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Was he deliberately abusive?(23 Posts)
I read Why Does He Do That after hearing about it on here loads and it's shaken up my view of DF's behaviour.
I always thought he behaved badly because he was an alcoholic and had a traumatic childhood but that he loved us in his own way, was just troubled and was a good person underneath it all. This is DM's view. She did leave him when I was 10, doesn't like to talk about him and he died shortly after so I won't ever have answers.
According to the author addiction doesn't cause abusiveness (although the two can co-exist) and abuse is always deliberate.
Do you think this is always the case?
-DF wasn't controlling/possessive of DM, he didn't care where she went and hardly took part in family life. He did live off her though, she worked 2 jobs and paid for everything.
-He could be violent when drunk but it didn't seem calculated. They both lashed out during arguments but as he was stronger DM was sometimes injured. One time he threw a brush, it hit a glass door pane, DM got a bad cut on her arm and had to go to A&E. But he didn't intend that to happen.
-When sober he could be really nice. I remember him being loving and caring towards us, playing with me/taking me to the park and saying I was a lovely daughter. But when drunk it was like a switch flipped. He'd shut me in my room and I wasn't allowed to talk to him or make a sound...it was like he hated my presence. Or he'd lie on the sofa and rant to himself, saying crude and nonsensical things (eg that I was a b'tard and he hoped it wasn't his d*ck that made me). It was like he was delirious and I'm not even sure he remembered it the next day.
I've wondered if he meant those things or if it was the alcohol that made him say it?
-He was awful to everyone, not just us. Didn't have friends and got fired from jobs as he didn't seem able to behave in a socially acceptable way.
I suppose I've held on to the "accidentally abusive"/"addiction victim"/ "possibly depressed" belief because it's easier than thinking he did it all deliberately and meant it all.
What would you make of it?
Anyone? Maybe Relationships isn't the right place for this?
Yes, it's always deliberate.
In my experience abusive behaviour is not always deliberate.
That doesn't mean that it's ok though. The person should seek help to stop their damaging behaviour.
It's deliberate as in they are choosing to act that way......because that's how they deal with things...and they have never taken the steps to address it..
but not necessarily deliberate as in they say i'm going to do this and that to control or abuse my partner and make sure they feel a certain type of way.
I'm sorry you went through that and will never have any answers from him. My dad was alcoholic and I still struggle to see him as abusive. He was a very depressed man who had a difficult early life and difficulties followed him. Poor choices impacted the whole family but ultimately they were his choices. It's a choice to drink. It's a choice to not get help when it's a problem. So in that way yes it's deliberate but addiction is a terrible thing that makes choice difficult. I made peace of sorts in the few years before he died and I feel very sad for him now. I wish I could have fixed him somehow but I was just a child and he wasn't my problem to fix just like your dad wasn't yours or anyone else's to fix. Is it possible for you to access counselling to go through all this with someone experienced so that you can make peace with what happened?
I think that all our decisions in life good or bad exist within set limitations. Not everybody has the same options, therefore although their choice may be deliberate it may have been between some piss poor options. For example, if you have a choice whether to steal food, or let your kids go hungry, what do you choose? Neither is ideal, and both are "bad" choices. Somebody who has more options would not make that choice, but that's because they had an alternative.
I think for people who have had very chaotic abusive upbringings, often the choice is between being alone and in therapy, or in a relationship with elements of abuse/codependence etc. It's the reason a lot of people either avoid relationships or have very tumultuous first relationships, they are either avoiding replicating their past or they are working their issues out with their first partner. If people stay in that they end up always being commitment phobic, or being married to somebody who lets them get away with basically being abusive. You get these women who say their husband of 20+ years sulks for days at a time, that kind of thing.
Not everyone is ready for a relationship. Not every body should be in one. So what everyone has the decision to do is not be in a relationship if they aren't ready to keep their own shit from damaging somebody else. You want to cheat? Leave. You want to hit the person? Walk the fuck Away. You want the person to feel like shit? Fuck off away from them.
It's like if you're a bad drunk you have to take responsibility for either not having a drink or learning to drink in a way that does not effect other people negatively. If you continue getting drunk and behaving badly to others, then that's you choosing to be an abusive POS
So you abstain or you learn to be a non-abusive partner. Nobody gets a free pass to abuse a person, you can always walk the fuck away. But I think some people genuinely want to be good partners they just have no fucking idea how. I've been in an abusive relationship with a man who just wanted to control me, that was deliberate. But also been in a relationship with someone else where he just had no modelling on how to be a decent man, partner, citizen even. I never mistrusted his feelings or intentions, but his actions and methods were really shitty at times.
@Bercows Sorry you went through the same thing. It's not a nice way to grow up. I thought I had made peace with it, I have a pretty nice life now but every now and then these questions pop into my head. I can't afford counselling right now and on the NHS in my area even people with severe mental health problems struggle to access help, there are big waiting lists and not enough resources.
I guess now that I have children of my own I just can't imagine ever treating them this way.
Why does he do that? Lundy Bancroft. It answers every query you've put, it's not an easy read because it is brutally honest.
Plenty of pdf versions online, get googling.
It is not an easy read. It is brutally honest. It shatters the lies you tell yourself to sidestep feeling unloved by the man who abuses you
Seriously get on Google there are so many discussions about how shit/scared/relieved/unloved/miserable/free Women felt when they finished it,
Many go on to question it's validity, hoping that the book is wrong about abusers knowing what they're doing, it hurts to read that.
You already know the answer. You just have to accept it
Yes, I'm reading it (see first line of post), that's what prompted me to start the thread. It sheds light on a lot.
My father was an alcoholic, he sounds very similar to yours and his relationship with my mums is also very similar. However he stopped drinking in my mid teens and there was no sign of his aggressive abusive side left. He was the doting dad and grandad.
My sister suffered from alcoholism, shes a recovering alcoholic now and the backbone of out family, although while her illness was active she never showed abusive traits.
However, I had an abusive relationship, which involved both mental/physical and emotional abuse. He was an alcoholic but was abusive with or without drink. He also did his very best to hide the abuse in front of people (this guard sometimes slipped once drunk). This made me think its deliberate. If it wasnt why would he go out of his way to hide the real him in front of others.
OP the criminal age in the UK starts at 10 (too early imo) which is the age the government believes a child understands right from wrong.
Your father as a grown man and I assume, neurotypical, knew that prioritising alcohol over his own family was wrong. He knew that expecting his wife to take care of the home, the children and him whilst working two jobs, was wrong and irresponsible. He knew that getting drunk and violent especially with young children in the house was wrong. He knew that making vulgar comments about his children and dismissing them as something that came 'out of his dick' was wrong.
Your mother was typically co dependent and brought you up with the same ideas. That it was her responsibility to take care of him, to take care of the burden and to manage him. Co dependents enable the dependent to continue drinking and she was equally responsible for bringing you up in a neglectful and abusive household.
Children brought up in chaotic abusive households really struggle as they go out into the world. They are in danger of becoming alcoholics themselves and becoming co-dependents; making excuses for bad behaviour and having a high tolerance for bad behaviour.
I really suggest you move away from him as the victim and centre yourself instead. His appalling behaviour was excused and he wasn't expected to take responsibility. He had someone clearing up after him so he never had to face the consequences of his actions. The first time I heard my spouse call my beloved children, 'something that came out of his dick' he'd be out the door so fast, it would spin off its hinges.
I would take a look at Co-dependent No More by Melody Beattie, Codependence for Dummies by Darlene Lancer. Check out the CoDa website. You've undergone a lot of trauma OP, you may not realise it but you have. Adult Children tend to be overly responsible and disconnected from their feelings because they are going through so much day to day, they close off.
@ALittleBitConfused1 Yes, when he gave up drinking (in the period right before his last relapse, which killed him) he was so good - not at all shouty or mean, and very loving. That's why I wonder which was the real him, the way he was when drunk or sober. It's so confusing.
@username501 I do recognise elements of what you're saying. My first serious relationship was abusive and I didn't even see it until I'd left. I've always felt compelled to help people change and feel responsible when someone's life isn't going well, like I have to step in and sort it out - with partners and friends. But I've done a lot of work on myself and have got my life to where I want it - good career, good non abusive marriage, kids with which I'm determined not to repeat the same mistakes as my parents. I've broken the cycle of feeling responsible for others, or at least I can recognise it now and stop myself.
I've gone through periods when I've blamed my mum but I think she was also a victim of his behaviour and her own father was also abusive (not alcoholic but in other ways). She tried so hard to get DF to take responsibility, helped him get jobs, offered to pay for private rehab (he wouldn't go), tried throwing him out but he physically wouldn't leave and she couldn't afford a divorce. This was in another country so very little support for domestic violence/addiction. She did go mental at him when he said crude things and did eventually leave but it wasn't easy. He had nowhere to go, no money and would've been on the street (also no homelessness support where we were). He carried on living in her house and she paid him an allowance, while we rented elsewhere. It's crazy looking back, but that's how it was.
It's behind us now I suppose but I think about it from time to time. Especially now I've got my own kids.
I probably didnt explain my post very well.
With my dad I think he was just a verbally aggressive drunk. When he stopped he saw the error of his ways and while still opinionated and obnoxious he was also very loving. So in my eyes his abusive nature was due to his alcoholism. But, he stopped drinking, as recognised what it had cost him. Some would argue that in many ways if he had recognised that but still continued to drink, as some do, that would, in its self be abusive.
My sister was an emotional drunk. She did say some horrible things but this was in defense when we confronted her about her behaviour, attack being the best form of defense. She was in no way an abuser. Shes was and is a lovely person but due to circumstances just very troubled.
My ex on the other hand was simply abusive. Mentally, emotionally manipulative, controlling, drunk or sober. His abuse just got worse when drunk. Everytime I left him he would admit it all, all of his flaws (hoovering) then it would all happen again. Like I said he tried to hide it, he was very aware of how his behaviour would be perceived so 99% of the time would go to great lengths to hide how he treated me and when that wasnt possible would lie about me and my to justify his behaviour (tried to convince my family I was having a breakdown and needed to be sectioned). In my eyes that proved to me he knew what he was doing was wrong, he knew it wasnt how normal people behaved. So yes, he was aware of what he was doing and why he shouldn't be doing it. While his violent, extremely aggressive side was usually only displayed while drunk the shit that really caused the damage, the mental torture etc, well that was normally carried out while soba.
That book fucked me up. It took me months to stop scoffing at bits of it, ESPECIALLY the addiction bits.
Your mum left. Yet you still blamed your mum for the misery your dad brought and the chaos he brought, (acc to the book) Your mum was the one most stressed, abused, short tempered, exhausted and the one most concerned about you.
(acc to the book) Abusers manipulate how others see them always to the detriment of their primary victim,, it's not a coincidence so many kids grow up blaming the victimised adult the abuser sets up to be blamed.
That cannot happen accidentally, so often.
There is a huge difference between angry words spoken by a drunk being challenged for 'drunk shit' and a targeted attack by a well practised drunk abuser in the home of a worn down victim they both know has children in it
Do you think this is always the case?
I have an alcoholic father too, I think it is.
Addiction or the substance an addict may be addicted to doesn’t make them behave abusively especially over long periods.
I think your mum was - misguidedly - trying to put a positive spin on things to a young child.
I’m afraid we STILL have it drummed into us not to “bad mouth” a bad co parent to our child no matter how shit they are. I disagree with this.
I think it excuses and minimises that parents actions.
From your summary he was:
Financially abusive - this would have included your mother funding his addiction, likely to her and possibly your detriment
But he didn't intend that to happen. he intended to throw the brush! And from the sounds of it in dms general direction!
Alcohol can’t “make” someone do or say anything that isn’t already in their nature.
My dad has at times claimed he forgot he did/said certain things, ironically (karma?) his memory is buggered now thanks to the alcohol and sometimes things slip out that reveal he knew EXACTLY what he was saying/doing
When sober he could be really nice. nobody is horrible all the time! It takes effort and an abuser needs victims, they can’t draw in victims and manipulate them into sticking around if they’re ALWAYS rotten to them
Not just my experience but from discussion with other children of alcoholics - including cousins as he has siblings that are alcoholics too.
My dad hasn’t had a drink in over 20 years...but he’s still a nasty piece of work!
I also remember what he was like before the drink was an addiction and he was nasty then too. He sometimes forgets that I remember and tries to rewrite history “reminiscing” about the “good old days” but he comes unstuck if he does it when I’m around as 9/10 that amazing day at the beach or whatever I remember him being a shit at some point.
Adult Children tend to be overly responsible and disconnected from their feelings because they are going through so much day to day, they close off. this describes me somewhat
I have serious ocd, on my 5th psychologist. Just like all the others she thought she was so insightful pointing out I had issues with thinking I have to be responsible for everyone I love’s wellbeing and health, that I always have to be the sensible one do everything right and control it all. Perfectionism in spades. No shit Sherlock! I WAS pretty much responsible for my younger siblings from the age of 11/12 cos dad was drunk and mum was battered or placating dad! Hardly surprising.
Also that I don’t trust easily - again not news to me - no surprise really! Everyone I was SUPPOSED to be able to rely on has let me down, every last one. So why SHOULD I trust anyone? Life has taught me the only person I can rely on is me.
@lilmishap I am thoroughly ashamed to admit it now, but my dad involved us in the emotional/verbal abuse of my mother. This was when we were very young, he was not yet in my opinion an addict. He had a derogatory “nickname” for my mother he trained us all to use, trained us to mock her as “stupid” “clumsy” "useless" etc breaks my heart to think of it now yet at the time it was set up as “joking” “teasing” makes me sick now. I’ve apologised to mum loads she always says no need but still...
He also did things like gaslighting us all by eg deliberately telling mum a wrong time to collect us from a hobby and then making out it was her mistake
I think it is deliberate in as much as he didn’t take the effort to stop, he put his own needs/wants (alcohol to self-medicate) before your needs as his child.
There's an episode of criminal minds I found deeply affecting due to my history.
"The crossing" - a psychologically battered woman snapped abc shot her abusive husband, the DA asks for profilers to interview her because the woman's defence lawyer is positing a defence of "battered woman syndrome" but there's no evidence of physical abuse.
In the episode the woman's children are shown to have been trained by the husband to hate their mother.
It's really quite disturbing...but accurate I feel.
The thing is OP, you're possibly caught in an illusion that's very common in western culture - the illusion that good or neutral intentions somehow make up for, or cancel out, bad outcomes.
This is a really specific cultural thing for westerners, it exists in other cultures but not nearly to the same extent that it does in ours. It's how we managed to brutally colonize the world etc. It's also how patriarchy has been upheld for so long. We've convinced ourselves that if individual people "mean well" or "didn't mean any harm", that it's OK to desecrate and decimate the people around them.
This is a wonderful luxury. It means that abusers need never stop and think, or look back and examine their behaviour. It's a marvellous shortcut. It saves us so much time and energy, never examining our effects, just skipping along with our good intentions.
The fact is it doesn't matter what was "deliberate" and what wasn't. God knows, it's so easy to lie to oneself that the idea of something being "deliberate" isn't even worth its definition.
Really the truth of it all was that your father hurt his family, habitually. You children and your mother suffered dreadfully. All the excuses and protestations of good intentions aren't worth anything. In my opinion, all they serve to do is make it easier for the next generation to tell itself its own, similar lies.
If we're going to break the cycle of all this, we need to not be like our parents. We need to just call a spade a spade, face it head on, see it for what it is so that we don't fall into the same traps. Start putting effects and outcomes first, and put intentions on the back burner.
Your father put his comfort first - he didn't care enough about other people to do a better job of life and loving. He may have had 1000 reasons why he was like that, but it doesn't excuse it, or take away the damage he did. He is accountable for the pain he caused, regardless of his intentions.
@Graphista that's what did me in with this book. I always believed it was six of one half dozen of the other.
You decided it's sober dad and drunk dad, one of whom is great, the other abusive.
But sober dad chose to buy the alcohol and drink the alcohol knowing he would abuse you. Even if nothing else is deliberate, that is.
A psychologist I really respect told me once that this kind of thing is backwards. People assume it's the alcohol that creates the compulsion to harm. He said it was the opposite. The wish to harm is there, so the person drinks to excuse the behaviour to themselves and others. When they're building up to harm, they chose to start using.
I'm very sorry
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