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Domestic violence - so hurt and angry that my mum is still putting up with this

(17 Posts)
PrimroseHall Wed 12-Aug-09 01:19:06

My mum and dad have a very odd relationship. They separated when I was 17 and I was so relieved that we (mum, sis and I) wouldn't have to deal with his unprovoked, alcohol fuelled, violent outbursts any longer. Within a year he was coming back home to 'visit' us at weekends. It took me a long time to accept that my mum was happy with this arrangement - I think she only pretended to put up with him out of fear of what he might do to her, because she knew I was terrified of him and felt guilty for putting me through it.

When I moved out of home I lost contact with my dad and sis (they are both very similar and I saw no reason to tolerate their shitty behaviour anymore), but I always remained close to my mum. We all basically used to schedule appointments at my mum's so we didn't bump into one another - pretty sad really, but it was bliss for me.

When I was pregnant with DS (my only child) my mum encouraged me to try to establish a relationship with my dad. She said he'd changed, that his drinking was under control and that he missed me. So, I did try and things were ok ... until when I was 37 weeks pregnant and he beat my mum up again and then disappeared for a year. That was such an awful time, I was trying to be supportive to my mum but I felt emotionally broken - like re-living the worst bits of my childhood and the depressing realisation that he'll never change and I can't do a thing to stop my parents having this horrible toxic relationship. Also, I felt rejected. He didn't send a card when DS was born or try to see him. I know he was in contact with my sister during this time but he never attempted to contact me. As far as I know he didn't even ask about me or DS.

When DS was 3, my dad got back in my mum's good books and started his visits again. My mum, obviously ashamed that she'd taken him back, tried to pretend they had a kind of 'professional relationship' - he was helping her with DIY and she was helping him arrange for his elderly mother to go into a residential home. I knew it was bollocks and that there would be more episodes, but I was adamant that I wouldn't get involved this time and that I would try to not let it affect my mental health (I've suffered with depression most of my adult life and am a recovering alcoholic).

As far as I'm aware, the violence has stopped, but my mum still tells me about the nasty things he says to her - how fat she is, that she smells, has no friends and what wankers her brothers (my uncles) are. He doesn't appologise for these things, just retreats to his flat for a bender and comes back when he's worked through his depression. Mum doesn't mention his outburst to him because she's obviously relieved that he's being nice to her again hmm. I try not to let it get to me, but sometimes I sob my heart out after I've had to endure another account of this misery. When I had counselling last year my therapist told me that I should tell me mum how much it hurts me to hear it and then just refuse to take her calls or visit her until she agrees to stop telling me. How can I do that though?

Anyway, I've gone off on a tangent. I'm really posting here to rant about the day I've just had. My mum has just had a hip replacement and I'm looking in on her elderly mum for her while she's recovering. The problem is that my mum and nan live down the same road - a cul-de-sac and I have to pass my mum's house to get to my nan's. I don't know if it's morbid curiosity, heathy concern or just sheer stupidity that takes me to my mum's door every day, knowing that my dad is there and that I have DS with me and that I'd rather him not know my dad at all.

Things were relatively ok last week. I hate the way my dad cuddles me, like we're really close and I feel very uncomfortable saying things like "love you too dad" when I'm leaving, but my mum needs me and I can't bear thinking of her there stuck with him. DS has become quite fond of my dad and DP has been getting on with him ok too. Today, I was there without DP and things were very different. There was an atmosphere and I know my mum had been crying before I arrived. My dad did no more than grunt at DS and spent most of the time I was there (5 hours) either locked in the bathroom or in his shed. DS was confused and I feel horrible, torturing myself with thoughts of my dad having a sweary or violent outburst in front of him.

My mum told me that my dad has been threatening her. Telling her to "watch it" and "don't fucking start" when she asks him to do things for her - simple things like putting her orthopedic toilet seat back on when she's desperate for a wee, or getting her crutches for her because he's moved them. I was fighting back tears of anger today, as I was hoovering up the crumbs from his breakfast, making his bed, washing his plates and hanging up his fucking laundry. My mum is terrified that he's going to leave her again and she thinks she needs him. I'm bloody terrified that he's going to hit her and badly hurt her because she's so physically weak.

I'll never take DS there again. I've promised that I'll pop in every day but I'll leave it to the evening when DS can stay with DP. I've been feeling so much better lately, even thinking of trying to conceive. I hate the way that my dad being in a bad mood can leave me hurt, depressed and angry. It will never end and I can't control how it makes me feel.

If anyone has read all this - sorry for the essay. I just needed to get it out of my head and I don't want to re-read it to edit it.

hambler Wed 12-Aug-09 01:26:51

Primrose I have o experience of this at all, but what a nasty piece of work he sounds.
Have you tackled him about his unreasonable /unkind behaviour towards your mum?
Does he know you are on to him?

hambler Wed 12-Aug-09 01:38:08

I would seriously want to murder any man who did this to my mum.

PrimroseHall Wed 12-Aug-09 01:40:19

No hambler. He lives in a pretend world where he's a decent family man, and we all indulge this fantasy, God knows why.

I used to try and reason with him, but he's so spiteful and aggressive it still frightens me now. My throat closes and I can't speak properly, and I visibly shake when he raises his voice.

I think he's insane to be honest. I just wish he's fuck off back to his flat permanantly.

hambler Wed 12-Aug-09 15:26:36

I actually know a family like this. My friend's stepdad sounds like your dad.
The whole family just turns a blind eye to his horrible ways because the mum apparently loves him. My friend (now in her 40s) just feels a numb sadness about it all but has decided to keep out of it.

Have you ever seriously tackled your mum about it? Asked her why she tolerates this abuse?

Mamazon Wed 12-Aug-09 15:42:03

It must be awful for you and i can understand how torn you must feel.

But i will tell you what i always tell people in similar situations, You cannot force a person to leave.

It is highly probable that she never will. they have been together(ish) for a very long time and his behaviour is awfull but to her its normal. being with him has become habbit.

your right to not take DS there. but stop being fake around him. if he thinks people know and yet they are pleasant with him its almost as if you are condoning his behaviour.
don't avoid him, but let him know that you are not happy with the way he behaves.

and if he shows even the slightest bit of aggression whilst you are there phone the police.

cestlavielife Wed 12-Aug-09 15:42:40

you cannot reason with these people. confronting him wont help at all - he will do teh wounded family man thing...confronting your mum when sh is vulnerable wont help either....

you mother has made a decision to let him in her life.

but he does not need to be in yours.

i would speak to local womens aid for advice as to how to help your mum - also police domestic violence unit and social services as
your mum is vulnerable right now?

but if she wont accept help to get him out of her life there is not much you can do other than protect yourself and your child...

Mamazon Wed 12-Aug-09 15:45:55

do you think your mum would speak to a Womens aid outreach worker?

they could visit her for a non presurised chat evry so often when he isn't there.

they really wont push her into doing anything she isn't ready for but they will be able to help steer her in the direction of help and can offer her an independant shoulder to cry on.

dittany Wed 12-Aug-09 15:50:37

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

NicknameTaken Wed 12-Aug-09 16:32:38

I agree that you can't save your mum, no matter how much you want to.

You can save yourself and DS, and that is good enough.

chickybabe Wed 12-Aug-09 21:24:52

Obviously your mum (and you of course) have been stuck in this nightmarish routine for years and she has just got stuck.

It might be a bit out there - but is it possible she could stay with you while she recuperates from her operation? This would help in 2 ways - she could heal without the risk of getting even more hurt, and could send a message to you dad this wont be tolorated? I agree with the OP's, everyone in this situation is enabling it to carry on.

This must be so hard for you, but I would like to say, that this could be a very useful post for women out there who stay in abusive marriages "for the children" as it evidently doesn't make the children happier at all.

Sorry its not more helpful advice, but I hope there is some comfort in the fact you may have helped other people, just by posting.

Hopefully someone else here will have a similar experiance and be able to advise you better than me.

Good luck xxx

PrimroseHall Wed 12-Aug-09 22:38:50

Thanks so much all of you for your kind posts and advice.

I didn't visit my mum today, just phoned instead. She told me that he'd really kicked off at her last night, because he knocked a drink over and mum wanted him to clear it up - he told her it was her fault because she's expecting too much of him and he's tired hmm. He hasn't done a thing for her, the lazy bastard.

She went to bed and stayed in her room all of today (they have separate rooms). She had nothing to eat or drink for almost 24 hours because she was too afraid to go down to the kitchen where she might bump into him. I only found that bit out when I spoke to her at 6pm, just after he'd left - thank Christ for that!

She's very upset, can't believe that he could be so cruel to her. I can't believe that after all these years of abuse she expects anything else from him. He's not capable of putting anyone's needs before his own, never has been. He's so cruel that he unplugged everything before he left, knowing that she can't bend down to plug anything back in. He's left all his washing-up in the sink as well. I will obviously go to her tomorrow and sort that out. She didn't want me there tonight, probably because she's hoping he'll have a change of heart and come back. I'm sure we'll manage just fine without his help!

Those that have said I'm an enabler in this, are absolutely correct. I cover for him, because that's how our family have always operated. I don't do it for him, I hate him, but it's easier than rocking the boat. My mum is financially independant and her house is rented, so home maintainace shouldn't be a problem. She has 2 great brothers who both know the score with my dad and wouldn't hesitate to help her with anything she couldn't manage, ditto DP. But she only wants my dad. She's even saying now that she won't be able to get back to the hospital for her check-up because dad was going to drive her. She is adamant that she won't put DP out by accepting his offer of taking her. I wish she would understand that the whole family would go to great lengths for the security of her not having to rely on my dad. The worry and depression that all this causes is a far bigger burden to all of us. In light of all that, WA probably couldn't help her. She isn't trapped in this relationship, just committed t a silly dreams about him changing - he's 60 FFS!

Chicky, I wish I could have her here with me, but I live in a 2nd floor flat and she'd never manage the stairs. Even if that weren't an issue, she wouldn't dream of being a burden on us.

Hambler, thanks for coming back to this today. My mum talks very openly about the abuse and violence that happened when sis and I were kids, and will say, even in front of DP, that he was an absolute cunt to us. She makes excuses for it though - it's because he was born with a cleft lip and people were cruel to him, it's his mother's fault for having 2 children by 2 different men, it's his father' fault for leaving them when he was a baby, it's basically anyone's fault other than his. She says that DA wasn't taken seriously up until recently and there was no help available and that he's mellowed with age. Even this evening, she is saying that she's sure she'll hear from him soon after he's had a chance to work things out. She sees something good in him that everyone else misses. He even took £20 quid out of her purse before he left this evening to pay for the food he's been buying (and eating while she's been stuck in her room starving) - what normal person behaves like that?

I guess he's chipped away at her self-esteem over their 40 year relationship and this is the result. My mum is an intelligent, capable, respected woman, yet she thinks she deserves the shit that he puts her through.

Sorry for writing another essay. It does help so much to talk about it though, and it would be a bonus if anyone living with domestic violence was also helped by reading it.

hambler Wed 12-Aug-09 23:41:15

Primrose I have no first hand experience of this but it is a variant of a situation many people on mumsnet find themselves in - ie in your mum's shoes.To outsiders it seems ridiculous that an intelligent woman would put up with such crap but it must be different when you are on the inside
What's DA?

PrimroseHall Thu 13-Aug-09 14:01:22

DA = Domestic Abuse

She's just told me not to tell anyone what's happened. If anyone asks where he is I'm to say that he's had to tend to an emergency at home. I told her that I don't want to lie to protect him, and seeing as everyone knows his true colours, don't see the point. But, she's using the excuse that he's left things at her house and she doesn't want a scene when he comes to collect them. It's nothing to do with that, she wants me to lie because then she won't have to look like a fool to her mum and brothers when she has him back again.

I feel bloody depressed at the moment. I've just sat and listened to her reeling off all the shit things she can remember him ever doing. And then she tells me that she can't believe he would let her down like this. We go round and round in circles and we never resolve anything. She maintains that she needs him to help with jobs around the house, so has to put up with his 'funny ways'. Then she says that he's not so bad really and reminds me that he bought her a bunch of flowers once, as if that's a fair exchange!

I'm more angry with her than him at the moment. I've never had a break from their relationship problems and I don't think it's fair that she involves me. I made the decision years ago, to cut my dad out of my life, but I can only really do that if I cut her out too. I've had counselling and I think I've sorted out my feelings towards my dad - he doesn't care about contact with me or DS anyway, and I'm ok with that as long as I can leave it in the past. Can't do that properly though, because of her.

I told her today that I'm going to go back to avoiding him again, hoping she'd say that she wouldn't have him back anyway. Even if she had said it, I'd know it wouldn't last, but at least that would be a normal reaction. Instead she said that he spends most of his time in the shed anyway so if he's there at the same time as me it wouldn't be a problem hmm. He does spend a lot of time in the shed when he's in a mood, but what about when he isn't, and wants to give me a big hug - I have to put up with that because I mustn't make a scene. Wouldn't want him to feel awkward or anything hmm.

Have to get ready now to go round and see her. DP and DS are coming too, so hopefully she'll pretend to be cheerful for their benefit.

AxisofEvil Thu 13-Aug-09 14:22:59

What a terrible, terrible situation. Whilst your Mum is clearly in a bad way I think you have to prioritise you and your DS in all this. You might think it callous to withdraw going to see her regularly but it sounds like it might be the only way. Please don't be afraid to do what is best for you and DS. Your mum does have choices here and you don't have to let it continue to damage you (and your DS?) because she chooses to continue to have him around.

dittany Thu 13-Aug-09 14:32:10

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

NicknameTaken Thu 13-Aug-09 16:04:06

Hear, hear. Sorry you have to cope with this, primrose, and I can understand why you are angry at her.

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