

I watched a programme once where a mother and father had an out of control teenage such as yours. They called the police (non emergency) and asked them if they could come and have a word with her, as she wasnt listening to them.

They obliged and came round to the family's house and scared the shit out of her. Told her if she were to carry on abusing everyone she would be taken into care or even prison (she was thieving too).

Worked a bloody treat.

MinimalistMommi Fri 03-May-13 13:55:07

snuff great thinking about sleep.

MinimalistMommi Fri 03-May-13 13:56:54

smup don't agree with your example in your last message, simply because I don't think she should be pushed away, she needs to be bought closer.

I do understand that you mean stick with what you say and act on it though.

OrWellyAnn Fri 03-May-13 13:57:49

smupcakes speaks a lot of sense. This part of your op also Lept out at me:

'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'

I think that you need to get organised, impost those sanctions and then stick to them. Ground her, take her phone, strip her room and explain that ANYTHNG more than that has to be earned, and then stick to it. If she gets violent tell her you'll call the police and then do it. She's seeing how far she can go, you need to push back hard. But you also need to leave her a way to come back to about arranging some just you and her time? Maybe a trip away she'd enjoy in return for a fixed period of good behaviour?

flowers too, this must be heartbreaking for you.

I third that about sleep. Some of the most disruptive students I had were known to be up half the night playing computer games. Smoking dope was also a factor for a few.

BusterKeaton Fri 03-May-13 14:09:40

I am a clinical psychologist, mainly children and adolescents.
I would warn her today, this evening, that the next time she assaults you and/or makes you fear for your physical safety that you will ring the police. Make sure you have the telephone number ready. Then do it!

(I am being soft. I would already have rung the police after her assault yesterday.)

Minifingers Fri 03-May-13 14:10:05

Oh gosh - so many replies! Thank you everyone for taking the time.

Police - have called the police around twice, on the advice of CAMHS and Parentline. First time because she was body-blocking and verbally intimidating me with threats of violence in the hallway, second time because she rained down blows on my head with her fists after DH refused to give her mobile phone back. She was in our bedroom at the time, refused to leave until we gave her her phone. She didn't hit DH who had the phone. She just kept trying to grab it out of his pocket. When I told her to stop she turned around and bashed me over the head.

She didn't show any sign of being intimidated by the police, answered them back, and then told me 'I've told my friends you called the feds on me'. I think she was actually quite proud. sad

Police have said that next time I call they'll take her to the police station. I know that there may be a point where this has to happen but I'm very worried about it. She has made noises about being a social worker or working with children in the future and I don't know how much will stay on her record into adulthood, and how this works if she needs an enhanced CRB at any point.

Bullying - I have been on the lookout for this, but the feedback I get from the school is that she gets on with everyone and is well liked by the other girls. She has several close friends who are the sort of girls who are themselves quite popular - pretty, tough, much older looking than their years. They seem to pursue her company more than she pursues them. This is consistent with how she has always been. As a young child you could take her anywhere - a beach, a play park, a museum, you'd turn your back for 5 minutes and she'd have made a friend by the time you turned back.

Adults who have not been on the receiving end of her nastiness generally find her absolutely charming. When she goes around to other people's houses she is lovely to younger siblings, helpful, polite. She engages with adults in a spontaneous and confident way. At home she either ignores her younger siblings, or is manipulating them to get money off them or get them to do things for her. She talks to my autistic 7 year old as though he is a NT child of the same age. She deliberately engages him in arguments, uses inappropriate language with him that she knows he'll repeat, makes nasty comments about the fact that he has special needs. sad

I don't believe she is being sexually abused or ever has been. I know it's not infallible but my mother's instinct tells me that this is not the case. And she is emotionally a bit 'incontinent' in the sense she can't seem to keep her feelings about anything under wraps. We are not a family who treats the issue of sex or sexuality in an judgemental way. The one strength of our relationship has been that she has been able to talk frankly to me about sexuality, her periods and her body changes, and I don't worry about this aspect of our communication.

I know the key is to carry on being loving, but it's so, so hard. I feel paralysed by it all and have retreated into myself.

I am struggling with my own feelings of anger and resentment that a child with so much - brains, good health, friends, social skills, a loving family, is deliberately making life so unpleasant and grim for the people who love her. I can't seem to get past that at the moment. And she's not ignored or unloved, and not short of attention (although admittedly I have withdrawn from her a lot over the last year in particular because I have been overwhelmed by how difficult it all is).

She has been seen twice by a consultant psychiatrist from CAMHS. Also by another psychiatrist. And by a child psychologist. They have not come up with any diagnosis - she is 'normal'. She has self-harmed at times over the last few years in a fairly minor way (which is what triggered the first referral to CAMHS) but they don't feel this is anything particularly out of the ordinary. Except of course her behaviour is anything but 'ordinary'. They have referred us for family therapy, which starts in 10 days.

My take on what's happening with her is that something has gone badly wrong with the process of her maturing. Most teenagers have a 'toddler brain' - ie, strong and sometimes overwhelming impulses, and a powerful need for autonomy, and 'growing up' is learning to manage these things, to accept that you can't always do what you want to do exactly when you want to do it. In other words, learning to accept delayed gratification and to manage strong emotions. DD just can't seem to even begin to do this. She never, ever, does anything she doesn't want to do voluntarily. If I make 10 requests of her in a day: please can you not bring your dinner upstairs/please can you put your washing in the basket/can you phone me to say where you are after school etc, she will flout every single one systematically. She will never accept 'no' for an answer at home. If she phones me to ask if she can stay longer at a friend's house, and I say 'no', she will send - literally 20 texts challenging my decision, followed by a dozens of calls saying 'why not? why can't I stay?', and no matter how calm I am or how consistent I am with my answers she just keeps calling and calling and calling until I turn my phone off. And then she just stays as long as she likes anyway. That's if she calls. Often she doesn't, so I don't know where she is after school. At school she is fine in subjects she finds easy, but in any lessons where she actually has to work (namely maths) she's rude and confrontational.

It's absolutely fecking exhausting.

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