What can you do if you are being verbally abused by Dad?


My sister gave up her home to move in and take care of our father after a car accident left him disabled. Well, I was traveling between my job/home with children, and his home to take care of him and it got too much. Now she has been taking care of him for a year now and he is extremely verbally abusive and can't afford help or to leave.

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angeltiger - I don't suppose your dad is a veteran? If he is, you can get help with the VA. Not easy but payoffs help. There is even in home visitation.

blannie - Thank you for your response. My hubby and brother have POA but only if FIL is unable to make his own decisions. Ohio law states that as long as a person knows his birth date and SSN, they are considered mentally capable of deciding their fate. So he willfully chooses to return home even though safety is a concern. He is in strong denial of his condition and believes it is a matter of finding what will help him get better.

Conversations have been held with him by family and medical professionals regarding his combative nature. He believes his sons are ganging up on him and is disowning them. Medical professionals are just wrong in their assessment.

I am convinced the man had OCD when he was younger. Hubby now agrees as FIL could never complete anything in life as he saw how perfect things needed to be and he was not skilled enough to complete them to perfection. Except for golf. He played in his 80's and did win local golf senior tournaments. Example of his OCD, - fixing breakfast, he always fixed peanut butter and toast with the toast cut in perfect rectangles 4 pieces per slice with a half a banana with coffee. Then at 2;00 they would have rice and beans. Every day. Throw in that he and wife are WWII survivors, scrimping $'s and you now have the picture.

GiGi11 - You are right. Reacting only exacerbates the problem. But my hubby is still bitter about so many things that he responds in the way that FIL expects and attacks on.

I'm at a loss and keep injecting when I can and then back away until hubby makes decisions.
Helpful Answer (1)

Then I would want to hear from your sister and how she is coping with the verbal abuse. She has a voice, let her speak.
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If your father previously wasn't abusive, this may be a symptom of dementia. Perhaps he could be evaluated by a geriatric specialist and given medication if necessary. Reacting to his behavior in any way probably just makes it worse, right?

My own experience is that by calmly discussing things with my crabby mother (85 at the time I moved in with her), I was able to make some progress. Even then she had symptoms of dementia but often still was able to reason things out for herself. (Not so much now.)

Mom was verbally abusive to Dad. She criticized him in front of other people, played silly mind games and otherwise amused herself by tormenting him. She never was diagnosed with personality disorders although she surely has them, but somehow Dad was able to get past that. He took care of her and loved her until the day he died.

I do love Mom (don’t always like her much) but loving a person does NOT include giving them the power to be abusive. We had to get a few things straight early on in our new living situation. For example, the first time I came back from the grocery store and Mom tore into me because she didn't like something I'd bought, I gave her the choice that she could leave the decisions to me OR I would drop her off at the store and she could shop for herself. To my great surprise, she shut up and hasn't opened her mouth about it since. (Other things, yes, but not the shopping.)

Also, we had a few conversations about the art of being able to disagree without being disagreeable. This too had a positive impact. In other areas, such as her constant complaining, whining and wailing when I’m getting her cleaned up, I have not been as successful. She is what she is and that basic nature certainly isn’t going to change at this point. Unfortunately, we recently have had to resort to medications to keep her behavior within manageable limits. I put it off as long as I could.

I don’t know if sitting your father down and talking to him will help. If he doesn’t respond to you and your sister, perhaps a relative, friend, clergy, doctor or someone else could have an impact. If that doesn’t work and medication doesn’t help, then do whatever it takes to protect the family from him, even if it means an alternate placement.

Good luck and God bless.
Helpful Answer (2)

OliviaC could you get a third-party (like a geriatric care manager) to help you and your husband navigate your obligations and responsibilities? Is your husband POA for his mom and dad? In my opinion, your MIL's safety and health need an equal consideration to your FIL and his situation. Oftentimes the louder more abusive parent gets more consideration than the quiet, normal spouse. So whether your FIL wants to say at home, if that's not right for his wife and will make her life miserable, then to me, that takes precedence. She needs to be protected. Just my opinion.
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I'm currently dealing with a verbally abusive Father in Law (FIL) with my husband. Hubby still believes his father can make his own decisions even after being told that father is unable to process complex issues and is in strong denial of his condition. Currently FIL is in Rehab Center and we are waiting to hear their recommendations. Should he return home, he will continue to verbally abuse mother in law,(failing and cannot see (macular degeneration with some dementia) and hubby. Clearly hubby's parents are in need of 24 hour care. They, as a couple, want to remain in family built home which hubby is trying to honor. I believe I am filling my role correctly by just helping hubby with his own denial. Or should I stay out of it completely. The legality of some issues concern me. Particularly if children are held financially liable.
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Angeltiger, do go through lots of the questions + discussions on this site for more info. A regular recommendation is to find a helper to come in regularly, part time. It will help your sister and you, and maybe make him more considerate by having to work with a non-family member. Your sister was very good to do this, but it must not be a dead-end street for her. That is not required. Hopefully there are options to get him out and among his own peers, as well. Good luck to the both of you, and to him!
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Thank you i will try what you suggested.
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This is a very common problem and many posters talk about verbal abuse being hurled at them by the person they are caring for. I think that if such behavior is new,and not part of the person' s usual personality, it's a reflection of depression and anger over their disability and dependency. Unfortunately, those feelings get directed at the caregiver that they are dependent upon. All you can do is ignore it (as hard as that may be) and,if possible, remove yourself from the verbal line of fire , if even for a few minutes.. Go in another room until the outburst subsides. Call a friend and vent, or come on this site and vent. Don' t fuel the argument by trying to reason with the person. Do a search of this website for discussions and articles dealing with verbal abuse. You should find a lot of helpful insights.
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