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My father is mentally abusing me.

I have always had a good relationship with my father since I was little. I was the favorite, the good, smart child. My brother was in high school when i was in elementary school, and he went through many, many issues with my father. He was sent to a phyciatric ward by my father, forced to have a physcologist, and was given many threats to be sent to military school, or be kicked out of the house, or abandoned. As each problem erupted, my brother's rebelliousness adjusted to be just as bad as the initial problem. My brother and I are seven years apart, he is 21 right now and i am 14. Although my brother was considered a "bad kid" in high school by my parents, he now currently attends one of the world's most prestigious art schools. Both of my parents are very proud of him. My father appears to be a great dad on the outside. But he is just as emotionally insecure as me in my teenage years right now. He has unpredictable mood swings, causing him to lash out with anger on his wife and me (being the only one at home since my brother is away at school) for the smallest, most unreasonable things. We live in a very affluent town, one of the wealthiest counties in the country where people have second homes, mansions, expensive cars, and lavish lifestyles. My dad grew up not having that much money. Although we live at ease, we still do not live the lifestyles of my peers. With my brother's expensive education payments, and the expenses of just living in the town we do now, the expensive tuition for my dance school, its hard on my parents. He spends most of his time and energy making fun of the typical stereotype of my town, my friends and their parents. He loves to hate on them, and is obsessed with making sure I am not one of them. He stereotypes my friends and tells me I need to find new ones, smarter ones. He pressures me into being perfect. If I am not 100% perfect, I might as well not be alive. And that's from everything whether it's my weight/body, my manners, my grades, how I look and how I act. He criticizes me no matter what, telling me that I will end up no where but at community college, working at Mcdonalds, working for minimum wage for the rest of my life. Yes this hurts me, but at the same time I understand that he has the best intentions. But then he goes onto turning it around, saying that I am "ruining his life" and that he feels like "crap" because of me making it sound as if I am the "bad guy". He has a strong habit of making a chain events where somehow me getting a B on a quiz will turn into them not being able to pay my brother's college tuition or for him (my father) getting fired. He is disrespectful to my mother and I. He jets all over the world, has dinner with important people, friends with the world's socialites, and is never at home. When he is, he is upset with what home is to him. He has a problem with every single thing. Since I have hit my time of adolescence, I myself have been changing. I am not the 10 year old that I used to be. HE is never at home, he is not part of my daily life so he does not understand the REAL me. My relationship with him is formal, unlike the one I have with my mother. He lashed out on me today for changing. He said I need to be back to the old me or he will send me away. He said he goes out of his way to pull strings for me, and that I treat him like crap, and that I sass him, and that I dont care about them. Sometimes I do become sassy, smart alecky, or quiestion what he has to say because I am tired of him being disrespectful to me. But everytime I sass, I get yelled at more. This summer I did not talk to my family, trying to keep my mouth shut, out of trouble for the words coming out of my mouth. But sometimes I feel like he does need a taste of his own medicine, to realize that what he is saying is rude and hypocritical. But the thing is, is that he will never say he is wrong. NEVER. He blows things out of proportion, pays phsychologists thousands of dollars to figure out my brother's "problems" rather than facing them himself. He tells me He does not know who I am anymore. Really, this is the last thing I want to hear when being a teen, I myself am trying to figure out who I am. I'm lost, with no support at home and lost in the midst of my peers. My father can never seem to realize his mistakes, his wrong doing. He is strict, so being allowed out of the house on weekends is hard, so I just don't do anything. He makes my social life hell, my home life hell, my school life stressed out to the point of wanting to commit suicide, and my mental health confused and unstable. My mother is in between. She is meek, quiet, and does not want trouble. Sometimes she blames the fights she has with my father on me, since they are mostly ABOUT me. I feel like I have a hit a rock bottom, But the thing is, is that I know I have done nothing wrong this time. I use my best judgement, I have frquent reality checks where I know whether or not I'm being rude, and unrealistic. I'm confident I have done nothing wrong yet this time my dad has been the angriuest, the loudest, and the worst to me. This may be a cliche phrase for the teen nowadays but...It is truly not my fault. I don't know what to do.
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replied October 4th, 2012
Extremely eHealthy
Hello,

You make your father sound as though he is just plain nuts and nasty with it...
Yet you say he holds down a responsible job that pays reasonable money and he has to interact with powerful people. The logical conclusion is he isn't nuts!

Ok, so if he isn't nuts what is he?
He is probably a lot of things - a man with a cynical nature and an acid wit, a man who is reactionary in his mood swings and a guy who thinks with his emotions and his mouth rather than his brain - something usually considered to be the domain of women...
He sounds a bit of a mess...

He sounds as though he finds work stressful and can't handle it very well...
He sounds as though he doesn't like people very much either!

Maybe your father should have been a farmer or a forrester or a lone explorer and resents that he has to do a different job in order to have a good standard of living.

Whatever he is, your father sounds like a complex character who is difficult to live with and this is being made worse for you because of a few things that might have escaped your notice: first, because you carry his genes as well as your mother's it is possible you are going to share some of his traits and thought processes - he becomes so frustrated with the world and those in it that he has to release his tension by hitting out at his family. You become so frustrated at his attitudes you want to hit out but can't because he is your father and you are only 14.
This makes your anger and frustration fester until you feel terrible and depressed and probably worthless...

Second: at 14 you will be experiencing a lot of confusion and frustration of your own making because your brain will be rewiring itself as part of your puberty, altering your thought processes from those of a child to those of a young adult. This is a very emotionally painful process for some young people!

Finally: it is something almost exlusive to young people. When their brain is rewired and they reason things out their nexperience tends to endow them only with "black and white vision" - things are either right or they are wrong and they become angry at what they perceive as injustice and unfairness.
As experience of people, the world and the doings of people increases they begin to see "shades of grey" and find things aren't as clear cut as they used to believe.
By the time someone has reached middle age they tend to see nothing but grey...

This is why statesmen and diplomats tend to be people of maturity.

If you accept what I have told you about yourself you will see you need to continue to keep your head down and do the best you can for another few years. What you feel now is real enough but the reasons you think you feel like that probably aren't as real as you believe!

I hope that makes a little sense?
Your father is probably cranky and difficult and not very well adjusted but you have made it clear that in his own mad and penis-eyed way he is concerned about you (and what he sees as his duty to you) and what you will become.

I can assure you that by the time you have "grey vision" you will bear your father little animosity.
I speak with some personal experience...

Good luck!
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replied March 25th, 2013
Psychological Abuse
I can't disagree more with the response you have been given, In fact I think that response is a travesty and downright unhelpful because it is encouraging you to "deal with it", see yourself responsible for your fathers behaviour and risk your own mental wellbeing. Not to mention the poster demonstrated their ignorance by somehow suggesting that holding down a job precludes him from committing psychological abuse within the home sphere (yeah right!...a lot of abuse is 'private' from work life) and that apparently thinking with "emotions and mouth" is a "women's domain", again there is likely to be an emotional component in psychological abuse and all humans (man or women) can be irrational and emotional (with no tendency for either gender outside of stereotyped lunacy). I'll get back on topic!....

I can see from your post that your family life is causing you significant stress above and beyond what is expected at your developmental age. Furthermore, the examples you have given are in line with criteria for psychological abuse - his behaviours act to isolate, demean, reject and over-pressure you which is having a clear negative effect on your mental wellbeing and security.

There are degrees of psychological abuse ranging from slightly above 'bad parenting' to very extreme versions involving all of the aforementioned factors. Based purely on what you have written here (and without knowing all the details) I think this is a case of mild psychological abuse (At least!) because it is causing you harm and REGARDLESS of whether or not it is your fathers intent to cause you harm, the fact that it is meets the criteria for psychological abuse....from cases of bad parenting to moderate psyc abuse, I'd recommend seeking help from a psychologist.


It is important to remember that whatever his 'traits' or past they do not justify his behaviour. However, through the course of you seeking help and if your father is willing, he too could get some help - obviously this only stands if there is no malicious intent behind the psychological abuse. A psychologist will work through this all with you. It is important that you do seek help, research has shown that the psychological effects of any kind of abuse are the most long-lived and damaging....ironically in direct contrast to the old saying "sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never harm me." There is no certainty that this will have a long-term harmful effect, but there is a higher potential - so please do seek help because not only will it be of immediate value it will also minimise the likelyhood of poor adjustment later in life.
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replied March 25th, 2013
Extremely eHealthy
Your analysis of my reply is somewhat incomplete and those parts you did cover greatly over-simplified and somewhat inaccurate.

I didn't in any way suggest she was responsible for the behaviour of her father however I can tolerate your inaccuracies and you needn't apologise. I guess you are youngish...

I did encourage her to get to know herself better and to get to know more about what makes her father tick. Knowing these things and either accepting or understanding them are immensely useful in the struggle to adjust in adulthood.
Your last comment is very important; about the sticks and stones. Words do hurt and that hurt can last a long time - even a lifetime! If it is understood why such bad words are used it they are less likely to haunt and cause pain later on. I gave knowing and understanding her father a very high priority because this is a long-term damage limitation action and something that might help diplomatic relations between the family members over the shorter term. Knowing the enemy is always a good move and loving the enemy has biblical approval...

I agree the best way to know yourself well is a few sessions with a good and experienced behavioural psychologist - it must be a good and experienced one because the others are worse than useless. I believe such sessions should be compulsory at ten year intervals for everyone and free!

Somehow I can't see the man in the above post accepting he has a problem or allowing his daughter to visit a psychologist; he certainly isn't going to accompany her. The man would take the mere suggestion as a personal insult and the girls's life made worse because of it.

We all have ideas of what the world should be like but unfortunately it must be dealt with as it is. While it is not ideal it means folk do have to compromise and try and give the most appropriate advice in any particular circumstances and not what is theoretically the best advice. To do this it means drawing on life experience of people and accumulated knowledge and attempting to read a little of the story between the lines - apply some speculation, if you like...

Knowledge is easily won but it takes a lifetime to gain a lifetime's experience. I suggest you come back again when you have a long white beard...
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replied March 26th, 2013
My age is irreleant here, but let it be known I am past my teens and passing my young adult-hood. Thus, it could be argued that my response contains elements of my own experiences of reaching adulthood. Likewise it could be argued that "having a long-white beard"(which would be impressive being female>.<) might indicate an age that is perhaps a bit outdated and unable to relate...Now, I'm not saying that this is the case, merely that the advice is no less valid based purely on the age of the writer, but on the quality of the advice. I have also been studying psychology for 5 years and mentoring. So lets move on from personal attacks - they do nothing for anyone.

I understand where you advice is coming from, of course her specific situation does need to be considered. I at no point suggested that life is "ideal", but even in this non-ideal world I think it likely that she has access to a phone to ring a help-line or school-based counsellors who once involved can get a greater understanding of her situation and assist her in finding further help - all of which could be done without the fathers knowledge.....In what way are these not practical suggestions?

Your original response is problematic because, regardless of your intent, it could easily be misintepreted (in this fragile situation) as blame. Furthermore if the only advice you had to convey was that she could "learn to know her enemy" because they probably share some traits - then I doubt that is a revelation for her. Your response pointed out things she is obviously aware of (e.g genetics)and included inappropriate suggestions such as: "YOU make it sound like he is Nuts" but "he can't be nuts because he holds down a job" - I think any reasonable person can see that this is A. not the case, B. based on no evidence/reason and C. undermines the confidence of someone who is suffering and has been brave enough to seek help. Not to mention the terrible assumptive leaps in 'logic' such as how her father should have been a "lone ranger" and "probably hates people" - we are simply not in positions to make these judgements and to do so does have a damage potential.

My assessment of your response was short simply because my own response was going to be long enough on it's own.
But in a nutshell, Her questions was whether or not this was a case of psychological abuse and the best way to get that answer is to contact a help-line or a psychologist. Telling her things she clearly already knows is of no practical/immediate assistance - she is reaching out because she has tried to understand her home life and cannot/needs help.
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replied March 27th, 2013
Extremely eHealthy
I think we must agree to differ here but I will say the inexperience of a young brain especially one that is close to the problem often doesn't see what is obvious and while it is hurting and because it is close to the problem(s) cannot easily analyse or rationalise or keep in context what is obvious to many who are not close to the problem; therefore stating the obvious can be of immense help to someone such as this girl who is trying to make sense of her home life and deal with it.

The girl is possibly also hampered by a pubescent brain.

Abuse is a highly fashionable and a too-convenient label for many aspects of normal human personalities that varies naturally between extremes. Someone with a volatile personality and a vicious tongue could realistically be considered an abuser only if they are causing damage to someone. This means it matters little how unpleasant and despicable a character is matters little - if the "whipping boy" remains largely unaffected then it cannot be considered abuse when applied to real life for practical purposes.

There is little doubt in my mind she is being subjected to psychological abuse while she is affected by the strange behaviour and rantings of her father though I am reluctant to use that label in this case. Whether he is doing this deliberately or not is something we will probably never know but the possibility she is somehow the cause of his discontent, though not his over-reaction cannot entirely be overlooked.

If she can understand her father better she is less likely to be as adversely affected by his "abuse" and the damage will be limited. The alternative ways to limit the damage available to the girl would be to find somewhere else to live, either voluntarily or enforced or to somehow use legislation to censure or curtail her fathers behaviour; breaking up and dispersing the family doesn't represent a very easy or practical or desirable solution and the law doesn't act unless abuse is physical.

Around the world the accessibility of counsellors by school age children is almost none-existent and where it does exist is highly variable, both in the quality of the counsellors and the quantity. I understand some schools in America have resident counsellors but the appointment is often a "political" one with someone unsuitable who often has a dual function who is there to simply tick a box...
In theory there is access to a psychologist through our education system but currently the waiting list is almost two years long, parental consent must be given and good and experienced psychologists aren't paid enough to be part of the programme. The whole thing is geared to helping parents deal with problem children and not vice-versa; presumably by the time an appointment is available such problems have resolved themselves and saved the county education authority lots of money.

Even through a general practitioner it is almost impossible for an adult to access a good psychologist and children can only do so with parental consent and via a referral from the family doctor. All the good psychologists are in private practice.

Finally you did make an issue of my remark about thinking with mouth and emotion being usually considered the domain of women. I guess I could have phrased it a little better.
It is true the popular portrayal of women is exactly that and it matters little how true or false it really is; this is what we are conditioned to believe by the visual and audio media and the popular press. It is the popular belief! I simply stated this fact to highlight the additional shock value such behaviour from a man has on others around them...
I should have explored this a little deeper and not assumed readers would automatically grasp the point I was making.
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replied March 28th, 2013
I understand where you are coming from - but we will have to agree to disagree. As I said I am an adult with experience and not a child or teen. Perhaps today we are quicker to jump on 'abuse' but I would argue less than 50 years ago it would be more or less ignored and children had to deal with it - I don't find that preferable. Perhaps your age reflects this bias and another toward the capabilities of the young brain vs. the archetype of the wise old man.

Put simply, we are in no position to guess what her father is like, or suggest that it might have something to do with her 'pubescent brain' or that she is in some way responsible. Sure think it to yourself all you want but it's just not appropriate, especially since victims of abuse tend to underestimate and justify the abusers behaviour...and we have no way of knowing where her specific circumstance falls. All we can say is that YES it sounds like there might be some kind of abuse going on here and you should probably seek help from a local source who can get involved - there is no reason that that involvement has to lead to moving out of home (and it's unlikely that it would)- that's very dramatic. Usually a helpline (which i'm sure she can access via phone, since she has access to the internet ) deals with what is practical, with what she can do here-and-now - but i'm sure with their training they will be far more sensitive. She is clearly confused about his behaviour despite demonstrating that she has spent time trying to work it out. So undermining her already confused thought by suggesting that she might just need to keep her head down is a pretty terrible/useless approach.... for all we know he could be a real nutter...holding down a job doesn't stop that.

There are plenty of helplines and services that teens can access without parental consent - set up specifically for cases like this. And most 1st world countries (and their various states)do define and act on psychological abuse - it's obviously harder to define but it usually outlines a list of behaviours e.g isolating and some include that it must be having or likely to have a harmful effect.

As for the mouth/emotion part, I got where you were going with the shock that that behaviour is female behaviour (by popular belief) but I highly doubt it actually affects shock levels since there's usually a confirmation bias at play - for example, say a man and a women both ran their mouth and were emotional, (by popular belief) you might attribute the behaviour to crazy emotions in the women, yet attribute it to anger in the man. In any case I doubt it would really shock her since she lives with it.
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replied March 28th, 2013
Community Volunteer
lolwut363....Tolerate him...He is in his own sick personality...Artemisynn is entirely right...The man who answered you has had no experience with this type of person...His advice was not correct...As for me, I, too, have lived this life...My Father never changed...I still doubt that with all of his wrongs, and believe me there were many, that he would have ever admitted to one of them...Sometimes I think he hated himself and all around him...Yet, he could go out in public and be everyone's everything...The perfect Husband...The perfect Father...The perfect family man...The perfect Jekyll and Hyde...It is called: BI-POLAR...

As for your Mom, she lives in her own fear...Fear of his mouth and the inner person coming alive...Sure you are going to sass as this is human nature...You are growing older and more able to understand this person and all his faults....Your mind is growing while his just stays where he wants it to be...

If it gets too bad then seek help...Seek out a relative...Don't let him ruin your life...My best to you...

Caroline
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