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Feminism: Sex & gender discussions

How can a parent let their child be beaten by an OH

267 replies

JugsyMalone · 04/02/2012 01:21

I just don't get this. I am a single parent to 2 boys.

I would never be with a partner for one second who hurt my kids. I would batter the bloke back and be straight down the police station. Even if I was mortally afraid I would be out of the house with my kids at the corner shop or anywhere public asap.

But it's always the boyfriend who batters the baby to death. Yes, he's the nutter. But what is wrong with the mother?

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Gay40 · 04/02/2012 01:31

You're going to get a flurry of responses now, all going into the whys and wherefores of domestic abuse.
But the day some cunt laid a hand to me or my DD would be the last day they laid eyes on us.

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JugsyMalone · 04/02/2012 01:37

Gay - exactly. I have had a few boyfriends over the years - a couple of which have met the kids. If the kids came to me and said "Blah, blah hit me" Number one it would be OVER - number two, I would fuck them over and number three cop shop.

And if I witnessed it - no way.

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JugsyMalone · 04/02/2012 01:40

Gay - I was talking to DS1 who is 21 now and I had read something in a magazine and I said "what would you have done if a bf had hit you" he laughed at the thought that it would have happened.

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OlympicEater · 04/02/2012 01:42

Totally agree.

DS friend moved out after his Mum met and married (within 3 months) someone who was physically abusive.

He hit DS' friend several times while his mother made excuses for him.

Relationship finally after the man left, leaving the mother pregnant, with broken collar bone and her child living with his father Sad

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JugsyMalone · 04/02/2012 01:58

Olympic - how could she make 1 excuse. If an OH had been around since DC's babyhood and a tap, I mean a tap, on the bum I could just about cope. Maybe a tap, I mean a tap, on a toddler's hand if it was going in the electrical socket.

Any more than that and I would leave with the kids the second he left the house.

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suburbophobe · 04/02/2012 02:03

No, I don't understand it either.

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JugsyMalone · 04/02/2012 02:16

But we read about it all the time when a BF moves in and starts battering the baby. All babies scream, we all want to "shut it up" babies should only be left with very trusted people.

But I suppose to the mother the new BF is a trusted individual.

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HPTUser · 04/02/2012 02:20

perhaps the parent is terrified of their partner? If a person is able to beat a baby until it dies, what is the mother suffering? I am not saying it is an excuse, but sometimes, the fear is so great that they dare not intervene.

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JugsyMalone · 04/02/2012 02:59

HPT - no way. If the mother is terrified, the baby is more terrified. Get out with the baby in your nightie and scream in the street.

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KRITIQ · 04/02/2012 06:51

It's pretty clear some folks have no idea what it's like to be terrorised in a relationship. It's never as simple as one day the guy flips and lashes out. It's an insidious drip drip of changes where you are reeled in and don't recognise you've been brainwashed to toe point that if he says the skt is green, you believe it.

I'm on my phone and about to head off but hopefully someone will explain more thoroughly.

I do wonder though why you're not also asking why a man would evr choose to physically, emotionally or sexually abuse a partner or child, whether his or not. Strangely, I don't hear that asked very much, although you'd think that would be a pretty obvvious one.

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stuffthenonsense · 04/02/2012 07:09

As kritiq says, it almost never starts with a lash out attack, it begins with a little word, a doubt, a subtle hint, over time, it changes a woman ability to see herself as a capable woman, she becomes dependant, so bloody dependant that she becomes grateful that the abuser beats her rather than leaves her....it is not that the woman is weak, she has been brainwashed into believing she is weak and she needs so much support, so many people demonstrating her ability to cope before she can move from this situation...sadly one of the first tactics employed by abusers is to befriend/alienate the victims family and friends thereby removing that support.

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sunshineandbooks · 04/02/2012 07:25

Wanting to leave is the reaction 99% of abused women would have if the man raised his hand to the children in the early days of the relationship. However, by the time things get violent, the woman's whole psyche has changed and she will not be having normal reactions to things. When you criticise women for not reacting appropriately, you are doing the same thing as those who criticised men for suffering from shell shock during the war. Trauma alters people's perceptions and reactions. Many, many women who leave abusive relationships are suffering from PTSD.

It might interest people to know that DV features in 75% of child abuse cases. That's right - 3/4 of abused children are living in homes where DV is occurring. If we tackle DV adequately, we could reduce the amount of child abuse in this country massively. But people would rather blame the victims and cut resources (shelters, social fund grant - all those things fleeing women rely on).

Women often don't leave because they are terrified. The period a woman is most likely to be killed is at the point she leaves, or shortly thereafter. And with 2 women killed a week by their partners/ex-partners, that's a very real risk. When a man says he'll find you if you leave, and he'll kill you or your DC, why wouldn't you believe him when everything he's threatened so far has come true? Many women stay because they believe the man when he says he'll prove she's an unfit mother and he will keep the kids. They stay because they believe that's the only way they can offer some form of protection to their DC.

A woman in a DV relationship has massive, massive cognitive dissonance. If she could see things the way you or I could see them she would undoubtedly leave. What you have to ask yourself is not 'why does she let her child be beaten?' but 'what can we do to make DV so unacceptable that women are not too ashamed to admit it happens to them' or 'what can we do to make sure that women can easily leave their partners when being abused.'

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Dustinthewind · 04/02/2012 07:55

'I do wonder though why you're not also asking why a man would evr choose to physically, emotionally or sexually abuse a partner or child, whether his or not. Strangely, I don't hear that asked very much, although you'd think that would be a pretty obvvious one.'

Perhaps because to the OP and some others posting here it is taken as so unacceptable that abuse should be taking place that it isn't a point for debate? DV is never excusable or acceptable and I don't think anyone here is denying that it takes place.
But children in an abusive relationship have no choices whatsoever, not even the limited ones available to the adult. They don't choose to get involved with an abusive partner, they frequently aren't old enough or big enough to reach the door handle, let alone make any attempt to escape.
The adults who should have them as their highest and most important priorities are either abusing or condoning and allowing that abuse by their inaction or fear due to inertia. For whatever reasons. The adult has choices, even if they are currently unable to exercise them. Of course that adult needs support and understanding and protection and to be empowered to make choices that will safeguard them.
Which is why I back the removal of children from an abusive home by the authorities. Especially when the adult being abused refuses to take any steps to protect the minors involved, or remove them from the abuser, or leaves and then returns.
That adult should be helped as much as they are prepared to accept help. But the children should always be the first priority.
They must have someone whose prime concern and focus is their physical, mental and emotional health. If that isn't a parent, then someone else has to step in if their parent is too victimised and emotionally disorientated to cope.
If you have ever seen a child marked with burns, cuts, marked with a belt, with spiral fractures in small bones, bruises where repeated pinching has crushed their flesh, who hides under furniture when you raise your voice a little, not even in anger or to them, whose first reaction to an unexpected contact is to hit, bite and run..then perhaps you might understand why for some posters it really isn't something we can comprehend.
I've seen all these injuries first hand, I'm only a primary school teacher.
Most of the children hadn't even reached double figures.

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Dustinthewind · 04/02/2012 07:59

But perhaps we need another section on here about Children'sRights?
So I'm not told this is the Feminist and Women's Rights section and I shouldn't be asking 'What about the childrenz?'

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swallowedAfly · 04/02/2012 08:09

it's always a tricky one this.

fwiw i think it is pretty natural for women who haven't been in the situation (such as myself) to be unable to comprehend how this could happen and to question how a mother could allow her children to continue living in an abusive situation because they cannot imagine how that could happen.

the points about ptsd and the gradual onset of abuse are very important. think prisoner of war camps, think nazi germany, think the trenches, think hostage situations etc. this stuff changes people, their perceptions, their behaviour, their fundamental beliefs about themselves and the world. slowly subject someone to torture emotionally, physically, financially, sexually and you change that person and can have total power over them. you cannot compare how you now as a healthy person who hasn't had that would respond with how you would respond after months or years of abuse and trauma.

however it is really hard to understand why when the support is in place and everyone is trying to help and someone chooses to stay despite their children being at risk and even in the face of their children being taken away from them. we can't comprehend that level of damage that would make us put our abuser ahead of our children and our own safety.

i think actually if we can't imagine we are lucky.

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AThingInYourLife · 04/02/2012 08:15

Dustin - you have seen all those injuries as a primary school teacher? Shock :(

As I was reading I presumed you must be a CP social worker.

I find the "women in abusive relationships are like x, y, z" posts troubling, because they imply that all abusive relationship are identical.

I also don't believe that being in an abusive relationship absolves you of any failure to care for your children.

Some women might stay because they are afraid their children will be killed by their partner if they leave, but that doesn't mean that every woman who allows their children to be abused is similarly motivated.

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fuzzypicklehead · 04/02/2012 08:18

My dad hit my siblings and I, and my mom did not stop him. In our case, I think she was able to justify it because he usually did hit in response to our having done something wrong. It was just that the punishment was out of proportion to what we had done. I.e. talking while dad was on the phone shouldn't merit being beaten with a yardstick until it splinters. But it was normalized in our family, and we all just accepted it. That was just what dads did in their role as disciplinarian.

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maresedotes · 04/02/2012 08:19

Can I hijack the thread slightly and point you all to a campaign I posted about on Wednesday - Speak Up, Save a Life (I'll bump it now) that has been started with Refuge. They need 100,000 so that DV can be debated in the House of Commons.

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Dustinthewind · 04/02/2012 08:21

Tip of the iceberg Thing, I didn't mention the sexual and emotional abuse indicators and evidence that I've seen. I've been teaching a while, in affluent and impoverished areas and seen an enormous range of damage pass before me and my colleagues. I'm not being dismissive of the adults who are victims, or blaming them.
I just find it the stuff of nightmares when I witness the harm done to the children and the difficulty of the fight to protect them, and the obstacles and conditions, the shifting priorities placed in the way of keeping them safe.

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Dustinthewind · 04/02/2012 08:22

Fuzzy, that's often why the cycle repeats. If that is your normality, it is frequently what you recreate as an adult in your own relationships.

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StickAForkInMeImDone · 04/02/2012 08:25

I'm struggling to know how to word this, so please forgive me if it comes out wrong.
I know of 2 women who have allowed the treatment of their DC to come a very big second to their own relationship.
First one was my SIL. She knew my DB disliked her DC. She married him anyway. She knew (whilst he didn't physically abuse them) the way he treated them was disgraceful and she accepted it. She told me she accepted it.
Second one was a friend whose DP manhandled her DC (from the word go) He didn't touch friend, and she acknowledged that he shouldn't treat them the way he did but she loved him and wanted to be with him and he wasn't "that bad" with them, they needed the discipline after all.
I grew up in a DV house, my mum was beaten, but no way on earth would she have allowed him to touch us. (she didn't quite "get" that the situation we were in was as almost as bad as any physical abuse - different era)
I hate to say it, but there are some women who place being with a man (however bad) above their DC.

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AThingInYourLife · 04/02/2012 08:31

Is it the case then that women in abusive relationships have no free will?

That they cannot be held responsible for anything they do, or allow to be done, because of the abuse?

How can someone tell when an abuse victim has crossed over to a state of a complete inability to make free choices, or be held responsible. Is it a recognised mental health problem that can be diagnosed?

If not, should it be? Is it something that is not treated seriously enough because it affects vulnerable women, mostly?

The comparison to PTSD and men returning from WWI is interesting, because it is often used to give a sense of the importance of women's trauma, e.g. childbirth trauma - so easy to be written off as just something women go through, compared to men coming home from war to make it "important".

Sometimes there does seem to be a rather circular argument made on this subject that goes something like:

Some abused women are too afraid to protect their children
This woman didn't protect her children
Therefore she must have been afraid
Therefore she must have been abused

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ifeelloved · 04/02/2012 08:34

I really can't believe some of the comments on here. Absolutely disgusting.

If my dh raised a hand to me let alone our children he would be out of here.

However I haven't been ground down so much that I don't know which way is up.

If course children should be protected but nice how once again the blame is placed on the woman.

In an ideal world there would be no dv, it isn't an ideal world though and abuse does happen, we as a society need to help woman (and men) in this situation get out safely not demonise them for not seeking help

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StickAForkInMeImDone · 04/02/2012 08:39

ifeelloved I am not talking about women who have been ground down after years.
My 2 examples were of women who decided after a couple of weeks that they would persue the relationship knowing that their prospective OH weren't very nice to their DC. They did make that choice, they admitted it. Then they were ground which made it harder for them to leave.

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StewieGriffinsMom · 04/02/2012 08:46

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