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To think this may have been some form of abuse?

(38 Posts)
user1496156134 Tue 30-May-17 17:12:45

Long time lurker, first time poster. Posting in aibu for traffic. Probably a bit long (sorry).

I feel very guilty/bad and even a bit ridiculous for suggesting this, but I am beginning to think my DF may have been emotionally/verbally abusive. I feel really awful even saying this, because in my mind abuse denotes violence and deprivation. I was never physically assaulted or deprived. I was mostly happy as a child and it is only as an adult that I am beginning to think this behaviour was abnormal.

Being sworn at, shouting so loud that it was roaring/screeching over minor things, things being thrown across the room (harmless things e.g. plastic cups and papers/letters), being made to feel incredibly anxious over certain things (e.g. I made paper notes for my schoolwork instead of working on a laptop, which he didn't like “what if there was a fire and all your notes burned up?”; not wanting to sleep in the same bed as my sibling when watching him overnight “what if he goes looking for you and falls down the stairs and breaks his neck?”), innappropriate disciplinary comments for my age (e.g. at 9 being told he was sick of my 'whining comments and bitchy remarks'), physical aggression (e.g. slamming of doors/car doors in arguments and an incident where I had had a shower shortly before dinner, having been told it would be ready in 20 mins. It was ready earlier than expected and instead of calling from the landing/downstairs to tell me, he forced the bathroom door open, physically breaking the lock.), poor communication (e.g. being outright ignored so having to repeat myself many times or having what I said be misinterpreted), anger and dismissive comments/misinterpretation at the mention of boys/male friends (e.g. “I'm going to a New Year's eve party at (named male friend)'s house with (named female friends).” “You aren't going to a boy's house on your own” snarled back at me. I was 17), things being broken/thrown out when he was 'tidying', odd threats (“hang up on me again and I'll take that phone and smash it with a hammer”, lying to me in upsetting ways (e.g. when my DSM was visibly pregnant (4/5 months) and I kept asking if she was pregnant, only to be made to feel stupid), passive aggressive comments/odd behaviour around schoolwork/grades (e.g. on AS results day when I got all As “A is the highest grade you can get, right?”; on GCSE results day when I was crying due to disappointment, ignoring my tears and asking DSM “where are her results?”), comparing me to my friends in terms of grades/extracurriculars, become immediately enraged over small things (e.g. dropping a fork on the floor, not being able to find something) which then lead to shouting/screaming etc.

I'm sure there are more but I can't remember everything all at once. I feel bad for asking this. Generally we have a good relationship: these incidents were infrequent and I do love him even though I am a bit afraid of him. He would often apologise if I cried and say that he was just worried about me because he loved me.

Part of me thinks that this is the normal adult response to poor behaviour: I was bad so I was disciplined, so it's my fault/responsibility. But then again some things were inconsequential or just differences of opinion (e.g. I said I wanted to go to a university that he hadn't recommended and was told “you know what, fuck you.”)

So I guess my AIBU is 'am I wrong to think what I think about this?' Please help me to figure all this out.

MariafromMalmo Tue 30-May-17 17:16:33

Well as he would say "Fuck Him".

He sounds really horrid. Really Horrid.

Would you describe his actual behaviour really nonchalantly in front of him and other people.
"Oh Yes, Dad used to ....".
If he wouldn't like his actual behavior discussed then you have to ask Why Not?

user1496156134 Tue 30-May-17 17:21:14

The problem is that if I were ever to mention it in casual conversation (although as you say, unlikely) he would be appalled at my interpretation. He just seems to see it as getting angry in response to poor behavior, which is okay for parents to do.

MariafromMalmo Tue 30-May-17 17:25:56

But he doesn't get to choose how you interpret it, does he?

What he saw as "Parental Rights" you experienced as tyranny.

Even if it was par for the course then (and it wasn't) it is still really shit by today's standards. And he should know that.

Are you entitled to have a separate and disagreeing opinion on any matter?

user1496156134 Tue 30-May-17 17:27:49

It depends. Sometimes we can discuss things as adults and it's all okay. Other times he views my disagreement as arrogance.

OnTheRise Tue 30-May-17 17:33:21

The shouting and anger and forcing open a bathroom door while you were showering wasn't a reasonable reaction to bad behaviour, it was abuse. There's no excuse for it.

Getting shouted and sneered at for not getting the highest grades in everything? Absolutely abusive.

Threatening to smash your phone? That's a threat of violence. No.

He's treated you appallingly. He should be ashamed.

You deserve so much better. You deserve to feel loved and safe and to have parents you're not frightened of. Your father is an arse.

user1496156134 Tue 30-May-17 17:36:07

Thank you OnTheRise. It just feels difficult to reconcile because in many ways we do have a good relationship. I feel very confused about it all.

user1496156134 Tue 30-May-17 17:42:52

Also, it's worth mentioning that he threatened to smash my phone because I hung up on him during an argument. I was 16 so definitely old enough to know better.

OnTheRise Tue 30-May-17 18:03:27

Thank you OnTheRise. It just feels difficult to reconcile because in many ways we do have a good relationship. I feel very confused about it all.

There's a thread on Mumsnet somewhere which states that the only acceptable level of abuse in a relationship is none.

It doesn't matter that you have a good relationship when he's not abusing you. What matters is that he thinks it's fine to treat you in this horrible way.

(He is wrong. It is absolutely NOT FINE.)

Of course you're confused. He's your father. Fathers are supposed to love and support their children. He's abusing you, but sometimes he's nice to you. This is confusing.

All you need to know is it's wrong, you don't deserve it, and he should NOT treat you this way.

Also, it's worth mentioning that he threatened to smash my phone because I hung up on him during an argument. I was 16 so definitely old enough to know better.

If he was shouting at you then it was reasonable for you to hang up. You are not obliged to listen to someone abusing you.

Even if you were wrong to hang up, you still do not deserve to be abused.

My children are in their late teens, early twenties now. I have never once threatened to smash their things, or frightened them, or humiliated them about their grades, or broken a door down to get into the bathroom while they were in it. I just wouldn't. I treat them with respect. When they were little and did things they shouldn't I tried to explain to them what was right, and to show them better behaviour. I never, ever made them feel threatened or unsafe.

Your father is completely wrong to have done these things to you. There is NO excuse for it. NONE.

NotYoda Tue 30-May-17 18:09:46

He sounds inadequate. Like he didn't know how to parent. And arrogant in that he didn't feel he had to learn, and take your feelings into consideration.

I can understand why the term 'abuse' is hard to digest. Only you can decide how much effect he has had on you, and how you feel about him as a result.

I guess that a really important part of this for you to process is how, in big and small ways, the harmoniousness of your relationship is almost entirely down to you adjusting to his moods. In 'managing' him. And whether that's had an effect on you as an adult.

Basically, people like this are like toddlers and you've probably been quite a parent to him .

Birdsgottaf1y Tue 30-May-17 18:11:10

""Also, it's worth mentioning that he threatened to smash my phone because I hung up on him during an argument. I was 16 so definitely old enough to know better.""

You were also old enough to set your own boundaries and end the call.

His behaviour was/is abusive, he was also physically threatening, as well as being emotionally abusive.

Does he behave like that to other Women in his life?

NotYoda Tue 30-May-17 18:12:06

And yes, although I didn't say it, it was unacceptable and you were not to blame

Also, to add. The other thing that I guess you'll be thinking about, is your mum's role in all this. Was she abused? Did she fail to protect you?

user1496156134 Tue 30-May-17 18:15:47

NotYoda: Your first message resonates quite strongly with me. Like he wasn't entirely sure what he was doing.
My parents separated when I was young: both are in long term relationships now. I think my mum struggled with his anger but didn't view it as a threat to my brother and I, iyswim?

Babymamamama Tue 30-May-17 18:16:33

So sorry to read what you went through. As far as I know what you experienced was emotional abuse. Being made to feel unsafe and extremely anxious and using your power as an adult to dominate a child is abuse. My father used to do the same. Rarely hit me but made threats of violence regularly, would get right up in my face and shout for absolutely no reason, sometimes would chase me round the house while poking and prodding me. It was terrifying but in between he presented at least outwardly as a caring loving father. Once I came to realise how abnormal my childhood was I made the empowering decision to cut contact.

user1496156134 Tue 30-May-17 18:18:22

Birdsgottaf1y: no, not in the same way. He argued with my mum and later my DSM, but it was more two-sided I guess. Hence why I thought if it as a parental disciplinary thing.

user1496156134 Tue 30-May-17 18:19:33

So sorry to hear about your experience, Babymamamama.

NotYoda Tue 30-May-17 18:22:38

It's easier to get away with with a child, isn't it? If you don't know what you are doing and you don't have the depth to think about what you are doing. You see it all the time - people on the streets shouting at their child because it's the easiest thing. It vents their anger. They think it's how you get someone to do what you want.

Or worse, they enjoy dominating people

user1496156134 Tue 30-May-17 18:23:47

Also (and feel free not to answer if you find this upsetting) do you feel that your childhood makes forming other relationships difficult? Do you have children? If not, do you worry about what sort of a parent you would be?

MissionItsPossible Tue 30-May-17 18:25:20

You are NBU at all to feel how you feel like you do as an adult now. My only thought would be what are you going to do with these feelings? I ask because you say at the time you thought you had a good childhood and that you and your father have a good relationship and get on well. If he's not going to see your point and interpretation of it will it cause more trouble bringing it up than not? I suppose that would be how much this has affected you i.e. in confidence and social settings,like are you afraid to speak up in a group setting in fear of ridicule? That could stem from how your father treated you.

user1496156134 Tue 30-May-17 18:26:20

I think that's part of the problem, NotYoda. The other things (swearing etc.) I can kind of see aren't normal, but shouting and anger seem to be just common things for parents because they're concerned or because they want their children to behave. Normally I wouldn't necessarily say raising your voice to a child is a bad thing because it's sometimes needed. I just struggle to reconcile that with what his shouting made me feel.

Perfectly1mperfect Tue 30-May-17 18:28:09

Definitly abusive.

I have been in your situation. How old are you now ? Do you still live in the same house ? It's up to you what you do knowing that he has been abusive. It wasn't ok for him to show aggression towards you as a child in any circumstances. It wasn't your fault. He was the adult, he should control himself. Parents can discipline without aggression and without creating fear. He was wrong.

I don't see or speak to my father, I wouldn't let him anywhere near my children. It's definitly made me a good parent though, I always make sure my kids are listened to and treated fairly. I remember feeling so powerless when I was a child.

You should maybe speak to a counsellor if you feel you are still affected by it.

user1496156134 Tue 30-May-17 18:28:21

MissionItsPossible: yes, I do feel it has affected my confidence and self esteem. I'm not entirely sure what to do. I could never confront him about this. It would be seen as bratty and ungrateful and outrageous. Even the thought of it is bizarre.

user1496156134 Tue 30-May-17 18:31:35

I'm so sorry to hear that, Perfectly 1mperfect. If I'm honest it's a relief to hear that you are still able to be a good parent as that's something I am always afraid of. I am early 20s, and no. I have thought about speaking to a counsellor but almost felt that I needed to check to make sure that my feelings are valid, iyswim?

OnTheRise Tue 30-May-17 18:33:24

Your feelings are very valid. Speak to your GP and ask for a referral to a counsellor. It could make you feel so much better.

user1496156134 Tue 30-May-17 18:34:06

Also, I often feel my expectations of parent-child relationships are just unrealistic. I KNOW that it is normal for people to get angry from time to time; for people to argue; for people to disagree. I'm just not sure where to draw the line.

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