How do I wash my hands of a narcissistic, violent father?

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The title says it all. Now my father has dementia. I flew out west to help him a few weeks ago and in the midst of trying to explain that we needed to use his money to pay for care, he went crazy on me and tried to hit me ... again, just like when I was I kid. I hate the man but I was willing to do my duty as his daughter until this last episode. The way he raised me ruined most of my life and lead to my sister's suicide. I am no longer willing to help him.
My question is how do I walk away? Is there an agency or something that can keep an eye on him. His property and savings don't come to more than $250k, which won't be enough for his long term care. I can't help financially as I have my own burdens. What happens now? Can anyone give me some guidance? Thanks.

Answers 1 to 10 of 10
Top Answer
First of all, I can really understand how painful this experience is for you, especially when you had decided to do right by him and try to help him, even though he has been harsh and unloving all of your life. I can't help you with the details of services available in his State. I guess that can be figured out with some phone calls. If he has been in the hospital lately, you could start with the patient advocate or the social worker in the hospital. BUT, I hope you can get some therapy for yourself. Carrying all this anger and pain inside of you will only hurt you. Please reach out and find a professional to work with. Don't wait until your father dies, as then you'll have the added burden of guilt to work through. I'm sure that having such a father has made you stronger AND more sensitive to the struggles of others. Take care of yourself through this difficult time. AND, just know that even asking this question shows that somewhere, deep inside you, even though he was violent and destructive, your father matters to you. Parents matter. They just do.
Oh my goodness. I am in tears as I read this post. How horrible for you.

Coming from a family with a very, very narcissistic father and a very narcissistic mother, I can tell you this is over your head. You do not owe him one thing except to make sure someone other than you takes care of him. Spend his money, or make sure he does, get advice from social services. Just don't take him into your life yourself. He is abusive.

My father and I never got along. I was his scape goat. He had a hard childhood but in reality he was a little bully. He bullied the weakest link, me. I now have PTSD whenever someone yells at me or talks down to me. My last conversation with my father was not pleasant. And it was about getting him help from the Veteran's Admin. He had way too much money but didn't want me to know about it. It was a lifetime of abuse, verbally and emotionally.

So under no circumstances would I have taken care of him. He has now died and I realize more than ever how little I had with him. My mother was his codependent. So realize, in dealing with your father, that you are going into the lion's den with a fly swatter. Don't do it.

You must remember, don't beat yourself up so about his care. What sort of care did he give you? You poor sister? God doesn't expect us to take this sort of punishment.

I am sure many will read your post and give you some great advice about who to contact and what to do. Listen to them.

Each person who suggested putting DISTANCE between you and your father is correct. I could tell the same story as yours except about my lifelong narcissistic mother and a brother who committed suicide.

When she needed help, I did extend myself by moving across the country to live near her. It was a bad idea from the beginning, but I thought that old age might change her. It did not and the Dementia made it worse. Within just a year and a half, I made another move 2,000 miles from her. It was an excellent decision. My advice would be not to allow toxic people in your life. Because they are a parent, doesn't give them a pass.
I understand what you are going through. I went through hell with Mom. Patterns of abuse are started when we are young and continue through our adult years. I tried to do the best for her but it almost cost me my life. I'm the only one of my three sisters who did anything to take care of her. I finally had to distance myself from her and put her in a care facility. It was a new beginning for me. I didn't have to deal with the day to day abuse or guilt. I see her once a month. She has dementia and since moving to the nursing home she has mellowed out and seems to appreciate my visits...I just don't stay longer than an hour and I take someone in my family with me. I found out that I'm important, to me and my family. They care if I'm here or not. I need to do what is right for me. Mom has lived her life the way she wanted and is reaping the rewards of her previous decisions and behavior. You should do what is right for you. Set up the services for him...from afar. There are plenty of places that can take care of him. He has financial resources. You are important!!
I suggest, as butterflykisses says, that you call the Adult Protective Services in his town. Then, if possible, get the names and phone numbers of a few of his neighbors or friends. I have to manage my parents care from living 5 hours away, so I had to do this and learn the hard way. You need eyes and ears there and if you do not have access to his finances and you don't have the ability to hire an eldercare attorney yourself, you are hampered. You can let the people at APS know that you are a daughter, and you are concerned for his safety and ability to be in his home alone and, if it were necessary, you would take on the Power of Attorney or guardianship etc to help manage his care, but you do not have the financial resources to pay for getting things in place. THEN, you need to be in touch with the same people who are in touch with him, so they can let you know if/when he is not doing well. THEN, you make the call to APS and then go in themselves or send police to do a welfare check on him. At some point, it will be necessary for the decision to be made that he must go somewhere to be evaluated. THAT takes the decision making out of his and your hands. We went through this with my dad. Police called several times, and while my parents had done power of attorney papers putting me in charge when they were unable, they fought it when I started taking over. Things went downhill fast, but I to be persistant and eventually Dad was ordered by a judge that he could not come home and live with Mom due to his and her safety. THEN, I had about two days to find a place for him to go to, or the authorities would have picked the place. In this process, if he does have these resources, some agency will be sure that they get tapped into and will look for a family member to handle them. IF you have resources, or can find some attorney who will advise for free, that would give you the fastest feedback about how to get started with this. It will be a hard walk, but they will give him choices....home with care in the home that he pays for, or a facility placement. A stranger handling his finances or a family member. Cooperation from him, or decisions made against his will.... If you want to be the 'helper' you will need friends, neighbors and agencies to be your eyes and ears, while you remain distant from his abuse. He won't be nearly so abusive with them and he will calm down once he sees that his choices are limited too.
I'm so sorry for the pain you continue to struggle with. It's nearly impossible to be there for an abusive parent that continues to abuse. Some do it; I'm not sure I could.

You could start by trying to reach out to the county social service system through the area council on aging. They are probably not going to be a lot of help unless he qualifies as low income, which it appears he doesn't at this point. But they may have resources that can help so they are the best place to start.

The other option is to hire a fee-for-service geriatric care manager that would take on this burden for you. You could pay him or her out of your dad's finances, if you have access to them. You can get his needs met and yours by turning to professionals. You just need to be persistent in finding the right fit for you.

Your situation is not unique but most people suffer in silence. I applaud you for reaching out and asking for help. Good luck...
As a daughter abused by parents & elder siblings (sexually & mentally/emotionally and sadistically in life endangering/threatening ways), I never bought-in to being a victim, an abuser or victim/abuser (really any abuser is a victim who cannot/will not help themselves- sad and sick- but whom any healthy person would protect themselves). If they were not my relatives would I really continue a relationship with someone who raped me, nearly killed me, enforced my victimization or kept silent when I asked for help within and outside the family? Not if I was sane! Only a masochist would remain in these relationships and help reinforce/enable them!

Forget for a moment that he is your father (the good and the bad)- what would you advised someone else who described this man & the life long relationship to do? What if you were a hired trustee or guardian would you do. Think & feel with human compassion and logic. He may be helpless now.. but not always.. he created his circumstances and always had the power to make better choices to create a better future for himself. He chose not to, it is not your burden, but his. The ultimate abuse is to convince the one who is victimized to become a victim/abuser.. that is the choice/power the one victimized always has, can embrace at any time.

Forgive those abusers who ultimately do more damage to themselves than others.. this releases/frees YOU.. you do not need them to ask for it.. this is good as it is unusual for them to ever ask for it... or even accept it if you verbalize it- this is within you, between you & God (or yourself/the universe whatever may apply for you).

If you have tried your best, then you have morally/spiritually fulfilled your obligations and can confirm w/elder care advocates/advisers/web resources re: appointing 3rd party guardian, making best use of his assets (home/bank accounts/life-disability insurance, VA/medicare/Medicaid/disability etc.. and walk away permanently.

His situation is the consequences which your father has set up for himself long before the dementia.. when he was well. And now he is not, this is not your doing or responsibility (confirm legal responsibility & fulfill those requirements).

It was NEVER your job to remain his life-long victim & hostage waiting for him to love you and ask you for forgiveness. These he never had/could or provide- ultimately - the abusive/loving person - is a lie/a scam to keep you hooked anyone who can love does not abuse.

Love and honor your parents/family by being a healthy, happy, productive citizen who fulfills their potential who is a credit to the family name, cream that rises above the abuse/making best use of it- to not repeat but choose love, self-respect, and respect for all that is good in the world. Protect THAT, further & support what is good and limit what is not.

Allow those who will not/have never acted with respect for others or themselves to suffer the consequences of their actions.. The same as those who commit crimes, need to serve the time/repay debt to society, be removed from those who they may commit future crimes.

We each create our own future (make our beds) and should not be enabled/protected from suffering the consequences of our own choices. We each have the option to make new choices every moment of every day. Your father made poor ones, his choice, his life.

You can chose to break the chain and make your own life, while loving & respecting him, honoring what good & bad that he provided, making the most of it - all of the good and the bad. Refuse to let the past or him/his choices to harm you anymore. Allowing him to live out his life according to his choices, an adult in a free will universe.

It is tough love and hard work.. however, I have come to see that the pain is the good stuff in life... if you use it well. Lemonade from lemons. invest your time, energy, etc in good and worthy causes. Volunteer, visit nursing homes and talk to the elders who will receive your love and attention with gratitude as perhaps their own well cared for children are too busy with their own self-important lives to return the love and care that they received from their parents.

I actually feel sorry for my peers who had it so much easier. They are shallow, greedy and self absorbed lacking compassion for others and themselves, clinging to the superficial and showing no comprehension of anything that relates to meaning and purpose and fulfillment - living a life of pleasure & power seekingness while complaining about how lacking it is; while seeking more/greater pleasures & power to "fix" the emptiness of their lives while using the people around them as things that should serve their needs. Giving God, spouses, children, friends, and parents lip service as they queue up positioning themselves to claim their inheritance and retire to the "good life"... which will be exactly like the lives they now live- as they will still be there making the same self-serving choices, which to not honor them or their families.

Your family may not be those people to whom you are related by blood, but those who share the same values/world view. Live a good and honorable life, forgive, have compassion, be happy - this will remain with you through the good and bad times and you will be honoring all those who have helped and hurt you along the way, and inspire and teach others by example. This is living.. this is meaning, purpose and happiness and will bring to you all that serves you to fulfill your potential and discover your own personal happiness and create a better world for yourself and all others.
If there is no one who can be responsible for your father, please talk to a county social worker about trying to find a state guardian for him. Your father is not going to let you help him. It sounds like he will only take you down with him. A guardian would be able to use his resources to make sure he is provided for and apply for Medicaid in the future if he should need it.
Take the next plane back home and call APS and tell them of his situation. Make sure you let them know he is violent and combative and you cannot possibly take responsibility for him. You say you are taking care of your elderly mother. Another reason not to take on responsibility for him. You tried to help and his resistence became too dangerous. Let strangers handle your father, he sounds like he deserves it.
I had to 'wash my hands' of my mother for the same kinds of reasons. I believe that God is our 'father' and a loving one at that. He understands our hearts, motivations, wants the best for us, and the biggest part of 'faith' is the part where we let go and stop trying to solve everything ourselves. I don't love my mother - she beat that out of me emotionally and when I was younger, physically and mentally. But as a Christian, I cannot hate her. Your dad has some resources. Find a competent attorney and line everything up and get away. When he runs out of money, he will be eligible for Medicaid. He won't be on the street if he's still living. I recently read someone's story who described dementia as this blank slate where the hateful parent was now 'absent'. I wish nothing bad for my mother but if she didn't recognize me it would probably be the only time I could 'have a relationship' with her (tongue in cheek when I say that). If your motives are not retaliatory, do what you have to, forgive all around and have a life, what's left of it.

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