Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.
What would you do?(11 Posts)
I apologise for the length of this. I am the eldest of 5 siblings one of whom has special needs and my parents have been together about 35 years. All my life my dad has been abusive towards us and my mum. Physically, emotionally and mentally. I am grateful he did the bare minimum and fed us, we only had clothes because of our private foster carers. For birthdays and Christmas our gifts would come from foster carers and friends. As for birthday parties no way, my mum would try her best and buy a few bottles of economy cola and sweets off the market stall and a cake.
From two months old I was placed in many private foster places with people my parents didn't know while they worked to earn money. To the point where some of them abused and neglected me. If it wasn't for the neighbors telling my parents to get me out of there, who knows what would have happened to me.
I was placed in another private foster place with my siblings and it was the best chance to ever see how a normal family function and love each other. I think of them as my parents they showed me so much love and care and built so many Happy memories and I am still in touch with them. At the age of about 7/8 my dad decided my mum would stop working and take us back from the foster carers without notice and to live with them. I left all my friends behind and the life I had known from about two years old.
Growing up we would regularly see and hear my dad beating her up and shouting abuse. She would always defend him if we spoke bad about him saying he is still your dad no matter what he does.
As we grew older we began to have more courage to speak up to him. Probably from about the age of 17 till now at 31, but I have lost count how many times we have tried to reason with him, write letters to him and cards about how his behaviour has affected us all and literally crying and begging for him to change, to listen and get help. Family and friends have tried and even the church pastor but nothing. My mum still stays with him. Even though we said we will help and support her.
The funny thing is that when my Aunt was in an abusive relationship with my uncle guess who ran to her aid and made sure my uncle left? Yep my mum and dad. My Aunt got a restraining order against my uncle and she got back on her feet and my Aunt realised that she was worth more than that and that she wasn't gonna live like that or let my cousins grow up in such a toxic environment. She started her own business and has been doing well ever since. My Aunt said her abuse was nothing on the scale of my mums and ours and she could not take what my dad has done to us all. So clearly my mum understands and reasons but not for herself???
My parents went to live abroad for a while and took the youngest two with them age 15 ( who was just about to start her GCSES but wasn't allowed to finish them) and the 11 year old sibling with special needs. She wasn't put into school for almost two years and never seen a doctors in all the 9 years they were there. Now she has gone backwards in her development. My mum also has health issues diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol and on going issues that both require further tests for cancer.
My dad has multiple marital affairs and my mum accepts this as the norm and part of their culture. He showers the women and their kids with money and gifts and pays for the school fees yet he complains of no money for my siblings in Africa and or for my mum and siblings to see the doctors. Last Christmas he gave them nothing for food while he went out to see one his jezebels. He controls all the money while they were here and abroad and takes all her wages. The women he is seeing and sleeping with have started threatening my mums life also.
He even began bringing prostitutes into their business to make more money as finances are tight. Even though my mum and sisters live on the business premises. I said that was dangerous and unsafe, who does that?? Who brings that sort of clientele near their family putting them in danger of drugs and violence??
Fast forward a bit and he attempted to strangle her again for the fourth time and she calls asking for help that she is scared and wants out of the country so he can't get her, so we get her and my sibling on a plane asap back to London and set up a room in our home and try to start getting their lives back on track, arranging GP, dentist,opticians and finding specialist colleges to help my sibling with special needs (downs syndrome) and get her a statement from the council and emailing for information and support. Now my mum is reluctant to do anything or apply for financial, emotional support if it involves mentioning my dad as she says she can't do that to him and has to protect him that she still loves him.
Now my dad is apparently doing the whole he is sorry act and my mum buys it. I messaged him to ask him to explain his behaviour and he told me it is none of my business and it is an insult to question him. But you made it partly my business by trying to kill her again and the way you brought us up. He says he is a disciplinarian and not a dictator and he is the best dad in the world.
My mum says she isn't staying here and wants to go back to him one day after he has learned his lesson and suffered, and we should forgive and forget and we should make up with my dad everybody makes mistakes and deserves another chance...
Growing up sometimes my mum was physically abusive to my siblings, I was the mute child so got less of it, they said jump and I did. She was also emotionally and mentally abusive and manipulative towards us all Yes I'm sure she took out the abuse she received from my dad on us but that is still no excuse for it. Puting us down and making unkind comments. We are all responsible for our own actions and choices and words.
The man has shown no remorse and doesn't accept that his behaviour is wrong and hurtful towards others. Saying every relationship has it's hiccups??? Yes he is right to a point but not violence and abuse that is just abnormal behaviour. She says he is not himself and it must be vodooo or black magic making him act like this, that when they met he was so kind and would do everything for her... Yes part of the act I suppose.The same lines she has been quoting for years.
I am so drained from listening to it all. My husband and I have two kids 3 years old and 18 months and the oldest has picked up on things he has heard in passing or when my mum is shouting down the phone about it to my sister or a relative.I can't keep going on like this. My kids have been out of routine since they have been here, but my mum has no where else to go and they don't speak to any other family here as they have fallen out with pretty much everyone.
We are reluctant to just give her money because in the past my dad has got hold of it and spent it on the jezebels he sleeps with and wasted it on business plans that never work, of course he never listens to anybody and he knows best.
I have read and read about abuse and violence and why women stay but for the life of me and growing up in that household I still don't and probably never will understand why they stay and why they allow their kids just as my mum did to grow up in that environment thinking that it is better for the kids???
What to be in a war zone everyday?? Trying to jump in the middle of your parents when it gets physical and then being attacked and abused yourself? I am tired of trying to protect her it's been like this my whole life. I am tired of trying to be the mediator. My dad refuses to listen, get help or change and my mum refuses to believe he is really that bad. We are the criminals, because I have distanced myself from communication with him and if he texts me I reply if I wish to in my own time out of politeness and in my two siblings case they have both decided to cut him out of their life. My mum just doesn't get it and keeps telling them to make up with him, because no matter what he does he is still your dad. More like just a sperm donor.
She says she was waiting for us to grow up and staying for us, as though it was our fault for her staying? What is her reason now? People say that women who have been abused don't know how to think straight and reason? I don't buy it in my mums case anyway. She is perfectly capable of reasoning and is still continuing to do so.
After three decades and some I don't think there is any hope. I can't just be spending money on plane tickets if she decides to go back and then when things go badly again which I am sure they will unless he changes, she can't expect us to just send her a plane ticket again to come back because it won't be happening.Part of me blames my mum for some of the choices she made. Not everyone will like that but think if it was you growing up in that environment or your own kids, would you allow somebody to abuse them and then abuse them too?
Even the fact that she went to another country knowing the health care is not as good there and that my sibling with downs syndrome wouldn't get the same support and help she would had she stayed here in London.
I have been in hospital for a week with sudden severe pains out of the blue about a week after they arrived and after a ct scan, x ray, ultrasound and a colonoscopy the consultant couldn't find anything and friends think it was just sudden stress. I have a husband and two kids to be there for and look after and make a peaceful and loving home. My dad says he will come to London soon to visit and I said he is not welcome to stay with us or even visit and my mum was giving me dagger eyes and made it clear she wasn't happy with that.
He is violent and wicked and unwilling to get help I will not put my children at risk if he decides that he is suddenly going to flip and fly off the handle into one of his fits of red rage and uncontrollable anger. This is my home and I will make the decisions now.
My dad has never given a sincere apology or my mum for that matter for their choices and decisions. I have chosen to forgive them both, which may sound weird because the bitterness or hatred only kills me and eats me up inside and affects my relationship with my kids and my husband.
But the ongoing drama and her not wanting our help even though we have given it to her and are trying to sort out a new life for her here is frustrating and sad to see, and emotionally I am fed up of this toxic situation.
Sorry to be dim but for which aspect are you asking advice about what to do?
During your research, have you come across codependence? That's your mum. It's an addiction and, as you've seen, it's extremely tenancious.
If you're asking what to do about your parents I would say, unequivocally, to cut them off. He may kill her btw but that's not your responsibility, it's hers. You've done more than enough - and all you've been all along is a pawn in the game. I'm so sorry.
But bravo you've gone on to have a family yourself. Focus on them, they are the future, not your toxic, severely disordered parents.
Thank you Springydaffs. I just wanted advice on how much more help I should be trying to give my mum? What on earth is there left to possibly do, have I missed something?
I have heard people say you know be ready when the victim needs you and when they are ready to leave the abuser but I am tired of being ready and waiting. I can't force her to leave or to not go back.
Yes I have heard of codependence and it surely does describe my mum. You are right my main priority is my family now and our future.
I think your mum isn't ready to leave your dad but I would not give your mum any money and j would ask her to contact you when she is ready to leave him for good. I would have zero contact with your dad. I wouldn't even talk to him. Your mum can't bring you down like this, it is unfair and cruel.
Try to help your mum get educated.
In her mind, her marriage is probably some long impetuous and passionate romance with extreme ups and downs and through it all, she still loves her man. It sounds crazy I know, but it may well be that her upbringing and culture shaped her to view it like this.
In reality, it reads like a classic, long term abusive relationship. Her self confidence and esteem will be eroded to nothing, making her utterly emotionally dependent on him for approval and meaning. There will also be a massive element of fear through her whole attitude and feelings towards him.
She will also have become used to living as a highly stressed person, forming an almost addictive tolerance to stress and adrenaline, coming 'down' from which will feel disorientating and depressing in itself.
Could you take her to women's aid or any other domestic abuse charity near you? Or could she enrol on a freedom programme? Would she read the Lundy Bancroft book 'Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men'.
Once she understands the dynamics of abuse she might decide she is better off on her own. And is very very lucky to have your help
which is far more than she deserves
I'm sorry you had such an appalling childhood. Above all, protect yourself first and foremost. And your children.
Thank you for the replies, I appreciate them alot. We won't be giving her anymore money. She says she wants to go back to her country and start her own business. I can't count how many businesses they have tried to start and that have failed!
I have shared lots of my research with her and she is always like how terrible it is that this happens to these women. She sees the news stories and even tells me about it. It's like an addiction for her it seems. I don't think I will ever get it.
I have heard of Lundy Bancroft and want to read it for myself too, so perhaps can give it to her too. It's almost like she has made up her mind, it's very exhausting now. No she would never dream of going to a refuge for women or asking advice. She says they want to know too much details which she isn't willing to do and say things against my dad. I tried to sort out some financial assistance like benefits for her while she is trying to get back on her feet and get sorted and she refused to proceed with it because they wanted information about my dad and she said she couldn't do that to him and had to protect him??? So had to cancel it all after me spending time on the phone making an application.
The saddest thing is my step sister was like my Aunt in an abusive relationship that go physical and with two small kids and my mum made sure my sister's husband left and now he says he is sorry and wants to come back and my mum said "no way over her dead body, that he is never going back to my sister as long as she lives" so it seems as though she can quite clearly see my aunt's husband was bad and my step sisters husband but not her own????
Which just leaves me tired and confused. It's as though she knows it's bad for her, she at one point said she was so hurt she was going to kill him and end his life for he had done. I was like that isn't gonna solve anything but get you in trouble. She said she knows he has made her suffer after everything she has done for him etc. He treats her like poo and dirt.
I will read that book and give it to her, but she is unwilling to do anything in terms of support or tell people about what is happening to her. She did speak to a nurse but that was only because she is from the same country and it had happened to her also but she just said my mum shouldn't go back to my dad and leave him and get on with her life, but my mum said basically everyone can give their own opinion and advice but she will decide. So what more can I do?
I'm so over this and it takes up all my time talking to her and researching stuff and trying to sort bits out for them, that my kids are out of routine with playgroup and play dates and doing stuff together even my husband goes to bed before me and alone.
I need to get back into action and routine, surely there is a time and line to be drawn when your help is not wanted or needed?
Also if she goes back I worry for my sibling who has downs. She has already gone backwards in terms of her development and was doing much better here before they left the country.
If she goes back and continues to get no help and then something happens to my mum because let's face it my dad will always be a wicked abuser. Then who will pick up the pieces and have my sister? It's enough stress now trying to help her be more independent while having two little ones to look after. Trying to sort out her statement of educational needs and look for colleges. I can't take on all this responsibility it's too much. My three year olds behaviour has become more challenging, I'm sure partly because he is being a terrible three year old and pushing the boundaries but also the sudden change in the home and having two people he doesn't know in our home and one with special needs its hard for him to adjust and take it all in.
Perhaps I am thinking too far ahead, but I do wonder about what would happen...
I think if your mother is unwilling to understand why everyone sees her marriage as an abusive one and she doesn't you can't do much.
Your responsibility is towards your kids and your husband - they are your family you have to take care of.
You were brought up to be her rescuer, your mother wants to be looked after but kids shouldn't be doing that! Not until she is old and frail and unable to do so.
Emotional damage of 35 years of abuse is massive but you can't undo it.
You have let go of your guilt she somehow put into you that you need to pick up the pieces. That is her way of coping with the situation - expect others to fix it as by magic.
Let her go, tell her that if she goes she is on her own. She can't pick and choose when it suits her to assume someone will be ready to hand out money to pay for the tickets and rescue her.
There are charities which help in cases of DV for minority women. I don't know what help you may get but maybe worth investigating.
however your mum doesn't want to talk about her private life to strangers so I am not sure what else you can do to help her?
Is there anyone senior in your family or community she would listen to?
I am not sure what you want to do but involving social services in helping your disabled sister may be your answer. It may be that SS won't allow your sister to be taken out of the country but who would look after her if you mother goes on her own?
But maybe your mother going away will be enough to calm down situation/
You have to accept that it is not your responsibility to sort out your mothers life. She is an adult and has to do it herself
Every senior member of the family and their local community has been involved and spoken to her and him, but no change.
As for my sibling, I have made a request to the council for an educational assessment for her and see what support she can get, but I don't think my mum seems as keen to involve them too much and doesn't have a clue what she wants or hopes for her child to achieve. It is me doing all the questioning and research and contacting charities and support networks. She would never leave without her.
You are right, and I have to accept and realise that there is only so much I can do and I feel I have almost done all I can and my mum has to sort out her own life.
Thank you for all the replies and advice.
You can't change them.
You need to protect yourself and your family.
Set boundaries, write them down & stick to them.
I had a stress reaction reading this, living this must be horrendous
Join the discussion
Please login first.