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Confronting an abusive parent

SacriliciousSacrilicious Registered User regular
edited February 2015 in Help / Advice Forum
My dad remarried a woman who has two kids - one her biological daughter and the other was adopted from asia at a young age. They're around 12 and 10 respectively. She's quite successful, responsible, is supportive of my dad as far as I can tell. But any time I've visited, she flies off the handle, invariably, at her adopted daughter. Almost any interaction between just the two of them leads to my stepmom yelling at her adopted daughter. It's horrible to watch and I feel depressed whenever I visit because I feel powerless to do or say anything.

I talked with my dad about it, and he also feels powerless. So, I feel maybe it's not my place. I'm not terribly responsible myself, and I definitely have been needlessly unkind to people I care about.

She's been very kind, patient, and generous with me. She'll offer to pay to include me on expensive vacations, and I'm appreciative of the gesture.

So in my mind, I'm thinking I could bite the bullet and next time I see it happening,say, "Stepmom, I like you and I'm grateful that you're willing to have me stay with you, but this isn't right. I'm always apprehensive when I visit because I'm always worried of seeing you yell at your stepdaughter when she clearly doesn't deserve it." Something like that. Or else I remain silent and uninvolved.

There's lots of tragedy all around, and I can't do much about any of it. Perhaps it's not my place to say anything. Over there years I've seen a lot of insightful advice on this forum, so if anyone has experience or perspective to share it's more than welcome.

Sacrilicious on

Posts

  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    Do you have a relationship with the girl yourself? Maybe you can take her out and do things with her. Someone else may have something more useful.

    There area lot of questions for me, like why would your dad want to marry someone who treats her daughter that way in the first place.

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
  • QuidQuid I don't... what... hnnng Registered User regular
    Your father really should be the one stepping in here. He's now every bit as responsible for the upbringing of their daughter as your step mother is. I would recommend insisting your father confront her about this since anything from you probably won't be taken well.

    And personally, if it was me, I wouldn't accept gifts from her. All too often from people like her they're used as leverage.

    Honestly you're in a really complicated spot and there's no real guaranteed solution to your problem.

    CreaganLostNinjaJuliusShadowfireCambiataGnizmospaboollyBé ChuilleGreat Scott
  • NightDragonNightDragon 6th Grade Username Registered User regular
    I'm not sure that saying this to your stepmother would change anything, though she may just make a conscious effort to not do anything in front of you. If your father is in the house and is watching this happen and is not doing anything about it, he seriously needs to step up and start shielding this girl and telling your stepmother in no uncertain terms that this behavior needs to end immediately. Have a serious conversation with him about it. If you both feel helpless but you team up and have eachother's back, it may help you both stand up to her.

    When witnessing any kind of abuse, please NEVER think "it's not my place to say anything". It is ALWAYS in your place to say and/or do something if you feel you are able. Having been in that little girl's situation myself, for years and years, I only wished more people had allowed themselves to say something or pulled me out of that situation.

    CambiataHeir
  • SacriliciousSacrilicious Registered User regular
    edited February 2015
    Well, I not sure I'd feel comfortable spending time alone - I don't visit often and don't know them well. I definitely wouldn't want there to ever be a question of impropriety on my part.

    With regard to my father's choice of marriage, I'm not sure. I struggle having a relationship with him anyway.
    When witnessing any kind of abuse, please NEVER think "it's not my place to say anything". It is ALWAYS in your place to say and/or do something if you feel you are able. Having been in that little girl's situation myself, for years and years, I only wished more people had allowed themselves to say something or pulled me out of that situation.

    Okay. I'll try to say something.

    Sacrilicious on
  • SacriliciousSacrilicious Registered User regular
    edited February 2015
    We were having dinner, and she said something mean to her that was totally uncalled for. I gave it a minute to gather my courage, then I asked her why she's so mean to her step daughter. She said she did nothing wrong, that she deserved it. I said she'd been very kind and generous to me, but that I knew what I saw and I'd felt bad for not standing up for people in the past and so I needed to say something. My dad disagreed, and it was totally uncomfortable silence. So, whatever happens at least I spoke my mind even though it was incredibly awkward.

    Sacrilicious on
    chromdomCreagandavidsdurionsSiskaShadowfireArmorocCambiataQuidAngelHedgieGonmunEncDisruptedCapitalistdispatch.oSilverWindInquisitor77AngelinaHeirRainfallBé Chuillechrishallett83
  • CreaganCreagan Registered User regular
    Can you give the adopted daughter your contact information sometime when the mother isn't around? Like, just tell her she can call you if anything really bad happens and she needs help.

    Just having a trustworthy grown-up to turn to can be huge.

    chromdomdavidsdurionsNightDragonShadowfireQuidGonmunLovelyCelestialBadgerEncAngelinaBé Chuillechrishallett83
  • chromdomchromdom Working on having a better attitude Oh yeah, I movedRegistered User regular
    (awesomeing for doing the right thing, not for the awkwardness)

    New out of context sig?
    CauldCreagandavidsdurionsShadowfireCambiataQuidGonmunXandarEncBé Chuille
  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    We were having dinner, and she said something mean to her that was totally uncalled for. I gave it a minute to gather my courage, then I asked her why she's so mean to her step daughter. She said she did nothing wrong, that she deserved it. I said she'd been very kind and generous to me, but that I knew what I saw and I'd felt bad for not standing up for people in the past and so I needed to say something. My dad disagreed, and it was totally uncomfortable silence. So, whatever happens at least I spoke my mind even though it was incredibly awkward.

    If the adopted daughter heard you say this, it will probably have a very positive and lasting impact if you talk to her about things and specifically this dinner confrontation. As long as she's being well fed and not physically abused I doubt there's anything you can really do other than maybe be a friend when she needs one. In my anecdotal experience it's not all that uncommon for people to treat adopted children poorly if they also have a biological child they like to consider "theirs". Especially true if they had difficulty conceiving and adopt, and then a few years later end out having a biological child.

    That all being said, give her your phone number and take her out to do something sometime and just see if she talks with you at all. Having an older sibling to bullshit with and just vent to can only help her. Especially so if you're concerned enough for her well being to ruin a perfectly good dinner by standing up for someone, you probably earned a fan.

    CambiataCreaganNightDragon
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