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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.

Machli Fri 03-May-13 21:57:42

My dd with ASD and/or PDA is PERFECT at school, she saves it all for family.

LadyInDisguise Fri 03-May-13 22:04:08

I don't agree about PDA.
Like the OP, I think children who are affected by PDA will sow signs much much before when they are children.
I would also question autism in a child that had clearly good communication skills in primary school.

LadyInDisguise Fri 03-May-13 22:05:35

Even if they don't show signs at school (such as refusing to do X or Y), these children will show signs at home where they won't accept to do X or Y.

No signs of autism or PDA at school and at home is a bit much.

Sticklebug Fri 03-May-13 22:06:25

No advise, just sending hugs and support.

LadyInDisguise Fri 03-May-13 22:09:53

I have to say I would say, if your dd is threatening again, I would call the police.
For your safety, yur DH safety and your other children safety. It can't be nice for him (them?) to live in that environment.
And if you are scared of her coming back home, then she has clearly overstepped the limits of what a parent could accept from their dc.

Do you think she is actually so angry that she is out of control? Would anger management help?

Machli Fri 03-May-13 22:11:04

I think it would be worth ruling it out. Fwiw no one except me saw signs in dd, not one professional, I only did because I have another child who has ASD. The fact that OP has another child with it makes it worth investigating IMO.

IsItMeOr Fri 03-May-13 22:12:35

That's a lot on your plate, no wonder you're feeling overwhelmed.

You've had so much good advice already, the only thing I wanted to add was re calling in police and future social work career.

Others may be better informed - and I'm sure you can google it - but I think that, within reason, youthful petty criminal activity wouldn't be an automatic bar to working in that kind of field so long as it was clear that she had learned something from it and with hindsight understood that her behaviour was unacceptable. That kind of personal experience gives people an insight and connection with vulnerable young people.

nilbyname Fri 03-May-13 22:30:56

educatingarti up thread has given excellent advice and i would follow it to the letter.

op I would also explore a diagnosis or Oppositional Defiance Disorder.

I feel for you. You need to fully accept you are in crisis and go into DEFCON1 mode and really really stick to your plan. Really Really enforce your rules and call the police when you need to.

You are in control of what happens here, not your DD. Really internalise that and build on it.

educatingarti Fri 03-May-13 22:33:00

Well - I'm having a bit of a re-think.

Not sure now that my previous advice would be the right way to go!

Sorry OP blush
It isn't something I've experienced and I should have thought more before jumping in.

I hope your family therapy is useful and you find a way of dealing with things.

Snuffleupicus Fri 03-May-13 22:44:43

So mini, to be blunt, are you saying she is definitely getting enough sleep, or just that its too hard to remove the phone?
Cos if its the latter, just focus on that one thing to the exclusion of all else for two weeks (effects will only just start to be noticed after a week - as it will take that long for normal sleep to be restored) and see how you could manage it. Maybe other kids to mums for the duration and total ban on gadgets for all of you?

Please look up sleep deprivation and hostility. Sleep deprivation also manifests as all kinds of mental health issues. (Pnd anyone, or in my case, post natal aggression - so personal experience here of rage on tap)

SirBoobAlot Fri 03-May-13 22:50:03

OP I'm so sorry you're going through this sad

teenagetantrums Fri 03-May-13 22:50:19

call the police and lock her out, next time she hits you do this, I wouldn't worry about people saying sexual abuse unless you had any real concerns in that department, teenagers are self cantered if she thinks she can behave like that she will

ThatVikRinA22 Fri 03-May-13 22:55:13

my two penneth.....

i have an autistic DS, we thought DD had got off scot free, but at 15 she was dx with dyslexia. they are all coding difficulties and all in some way related.
My thoughts are that she could have some underlying condition, but girls are way way way cleverer at concealing it. Something as subtle as PDA is very hard to diagnose unless the clinician has a specialism in ASDs and related colding disorders.

Also - something i noticed - do you got to battle on the small stuff? My dd is 15, she likes to eat in her room - i used to battle but whats the point? she is eating it - she just likes to carry on with her stuff while eating - so i dont sweat it. As long as she is eating im happy.

my dd also piles her washing on the landing - ive asked dozens of times for her to put it in the basket - she never does. I end up taking it to the basket as i pass it - its irritating but not worth a major fight over. likewise cups/dishes in her room - when i run out i insist she brings hers down and washes them up.
things like that are irritating but really not worth WW3 over. The big stuff is - the verbal and physical abuse, the truanting. i would tackle the big stuff.
you could try having her arrested though i think it has mixed results - worth a try though.

my dd was being an absolute bitch a few months ago - then one day when she wanted something i said no.
i kept saying no.
she knew i meant no.
she then broke down completely, sobbed on my shoulder and all sorts of teen angst came out. Afterwards she was a different person. Teen years are so so hard. My dd is very private and tells me nothing much, but when she starts to stress or bottle things up she becomes quite horrible to live with.

i would get her assessed properly by a person with specialism in ASDs.
ignore the small stuff
little consequences for the big stuff. i find taking away phones/laptops completely useless as a form of consequence - does she get an allowance or poccket money? could you impose fines as a form of sanction?

treat her like an adult. if you argue with someone, no one snatches your mobile phone away do they?
but you would get fined if you did something very wrong.

try to take a huge step back. good luck.

mamadoc Fri 03-May-13 23:05:51

Do you think it could be about feeling unloved/ lack of attention compared to your youngest with SEN?

I might be completely wrong but did her hard time at the old school coincide with his diagnosis? Did she feel she wasn't able to tell you something important in her life as you were coping with his needs?

Family therapy might be really helpful if it is this kind of dynamics issue.

TheWrathofNaan Fri 03-May-13 23:43:19

My dd is very similar but our issues with school are worse.

She has an assessment for asd very shortly but is only seeing the speech and language person. Will this be enough?

Callthemidlife Sat 04-May-13 00:02:36

Could I just add that it is vital that you really look into tha ASD stuff before dismissing it? The reason I say this is because some of the posts about being firmer and/or involving the police could have really terrible consequences if there is PDA or similar behind the behaviour because it can be the completely wrong thing to do with someone struggling with HFA.

The reason the behaviour is always so much worse with mothers is because they know their mothers love them unconditionally and therefore it is safe for them to let it all out. Remove that and you remove the safety valve.

It is so hard to act against all the logic of boundaries and all the methods that work with other kids (including siblings). And many people will think you are mad, but please take a look round the special needs boards and pick up some of the recommended books. It might to be ASD related of course, but you won't have lost anything checking it out carefully first.

springykitsch Sat 04-May-13 01:35:09

I do think that the idea that to be kind will bring the best out in her is flawed (re some pp's). I am not suggesting sergeant-major, cold, heartless but I am suggesting rock-solid boundaries - zero tolerance, if you like. I think you may need professional support yourself to get the hang of strategies that are effective - at least to contain her behaviour within your home. She may be acting out because it successfully masks what is going on with her but if you block her methods the truth will be forced to come out.

I suggested upthread to involve the police 'at any and every opportunity' as I believe more and more forces are trained in appropriate handling of teen behaviour like your daughter's - though not all forces, it has to be said (sadly). I do think you need to step aside and perhaps stop trying to cover your daughter's inappropriate behaviour in a misguided hope that 'it will pass' and fear that if you make waves now there could be negative consequences further down the line. It wouldn't, anyway, be you making waves but stepping back to allow the consequences to manifest.

She may well be distressed, but seduced by her own power and the powerful feelings it gives her. This is fake, and alowing her the power she is exerting over you enables her to keep using it. You have to deal with misplaced guilt - you and she can't afford that now.

As someone said upthread, she does it to you because she knows you are safe and will always love her. It is perhaps appropriate, during times of distress, to allow that particular piece of elastic to stretch considerably - but imo it is now stretched beyond what is appropriate or helpful ie it is now abuse.

VeryStressedMum Sat 04-May-13 02:13:10

Really feel for you, your dd sounds very unhappy, even though on paper everything looks like it should be ok sometimes there is an unhappiness which causes a certain behaviour which has been reinforced by your reactions to her. While you were not the cause of her behaviour you must seek help for yourself and your dh to find strategies to cope with it and stop it. A lot of focus, time, attention etc on your dd maybe giving her a power she cannot actually cope with and most definitely does not deserve. I agree with those who said you must stick to what you say but pick your battles, Don't sweat the small stuff as the big stuff is huge and you'll need all your energy to sort that. Just remember to tell her that you'll always love her nothing she can do we will change that but you will not tolerate her behaviour end of.
Sorry fir a bit of a rushed response haven't much time. Xxxx

VeryStressedMum Sat 04-May-13 02:16:39

Just read springykitsch's post she says it much better!!!

Minifingers Sat 04-May-13 07:05:06

Again, thanks for all the responses.

I'm pretty convinced it's not PDA/a spectrum disorder as the only feature of her behaviour that fits is the obstructiveness, and this is something that's only emerged in adolescence. Her friendships are strong and long lasting. Her best friend now is a child she knew in nursery. Her friendships are the least of her problems - unusual for a teenage girl. She is very good at managing them. She had no language delay, didn't engage in elaborate imaginary play as a child, and she wasn't obstructive until adolescence, and even then she is only obstructive in situations where she feels completely secure.

springykitsch Your post rang a very loud bell for me. It would for DH too. She despises you and all you stand for this resonated for me. Something else I didn't mention - dd has done EVERYTHING she can to be different from me. I am white and from a middle-class family. Privately educated. DD is mixed race, and we live in fairly down at heel part of London. She strongly identifies with black culture and often makes comments like 'that's so white', or 'that's so black'. She attends the sort of comprehensive you would typically find in a not very wealthy part of London and if you met dd on a bus you'd assume she came from one of the grimmer estates - her speech and her way of presenting herself. I sometimes wonder if she is rejecting me because she doesn't want to accept that the way I am is part of her identity, a part she doesn't like.

From what you say, she has had the world at her feet her entire life - and, possibly, she's got rather too full of herself. Power is attractive, bullies enjoy bullying. She was adored by DH and I as a child, and by my parents, my sister and my brother. She was the first grandchild, and as an only child for 4 years had a massive amount of attention. Up until secondary school she never had to try at anything. She breezed through primary. I remember taking her in to school when she was in reception and it was like walking in with a pop star - you could hear children saying 'look, there's littlemini!' She was very popular. Still is. But now she has to try in life generally and things don't come easily to her in the same way. Of course they don't - that is what happens in education. She's expected to do things for herself and she doesn't want to.

springykitsch - yes to this: She may well be distressed, but seduced by her own power and the powerful feelings it gives her, and this she does it to you because she knows you are safe and will always love her. It is perhaps appropriate, during times of distress, to allow that particular piece of elastic to stretch considerably - but imo it is now stretched beyond what is appropriate or helpful ie it is now abuse

Something else I should add - she hates her physical appearance. While I had control over her diet as a child she ate well, wasn't fussy, and was a normal weight. Part of her adolescent rebellion has involved her refusing to eat most things that I cook. She won't share the family meal, tells me my cooking is 'disgusting', and generally fills up on any unhealthy food she can lay her hands on. She spends every spare penny she ever has buying junk food, energy drinks, fizzy drinks, crisps and sweets. The result of this (and her refusal to exercise) is that her weight has rocketed. Having been a slim child, she is now an obese teenager. Her skin is also very, very bad and she has to wear a thick layer of foundation to cover her spots. The spots she's had in the past have left dark marks on her skin (which is quite light, so they really show). I have taken her to the GP who has prescribed antibiotics and creams, but she won't take the tablets or use the cream properly, so her skin continues to be bad. Her teeth are very bad, and she's waiting to be fitted with braces. However, because she is very, very lazy about brushing her teeth I'm worried about how this will work out once she gets them. I have told her I will help her lose weight if she wants to do this, taken out gym membership for her (she asked me to but then refused to go), offered to cook her healthy food, offered to help her find an exercise or dance class. She says she doesn't care about her weight but I'm not sure I believe her, although I'm aware that culturally many the overweight black girls she mixes with at school are proud of their bodies and have good self-esteem. She has at times made it clear to me that she HATES being so overweight. I am worried about her health in the future. On DH's side there is diabetes (type 1 and 2), and severe hypertension. His mother, father and sister are severely obese and between them have more health problems than you'd generally find in a room full of people.

Any hows, she is still at my mum's and I am determined that she will not come home any time soon. My sister (single, 50 and a teacher) lives there too, and she is involved in supervising dd. I am going to email the CAMHS psychiatrist who is coordinating our care on Tuesday and tell him about the abusive behaviour. I will also contact social services and say I am not willing to have her home at present and to ask what will happen if my mum and sister can't cope with having her there. I have taken her keys away from her so she can't get in. I need to regroup and regain my strength and I can't do it with her here.

Minifingers Sat 04-May-13 07:11:07

Regarding 'sweating the small stuff' - there is little of this. 'No meals upstairs' is the rule because we have had mice. Upstairs. Boak. I don't nag her about her disgusting room. If she wants to go out in dirty clothes and leave her stuff all over the floor, she can and I don't make an issue of it.

Anna1976 Sat 04-May-13 07:45:08

Minifingers - good luck.

While she is out of the way - would there be any mileage in you talking to the parents of her best friend - the one who's known her for a long time? Any parent of the girls at whose houses she is overstaying will probably have picked up a bit of what's going on. They may have some perspective on what the motivating factors are that might get through to her.

She needs to develop a sense of self that is not built on hating you, her younger brother, etc. She needs to somehow find pride in hanging onto good behaviour, pride in developing and expressing the values the feels good about holding (resilience, integrity, kindness, empathy, hard work etc). At the moment she seems to be able to do a little bit of that with friends at school, but seems to lose it with teachers (as you've said - now she has to work, she can't use charm and wit to get through - she needs a sense of self that includes a bit that works hard and effectively to achieve things), and obviously she has no sense of self at home other than one rebelling against everything. But the rebellion gets in the way of her behaving in a way that she could possibly be proud of.

Something for the therapists to work on might be "what sort of person do you actually want to be and what's holding you back from being that person?" She may need to be sent to bootcamp to develop sufficient headspace to start processing that question though.

Quodlibet Sat 04-May-13 07:45:53

OP no advice in your situation, but are you aware of an org called SIBS? They run support groups for children who have a sibling with a diagnosis (the group I have worked with is specifically for children with autistic siblings) as it is quite common for these kids to really struggle with their feelings. Maybe they are an organisation who would be able to offer you or your dd support?

Anna1976 Sat 04-May-13 07:48:08

The self-hatred over her appearance, and the poor self-care would be part of what needs addressing in finding a sense of self that she can be proud to express. Again - this is bootcamp territory though.

LadyInDisguise Sat 04-May-13 08:05:59

Had a thought. You mentioned that her behaviour changed completely the month after she had her first period. Could all this aggressivity be compounded by hormones issues? You know like a very very bad PMT in the middle of the teenage angst/anger?

Maybe it's worth checking that.

Also, I have a very close friend whose son (14yo too) has been a real problem. He was getting sooo angry that he broke a few doors and even, one day, threaten his db with a knife shock. She took him to see an acupuncturist for other issues (IBS type) but found that he became much much calmer after starting the acupuncture. She completely swears by it now. Perhaps another angle to tackle the problem?

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