Dad was abusive to me as an adult

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

A couple of months ago my dad came over to halp me with my house. I asked him about a ladder that he left at my house. He began yelling over me and not listening to me and we got into an argument. When he was about to say that he was going to leave, I beat him to it and said that he should leave my home. To this he responded by calling me a “selfish ungreatful little b.” When I responded in shock that I couldn’t believe he was now calling me names he said, “I am only telling the truth of what you really are… A selfish ungreatful b.”

At this time we were working on painting a room, so there really wasn’t a lot of room in the room we were painting. I went to walk by him and get out of the room, and he took me by the foearms and pushed me up against the wall. At that point I felt threatened and wanted to get out of the room. He was blocking my way out so as I was walking by, I used the side of my body to push him out of my way as I was trying to walk out of the room. He then he put one hand around my neck and the other hand between my neck and my shoulder and pushed me up the wall again.

At this point I was yelling “What are you doing? What is wrong with you? Get out of my home!” We were both by the door at this point, and he was blocking my way out. He then lunged to come at me again and I then stood up to him and yelled “What are you going to do now dad, punch me? Go ahead do it! Do it!” I then saw the rage snap out of his eyes. He then turned around and said that he had to get his stuff in a calm voice. I said to him calmly that I could not believe what happened and that I feel like I can’t even have a rational conversation with him anymore. I told him that I was shocked that he actually called me those names (not the first time he called me that name) and got physical with me. He then yelled, “There you go you are going to make this all my fault like you are the victim here!” I told my mom that day and at first she was very supportive and concerned about me and what was wrong with my dad since he had never gotten physically abusive before. After my mom talked to my dad however, she began to become enabling and making excuses for him like, “Well, you know how you can be in an argument. Sometimes you are a bit forceful in your opinions.”

At this time, we had some family events coming up and I told my mom that I didn’t want to see him or hear from him until he at least apologized. She kept me posted on how he was making excuses for himself and how she partially agreed with him. I told her that no matter what I did or will ever do, it is not a reason to be abusive. My dad finally apologized the day before we had a family event. We did not talk about what happened, however, and I feel like the apology was forced to get me to the family event and pretend like nothing was wrong. Ever since then, he has been acting like nothing is wrong and like I should just be over it. I am still extremely hurt and replay the incident and hear his words over and over in my head. I am trying very hard to get over this, but feel like things will never be the same between us and it breaks my heart.

I dont know what to do or where to go from here. I am hurt and therefore angry with both of my parents. My dad for his abuse and my mom for enabling and making excuses for him. Now the little things that they do are just making me more and more upset. How do I handle this? What do I do to make this better for myself and my health and the health of my family?

A: You’re right that nothing justifies abuse. It’s also true that something like this rarely happens just out of the blue. There’s probably much more to this story. It sounds to me like something has been building up for some time. I also have a guess that it isn’t as black and white as either you or your dad might want to make it. Your mom is caught between you. What would probably be best for the health of you and your family is to get a mediator or family therapist to help you all (you, dad, and mom) hear everyone else out. You live in a city where there are many resources to turn to. Please take the high road and contact someone who can help your family clear the air and mend the relationships.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 23 Aug 2009

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2009). Dad was abusive to me as an adult. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 31, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/08/23/dad-was-abusive-to-me-as-an-adult/