My father is verbally abusive and I cannot take it anymore. How can I deal with this?

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I am the main care taker for my parents. May sound stupid but as I was helping unload groceries the other day, my dad let a storm door slam right on me. He knew I was helping and we always help with this door since it is broken and slams easily. I told him "OK that's enough". He didn't say oops sorry or are you ok. He just kept walking and said "you should have told me you were behind me". I am always behind him! I have listened to his verbal abuse for years but no one believes me when I talk about it b/c he has that other persona that he puts on around my 3 sisters and 2 brothers. I was beaten and abused by my first husband and maybe that plays into this. I don't know how to handle this. I would do anything for my parents and try to help them all the time but I just can't handle the verbal stuff from my Dad anymore.
One of my sisters and one brother live out of state and they send money to help but don't come round, one sister won't be involved at all, one sisters helps every few weeks and one brother helps every few months so I get the rest. Sorry this is long. I am at the end of my rope!
Help! Thanks!

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Top Answer
Susan, I go through this all the time with my father. He puts on one "persona" as you call it, when out in public, or with other family members, and then when he is alone with me , he "lets it all hang out" and abuse can be expected to happen. ( Hence, I limit time I spend alone with my father--sad but true). I don't know if your father has dementia affecting his personality, but if his behavior with this screen door, for example, is not how he would have behaved say twenty-five years ago, then it probably is dementia going on. I know how frustrating it is, Susan, to have to bear such abuse when nobody else ever sees it going on. You almost have to set up a hidden camera and/or tape recorder to convince people (including a doctor) that this is really going on. I sympathize with you!! Just know that, Susan, I get it, and I"m so sorry you have to go through this. You said: "I would do anything for my parents". That tells me that you love your parents very much, as do I and most of the caregivers on here. I believe you will get your reward in Heaven some day, and it will be a big one. You are being faithful to your Dad, and I believe that is essentially what is expected of us, and then beyond that we need to set limits to take good care of ourselves. Once I start falling apart, I am no good to my father any more.

It sounds like your father is "letting it all hang out" with you, and not your siblings, because you are the handiest one to unload on. It sounds like you have taken primary responsibility to look after your father. I don't know if he lives outside of your home, but it sounds like he does. It might help to talk candidly to your mother about your experiences with your father. Does he verbally abuse you in front of your mother? If you feel safer when your mother is around, then I would limit the time I spend with him to when your Mom is around too. If he gets much worse when you are alone with him, then definitely put limits on that kind of time you will spend with him. I have noticed that my father, even with his dementia, is not totally clueless as to what will happen when he starts verbally abusing me.....I will leave because I have "things to do." My curtailing my visits with Dad has definitely influenced him to cut down on the raging around me. In the case of my father, his personality has undergone a massive change from how he used to be. I went through a deep grieving process to handle seeing the deterioration of his once-beautiful, affable personality right before my eyes. So very sad. My mother, now deceased, also was terribly pained to see this happening to her husband. I am actually thankful she is now in heaven and doesn't have to see how much more Dad's personality has changed since she died. He is like a different person. I don't know if this is the case with your father.

Hang in there, Susan! I am pulling for you.
susan63, I feel your frustration. Nothing like bending over backwards to make the parents life as good as possible and then get slammed with verbal abuse. As a verbal abuse recipient my whole life, I know how much it hurts, how belitting it is.Don't hold out much hope for your dad to change, he's been at it too long. Doesn't mean you have to "take it" though. I waited too many years to confront mom. I finally did and it felt sooooo good to stand up to her. Told her I wasn't going to take it anymore, so back off. I don't know why I was surprised when she looked me in the eye and told me it was all in my imagination, I was crazy and I was a liar. But you know what, I felt so liberated I didn't care. She's mean, hateful, she'll never be or talk nice to me. My liberation reinforced that I was not the one at fault, it's mom with the problem. I couldn't stop her from spewing her insults but I could stop listening. I finally realized what it meant to say "sticks and stones, etc." I was in control of my own feelings. Finally!
You're among a large number of people on this site with "useless" siblings. It's usually one kid who gets the dirty work. You're very fortunate that you get some help. Even though it'd be great to get everyone involved, that only happens in fantasyland. You can rant and rave, beg and cry but some sibs just aren't going to step up. It doesn't matter to them that they come off as uncaring and selfish.
I hope you can get dad to be nicer, it's worth confronting him. Be thankful for the siblings who help even a little and pity the one who won't get involved, she may one day find out what goes around, comes around.

Hey, you have a lot of sibling support, compared to most of us here. I have three deadbeat sisters, but one at least is supportive with occasional emails.

Anyway, not about me, but getting you some support. Does your cell phone have video function? Just carry the phone casually and catch some of this BS on video. Don't point it at him, but in general direction. Place it on counter or kitchen table. If he's physically abusive, call the cops and press charges.

Family is supposed to look out for one another, but how often it's the opposite. We feel entitled to beat up on those close to us, and punishment for abuse is not always called for.

A parenting education group called Love and Logic has a newsletter, which I got to see if there were any tips for caregiving Mom. One struck home. The writer said that teenagers were often a handful because of "dependency resentment." They desire to be out on their own, but parents still control their lives. That lasts a couple of years, and makes sense even to the teen. However "dependency" in old age has few happy outcomes. You dad may be sensing he's losing it and is acting out who is still really the boss.


Unconditional love often makes you do the silliest things. The other person can literally wipe his/her feet off on you as if you were a doormat; you claim to forgive them but never seem forget it. On other occasions you either drop your brain by the roadside at the mere sight of them, or become so fearful you literally put your spine in a drawer ... for years. And then wonder if you ever had one.

Stop being so passive-barely aggressive and stand up for yourself. If he lives with you, tell him to start making arrangements to move elsewhere and take his BS with him if he doesn't feel inclined to treat you with the respect you so well deserve. Your siblings aren't going to tolerate his antics, so he'll probably play the victim and turn them against you. So get ready for the backlash.

If all he's going to do is use you, hurt you, and then expect you to feel grateful he should have his head examined. If you decide to stay the course and keep taking this abuse, you should have yours examined as well and tighten up the screws. Good luck.

-- ED

I guess I should be more grateful for the sister that takes my Mom to the Dr. every few months. She picks her up and makes sure she gets back in the house and she is gone. The brother that put together that cabinet that has been sitting at my parent's house for 5 years and painted the spot on the ceiling. Seriously, my Dad could have paid to have it done. He refused others help over the years for these two items but all of a sudden they became a must do and now!

Please don't say I need my head examined, that's not remotely helpful to me.

The crux of the issue with my parents is really my Mom which I have not mentioned. That was what I was going to post about when I signed on today. But not feeling the need so much now. Maybe another time.

Have a nice Sunday.
I used to think that putting someone in a nursing home was morally wrong. I don't think so anymore. I'm emancipating myself from my 15-year situation with my widowed mother, who has verbally abused me my entire life. Enough already. She has dementia, is physically disabled. And is as mean as hell. Your life matters, too, you know. Claim it and free yourselves.

I"m sorry for your current plight, but I can't help but beleive that your dad's verbal abuse over the years probably set you up from being in an abusive marriage yourself. It also sounds like he may have a personality disorder like borderline because he only acts this way with yoou and puts on such a normal face with others which shows he knows how to do normal. Your having been through an abusive marriage only makes this current situation worse. He's playing you like a piano and knows exactly where those keys for F.O.G. Fear, Obligation and Guilt are as well as how to push them. You need to have some boundaries with him for your own mental health and have some consequences for him breaking them.
I am an only child but experienced some of the same behavior from my father as you describe. I can also anticipate what you wanted to say about your mom but I will not go there. I will share something that helped me alot and may console you. 1) My father was always a control freak and since my mother was a very stubborn and assertive personality, you can guess who bore the brunt of the control. Towards the end of my father's life his need to control got worse because he knew he was becoming more dependent. Of course, he was Mr. Niceguy to all his neighbors and our relatives. So it would have been pointless to try to expose him. Even if I caught the abuse on tape or in pictures they would have taken his side over mine. He put on a very good act.
2) On our way to his funeral, which I knew would be well attended by neighbors and friends I must have shown my dread to my wife who knew my father all too well. She consoled me with just the right words Don't you wish just one person at the wake would say "your father was a real SOB but we are going to miss him anyway" Of course, no one said that but just the thought got me through it. I was also able to forgive my father for all the hurt he caused me and to realize that it would not help me even if I tried to convince the neighbors and relatives that he was not what they thought. To them, he really was a kind, generous person so they had every right and reason to see him in that light. For my part, I could accept the fact that maybe he had done the best he could with what life had given him. He had it a lot tougher than I did and I don't know if I could have done any better.

Congratulations for working through your anger, pain and perspective regardling your father. As the only child of an insensitive perfectionistic child whose single parent mom 'emotionally spousified me" which continued even after she married again, I've spent the last 7 years working through those issues and have come to a place of forgiveness, peace and perspective as well. A you well know, it is not easy work but unless we forgive someone who has hurt us because they never said they were wrong and asked us to forgive them, we in turn empower them to keep inflicting pain into our lives even from the grave.

My MIL sounds much like Susan's dad. No one but her daughters really know their real "mommy dearest wicked witch of the west mom."
Crowe, do you have any advice about this: What do you do if a FOG instiller/borderline person goes behind your back and starts a smear campaign against you? And you are "trapped" by family relationships with this person in your life from time to time? Any advice? Up till now, I have ignored the FOG person's antics, but as you know, smear campaigns can sometimes "work" as far as turning people against you.

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