Aggressive Father

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Discus: Parents Forum: 2004 Archive - Part 2: Aggressive Father
By Davidrune (Davidrune) on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 08:59 am: Edit


This is pretty serious.

I have a friend who has a problem. He is very brilliant (amazing SATs and ECs). However, he has a passive aggressive and sometimes fully aggressive father. He just told me this story, and I was pretty shocked because I had no idea that this had been going on.

Apparently, his father frequently hits him, when he's angry at him. And I'm talking about full-blown punches directed at his skull, with the intention of hurting him. His father is also very moody, spending weeks not talking to his son if he is upset at him. And he gets upset over the slightest things. The only time he's happy is when he is living vicariously through his son or bragging about his son'accomplishments. I did hear him bragging a lot, but I all parents are like this.

Some of you might be wondering, why doesn't he just call the cops, if he hates it so much? Well it's college. My friend knows that he has a shot at ivy leagues and highly ranked schools in the States. We live in Canada. However, the only way he can do that is with his dad paying. If he were to leave, his chances would be shot. I know it wouldn't mean the end of his life, but he has spent his life dreaming about going to certain schools and he doesn't want to give up his goals.

He knows his dad will and can pay the fees. In fact, he'd probably jump at the opportunity to have his kid go to Harvard, Princeton or Yale, just to brag .

Anyways, my friend is really confused. He just told me all of this today, apparently his dad had punched him three times in the skull this morning and threatened to kill him; before he stormed ou. And this kid isn't a model kid; but he isn't the devil either. This was just because he had come home late yesterday night.

And don't say, talk to him. He has tried talking numerous times. According to him, his dad generally apologizes, but usually continues hitting. What other options does he have? He asked me this question... and now I'm asking you guys?

Thanks a lot

By Marite (Marite) on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 09:25 am: Edit


Is your friend living with his dad and noone else? No mom, for example? Does your friend have adults in his life who can intervene? grandparents, uncles, aunts, etc...? His dad has problems controlling his behavior and someone else needs to get him into anger management classes. That someone else has to be someone who has influence over your friend's dad, someone who can talk to him and whom he can trust with his confidences. Your friend, too, may need counseling.
It's good of you to care. Good luck to your friend.

By Cangel (Cangel) on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 09:25 am: Edit

I'm going to put this very bluntly - all the SATs and ECs in the world won't do your friend a bit of good if he is dead or brain damaged.
Does he have visible bruises or injuries, does he miss a lot of school, is he secretive, is there a gun in his house? If so he is truly in danger.

Go back to your friend tell him that this is too dangerous and important to keep secret, college admission is nothing. Urge him strongly to go talk to a guidance counselor, assistant principal, trusted teacher, minister, someone. Tell him that you will if he won't. If you believe his story, and if he has bruises to prove it, you go to the guidance counselor and tell her - you may lose this boy's friendship, but you may save his life.

A teenaged boy, obviously, is much less likely to be killed by his abuser because he can fight back, but many of these situations still end in tragedy, especially if there is a handy firearm - this is not a time to keep secrets!@

By Northstarmom (Northstarmom) on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 10:19 am: Edit

I agree with Cangel. A shot at the Ivies isn't worth your friend's life. Please, this is not a secret that should be kept. Your friend's life is at risk.

I would not be surprised if the father ends up being mentally ill with a disease such as being bi-polar. The sooner you friend or you speaks up, the sooner the friend and probably his father will get the help that is needed.

I also would bet money that the father is abusive to other people. It's not just your friend's life that is at risk. Please do whatever you can to let responsible people know about this frightening situation. It's better to lose a friend because you helped save the friend's life than to lose a friend through homicide.

I have worked in the mental health field, and have seen some very tragic situations, so please take my words very seriously.

By Cheers (Cheers) on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 04:38 pm: Edit

The boy needs an alternative living arangement ASAP and some help from the community to extricate him from that situation.

The father is mentally ill. He may or may not agree to get help, but it is NOT the son's responsibility.

Consider telling your principal, your parents, a business asssociate of the father's. I agree with Northstarmom. The parameters for hospitalizing a mental patient follow guidelines of danger--if the patient is a danger to themselves or others. This man is a danger.

By Sep2000 (Sep2000) on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 05:57 pm: Edit

Good for you for speaking up in this forum. It is very hard to be concerned for a friend's safety. There are short and long term aspects to addressing this situation. Please consult with a caring adult from your own circle of contacts (friends, relatives, school mentors,etc.). It is too big a burden to carry alone if there is anyone who can help you sort it out. Drs. can also be a help at times. Does your friend have a good relationship with his physician? Most drs. would want to help and would know how to proceed. School counselors, social workers, etc. would also be apt to help in a sensitive way. Speaking to an actively violent person is not likely to be productive. How are things at your house? Is there somewhere he could go for even a brief visit while things get sorted out? Try to help your friend and yourself go through a list of possible people who would be resources. Not all resources are connected with the legal system. Other professionals can help decide how to address the father's needs. The boy can call a community mental health center or crisis team to be seen as soon as possible. They will speak with him and help him decide what would be best. You see from this post how caring responsible adults respond to this unacceptable situation. Let your friend know that there is help and he deserves to have it and you can help him best by listening and encouraging him to go to those with the knowledge and expertise to sort this out. Though this situation feels extremely isolating to be in, please know that many others have experienced it and that that is what allows there to be excellent sources of help. You are a good friend and I wish you both well.

By Demingy (Demingy) on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 06:49 pm: Edit

I agree with everything that has been said here: Your friend needs to get out. I would also like to make a couple of points here as well.

1. Ivy league schools are not worth risking his life. He is risking his life as long as he stays there because in the majority of cases abuse escalates. Of course his father apologizes when he tries to talk to him--it is also common with abusers. Let me repeat and clarify, NO school is worth living with this abuse.

2. He really needs to worry about right now. I won't elaborate because this has been stressed enough.

3. As someone who has had to look to the future in a bad situation (so I understand if he still needs to look at his college dreams), I will offer this reassurance for your friend. By leaving he is not closing all doors to his college dreams. Many colleges will work with kids who have problems like this. So he really should not let that stop him from doing what is right for him (and even his father) and leave this situation immediately.

By Cheers (Cheers) on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 07:05 pm: Edit

One more resource: the National Mental Health Association (NMHA) can be very good about finding support groups for families living with mentally ill relatives.

Please post again and let us know if you've managed to find an alternate living arrangement for your friend. Good on you for showing concern...

By Marite (Marite) on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 07:42 pm: Edit

One more point:

Invested as your friend's dad is in your friend getting into an Ivy, as the college application process unfolds, the dad is going to be even more stressed and more unreasonable. The chances of his being abusive and beyond control are considerably increased. Your friend needs to get out of this situation as soon as he can.

By Sep2000 (Sep2000) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 12:38 pm: Edit

David- Was just wondering how it's going...

By Davidrune (Davidrune) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 10:53 pm: Edit

Hey all,

Thank you a lot for your feedback. I relayed all your advice to my friend and he nodded his head, and he told me that it was his life and he knew what he was doing. I think he told me all of this, more to get it off his chest than to actually ask for advice. I don't really know if he's going to take any of it to heart.

I am wary about taking a proactive role in this situation.

P.S. There's no gun in his house. His father is a high-powered business-man, and he hits him to hurt him but not to kill him.

By Cheers (Cheers) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 11:39 pm: Edit

Good job. He may have taken more on board than you realize.

Still wish there was someone who had the will to act proactively. Is this a gender thing? Do you know a girl that might spring into action; ie alert an adult? Maybe you could limit your liability by sharing with her....

He doesn't need a gun to kill his son's spirit.

By Marite (Marite) on Saturday, August 21, 2004 - 08:27 am: Edit

Nor does he need a gun to deal a blow that could do serious damage, especially if your friend fell and hit himself against something. I do worry that things will get worse as the application process unfolds.

By Northstarmom (Northstarmom) on Saturday, August 21, 2004 - 09:24 am: Edit

It is wonderful that you care so much about your friend's welfare that you posted here, and followed-up with your friend.

I strongly suggest that you talk to a responsible adult such as your friend's guidance counselor. Your friend is probably overwhelmed with being in a very crazy situation, and doesn't have the judgment to know how to get out. This is the case with many people who grow up or live in violent homes.

I can not emphasize more that the situation is very dangerous. As someone else mentioned, senior year is a stressful time for all seniors and for their parents. Even mild mannered seniors and parents can become unusually irritable. Unfortunately, it is likely that the violence in your friend's house will worsen, possibly to the point of risking his life if no one intervenes.

I understand your not wanting to tell someone else about the situation, but this is a situation in which so much is at risk that that's the best option.

If the main reason that your friend isn't speaking up is fear that doing so would somehow harm his chances of getting into a v ery competitive college, you can reassure your friend that if there is documentation that your friend had such a dysfunctional background, that would enhance his chances of getting into a very competitive college.

Virtually all colleges view favorably students who rise to difficult challenges. If money is the problem, your friend needs to realize that his father is so unstable that your friend can't rely on his father anyway to pay for his college costs. If there's documentation that the father is violent, and the father then refuses to pay for your friend's education, I imagine that some colleges may take this into account and consider your friend for more need-based aid than they normally would.

By Dg5052 (Dg5052) on Saturday, August 21, 2004 - 09:29 am: Edit

I agree with Northstarmom--your friend has no perspective on this--look what he's been living with which he has internalized as "normal".

Just think about how guilty you would feel if, G-d forbid, something bad happened to him. You need some adult intervention NOW--whether it's a guidance counselor, trusted teacher, or your own parents.

Your friend may be furious with you for a while, but chances are he will eventually forgive you. Even if he doesn't, consider the alternative.

You are clearly a good and caring friend, and the next step is scary, but you need to take it.

Good luck to you.

By Sep2000 (Sep2000) on Saturday, August 21, 2004 - 10:47 am: Edit

David-So sorry for the present circumstances. In the spirit of maybe there's a Plan B or some intermediate step possible, here are a few possibilities. It is extremely difficult for a victim to identify their aggressor, fearing escalating violence. It may help to uncouple the needs of the father from the needs of the son. Going to talk with someone about your own thoughts, feelings and experiences as you grow up is a different agenda than reporting your father to the law. Counselors/physician/caring adult can help proceed with both parties needs eventually addressed in a manner that may take some heat off of the son. Also, you might be able to express the burden you now are carrying to your friend and let him know that you want to brainstorm with him about including even one mutually agreed upon adult in the discussion-hopefully someone you can have confidence in and proceed to the next step with smoothly. In my experience, teens sometimes have trouble identifying such an adult. Think carefully about friends' parents, neighbors, clergy, teachers, drs,group/club leaders, nurses, etc. There is likely to be someone who is a good choice. This is not an ambiguous situation. Your friend will find people wish to help and adults can often finesse ways to get the pressure off the battered son. Could he go to his Dr. to get his bruises/head injuries assessed? That might open a discussion with someone familiar with how to proceed. Let your friend know that you are motivated only by concern for him and find it impossible to ignore the danger he is in. Any small step towards addressing this is an important one. Sometimes you can allow a friend to proceed by taking some of the responsibility on yourself- (Hey, maybe you think you can keep dealing with this, but I can't. I need to know that someone with more experience than us is involved. If we can't approach someone together, I may need to speak with someone for my own peace of mind.) It's hard to feel like the one in need. In these situations, there are a million reasons people use to justify the status quo, because as bad as it is, they are afraid they can make it even worse. A continually battered teen can believe that they must somehow deserve it, how else to explain the fact that someone who's supposed to love you hurts you. The hurdles are big, but not insurmountable. I'm not familiar with the Canadian mental health system, but most places are likely to have a community mental health center/crisis hotline. If you or your friend were to call and even anonymously explain the situation, a crisis team member or intake worker would probably have specific ideas about how to proceed. That could be more comfortable than involving a known person. Please stay the course a bit and consider these options. I agree with other posters that college options will unfold in favor of a student who has coped with this level of stress at home. The college process and the day to day survival issues are two seperate things. The latter being the top priority. All the best with this.

By Ndbisme5 (Ndbisme5) on Sunday, August 22, 2004 - 10:30 am: Edit

Tell him to get assistance. Simple as that. Maybe talk to your church/temple minister, or go to family mediation. I'm not sure if calling the cops, principal, guidance counselor, etc. would be necessary. Tell him to get help and advice. He honestly is having a hard time else he wouldn't have confided in you.

By Jamimom (Jamimom) on Sunday, August 22, 2004 - 02:02 pm: Edit

Because I have had to work with Child Services for many years with my type of family, I can tell you that this is a difficult issue to address. There is no nirvana waiting for abused children. On the other hand, abusive parents have hurt children to the point of death. Somehow kids who have aggressive parents have to learn to live in that gray area of what the best move is to make.

Without a handle on the kid's home life and exact story on the abuse, it is impossible to give blanket advice that could do more good than harm. If the kid has a relative or family friend that has some "in " with the family dynamics that is often the best venue to take.

Most of us on this forum want the best for our children. And I have seen in the many threads that we automatically assume that most parents feel the same way. Well, though they may FEEL that way, many do not live their lives that way. There are alot of people with some heavy duty neuroses that are having trouble dealing with life, I can tell you. And they often have children.

By Alphamom (Alphamom) on Sunday, August 22, 2004 - 03:19 pm: Edit

My first impulse would be to say remove this boy as far as possible from his Dad's influence/abuse, then with third party protection inform the Dad that there will be no more relationship with abuse involved and if the Dad WANTS him to go to a highly ranked college he can pay for it. If the Dad is bragging he is intertwined in this boy's life and would not want to explain why Jr. is going to the local community college. There is a bully factor that may back down if presented with a black or white situation of having a son or not in the Dad's future. It's all about control, this is my 2 cent unprofessional opinion, so tell him to be safe and make his own future a loving one.

By Songman (Songman) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 10:52 am: Edit

I have personally witnessed this type of behavior back in the 1960's with many of my friend's fathers. I grew up in a tough town...All I can say is that the probability of success (rising above this and being able to deal with the mental fallout) was not high for my friends. Most are alcholics or being treated for mental disorders today. Two committed suicide. This is a very serious matter!

Your friend needs to find a way to break away from the father. His physical/mental health is more important than going to an IVY league school. What good is an IVY league degree if one is not mentally prepared to deal with society? The odds are not in his favor that he can come out of this alive or in any positive mental state. Granted today, society has a much better support system than we had in the 1960's (including this board),however your friend no matter how educated he is, will have a tough time understanding why a person would father him,love him yet beat him. Your friend needs help now!

By Bluealien01 (Bluealien01) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 04:03 pm: Edit

I think that if this friend does not go talk to a counselor at school, that you should go for him. He's not going to go to college at all if he is dead.

By Bluealien01 (Bluealien01) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 04:05 pm: Edit

Hitting to hurt and not to kill does not sound right. Hitting can kill if done hard enough, whether or not the intent is to kill.

By Davidrune (Davidrune) on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 03:45 am: Edit

Alright. Thanks 'all.

He's grounded right now, so I haven't really talked to him a lot. But once that stops, I'll let him know. But I think, I will leave the decision to him.

By Mom2003 (Mom2003) on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 06:03 am: Edit

I feel terribly inadequate and ignorant when addressing this issue, particularly since we are talking about Canada and not the US. But I am not totally sure that casual advice to to seek school/counselor input or to talk to adults for Davidrune is the correct one. Adults, particularly teachers or others in authority, in the US would be immediately required to call child protective services in the US. Since the friend must be 17, his input should be taken into account and the OP should not behave as if this is a 11 year old being abused.

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