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Am I abused or abusing?

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From a 15 year old: My father is the leader of the family. He always has been, he always will be, because he’s the main provider for us. A 100% totally and permanently disabled Vietnam war veteran, my father is old, obese, and in pain, but gets a ton of money because of that long ago Iraq. His age is Sixty, and I don’t know if he’s losing his mind or not.
Perhaps it’s me?
But anyway, my father rules the family. He’s always ruled with an iron fist, and preferred corporal punishment to any words, unless the words were vicious.
Let’s take a trip back in time…
A month ago. My father is continuing his war path; why he yells at anything and everyone confuses me. I ask him, “Why are you upset, Dad?” and he yells “Because my oldest son is a failure! All I do for you, I’m in vast amounts of pain and you can’t pass all of your classes?!” I try to explain that my failing grades were due to sickness, not laziness. Instead of letting me finish, I receive a smack on the head.
“No, shutup! What you say means nothing in this discussion. You’re asked ONE THING, and that’s to DO YOUR F-ING HOMEWORK. And you DON’T. Why do I even put up with you? You’re just lazy, aren’t you? You’re not stupid, are you?”
I don’t know if he wants me to respond.
“WELL?! ARE YOU?!” He pushes me back into the hallway, next to our bathroom.
“N-n-, no sir,” I stutter. I fight back the words on the tip of my tongue, knowing that if I hadn’t, I could’ve verbally destroyed him.
“THEN WHY ARE YOUR GRADES FAILING?”
“I was sick! I got sick so much I couldn’t get caught up when I finally got the work!”
“YOU HAD TWO F-ING WEEKS, WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU COULDN’T GET CAUGHT UP?! DID YOU JUST P-S THE TIME AWAY?!”
He glared into my eyes.
“WELL?! DID YOU?”
“No, I didn’t, and I really tried to get caught up but it was either most of my classes or just two, and I chose the first option-”
“THERE WAS NOT AN OPTION: GET YOUR F-ING GRADES UP!” He smacked me again. I back up into our 4x4ft bathroom.
“Please don’t hit me! Don’t, please!”
“THEN DON’T MAKE ME!”
He sighed.
“Why do I put up with you? I GIVE YOU THE WORLD AND ALL YOU DO IS S-T ON ME IN RETURN?!”
For a moment, I hoped he would cease. He did not.
“Tell ya what.”
I raised an eyebrow curiously.
“You think you’re so f-ing smart, so tough,” he sneered, “then kick my ass right now, tough guy.”
He would do this every time we argue- hit, challenge. I’d deny, he’d call me a coward and continue the verbal onslaught.
On the edge, I finally let loose a hell with my tongue.
“I refuse to kick the ass of someone who can’t defend himself.”
“OH REALLY,” the ex- military officer cried.
“TRY ME.”
“No.”
“YOU TALK S-T! BUT YOU CAN’T ACTUALLY DO S-T!”
He hit me again.
“You’re an embarassment as a son. YOU CAN’T FIGHT YOUR WAY OUT OF A CARDBOARD BOX, LET ALONE THIS ROOM.”
The cramped room echoed how tight this close-quarters engagement would be.
I make for the door but he blocks it.
“NO, FINISH IT S-T TALKER. YOU EITHER FIGHT ME NOW, OR WE GO OUT BACK,” he said, “WITH A PAIR OF BOXING GLOVES.”
I put up my fists, and he readies to slap me.
I lost it.
A kick in his trick knee catches him off-guard; then I lodge my fist into his gut, shoving him back five feet. He tries to hit me with his fist in my face, but I dodge then kick him again. Every attack the old man throws at me misses horrendously, and I nail him several times with my legs and elbows. After a second shove, I push my way out the room and run away.
==Ten Minutes Later==
The results of the fist fight are immdiate- my father is completely ignoring my mother’s requests as to the gravity of the situation, clueless about our fight. My brother is carefree- games for him.
After I return home, I ignore him. I go straight to my room, lay on my bed, and stare at the ceiling. I try to repress this memory.
But like an old wound that won’t go away, the more you wish it away makes it more real. I wish and wish for an hour, not eating, and avoiding my father.
That’s it so far, or at least what I can say for the moment. So, am I being abused? Or am I an unruly child.

Am I abused or abusing?

Answered by on -

A.

This is a very, very complicated situation and a very painful one. It seems that your Dad isn’t feeling much like a man so he is trying to “make a man out of you” by toughening you up. It’s a very old-fashioned idea of manhood and it’s a terrible way to teach a son how to be an adult. My guess is that everyone in the family feels kind of sorry for him or they wouldn’t let him get away with this behavior. Unfortunately, being pitied makes him feel even less a man. The result is that your whole family is in a kind of group depression. Your dad is depressed, immobilized, and irritable. Your mom probably feels powerless. You and your brother are kids so there isn’t much you can do. You’re all stuck – and stuck with your dad’s abusive behavior. You all need help.
I did a web search and found that if you do a search of veterans’ services plus your state, you will find a listing of where veterans can get all kinds of help. Your father needs help finding something meaningful to do with the rest of his life so he can feel like a man again. Your family needs therapy or everyone is going to end up alienated from everyone else. You need help knowing what to do when these things happen so you don’t have to live with the guilt of being violent towards a man who is clearly ill. If you are anxious about making the call yourself, please show your letter and this response to an adult you trust (like your school guidance counselor or a coach maybe) and ask for help making the connection with veterans’ services.
I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Am I abused or abusing?

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). Am I abused or abusing?. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 19, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2007/03/09/am-i-abused-or-abusing/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.