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Mom's Protector

Question:

I was just recently sent to jail and had battery charges against me. I was protecting my mother because my dad was getting ready to beat on her and I stopped it. Anyways, I know i did the right thing and my mom finally decides to get a divorce because this isn’t the first time. My older brother finds a place for me and my mother to stay until my father moves out. We are finally in our own house again but my father keeps finding reasons to keep coming over to the house to pick up items. I know he is playing mind games trying to get my mom back and it seems to be working. He threatened to commit suicide and my mom feels as if it would be her fault if he did. Right now i wouldn’t care if he did. My brother’s wife said she was talking with my mom and she said that my mom told her, “If (my dad) moves back in then (I) will have to find another place to live. I feel as if she is giving in to his crap and leaving me in the dark. She tells us that if he gets help then its a possibility they will start seeing each other again. I honestly don’t think my dad will ever get help or is able to be helped. Is there anything I can do to show my mom that she really doesn’t need a guy like my father? I’m pretty sure my mom is just scared about financial situations on how to survive and scared of my dad period. I believe she would feel at fault for his suicide if he happened to do it. She is giving in way too fast. Is there anything I can do? I feel cheated!!!

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Answer:

You have been cheated. Your parents have put you in a crappy and abusive situation. Not just your father (whose willingness to beat your mother is obvious abuse), but also your mother for failing to insulate you from their abusive relationship and for letting herself be fear-driven rather than conscious. Almost never do parents try to hurt their children intentionally. Rather, when children get hurt it is frequently because their parents were overwhelmed; were not able to handle the situations they found themselves in. Your parents may have been victims of abuse themselves, actually. Whatever the cause of their behavior, they apparently aren’t able to protect you. It may not be their fault entirely. Forgive them for this if you can. As awful as it is for your mother to be abused by your father, it is not healthy or safe for you to try and defend her in the physical way you’ve been trying to defend her. Your father may truly physically hurt you. Worse, battling him will possibly add to the emotional harm that has already been done to you. You have probably seen the recent Star Wars movie “Attack of the Clones”. Recall the story from this movie and the other Star Wars movies and you’ll see what I’m getting at. In “Clones” the hero Anakin Skywalker gets upset at how his mother is treated (she is kidnapped by Sand People) and how he is perceived by other people (as a child) and allows his anger to dictate his behavior. Look what happens to him. He ends up becoming a bad guy – Darth Vader (which some people have suggested means “dark father”). While the movie is just a movie, it is loosely based on myth and has relevance for the situation you find yourself in. The moral of the Star Wars stories is something like “If you try to fight the evil forces in the world with anger, you lose by becoming yourself an evil force”. And that much tends to be true. Anger is not the best pathway to walk on through life. There is no clean way out of this mess. However, there are better ways to handle the situation than others. You likely would benefit from some insulation from this chaos, and someone adult whom you could look up to as a role model, mentor or at least a non-broken adult. One decent way to try to deal with the situation might be to find yourself an adult ally who can be a neutral party, retreat and mentor through all of this craziness. Someone you can trust, who has been around the block a time or two, and who can be a sounding board for your feelings of helplessness, anger and frustration. Someone who can give you good solid counsel, who can provide you a more constructive outlet for your feelings than needing to go to war. That someone might be a trusted family member, someone at school like a teacher, a counselor, a religious figure (if you’re religious), etc. Whomever it is, it should be someone you can trust, who won’t abuse you, and who will provide steady counsel. If you can ally yourself with someone who is steady and who can look after your interests rather than involving you more in your parent’s battles, it may help. In this sense, it might actually be to your benefit if you were able to find a calm place to live apart from the chaos of your parent’s house and were not living with them while they fight and destroy each other. Sometimes this is what the courts will do when they find children living in an abusive situation; they will remove the kids from the house and place them elsewhere. That sucks, to be sure, but the courts do this when they think that removing the kids from the house will be in the kids’ better long term interest than being at home to witness or become victim to more violence or neglect. When physical battles and abuse occur, a good thing to do would be to call the police and get them to shut the abuse down (if that is an option). Getting yourself in the middle of the battle may result in yourself getting harmed, and may result in further jailing and the like. Who needs that? Beyond this advice to seek insulation, calmness and a sane mentor and to not step into your parent’s battles, please accept my very best wishes and hopes that you’ll find a way through this very difficult situation without further injury to yourself or to others.

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