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How to help dad - victim of emotional and financial abuse ... Very long!(10 Posts)
Hi, general overview... My mum is a narcissist and bully. She hasn't worked for 35 years - she suffered depression for several years and does have some serious mental health issues now but has continued to use this as an excuse even when able to work. My dad has been the sole provider and has worked 12, 14 & 16 hour night shifts for much of this time just to provide. Mum keeps complete control over the money - she spends what she wants with no respect for the fact my dad has worked hard for it, and she controls everything that she spends, pays all the bills etc. She also told us a while ago that she gets disability allowance, due to MH issues and was going to pay it into a secret account so dad didnt have access. It was HER money, although dad's wages is THEIR money. I don't know if she actually has got a secret bank account but i wouldn't be surprised as i know she hides money from him. My dad is very cautious with money and sensible so there has never been an issue with him getting into debt etc.
She has always done very little housework - got us to do a lot as kids and now has a cleaner, whilst she sits down all day. Dad is expected to pick up the rest of the pieces: shopping, preparing breakfast and lunch, washing pots etc. They moved house 2 1/2 or 3 1/2 years ago, and as far as i believe, she has not cooked him a single dinner. Before his night shift, he gets himself a small snack instead, and the only time he gets a warm, cooked dinner is if they eat out.
More significant than this, is the way she treats my dad, and shamelessly abuses him infront of me and my siblings and our partners. The only time she speaks to him is to demand something 'make me a cup of tea', 'go get me a biscuit', 'go to the shop to buy more bread etc', or to tell him what an awful/ useless/ stupid person he is/ how she wants out of the marriage cos he has ruined her life. She was also abusive to all her children growing up, and treated us all in the same way.
He is not 'allowed' to watch tv or do anything he wants to. He has no hobbies or life of his own. She says the tv is rude and she finds it too noisy - instead he is expected to just sit in complete silence, unless she decides she would like some music on. She moans if he reads the newspaper cos he should be 'keeping her company' (sitting in silence)
She also tells lies to anyone around her about what an awful man my dad is, HE abuses HER. She told me and my sister that he pushed her out of a moving car during an arguement (not true, she rolled out herself)! She later denied saying it and accused me and sister of lying. She is not generally violent with it, but she did once hold a hot iron to my face in anger and another time she told ALL our relatives that my sister lashed out at her with a knife (again, complete lies). She has told people countless lies about my dad to her family, us, doctors, psychiatrists etc - everyone who sees the truth knows they are all lies but most of her family and probably others, believes it all.
She uses her mental illness as an excuse. She will say that dad is the cause of all her unhappiness, or that he is making it up & she is well, or if she is challenged about her behaviour she will say that it's because she is not well. She is very extreme in her anger outbursts - screaming in your face, or just a constant string of shocking put downs and name calling. And my dad always comes off worse. my dad is a quiet, loyal man who just seems to get on with life with hardly a grumble, but this has completely eaten away at his confidence and he has accepted more and more abuse over time. He said yesterday that he doesnt think that mum has ever had a good word to say about him - they have been married over 38 years!
How do we help dad in this situation. When we witness it, we have tried challenging her but she just starts throwing a tantrum - anything to avoid having an adult conversation about it - we are all picking on her/ siding with dad/ she's not well etc. Dad does not want to split up and we don't want to push him into something he is not ready for. But how do we help build his confidence, stop her from treating him as harshly (she will never change as does not see anything wrong with her behaviour). We all love and support dad but how can we help him?
38 years together is a long,long time.
He knows what's going on and has done for all that time.
Can't you cook for him (and her) sometimes,she won't change no matter how much you'd like her to.
How horrible for all of you. Tbh if your dad is"ok" with it I don't think you can do anything. Was their a trigger for it all those years ago ? Perhaps your dad feels guilty for something and feels it his penance ?
You have basically described my parents.
If he hasn't left, it's because he doesn't want to. Sad, I know. But you can't make him leave, you can't protect him, and you can't make him see her the way you do.
There is something that keeps him there. Unless and until he works out on his own that he deserves better treatment, and what it is keeping him in this marriage, then this is the way things are.
You can support him in small ways by asking him open questions about what goes on in their marriage, and asking him how he feels about that, validating his feelings of upset with "that does sound awful!" and "you deserve better!" and such like. But don't tell him he's being abused, and don't tell him what to do. That, he needs to work out for himself. If he's willing to face it. Which he may never be.
Have you had any counselling for your own unmet childhood needs?
Yeah I've had counselling and am fine with things from my side. Reason why I'm asking this is that things have reached a turning point. For the first time, dad is not making excuses. He acknowledges that much of this is abuse and has reached out to us for support.
Previous to this, he has said, he cant leave mum cos she needs him etc, but now he says he can't leave cos he can't cope on his own. I think this and his behaviour in general at mo is a bit of a turning point. He is beginning to face uo to things. My sister in law gave him a lesson on using a ATM to withdraw cash (never been allowed to take money out before).
If you genuinly think he's at a turning point (and not just hoping) then let him know that you will be there for him, and that he won't HAVE to cope on his own.
But are you ready for how much help and support he will need? He's never budgeted, he doesn't know how to handle money. He obviously doesn't know how to cook for himself either, has he ever done any grocery shopping (other than the occasional bread/milk?). He's never stood up for himself in the past, so won't know how to handle the vilification from your mum and others, he will be incredibly lonely if he moves into a flat.
If he moves in with yourself or one of your siblings, or even if she sees you supporting him, then your mum will REALLY ramp up the aggression towards whichever sibling is helping.
It will get ugly, and you need to be ready for the fall out, especially if you want to shield your father from as much of it as possible.
Sorry for sounding so negative, but it will be very hard all round. Although it does sound as though it would be worth going through all of this.
I think that if he moves out he should get his own place and learn to cope on his own, with kind support. Many widowers do.
is he still working? if so it is up to him where his wages are paid and he could cut off the money supply very easily. This is not to say he should leave her penniless but he can take control of that. I don't have much practical help to give other than to point out he is coping on his own already - just with the added burden of a horrible wife on top of it. It's all he's known for most of hi adult life so will be hard. I wish you all a happy future
maybe your father understands why she is like this and has decided to stick by her ...some people take 'in sickness and in health' quite literally.
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