Donate Now
Post New Topic  Post A Reply
my profile | directory login | register | search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Got Questions? Get Answers. » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Abuse & Assault » Is Dad's GF abusive?

 - UBBFriend: Email this page to someone!    
Author Topic: Is Dad's GF abusive?
SnowLhite
Neophyte
Member # 29534

Icon 5 posted      Profile for SnowLhite     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I'm SO sorry about the length. I think it took about half an hour to write. Hope it doesn't take as long to read... you can skim bits.

Ok, background: My dad's been with his gf for about 3 years now. She doesn't live with us but their quite serious and we have like a weekly routine thing. I live with my dad ever since my mom died just over four years ago. (her heart gave out but she'd had severe chronic asthma her entire life, so her death wasn't exactly unexpected) I lived with my mom since she and my dad separated when I was about 10. (7 years ago)
Um... well, I was raised by my (stay-at-home) mom, and my dad and I had a pretty good relationship. (about as good as anyone can have with a confrontation-avoidant, socially awkward nerd-dad. Seriously, he's bad enough for me to compare him to people with Aspergers...) Even when I chose to live with my mom I saw him every weekend and we got on fine... However either shortly before or after living with him our relationship started to slowly deteriorate... to the point where I now alternately hate his guts and accept that he (sometimes) tries, very badly. (I was a bit of a daddy's girl when I was younger, probably because we were both the quiet introverts of the family)
I guess roughly about a year later he met his now gf, and betweeen 3 & 6 months later I met her.

Ok, The Issue: When I first met her I was really happy for my dad, him finding someone who makes him happy etc. I was excited to meet her and very open to getting to know her. The first few (about 3/4) times I met her she seemed great, nice, pleasant, fine. Then as I started to get to know her better and see her more often something bothered me, there was just something... wrong.
She had a tendency to always (over harshly) criticize everything, she was never happy, there was always something she could find to complain about.
Then there were the odd comments, little jabs and snide remarks that passed under my dad's (very dull) social decency radar, but I got them.
For a while I ignored it, blamed it on my being sensitive, but it niggled at me until eventually I came to hate her. I stopped going out with them if I could possibly avoid it. (which was made harder by my dad's unrealistic ideals of playing "happy family") I spent most of my time in my room when she came round, and I'd go out with my friends on weekends. I'd also like to note I wasn't the only one who reacted aversely to her: my brother (grown up, married with three kids) and his now ex-wife didn't like her, my friends didn't like being around her, even my best friend's mother asked me "What do you think of her?" in that tone of voice that says something more along the lines of "how can you stand her?" My dad doesn't have any friends to ask him what's wrong with his gf, people don't feel comfortable around him most of the time.
After a rather sudden outburst I finally realised that it wasn't all just in my head. The exact outburst had her yelling at me, basically calling me lazy and good-for nothing and I never did anything (ironically I had just put down my laptop on which I was doing research for a school project) and I forget what else: it was a tirade. To which I actually didn't respond at all because I was in shock at the ridiculousness of it all, until a day later when I suddenly realised I should be angry, and was. (You might like to know that my dad was sitting right next to me at the time and didn't say a word: confrontation-avoidant, he later claimed he told her afterwards that it had been "unnecessary" which I know is BS)
A few days after this incident I had a talk with my dad where I told him that I was upset by both her behaviour and his (which is when he claimed to have spoken to her), and that I was helluva angry about it and it wasn't ok, I also suggested that an apology might be appropriate. I never got one.
(It might be of interest to also note that at this point in time I was an A+ student in virtually all my classes at a top rate school, on virtually every sport team, and part of photography, debating, extra art and drama clubs... and just under a year later I was diagnosed with renal failure and the status of all of these changed drastically) And of course things got worse...
My dad was still oblivious, but I was now aware, very very aware, of every jibe, insinuation and manipulation. Afterwards she had a few more outbursts, nowhere near the original one but still pretty bad. My dad dismissed them, I quietly seethed and resisted the urge to go back to self-harming. Over the course of the next 2+ years my grades fell and were now as such that I was failing, my health deteriorated even further so that with my chronic fatigue I was lucky to be awake twelve hours a day and a zombie when I was. I was no longer allowed (or had the energy) to do sport, I could barely function in class, my social life all but vanished leaving my only human contacts as my very busy best friend, my work-workaholic dad, and his gf.
Despite all this I was relatively undepressed, I had moments yes, days where I couldn't get up and I would lie there wanting to die... but most of the time I did get up, and I'd drag my sorry butt out and try to do all the things normal healthy 15 year olds do. Occasionally I would freak out and have a panic attack (which I'd lie and say was asthma) and one time I ran away from home for the night, not to leave, just to get away from everything.
Then last year I had a psychotic breakdown. (Not nervous, psychotic... I was literally seeing & hearing things, although the major trigger was tons of stress) and November had my psychiatrist book me into a rehab & mental health clinic.
I stayed there for two and a half weeks before leaving on less than good terms.
Now this bit needs a bit of explaining:
I went into the rehab to try and sort my stuff out and because I needed to go somewhere safe and less stressful. So while I was there I divulged to the councillors that in the past I had been very emotionally unstable, leading to my self-harm, eating disorder, maladaptive tendency, and some alcohol abuse. I also presented the issue of a very bad relationship with my 'family' (dad and his gf) as well as a long standing issue of undiagnosed dyslexia (which I have long since taught myself to get around but tends to crop up when ever I get upset or stressed and exacerbating things by removing my ability to communicate)
So during the time there I had two "family sessions" one with my dad, where I basically told him he had to decide whether he wanted to be involved in my life or not. (by this point our relationship was virtually non-existent except for the odd time when he'd try to change something, usually because of his gf. I actually described us as two people who lived under the same roof as opposed to family) It should be noted that this session had me so upset I couldn't even think in words let alone say any, but I'd said the important stuff already.
The other session was with my dad and his gf (and the same two councillors from the last session... who I would come to hate) in this session I attempted to tell dad's gf how her behaviour made me feel, only to have her come back at me with twisted words blaming me, causing me to be more upset and say things wrong, which led to the councillors (who had been encouraging factual neutral "I statements") to start interrupting me and trying to change what I was trying to say. In the end the session was a disaster and in the next day's group where I had planned to talk about my issues with words the councillors forced me to talk about my mom instead, which I did reluctantly. Mainly because I'd already had to do this with two previous therapists and because whatever I said they tried to turn into "mommy issues" by saying that my problems with dad's gf were from not wanting a mother replacement or alternately saying that I had expected a mother figure from her and not gotten one, or even that all my problems were from not grieving my mom's death, all of which was total BS. And so I spent that session trying to tell them that I grieved my mom's death when she died, and a little afterwards too, sure I sometimes missed her, but who doesn't miss their loved one's when they're gone? That I wasn't looking for a mother figure because I'd already had one in my mom & didn't need another, and if I did it certainly wouldn't be dad's gf, and that (to quote my best friend) "the woman didn't have a motherly bone in her entire body" I also explained that I'd been very open to building a relationship with her when we first met, but now I certainly wasn't because I'd seen what she'd done the first time. But no one was listening.
So for the next week they carried on trying to convince me that this was my problem whilst ignoring everything else I said.
Then halfway through what would normally be the third and final week I told them I was leaving (it should be noted that they were closing on Friday because the next week was Christmas) and going away on holiday with one of my friends (as had been arranged three months prior) to which they said that I couldn't do that without asking the community first, and I responded that it wasn't about asking and was already planned. So that evening I left. My dad later told me that they phoned him and said I couldn't go because I was going to KILL MYSELF. Not True. My dad told them where to stuff it and I'd already left. He reckoned if he didn't let me go I'd be pissed off (true) and they would close in two days anyway.
So I came back, and things were worse, and of course now all my feelings about her had been invalidated and I was doubting myself again. And that's pretty much the way it's been until now when I've finally gotten back the realisation that I'm not crazy (about this anyway) and it is real, and a problem.

So the short and not so sweet bit is this:
Is my dad's gf mentally and/or emotionally abusive?
She has repeatedly degraded me, called me names, made insinuations about me and treated me without respect including yelling.
She also treats my dad in a similar, although not nearly as bad, manner.
She has manipulated my dad's perceptions of me to being unfavourable and untrue.
She is constantly controlling odd aspects of our lives.
I literally dread seeing/hearing her.
Oh, I also found this on another thread and chaged the wording to be applicable:
Do you feel that you can't discuss with your stepmother what is bothering you? Yes
Does your stepmother frequently criticize you, humiliate you, or undermine your self-esteem? YES
Does your stepmother ridicule you for expressing yourself? Yes
Does your stepmother isolate you from friends, family or groups? Not directly but yes.
Does your stepmother limit your access to work, money or material resources? As above.
Has your stepmother ever stolen from you? Or run up debts for you to handle? No
Does your relationship swing back and forth between a lot of emotional distance and being very close? Well, I hate her most of the time, but occasionally she wont be as bad and I'll start thinking maybe she is a decent person.
Do you sometimes feel trapped in the relationship? YES.
Has your stepmother ever thrown away your belongings, destroyed objects or threatened pets? I don't think so but it's possible.
Are you afraid of your stepmother? I don't know. Well, kinda?
... And do have any suggestions that might help me?

--------------------
"Love and let love."

~Snowy~

Posts: 32 | From: HELL also Cape Town, South Africa | Registered: Jun 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Heather     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
One of the tricky things about determining if someone is abusive is that we have to weed some things out.

For instance, it doesn't really matter if people like a person or not. Many abusive people are very liked by tons of people: many people who aren't abusive aren't liked by a lot of folks.

We also have to consider if something is routine, or if it is now and then. This is such a long post, and smushed together in a way that it's hard for me to follow a lot of it, and I feel like there are gaps. I'm having a hard time figuring out how often you see her, for instance.

You also have to bear in mind that it is really normal for most children to be very slow to accept their parent's new/other partners and stepparents. Ity doesn't sound like the counselors who brought up your mother did it in the best way -- they certainly could have talked about those issues AND addressed your concerns with your Dad and his girlfriend, too -- but it also is a pretty hard deal to have a parent die, and have the "surrogate" offered not be someone you like, or be someone dysfunctional. That'd be hella traumatic for anyone, even if it wasn't capital-A abusive. Too, so much of what you've posted here doesn't seem to be about her at all, but about rehab, councelors, etc.

But, does that one incident you described sound like a verbally abusive incident? Sure it does. Does that one incident mean the person who did that is an abuser, full-stop? We need more than one incident to really look at that. But if that sort of situation is something that happens all the time -- if you are yelled at and put down all the time -- then yes, we likely are talking about a verbally abusive scenario.

You also have to bear in mind that with the checklist you adapted, it's not really meant to apply to family, where relationships aren't elective like romantic relationships are.

No matter what, we can certainly say there's some big dysfunction and conflict going on here, and that certainly, it would be sage to consider if this is an abusive situation/person.

What does all that mean? Well, seems to me that no matter the conclusion, if your Dad and/or his girlfriend are not willing to say, look into family therapy, you're a bit stuck here. I'm afraid that I'm incredibly ignorant as to what social services are available in South Africa, so I'd have no idea where to point you toward if you were interested in looking for outside help and intervention yourself. You might consider asking a school counselor about that?

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About MeGet our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 67933 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
SnowLhite
Neophyte
Member # 29534

Icon 1 posted      Profile for SnowLhite     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Heather:
For instance, it doesn't really matter if people like a person or not. Many abusive people are very liked by tons of people: many people who aren't abusive aren't liked by a lot of folks.
I should be more clear on that... I think what I was trying (and failing) to explain was that she exhibits this attitude/behaviour towards almost everyone she knows, and that's why a lot of people don't like/actively avoid being around her.
We also have to consider if something is routine, or if it is now and then. This is such a long post, and smushed together in a way that it's hard for me to follow a lot of it, and I feel like there are gaps. I'm having a hard time figuring out how often you see her, for instance.
Sorry bout that, there are gaps because I can't even begin to explain other factors that compacted things and some of my background just what I've already posted is a infinitesimal fraction. Thanks for slogging through. I'm not the most coherent person at all. She's here at least two, more often three times a week. Wednesday evening & night, Saturdays and often on till Sunday night. Friday dad goes there.
You also have to bear in mind that it is really normal for most children to be very slow to accept their parent's new/other partners and stepparents. It doesn't sound like the counselors who brought up your mother did it in the best way -- they certainly could have talked about those issues AND addressed your concerns with your Dad and his girlfriend, too -- but it also is a pretty hard deal to have a parent die, and have the "surrogate" offered not be someone you like, or be someone dysfunctional. That'd be hella traumatic for anyone, even if it wasn't capital-A abusive. Too, so much of what you've posted here doesn't seem to be about her at all, but about rehab, councelors, etc.
I just realised I posted whilst I was upset about something else and that wouldn't have helped me be orderly about this. Sorry. I gotta stop saying that so much.
Thing is I lived with my mom & her boyfriend full time, and even with his two older kids for a little while too... even then I was more comfortable with him and his messed up kids. (he drank to excess, ex-special-ops guy) I never had a problem with my parents breaking up or seeing anyone else because I knew they were going to split since I was three. (Not kidding, it was a relief when they finally did) So I know my problem is definitely with her. Likewise I was aware from an early age that my mom was sick and would die whilst I was young - heck according to one doctor she should have died five years before she did.
And I know it will sound terrible but compared to my life over the previous 13 years losing my mum and having any step-parents is barely a blip on the drama scale. But I wont go into that because it would take forever and your eyes would bleed.
Heh. I guess they focused on that so much the two kinda became tied up in my head.
But, does that one incident you described sound like a verbally abusive incident? Sure it does. Does that one incident mean the person who did that is an abuser, full-stop? We need more than one incident to really look at that. But if that sort of situation is something that happens all the time -- if you are yelled at and put down all the time -- then yes, we likely are talking about a verbally abusive scenario.
The yelling no, the put downs and treatment yes. Yelling only sometimes, when she's in a really bad mood. Normally she just makes degrading comments and treats me like some sort of incapable idiot... or the maid.
You also have to bear in mind that with the checklist you adapted, it's not really meant to apply to family, where relationships aren't elective like romantic relationships are.
I do realise that. I couldn't find anything similar for family abuse. So I do know it's not a great indicator, but I figured it might at least give a slightly clearer and shorter picture of what I was talking about. I tend to explain things twice as I'm cursed with making myself horribly misunderstood when I talk. I mean horribly.
No matter what, we can certainly say there's some big dysfunction and conflict going on here, and that certainly, it would be sage to consider if this is an abusive situation/person.

What does all that mean? Well, seems to me that no matter the conclusion, if your Dad and/or his girlfriend are not willing to say, look into family therapy, you're a bit stuck here. I'm afraid that I'm incredibly ignorant as to what social services are available in South Africa, so I'd have no idea where to point you toward if you were interested in looking for outside help and intervention yourself. You might consider asking a school counselor about that?

For pretty much the last few years I've been in individual therapy (started when my dad suspected depression when my chronic fatigue first appeared), my first therapist he chose and we didn't get along, my second was great but I haven't seen her in probably over 4 months since my health has been improving. I'm also one of those people who shuts up the moment I'm in a situation where I have to tell people about how I feel. When I was speaking to my old school councillor (I had a breakdown in my principals office gr 9) she used to ask me yes or no questions and scales of ten as it was the only way she could get me to give a straight answer. She swore I could come up with a thousand ways to say maybe and "i don't know". And now I don't have a school councillor as I've had to leave and take up correspondence (which has been a life saver) but does leave me rather isolated.
My problem with family therapy is that I know (from this previous experience at rehab) that she wont respond openly to it, and my dad prefers to ignore things until they go away... which they don't, and I usually end up being unable to actually just say what I want/need to say.

So I'm guessing the best thing I can do is probably go back to my psychiatrist. At least keep myself fairly sane until I find some way to get out of here.

And I think this is really long again. Apologies.
Thanks again.

--------------------
"Love and let love."

~Snowy~

Posts: 32 | From: HELL also Cape Town, South Africa | Registered: Jun 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

Quick Reply
Message:

HTML is not enabled.
UBB Code™ is enabled.
UBB Code™ Images not permitted.
Instant Graemlins
   


Post New Topic  Post A Reply Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Contact Us | Get the Whole Story! Go Home to SCARLETEEN: Sex Ed for the Real World | Privacy Statement

Copyright 1998, 2014 Heather Corinna/Scarleteen
Scarleteen.com: Providing comprehensive sex education online to teens and young adults worldwide since 1998

Information on this site is provided for educational purposes. It is not meant to and cannot substitute for advice or care provided by an in-person medical professional. The information contained herein is not meant to be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or for prescribing any medication. You should always consult your own healthcare provider if you have a health problem or medical condition.

Powered by UBB.classic™ 6.7.3