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Feb 11, 2009
Part 1: Witnessing spousal violence is terrorizing and DEVASTATING, and is in itself a form of emotional child abuse...
by: Darlene Barriere - Webmaster

Joon, I'm so terribly sorry you were forced to witness your father so brutally attacking your mother and that you've all along had to listen to him verbally and psychologically degrade her. Your father has serious problems of his own; he drinks and he feels the need to put your mother down in order to elevate himself. Neither you nor your mother deserved to be put through that violent ordeal or through the emotional abuse.

I understand how you would feel compelled—obligated, even—to run to and take care of your mother. I too witnessed my father attack my mother, emotionally and physically, so I can appreciate your maternal feelings for your mother, and the fear and anger and hatred and hostility you feel toward your father. You are experiencing and struggling with a huge range of conflicting feelings and emotions. These are very real consequences of being terrorized and witnessing the abuse of your mother at the hands of your father—the two people who are in charge of protecting you and keeping you safe from harm—and then thrust into a role that children aren't meant to undertake.

Your mother is also lacking in self-esteem, and because of that, she continues to make decisions that you are afraid will lead to more attacks. You love her, but you don't know if she is capable of keeping you safe because she hasn't been able to keep herself safe. There is a multitude of dynamics going on here, Joon, not the least of which is the fact that you still live in fear of your father. You are in a very compromising position: you want to remain loyal to your mother, but you are constantly worried about what will happen next. And you love your father, but you are afraid of what he can and will do, yet you must rely on your parents to make decisions that affect your well-being. There's no way to know whether or not the attacks will happen again, but you are in the middle of it without the ability to make choices for yourself. You are acting the adult here, but the very people who are supposed to act in your best interest aren't. It is both frightening and crazy-making for you.

Because of your age and the situation you are in, I am replying in a different way than I would a full grown adult.

See Part 2: A suggestion... below.

A Video Reading by Darlene Barriere
Darlene Barriere
Webmaster: www.child-abuse-effects.com
Violence & Abuse Prevention Educator
Author: On My Own Terms, A Memoir

Feb 11, 2009
Part 2: A suggestion...
by: Darlene Barriere - Webmaster

Joon, your father knows what he did was wrong, and he knows that it deeply affected you. Now he is worried that his actions have caused you to hate him, so when he asks you to forgive him, I believe what he's really saying is: "Please don't hate me. I want and need your love." The chances are, Joon, that you really do still love him, but you are afraid and in a great deal of pain.

Consider having a sit-down heart-to-heart conversation with your father, Joon. As long as it is safe for you to do so, opening a dialogue with your father may eventually lead to a resolution both of you can live with. Make sure you talk to him when he is calm and sober; don't undertake a discussion with him if he's been drinking. Be honest with your father. Tell him what you are feeling and how what he did affected you and still affects you. Stay calm and be respectful; he will be far more likely to listen to what you have to say if you are civil and considerate. No naming calling, no screaming or yelling, no finger-pointing, no telling him what his problems are. This will require a level of maturity on your part that many adults do not possess. But if you can find that maturity, you stand a better chance of rebuilding a relationship with your father. Yes, he too must be willing to rebuild that relationship and rebuild your trust in him. Whether or not that will actually happen, remains to be seen; this isn't something I can promise. What I can say is that not talking to your father and continuing to carry the anger and hostility that you feel (understandably so, I know that) will only serve to create more tension in your home. And with that tension will come more anger and hostility. As I said, it will take a tremendous amount of maturity; a maturity I believe you already possess.

But you need your own support system, Joon. Don't keep going through this all by yourself. Talk to a school counsellor or a trusted teacher or the parent of close friend. Consider contacting Child Help at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453). They are staffed 24/7 with professionally trained counsellors who will listen to you. They are not a reporting agency, although they can help you through the process of reporting if you decide to disclose. Remember, you deserve to be safe.

Thank you for sharing your story with my visitors and me.

A Video Reading by Darlene Barriere
Darlene Barriere
Webmaster: www.child-abuse-effects.com
Violence & Abuse Prevention Educator
Author: On My Own Terms, A Memoir

Feb 11, 2009
you and your mom
by: jennifer

you and your mom shouldnt of had to go through that and you dont have to forgive your father unless you want to my father sometimes calls me names and sometimes its in front of his friends and mine yea it makes me upset a lot your father sholdnt put you and your mom through that.

Feb 11, 2009
Titled removed as inappropriate
by: Anonymous

Joon, I grew up in a household like yours with an alcoholic father. I hate to see you so hurt and what you are experiencing is panic attacks from the violence you witnessed. Talking to a trained pyscologist might help you past this. It helped me.

Note from Darlene: Anonymous, you can see I've edited your comment; it was wholly inappropriate for an adolescent. And while I completely understand what you were trying to say, please be cognizant of the age and circumstances of the contributor before you leave comments on this site. I thank you for your understanding.

A Video Reading by Darlene Barriere
Darlene Barriere
Webmaster: www.child-abuse-effects.com
Violence & Abuse Prevention Educator
Author: On My Own Terms, A Memoir


Feb 12, 2009
I'm Sorry.
by: Anonymous

My apologies to Joon and Darlene for my comment. I wasn't aware of your young age, Joon.

Note from Darlene: It's very gracious of you to apologize, Anonymous; thank you. And just so you know, comments don't go live on my site until after I've read and approved them, so Joon did not read them.

I look forward to reading more of your supportive comments to the various contributors on this site.

A Video Reading by Darlene Barriere
Darlene Barriere
Webmaster: www.child-abuse-effects.com
Violence & Abuse Prevention Educator
Author: On My Own Terms, A Memoir

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