Called 999 after DS had violent outburst against me

(16 Posts)
wheresmybook Mon 03-Sep-12 10:05:45

Feeling a real failure as a mum after calling the police.
Bit of background; DS is 18, and has turbulent last 4 years at school, home and with his party lifestyle. Heavy cannabis user (& other stuff I don't know about?). Seemed to be calming down and showing a bit more maturity, but that was possibly false hope. When he's good (50%) he's very very good and when he's bad he's horrid. Though even places he's behaved appallingly in e.g. school, say what a lovely person he is. We don't see so much of that at home, where he's often rude, defiant and verbally aggressive to me (as I work pt and DH is ft I'm just there more). Particularly foul in the mornings.
So, yesterday - he'd borrowed my camera and charging lead without asking. I'm off to Paralympics tomorrow and really wanted both for that. He was still in bed at 10 (when he said he'd wanted to get up) so I went in to ask him to get up - really rude to me. Went back half an hour later and (v calmly) explained I wanted him to getup to sort out camera stuff and he wouldn't have time on Monday (has holiday job). More abuse. Went back in another half an hour explaining again that as it was Sunday the shops would shut at 4 if he needed to buy a new lead and he might have to go round lots of shops at some distance from each other andit would take lots of time on public transport. More foul abuse. I did get cross then and told him he was really selfish, and it was his fault completely as he'd taken the camera without permission, and this would be my only chance ever of going to Olympics and I wanted to take photos.
He went berserk rushed out of his bedroom (I'd left and gone to my bedroom) followed me, picked up a heavy empty champagne bottle (souvenir from older DS's birth) and swung it at me. I was terrified, though I do realistically (now) think he wasn't meaning to hit me. He then rushed down stairs, with me behind him sobbing, smashed the glass on a picture on the staircase, cut himself, blood and glass everywhere and was screaming at me.
I called 999. I was in shock and really scared. DH was outside on scaffolding painting the front of the house - couldn't get to him. Didn't know what DS would do next - he had taken overdose when he ws 15 - he does dramatic behaviour.
Police came quickly, told me to lock him out beforehand. They were sensible and didn't arrest him as they could have done but just talked to him and said we needed to sit down and talk as a family. I know we do, but he won't. Had already got family counselling session booked for a couple of weeks time in any case as things have been so difficult.
DS spent all of rest of yesterday telling me he no longer had a mum, and that it was all my fault for going on at him. DH says he supports me but is quite distant and being matey with DS (though he did get angry with him initially, which is almost unheard of) - they seem to be ale to manage to talk. I think DH thinks part of it is my fault too, as suicide attempt happens when it was just me and DS as well.
I feel so confused. I don't think I was wrong in asking him to get up and sort my camera out. But perhaps I wasn't calm enough and shouldn't have got cross? But simultaneously I believe that violence is never acceptable and that I have very right to be safe in my own home. But I'm still feeling pretty unsupported (except by older son who lives away from home) and quite guilty.
I want a life where I don't feel I have to tread on eggshells all the time, watching everything I say. And don't have to lock everything up and put codes on everything and keep my handbag with me at all times so things aren't stolen or abused.
Help! Any advice, reassurance or even constructive criticism welcome. I don't know how to behave with him any more. He did manage to get himself up and out to holiday job this morning, which is good, but I'm just being silent with both DS and DH. I feel a real failure for calling the police.

He is entirely responsible for his own behaviour and you were entirely right to call the police as you were being threatened. Whether you choose to live with someone who threatens you in your house is your call - I wouldn't.

What you could do in future is take the camers, not talk to him - charge it,use it, delete his stuff off it if you have calmly given him time to sort it out. Or you could keep your possessions that you actually need away from him. In general, to stop arguments you need to distance yourself from him.

headinhands Mon 03-Sep-12 10:25:34

Gosh op there is no way you are responsible for what he did. I worry that your dh is complicit in this belief. Would dh be matey with a friend who did this to you. I would pack a bag of his things and put it by the door and explain that the next time he swears or shouts at you he has to leave.

wheresmybook Mon 03-Sep-12 10:54:10

Thank you both. That's reassuring. What's weird is that previously I've worked with abused women and I can now see myself doing exactly the same things that they did - blaming myself, feeling guilty for my behaviour, becoming rather pleading......
I'm not going to throw him out now. But I've already told him that any future violence is the end - he has to leave. And I really mean it now.
Headinhands (bit how I feel now) - I do think DH is complicit, and we've had many a row over it. He's always been unable to say no to DS, and scarcely ever sticks to agreements we've made about behaviour. He does a lot of negotiating in his work, and has never realised that whilst a degree of negotiating is good with offspring, there also have to be boundaries that can't be crossed and have to be applied, with sanctions. So DS plays us off against each other, and always has done (though I know that's something all kids do). it's also had the outcome that nothing is ever properly decided - everythingis always up for re- negotiation. I've lost count of the books I've filled with agreements we've worked out together and nobody has tried to follow except me.
LaurieFairyCake - the pile of stuff I've removed and hidden/locked up is now getting bigger than what's left outside!
He has actually now apologised for the bottle, but explicitly not the picture glass. He's really not taking responsibility - very obviously thinks its all still my fault and that it was outrageous behaviour calling 999. There's this paradox underlying everything: he needs to take responsibility in so many areas of his life but I can't do that for him. I have tried to help but mostly what I offer (very tentatively) is rejected as controlling or patronising.
Blissfully calm now though, with everyone else out and I'm not working today. Time to b..r..e..a..t..h..e..

flow4 Mon 03-Sep-12 11:17:00

I've been here too, book sad You did absolutely the right thing to draw the line and call the police when you were threatened with violence. Do it each and every time your DS is violent or threatening to you. (You may not have to do it often: on the 3rd occasion my son kicked off, and I was scared enough to call the police, I also had him arrested and charged. He hasn't lost his temper since (fingers crossed), so for me it worked).

It took me a long time to get to this point - I put up with an enormous amount of verbal abuse and throwing things etc. before he got big enough and/or I got scared enough to call 999. It can take a long time to realise how bad things have got, when it grows just a little worse day by day.

This is domestic abuse. It isn't called that very often, and it's pretty taboo to talk about it when it's your child and not an adult doing it to you. But that's what it is. And it's more common than you'd think.

Do your very very very best not to feel guilty, and to feel confident you acted appropriately. If your DS catches the merest whiff of guilt, he will try to manipulate you. That's what people who are behaving abusively do. Your DS knows he is behaving badly - but he'll try to project his guilty feelings onto you if he can. I think it's easy for us mums to feel guilty in this situation, because when they're younger, we're used to 'fixing' every problem they have - and now we can't. But there comes a point in every young person's life where they have to take responsibility for their own problems. You can support them, but you can't do it for them. Your DS's behaviour is his responsibility.

As I said to my own son when things had calmed down afterwards: "You are bigger and stronger than me. I can't control you any more. If you can't control yourself, I have to call in reinforcements".

The stealing is another issue. You can control this quite well. Fit a lock on your bedroom door if you haven't already. Keep all of your valuables in there. You shouldn't have to, but it works, and if you give your DS repeated opportunities to steal from you (which I did - I speak with the benefit of hindsight here) you are giving him repeated 'practice' at abusing you and getting away with it.

You will feel very out of control. I know I do. And I am much stronger now than I was 6-12 months ago. But although you can't control your DS's behaviour, you do still have influence... You can keep on giving him 'moral messages' about what is unacceptable, even when you can't stop it happening. I have a 'stock phrase' I have used quite often over the past couple of years, which you may also find useful: "I can't stop you, but that doesn't mean your behaviour isn't wrong: you have to stop yourself".

Your DH's response is the subject of a whole other post. I am a single parent, so cannot be undermined in this way. You need his active backing. If your relationship with your DH is generally good, ask him directly for his support. Get him to read the chapters on fathers in Steve Biddulph's Raising Boys.

Keep coming back here for support. There are a handful of people who understand and who can give you some back-up smile

headinhands Mon 03-Sep-12 11:18:31

Glad you're all relaxed now op. It looks like you will have to parent your ds on your own with regards to this behaviour.

Your dh is probably dealing with other reasonable adults in the office and at meetings and I'm not sure he sees many of them throwing tantrums so no, it's not the same.

Would he continue to negotiate with a business person if they physically threatened him during a meeting. No. Would he be happy if you started threatening him when he made reasonable requests. No.

It is alarming how often we have these exemptions of normal behaviour inside the home. and also how often it involves male to female behaviour. But that's another thread.

Stand your ground Where, no one should be allowed to treat someone like that.

headinhands Mon 03-Sep-12 11:21:02

And flow is on the money there.

wheresmybook Mon 03-Sep-12 11:50:41

I'm pretty much a newbie here, but you're all so practically and emotionally helpful. Will probably return!
Flow - words of wisdom there! I'm going to get cards and write your two key phrases out so I don't forget them - mantras of the week I think! And your comment on how our past role has been to sort things out for them, and how hard it is to leave that behind rings so true - letting DS actually be the responsible adult he constantly demands to be is hard sometimes. And yes, I do recognise control freakery in myself.
Headinhands - DH has always had different expectations of DS than of everyone else in the world. He's possibly starting to recognise that, especially as a few friends have commented on it recently of their own accord. Older DS has a different father and DH didn't appear on the scene till he was 5.
Any tips on how to keep calm in intense situations? I tend to either cry, get angry or walk off in a huff, none of which seem to be modelling the responsible adult behaviour I, asking DS for.
So good to know others have gone through the same thing (that sounds wrong but you know what I mean). Tends to be a lot of middle class competitive parenting round here.

flow4 Mon 03-Sep-12 12:19:13

MN's own wise 'teenager guru', Maryz, says you have to create emotional distance/detachment. I'm very bad at it. I get angry or upset too. I can see that detachment would be hugely useful, but in the middle of it all, I can rarely manage it. hmm
One thing I have found enormously useful is to do nice things for myself. I feel i can cope much better with the teen-shit if I have recently had a swim, massage, sauna, coffee with friend, etc... I used to think such things were indulgences; now I think they're essential for survival!

Ephiny Mon 03-Sep-12 12:27:05

I agree you did the right thing in calling the police, it was not a failure. You don't have to tolerate violence.

Do you think it's time for him to move out? I know you say you don't want to throw him out, but does he not want to? You are all adults, and it doesn't sound like you get on, so is continuing to share a house really the best option for anyone?

wheresmybook Mon 03-Sep-12 13:15:45

Ephiny - the deal that we had agreed is that while he's retaking a couple of his A levels he can stay here. Before yesterday that was ok-ish. And I think it might still be ok, but I am very determined that there are bottom line rules he has to stick to - no violence or threat of violence has to be one.
Remember I said that he can be very nice? Just got a text from DS saying that he wants to cook tonight and I mustn't do anything - he'll take responsibility. I guess that's his way of saying he knows he's messed up big time and is trying to put things right, but can't quite makes himself say it.
I accepted graciously but with some reserve. Trying to keep a little detached from the highs as well as the lows, Flow4. Actually it'll be lovely to be cooked for - he's a fantastic cook.

headinhands Mon 03-Sep-12 14:18:38

No is a complete sentence is a good mantra that I hear mentioned on here. Teens are vey adept at bringing a whole gamut of grievances into a simple request to not leave dishes in the sink and so on so be sure to keep bringing it back to the issue at hand.

But also leave the room/end the discussion after you have bought it back to the topic. Refuse to get caught up discussing anything else like the time you let ds1 have new trainers and not him. And you'll know what I'm talking about. smile

If they do say anything triggering e.g. about suicidal feelings during such a tantrum say you will talk about it when they have calmed down.

Brightspark1 Mon 03-Sep-12 20:42:06

Hi, have been in this position too from DD. background of MH issues too. She found it difficult to express her emotions which would end up with either self harm or angry rages which were directed at me. Occasionally DS, but mostly me. I think because DH works long hours and like you I work PT. Why us? I think it's for two reasons
- because we are there more of the time, by the time DH got home it was too late
- generally it is mums that are making demands on them i.e. putting washing in bin, getting up for school etc so we are setting ourselves up for confrontation in a way that DHs don't.
It doesn't matter whether he intended to hit you or not, he physically intimidated and frightened you, which is completely unacceptable. You should not feel unsafe in your own home. DV from children is different from partner DV. I don't wish to underestimate the effects of partner DV, but it is so much more complicated when it is your own children as there is the guilt that your parenting is somehow responsible and the fact that you cannot just leave the situation.
Walking away doesn't have to be a 'huff', it can just be a way of getting out of their space and giving yourself time, especially if you calmly say that you refuse to engage with them until they calm down.
Your DH needs to be less of a mate as it could be construed as undermining you, you also have a right to his support, maybe it's time for a frank discussion.
I hope you enjoy your meal, but don't let it be a way of dodging the conversation you have to have with him.

wheresmybook Mon 03-Sep-12 21:36:04

Thanks Brightspark. Scary how many people have DV from offspring. Such a hidden secret.
I'm going to give things a few days to cool off before the talk. I think I'll be able able to handle it better then. And I'm off to London tomorrow for Paralympics (hence needing the camera that start the whole thing off. Which, incidentally, he has sorted, though with more help from DH than I feel comfortable with) and then he's off to Bestival for a long weekend. Then next week we have a family counselling session booked and DH tells me that DSis still up for coming to that. I wonder if that might be a useful time and a safe place to talk things through?
Meal was great, but he's still being icily lite to me, and avoiding conversation if possible. So I think he still sees it all as my fault - I 'made' him do it by going on at him. As I think Flow said - you can't make them take responsibility. But life is relatively tranquil for the moment.
Thank you all so much. I hope there won't be a need for an update concerning any more threatened violence. I don't imagine all is going to be sweetness and light but it also feels good to have a break coming up. Though I'm worried about what drugs he will take at the festival. Last one he went to he was working (cooking) so didn't have time for too much drugginess but this time it's just for pleasure........
And college with two A level retakes starts next week. He says he wants to do them, but does he want to do the work he'll need to?
Ho hum.

Brightspark1 Mon 03-Sep-12 22:26:48

Good luck with the family session, if it's properly facilitated, it will be a safe place to talk so maybe it would be best to wait for that, I hope you have more than one session, for us it took many sessions before DD would participate ( or stay in the room even) but they are finally beginning to pay off.
Flow talks a lot of sense as always, you have not made him behave that way.
Make the most of this weekend, do something nice for yourself and as for his A levels, only he can decide to work for them.

RoseWei Sat 08-Sep-12 12:14:20

wheresmybook - did you enjoy the Paralympics?

Just picked up this thread and hoping that all is well with you and yours. You'll know by now that you are not alone - that a number of us could have written your original post with the merest of factual changes.

Hope you are staying strong and, especially, that you are continuing to do good things for yourself. This is essential.

Hope, too, that the scales fall from DH's eyes. It's vital that he backs you and that your DS knows this. It's so much better for DS in the long run if he's around two parents who work together. I think many of us here know what it's like to have abusive, difficult or rude children and for them to lay the blame for their frustrations or unhappiness at their mothers' door. Perhaps because we speak up for our kids - because we nurture and take care of them from day one - I don't know. It just seems to me that often fathers get an easier ride in the ups and downs of family life. I hope that the counselling sessions help your DH as much as anyone - to get the strength to work with you.

Good luck.

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