Husband scratched daughter on purpose... help me please... I don't know what to do - Mothering Forums

Husband scratched daughter on purpose... help me please... I don't know what to do

Anonamom (TS)
03:28 PM Liked: 0
#1 of 71
07-25-2014 | Posts: 6
Joined: Jul 2014
I've posted here on mothering before, but created this anonymous account due to the sensitivity of this issue.

I don't know what to do. I love my husband. We've been married for 8 years. We have a 4 and 5 year old and a 3rd child on the way. I'm a full time SAHM.

My husband sometimes loses his temper. He's left bruise marks (from grabbing too hard, and one time from hitting) our son - who is now 5. This has happened three times in total. He always feels bad afterwards. While he still yells, he hasn't been physically abusive (to the point of leaving a mark) for about a year or so.

Today, my 4 year old daughter came crying to me. She and my husband were playing piano, and evidently she scratched my husband. My husband responded by scratching her back!!! She had three scratch marks on her forearms, maybe 5 inches long or so. They were swelling up and bleeding. Not bleeding profusely, but bleeding. I cannot believe that he did this. I'm just heartbroken and in shock.

My husband seemed to feel bad. I made him leave the house for the day. I've been crying (trying to hide it in front of the kids) every sense.

I don't know what to do. I told my husband that if he ever hurt our kids again, our marriage was over. This was about a year ago - which was the last time he left a mark on our son.

I don't know what to do. I know my husband has been feeling a lot of stress lately. Not only am I pregnant, but also dealing with a cancer diagnosis. I had to have surgery a few weeks ago for it. (I'll be fine in the long run, but there is more treatment head in my future - namely radiation after the baby is born.)

I don't know what to do. OK, I've typed that three times now.

He feels bad. The kids adore him. He is a good dad 95% of the time. The kids are so loving and forgiving even when he is a total aXXhole 5% of the time. I'm scared to leave and be a single mom of three kids and dealing with cancer. Our kids love him. My husband is usually so loving and gentle, but he has a temper that comes out sometimes.

He's never physically hurt me... just the kids. ;(

God, I can't stop crying. I'm sorry if this doesn't make much sense.

I don't know what to do. Am I over-reacting? Do I just need to chill out?

I'm afraid to tell my parents, or my church friends... I'm afraid of someone calling DHS and taking away the kids. I think he needs anger management help or something - but I'm afraid to make him get help because wouldn't the counselor be obligated to call DHS? I've heard so many horror stories about DHS... I feel so alone with this.

I love my kids so much. My heart is just broken. I don't understand how he could physically hurt them. I don't know if I can ever forgive him.... They are so precious and so innocent. I don't understand why he can't control himself better.

Please... someone help give me some perspective.
newmamalizzy's Avatar newmamalizzy
05:02 PM Liked: 540
#2 of 71
07-25-2014 | Posts: 1,668
Joined: Jul 2010
I am really, really sorry that you're going through this. I don't think you're over-reacting at all. The kind of hurt he's causing, even if it's occasional, goes beyond the norm of what people do when they really lose their temper with their kids. I wish I had wonderful advice for you, but I mostly just wanted to send my heart out to you for what is a really, really hard situation to be in. I would definitely suggest counseling for both of you. I think if it were me, I would insist that my husband move out for a while, as per your agreement a year ago. Is there any concern that he will get angry and hurt YOU if you demand that of him?
MeepyCat's Avatar MeepyCat
05:13 PM Liked: 5155
#3 of 71
07-25-2014 | Posts: 3,734
Joined: Oct 2006
Have you looked into the resources available to cancer patients? My cancer treatment came with a ton of social support, so don't hesitate to reach to that potential resource.

I agree with the poster above that you can make him go stay with his mom or something while you figure out next steps.
homeschoolingmama's Avatar homeschoolingmama
05:48 PM Liked: 64
#4 of 71
07-25-2014 | Posts: 948
Joined: Jun 2007
I don't agree that he should move out. While what he did was wrong, I don't think it would be beneficial for their parents to be separated. If he was like this often my opinion would change. I would probably sit down with him and problem solve together. He sounds like a good, involved dad who has poor impulse control when he is in the moment. I have to say that I have come close to hitting a child back when I have been hit. It is instinct or a natural reaction in the moment. For most, it passes and you can calm yourself. It seems like he sometimes has a hard time with that. I mean, once a year... I don't know. If my husband made a mistake like that and knew he was wrong and did it once a year I would suggest him talking to someone. In Canada, CAS would look positively on someone doing something to get help. That is a good thing. I am sure neither one of you want it to happen again so actively doing something to help him I think is a better option than having him move out.
KathrynH's Avatar KathrynH
06:08 PM Liked: 45
#5 of 71
07-25-2014 | Posts: 82
Joined: Jan 2012
I am so sorry that you are in this situation, especially with all the other stressors that you are facing.

With another child on the way & radiation in the future, the amount of stress in your lives will not decrease. He needs to seek help. From your own account this is a recurring pattern that seems to be aggravated by stress, and you know that pressures will be increasing. It is reasonable to think that the frequency/severity would also increase in such circumstances. If he is unwilling to get help, then he does not see his actions as problematic. They are.

You are at a fork in the road. You can stay the course, or veer. It's up to you and your husband.

Good luck to you. Take care of yourself and your babies.
katelove's Avatar katelove
08:22 PM Liked: 13852
#6 of 71
07-25-2014 | Posts: 3,934
Joined: Apr 2009
I think at the very least he needs anger management and parenting classes. There isn't enough info in your OP for me to say whether I think the two of you need counselling as well but it's always worth considering.
All the best. I'm sorry things are so stressful at the moment.
Anonamom (TS)
09:00 PM Liked: 0
#7 of 71
07-25-2014 | Posts: 6
Joined: Jul 2014
Thank you all so much for reading and responding. I can't tell you how much better I feel just having been "heard" because I feel so alone right now.

My husband is already snoring loudly in bed. It seems this doesn't concern him as much as it does me. I can't sleep because I am still feeling so upset and unsure about what to do. I didn't talk to him too much tonight because I didn't want to say the wrong thing before I really wrapped my head around things. He didn't seem to want to talk about anything either.

I am really struggling to deal with this. The three long scratches are still very red and prominent on DD's arm. She was complaining that they still hurt a bit as I was taking her to bed tonight. I can't believe how much I've cried... I can't possibly have any more tears in me. Our daughter is such a sweet and loving child - so forgiving, so eager to please. If anyone other than my husband did this, I'd call the police. I want so badly to protect her from anything in the world that could hurt her - she is so loving and precious... and here her own dad hurt her. This man she looks up to and trusts and loves. I'm just sick to my stomach about it.

Maybe the pregnancy hormones and the stress of my relatively recent diagnosis are also in play here in terms of how poorly I seem to be processing this incident.

I love my husband and wanted to grow old with him... and the kids love him too. But my love for the children and my desire to protect them is powerful... and I worry that I'm being a bad mom by not removing them from his presence.

Oh, and someone mentioned about it being a natural reaction on his part to scratch back. I think you are right because as I was reflecting on incidents with my son, one time I remember he left a bruise on him because he pitched him back after getting pinched. One time he hit him ... again, hitting him "back" was his reasoning. The grabs that left bruises were just in frustration of trying to control a difficult-to-control (at times) kid. He's a good boy, bright, loving and sweet - he didn't deserve any of that either.

I am certain the kids would be devastated if we split. Like I said, my husband is a good dad 95% of the time. My preference would be to keep our family in tact. But, I worry that I'm not protecting my children as a mother should if I stay. I don't know which is worse for them... staying or going. And I don't want to let fears about my own health be a big deciding factor... but the reality is that I am going to need MORE (not less) help with the kids in the upcoming year.

My husband is flawed, as all people are in one way or another. While he frequently yells at the kids, and responds a bit over-the-top (sometimes screaming over literal spilled milk, for instance), he is NOT frequently physically violent. These instances are rare. Physical acts that leave a mark on the kids - I could count those on one hand in all the five years we've been raising our kids together. He love the kids, he really does. Other people who see him with the kids think he's a great dad... and he more often than not IS a great dad.

I never ever ever ever thought I'd be a woman making excuses for how my husband treated me or my kids. Before getting married, I always thought that if my husband laid a finger on me or my kids I'd leave him immediately. Now, faced with that reality, it doesn't seem so easy or black and white.

I don't expect anyone to offer magical answers. But I cannot tell you all how much it meant to see your replies. Thank you.
newmamalizzy's Avatar newmamalizzy
07:47 AM Liked: 540
#8 of 71
07-26-2014 | Posts: 1,668
Joined: Jul 2010
Just wanted to come back and clarify that I don't think it has to be all or nothing at this point as far as deciding to leave your husband forever. It does sound like he's an overall good guy with an issue controlling his impulses when he gets stressed. If his heart is behind it, he could probably work such a problem out with counseling. The reason I suggested following through with your agreement to separate is because I know how easily stuff like this can just be "forgotten" in the course of normal life, especially if it doesn't happen very frequently. After a few weeks with no incidents, you both might lose the feeling of urgency to solve this problem and get help - until the next time it happens. If you insist on a temporary separation it may force you to take steps to really find a solution, through counseling or anger management therapy or whatnot.

BTW, I really don't think your reaction is over the top AT ALL. Your hormones are definitely not to blame. I agree that it is kind of instinctual to hit back/bite back/etc, but I think it's over-the-top to be leaving marks, and I can't really imagine leaving scratch marks like that without the act having gone a beyond that split-second reaction and into the realm of letting anger take over.
momOplenty's Avatar momOplenty
08:29 AM Liked: 13
#9 of 71
07-26-2014 | Posts: 44
Joined: Apr 2014
you're not overreacting at all. it's totally normal to feel the pain of the situation. does he have a history of depression or anything? i'll tell you (and i should not admit this online, but i will), we've had a similar situation in our home, but reversed. i've been the bully to my own kids. so from understanding his side myself, and getting violent bursts of anger, even if infrequently, i get it. i actually bit a kid one time. he bit me so hard, i had to jab my fingers into his jaw to get him off of me. then i bit his little arm right back. i thought i'd scare him, but i left a bruise. and it's the worst thing to admit to, and i know people will think i didn't deserve kids. but i assure you, this is something that does NOT happen 99.99999% of the time here. be sad and upset, tell him so, and having him leave the house is a good idea, even if just a couple of hours to cool off. i've though about myself, and my anger, if i could escape for just a few minutes, i would never get mad. sometimes we do really dumb stuff. like, REALLY dumb. i'm not trying to make any excuses for him, i'm only saying, even the 'best' parents can snap. of course, if this were something frequent, my advice would be different. but if its something that has rarely happened, it will likely be ok. see if he can learn to walk away fast when he feels the anger start. some of us can do something so dumb in a split second, and not realize the damage. i'm so sorry though, there's nothing worse than seeing something like that happen to one of your kids.
EarthRootsStarSoul's Avatar EarthRootsStarSoul
09:09 AM Liked: 3864
#10 of 71
07-26-2014 | Posts: 906
Joined: Nov 2009
The best thing for him is to go get therapy. He has some mental programming from his own childhood that needs to be re-set. That's not something he can do on his own. A professional can give him a new script for thinking and reacting. In terms of 'child abuse' what he's done is pretty minimal. Social workers have seen the really bad stuff (cigarette burns, starvation, sexual abuse, etc.), so I don't think a scratch is going to be setting off their alarm bells too much. We've probably all been scratched by a fed-up cat worse than what your DD has right now. (Not to minimize that your DH shouldn't have done it.) But he should go to therapy to learn some better coping skills--like jumping up and leaving if he feels angry, instead of staying there and standing his ground which turns it into a pissing contest.
intentionalmama's Avatar intentionalmama
01:13 PM Liked: 29
#11 of 71
07-26-2014 | Posts: 152
Joined: Aug 2008
I guess the thing that kind of stands out for me - is that he is sleeping and you are the one awake. It doesn't seem to bother him as much as it does you. You have said it is not the first time, and I would guess, that unless he gets help and learns new ways of handling his frustration and anger it won't be the last. I think it would be good for him to do some counselling so that he can understand himself more and learn more positive ways of handling frustrating situations. No one is perfect, and one of the best things for children is seeing that we also makes mistakes, and how we strive to learn from them, and do better. I think him seeing a good counsellor would be a gift for himself, and his family.
neonalee's Avatar neonalee
01:14 PM Liked: 57
#12 of 71
07-26-2014 | Posts: 1,483
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I agree that leaving won't solve anything, & unless you've left a lot out, he sounds like a very involved & loving father who has some trouble with temper occasionally. He needs to work on that.

My father had a terrible temper. He threw a printer at the wall because the paper kept getting jammed, & was occasionally violent with us. When I was, I think, in 8th grade he started taking tai Kwon do classes. It taught him to control himself. The change was amazing & I respect him highly for that.

I have a temper like my father's of course. I learned how to control /work with it when I was in my 20s & spent a long time learning not to speak or act in anger. That served me well when I acquired a step daughter, but not as much with my own son. He pushes buttons I didn't know I had. I also suffer from depression & a lot of rage when I don't take my meds consistently. I fully understand that impulse to hit back, & the resulting guilt. That doesn't necessarily make someone a bad parent, just a flawed one.

And finally, my husband has a worse temper than I do. He is like my father was, of course lol. When I was pregnant with my son I told him to get his sh** together & figure out how to not be such a jerk or I was leaving him. I did not want my children to grow up with what I did (my father was much worse than you've portrayed you husband). And he did. Is his temper still a problem? Yes. Has he occasionally hurt our son in anger? Yes. But he continues to work on it, ask & listen to advice, & go to therapy as needed.

Talk to him. Come up with some strategies. Find someone not emotionally invested he can talk to & get specific coping ideas. Good luck.
Linda on the move's Avatar Linda on the move
01:26 PM Liked: 4263
#13 of 71
07-26-2014 | Posts: 10,715
Joined: Jun 2005
I don't think its going to be last time unless he gets serious about getting real help and making solid changes. Honestly, a 4 year old is a cake walk compared to a 12 year old. You husband has to learn to LEAVE the room when he knows he is about to loose it, or your DD could end up growing like me -- lying about where she got black eyes.

I also agree that this isn't a deal breaker ( partly because he would still have visiting rights), but pretending everything is OK until it happens again is just setting your kids up to be daddy's punching bags.

There are several things that your DH could do to address his problem. I like the martial arts idea a lot, and it might be more palatable to him than talk therapy. But he needs to do something instead of pretending that "feeling bad" is a plan of action to keep this from ever happening again.
Anonamom (TS)
10:29 PM Liked: 0
#14 of 71
07-26-2014 | Posts: 6
Joined: Jul 2014
After the kids were tucked in bed tonight, we finally had our big talk. I asked him if he wanted to say or share anything. He said the kids purposefully push his buttons. He said he has to discipline them more than I do. He said she scratched him first. He said it was the last straw. He wanted her to see that it hurt to be scratched so she wouldn't do it. Etc. etc. It was really a lot of excuses. Then I asked him what he thought we should do about it. He said "nothing. Forget it and move on." That's when I burst into tears and pretty much sobbed my way through the rest of the conversation.

I was hoping he'd express remorse, but instead it was just excuses. I was hoping he'd say he'd be willing to do anything to make it better and ensure it didn't happen again, but instead he wanted to just drop it and forget it.

This all made me think that we just needed to separate. I reminded him of what I had said before - that if it happened again, I needed to leave and take the kids with me. He said that wasn't an option. (Not in a threatening way... but in a "there is no way that is happening" kind of way.) He was completely unemotional - and reflecting on it now, a bit condescending.

A whole lot of talking (me crying... being way more emotional than I wanted to be for this conversation) he did agree to go to counseling. I don't think he believes he needs counseling. I think he is doing it because it was pretty much the only alternative to me leaving with the kids that I presented. We even went online and found a local counselor - a Christian counselor who seems to work both with anger management and parenting issues. Hopefully, he will be a good fit.

I'm still not sure if I'm handling this right. I asked him how I can be sure that he won't act on angry impulse again. I told him there would be plenty more "last straw" moments... and that the stress levels were only going to go up as our third child arrives and my medical issues continue. He didn't really have a response - but to be fair I don't know what a good response to that concern would be.

He thinks it would be worse for the kids for him to be gone (like in a separation situation). I don't really want to be separated either... but I'm still feeling so confused and conflicted about what is happening. Everytime I see those scrapes on DD's arm, I just feel so sick to my stomach. We are seeing my parents tomorrow, and I worry that they will see the scrapes and ask DD what happened. I'm not coaching DD to say anything in particular about them... I don't want her to feel like she needs to lie, and I definitely don't want her to feel like she's done anything wrong. So, I guess we will need to deal with it if it comes up... but it makes me very nervous.

Anyway... that is my update. Here I am again, unable to sleep with my husband already asleep and snoring. I wish I felt like he cared more about this. I'd be so broken up with we switched places and I was the one that hurt our DD in such a way. I can't force him to care or expect him to respond the same way I do. I should just be grateful that he seems to be willing to go ahead with some counseling, and pray that it helps him.

Thank you for the so many thoughtful replies. I hope I'd doing the right thing for our kids....
Viola's Avatar Viola
02:30 AM Liked: 10047
#15 of 71
07-27-2014 | Posts: 22,553
Joined: Feb 2002
So I'm wondering what would happen if you told him, as factually and unemotional as possible, that this kind of behavior isn't acceptable, that he is an adult and has to be the one to learn how to control his emotional response when he feels like the kids are pushing his buttons. He is bigger, stronger, the one with all the power. It's ludicrous to try and put himself on equal footing with a 4 year old, and while he thought he might be teaching her a lesson, he drew blood and has the potential to hurt her a lot worse if he is angrier. And he wasn't teaching her how to be respectful.

I say this as a person who got very angry and lost my temper with my kids a number of time, but I realized that me reacting so angrily, losing control of my temper just made me feel horrible, and I was giving away the authority of my power and losing control. Because when I act in the way my children act, I put us on a similar footing in their minds, and I'm just like a bully that they won't respect. What I've started doing is having serious discussions about things, because I really want to know what in the world my child is thinking when she does something so unbelievably egregious to me. And there is a loss of privilege.

I feel like if he can't at least consider your words and talk about loving guidance and respectful discipline, and he is being disrespectful to you, then that is a big problem. My husband is not physically violent, but he would yell a lot, and become very sarcastic, and I hear so much of his negativity echoed by my children when they are annoyed with me, and I call it out now. I was at a point where he was kind of depressed and being angry all the time and I felt like I had to kind of walk on eggshells before I realized we are both rational people and I should be able to talk to him. Although I was probably pissed when I finally did, but I remember telling I was sick of Mr. Angry Man coming home from work everyday, and I was starting to dislike him because of how mean and sarcastic he could be. And he felt bad and was able to admit that he did yell a lot, and then I listened to him explain why he was angry and what things were making it worse--he is really sensitive to noise, and had a lot of it at work. But I feel like things will just fester and fester until everything is rotten, and I'm sure your husband must be feeling a lot of emotional stress with your illness & pregnancy among other things.
EarthRootsStarSoul's Avatar EarthRootsStarSoul
05:45 AM Liked: 3864
#16 of 71
07-27-2014 | Posts: 906
Joined: Nov 2009
Now I think Linda on the Move is correct.
sillysapling's Avatar sillysapling
08:35 AM Liked: 3059
#17 of 71
07-27-2014 | Posts: 905
Joined: Mar 2013
This man needs therapy, that is a really disturbing outlook he has and not one I would expect from a healthy, well-adjusted adult. I would definitely suggest to him that he see a therapist to help him learn how to be more calm when the kids push his buttons (and to get to the root of his issues- your call on whether to mention that or not, though). You should look into it for yourself as well, if it's possible, you're going through a lot and having an impartial 3rd party to talk to might help you feel better.

Martial arts isn't an awful idea, as long as you get a good teacher. Apparently there are a lot more teachers who treat it like fight club, shouting verbal harassment at students for not doing well enough and ignoring the discipline aspects. That really wouldn't help your husband's anger issues, it may even make things worse as it teaches him how to properly attack someone. My partner and BIL did Tae Kwon Doe with a bad teacher who didn't talk at all about discipline and BIL used it to be an even more effective bully- not the desired outcome.

It would be good for your children to take as well (again, with a good teacher). It can help them learn self-confidence and discipline as well, it may help them realize that they shouldn't punch/scratch/etc others, and it might even be a good bonding time for your husband and the kids. And if your husband doesn't get better- they'll have tools to defend themselves against him as they get older.
pumabearclan
05:36 PM Liked: 530
#18 of 71
07-27-2014 | Posts: 617
Joined: Nov 2012
Anonamom, I'm sorry to say this but I would leave the marriage. Your husband doesn't understand how to be a parent and has violent urges. His idea of parenting is to "give as good as he got." We don't even want to see this in our preschoolers let alone in their parents. He is obviously not on the same page as you regarding parenting (and the rest of world, because you are right that he is abusing your children by any legal standard) and this will not go away; these sorts of problems do not diminish without years of therapy and a lot of personal hard work, and there is no reason for your children to live in fear and for you to live in heartache. In the best scenario you will all learn to live "around" daddy and not "push his buttons," which is codependency. Codependency leads to low self-esteem, substance abuse, and serial abusive relationships. In the worst case your children will be devastated not only by his reactive temper but his BLAMING and SHAMING of them after he hurts them! As hard as it is to accept, please see this man for who he is and not for who you want him to be.
Katherine73's Avatar Katherine73
05:43 PM Liked: 16
#19 of 71
07-27-2014 | Posts: 50
Joined: Apr 2012
You mentioned that you would be seeing a Christian counselor so I'm assuming that you guys are Christians and perhaps churchgoing? In which case I'm wondering if your church would be of any help to you and your husband? Some churches deal really well with this kind of thing and hold their members to standards and accountability. And then there are some churches who believe that the man is the head of the household and has the right to do whatever he wants to do with his family. Of course you are the only one who knows if going to your church leadership would be a good idea. Of course I am suggesting you do this in addition to counseling and whatever else you think would be helpful. I completely understand how you are not wanting to pick your children up and leave, however abuse usually escalates. I think the counseling is a great step 1. But just because he has agreed to go to counseling does not mean that you have solved the problem. You will have to constantly be on your guard and evaluating the situation. The benefits of staying might outweigh the problems right now, but next week or next month that could all change. I'm so sorry you are dealing with this.
Wild Lupine's Avatar Wild Lupine
07:54 PM Liked: 49544
#20 of 71
07-27-2014 | Posts: 2,188
Joined: Jul 2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anonamom View Post
He said the kids purposefully push his buttons. He said he has to discipline them more than I do. He said she scratched him first. He said it was the last straw. He wanted her to see that it hurt to be scratched so she wouldn't do it. Etc. etc. It was really a lot of excuses. Then I asked him what he thought we should do about it. He said "nothing. Forget it and move on."
I'm late to this thread but this alarms me more than anything else. Even days later, past the heat of the moment, he is blaming his children for his behavior. A grown man, an adult, blaming a four and five year old. "The kids purposely press my buttons," "She scratched me first," those are the words of an abuser. Maybe his behavior hasn't harmed the children very much, but he is still talking like an abuser. Even if the physical abuse doesn't escalate beyond what you are already seeing, the pattern of blaming others for his egregious behavior will affect you and the children in many, many ways.

Maybe counseling will help, maybe martial arts will help, but since he has hurt his child and doesn't seem to care, I have my doubts. Every parent has poor parenting moments, spanks in anger, loses their temper, something, but most have remorse, take responsibility for it, and take steps to change.

Since you and the kids aren't in immediate physical danger you have some time to figure out your options. I recently left someone who was like that, occasionally lashed out physically and couldn't/wouldn't/didn't take responsibility. It took me years to decide to leave, and I didn't have the stress of pregnancy while figuring it out. Maybe you can find a way to stay, if that's what you want, but do so with open eyes; unless your H can show some sense of responsibility, this will not get better. It might stay the same, but more likely it will get worse.

Hugs, mama, it is a really, really difficult place to be. Your children are so lucky to have you, you are a wonderful mother!
neonalee's Avatar neonalee
09:59 PM Liked: 57
#21 of 71
07-27-2014 | Posts: 1,483
Joined: Nov 2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wild Lupine View Post
I'm late to this thread but this alarms me more than anything else. Even days later, past the heat of the moment, he is blaming his children for his behavior. A grown man, an adult, blaming a four and five year old. "The kids purposely press my buttons," "She scratched me first," those are the words of an abuser. Maybe his behavior hasn't harmed the children very much, but he is still talking like an abuser. Even if the physical abuse doesn't escalate beyond what you are already seeing, the pattern of blaming others for his egregious behavior will affect you and the children in many, many ways.

Maybe counseling will help, maybe martial arts will help, but since he has hurt his child and doesn't seem to care, I have my doubts. Every parent has poor parenting moments, spanks in anger, loses their temper, something, but most have remorse, take responsibility for it, and take steps to change.

Since you and the kids aren't in immediate physical danger you have some time to figure out your options. I recently left someone who was like that, occasionally lashed out physically and couldn't/wouldn't/didn't take responsibility. It took me years to decide to leave, and I didn't have the stress of pregnancy while figuring it out. Maybe you can find a way to stay, if that's what you want, but do so with open eyes; unless your H can show some sense of responsibility, this will not get better. It might stay the same, but more likely it will get worse.

Hugs, mama, it is a really, really difficult place to be. Your children are so lucky to have you, you are a wonderful mother!
Upon re reading, this will sound like I'm disagreeing with you more than I mean to, but my brain isn't coming up with a better way to word it, sorry.

And if his reaction is out of shame, or not knowing how else to react, or not having the tools to cope? My husband had become a much better man since we got together, he says so & I agree. But we've been together 8 years & working on his patenting skills at least 5. But yes he has to be willing to at least listen to start.

If your husband is mostly a good man, see if counseling helps. If it doesn't, then time to reevaluate. But give it a good chance first.

I'm also wondering, does he become uncomfortable & have a hard time really listening when you get emotional? We've gotten around that by me writing letters to him. I write everything I want to say, reread it, maybe change wording, add /delete stuff, then rewrite it nearly. He reads later, then we discuss.

I wasn't aware that some places skipped the discipline of martial arts. That's really sad & thanks for the heads up. If there is a good local place it would be a good family activity for all the reasons mentioned.
pumabearclan
06:52 AM Liked: 530
#22 of 71
07-28-2014 | Posts: 617
Joined: Nov 2012
Quote:
Originally Posted by neonalee View Post
And if his reaction is out of shame, or not knowing how else to react, or not having the tools to cope?
I do agree with this... And I agree that anyone can change with effort.

My feeling is that anyone who abuses doesn't have the tools to cope, but that doesn't mean that victims should take abuse or allow others to be victimized out of sympathy for the developmental deficiencies of the abuser: that's codependency. It's a fine line between supporting/understanding and enabling.

The point that WildLupine raised, which is a critically important one, I think, is that the OP's husband doesn't see anything wrong with his behavior and isn't concerned with the effect he is having on others even when it's brought to his attention. So any "supporting/understanding" that the OP would give is actually just codependent enabling since you can't support something (improvement) that isn't happening.

It comes up here on MDC from time to time that although an abuser is a wonderful person 95% of the time should we just accept the 5% of abuse? Or if the abuse isn't physical, is it "not as bad?"

In general, if a person abuses it indicates that they have personality problems that color their entire lives: how they see others in relation to themselves, what is their self-image, what is their sense of personal responsibility. A lot of abusers are not actively abusing because things are going their way most of the time. The ultimate abuser would never have to abuse because they would have achieved complete control over their presentation to others, their environment, and the responses they receive from others. Everyone in their relationships would be objectified codependents. Obviously, life rarely fails to challenge an abuser and when it does, the response is abuse. So being in a relationship with an abusive person requires victimization, either through codependency to avoid being harmed or being harmed.

I agree that the husband should go to counseling. I also think the OP should probably try some counseling too because she's in a very difficult situation. But I don't think that the OP should continue to prod and plead with her husband about his unacceptable (and illegal) battery of his children and accompany him to counseling. If he wants to change, *he* will have to do it. The more deeply she gets involved with his personality defect the worse for her and the less likely that he will be able to recognize his behavior as originating with him and not resulting from other people's behavior (children, wife, boss, stranger in traffic, store clerk, etc.)
Anonamom (TS)
10:10 AM Liked: 0
#23 of 71
07-28-2014 | Posts: 6
Joined: Jul 2014
The thoughtfulness and wisdom in posts here at MDC always impress me. I'm glad I came here to get advice and different views. Thank you all so much.

I wish this was neater and tidier. When I imagined scenarios like this before getting married, or seeing them portrayed on tv/movies, the correct course of action seems so black and white, so obvious. But being in this situation, it's all just grey and confusing. Even with the good advice being given, I still feel so lost.

Yesterday my husband told me that he contacted the counselor (via online form, which is one one to set up a first appointment). He did that on his own, without my prompting/asking/reminding. So I thanked him for it, and was glad to hear it.

We visited my parents yesterday. My parents both separately asked my daughter what happened to her arm. When my mom asked, my daughter said (very quickly) "i scratched my dad so my dad scratched me back" and then quickly moved on to the next subject. She said it so quickly, my mom obviously couldn't quite understand her. She looked at me and said "did the cats scratch her?" I said "no" and it was left at that as DD was pulling grandma away to come to a "tea party" she had set up. Later my dad saw her arm and asked what happened he said "it looks like your arm went into a meat grinder!" But DD is a rough-and-tumble kid, often has bruises on her shins from playing outside or playing with her brother. My dad isn't a good listener and is easily distracted and seemed to assume that it was just some mystery scrapes that she got from playing.

I didn't know what to do. I didn't want to offer up the details of what happened because if there is any hope for our family to stay intact then my parents knowing that my husband hurt their granddaugther would be the end of that. Honestly, I thought there was about a 50% chance that my husband would end up with a broken nose yesterday... my DD is so cherished and adored by my parents. If my dad knew, he would likely deck my husband. And with my dad's personality, my husband would not ever be forgiven. That kind of a scenario seems like it would be so damaging to the kids. It seemed better to not say anything.

But I also didn't tell DD to lie. I didn't dress her in a way that covered her marks (too hot for long sleeves anyway). I prayed that God would guide the day and whatever He wanted to be revealed would be revealed.

My daughter is at camp right now. She still has those marks on her arm (they were fairly deep scratches... right now it it looks like her arm slid in gravel or something - they are no longer 3 well defined lines but rather a cluster of small scabs, maybe 3 inches long at the longest point). Part of me is fearful that when I pick her up, they will ask me about the marks and I won't know what I should say. To be completely honest, I think a small part of me almost hopes someone asks. I'm really ashamed to say that. But it might show my husband how serious it is if someone outside of me is concerned. I think he thinks i'm just over-reacting.

I have taken pictures of my daughters arm... just in case I should ever need it. In case, I guess, it gets to the point where we need to separate and I need to prove that my husband should not have custody. There were two other instances where I have pictures of my son as well (a grab-mark bruise on his arm in on instance, and a small bruise from a hit or pinch - can't remember now which - to his torso in another instance). I had previously had a couple of other pictures and brief descriptions of "incidents" but I deleted them - I guess in a moment of optimism.

I am very hopeful that this counselor can help. I feel like I still haven't decided exactly what I am doing, or what I am supposed to do. I might talk to a woman at my church who is in my bible study and see what insights she might offer. But I am still very very very apprehensive about discussing any of this with anyone in real life (that is, face-to-face).
pumabearclan
10:38 AM Liked: 530
#24 of 71
07-28-2014 | Posts: 617
Joined: Nov 2012
I am so happy to hear that you are being honest with yourself about this.

The degree of the injury your husband inflicted concerns me even more, unfortunately.

Your daughter is showing some codependency and shame. She wants to protect her dad and probably feels this was her fault. She even said so. I would talk with her about this. You could ask your husband to join you and make his apology with the explanation that her injury was not her fault, that everyone has to be responsible for their own behavior, no matter what. I wouldn't allow her to take responsibility for this in any way. Unfortunately, when your husband scratched her, the opportunity for her to know that scratching is wrong was lost in the trauma and shame that he inflicted. Now that is the only issue that exists for her.

I'm glad to know that your husband set up the counseling appointment on his own. Apparently this latest incident did sink in and he seems to be taking things more seriously. I hope this is last incident that happens to get this issue taken care of. In the meantime, if you choose to stay, watch out for your children. If your husband makes progress you will all learn to trust him again and that is a beautiful thing. You have a loving heart and are a good mother.

I personally wouldn't talk face-to-face with anyone unless I had already made up my mind or unless things were dangerous on a daily basis and you are in crisis. Give yourself some time; maybe participate in some forums for people who have recovered from or who were involved in abusive relationships. Also spend time alone, and pray. Anything can happen.

Keep checking in as you need! So glad this forum helped you, I agree that you got a lot of very thoughtful responses. Participation here is excellent, I have always felt this as well.

Hugs
Puma
meemee's Avatar meemee
10:53 AM Liked: 1881
#25 of 71
07-28-2014 | Posts: 12,626
Joined: Mar 2005
OP i am so sorry you are going through this. with everything else it can be so heart breaking.

the thing is - i dont see this as big a problem as you feel.

you are christians and he seems to believe in the eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth. he also does not believe in gentle discipline.

everytime he hurt his kids he did it to teach them a lesson. he didnt initiate it. if you hit me i hit back. 3 times in 5 years. with kids a year apart. yes it can be hard.

and so he does not really feel remorse because he thinks he is doing the right thing.

i think this philosophy is very common among many non gentle discipline family. i see this on public transportation all the time. toddler hits parent, parent hits them back. not enough to scratch and bruise but definitely hit. (and no you cant protest. other passengers feel the parent is right).

i dont see it really as an anger issue. i see it as a discipline philosophy issue. he feels you are too lax, so he has to pick up the slack. he needs parental guidance - coming from a 3rd party - not necessarily you.

i would check on the counsellor and see what their philosophy is.

it is a good thing your dh has agreed to counselling. i just hope he gets the proper guidance.

was he spanked as a kid?

the dangerous part in all this is - how seriously he does this. its isnt just a little scratch in retaliation. its a 'meat grinder' scratch. its a bruising. his counselor needs to hear when dh did. will dh tell them that?

i think your dh holds it together pretty well. just once in a blue moon he really lets it rip. someone with a real anger issue would be doing much worse.

i would handle this more as - coming from your kids point of view. from gentle discipline point of view instead of anger issue.

i agree its not a reason to leave now. i would also make sure in the following months you use all the resources available to you. to get meals cooked, house cleaning, help with babysitting. take every opportunity you get instead of feeling bad to accept it. your children's behaviour triggers your dh. you want to eliminate as much of the trigger as possible.

if you could i would seek some counselling for yourself too. you have a LOT on your plate. its nice to talk to someone sometimes.
pumabearclan
11:08 AM Liked: 530
#26 of 71
07-28-2014 | Posts: 617
Joined: Nov 2012
Meemee, hitting children that leaves marks is illegal. It's child abuse.

The father did not use non-gentle-discipline, which would include using a loud voice, spanking on the bottom, or frog-marching the child to a time-out. Breaking the skin and bruising by pinching, punching, and scratching is abuse that indicates a person who is out of control. It teaches nothing. It frightens and subdues non-compliant persons so that the abuser does not feel threatened any more.

The statistics for child abuse are close to one in four, so it's not surprising that people are seen abusing their children.

"An eye for an eye" is not love.

My understanding of Christianity is that Christ's love and compassion upended the eye-for-an-eye paradigm. About 2,000 years ago. "Turn the other cheek," "Love thy neighbor" etc.

Eliminating the triggers so that an abuser doesn't abuse is called "codependency" - assuming responsibility for someone else's punishing behavior. It is about as wrong as a relationship can be, especially between parents and children, as it denies respect, trust, love, natural expression, self-esteem, security, etc etc etc. What you are encouraging is for the whole family to become perfect codependents so that the abuser doesn't abuse any more.

Abuse: "accepting it" instead of "feeling bad about it" is just - wow - too far out there for me to fathom, to be honest, and I'll wager it is for the OP as well who clearly finds this unacceptable & realizes that there will be *legal trouble* if this goes public. Cleaning the house & cooking meals so that abuse doesn't occur... Wow. I just can't fathom this.
head4thehills's Avatar head4thehills
11:53 AM Liked: 27
#27 of 71
07-28-2014 | Posts: 100
Joined: Feb 2014
My feeling is, an eye for an eye leaves both people blind. I don't mean to offend with that statement, it is just my opinion. I feel it's why physical "discipline", or abuse, carries over from one generation to the next. It is a form of blindness, in my opinion.
OP, I really feel for you. I know that if I were in your shoes I would be feeling EXACTLY the same as you. Every word you wrote makes sense to me. That gray, confusing state, where what should be clear is actually fuzzy, I've been there myself. I think there is no clear, easy answer.
Since there have been so many excellent posts here, I'm only going to add one little thing. Please make sure you have supportive people around you. Family, friends, counselors, fellow church members, even if they don't know about this facet of your family life, they are indispensable for your own mental health. You will need people available to you who will support you. Isolation is a terrible feeling.
You mentioned that your husband contacted your counselor. Any idea what was said?
I'm so glad for these forums, helping mothers in need feel just a little less alone!
sillysapling's Avatar sillysapling
12:07 PM Liked: 3059
#28 of 71
07-28-2014 | Posts: 905
Joined: Mar 2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by pumabearclan View Post
The degree of the injury your husband inflicted concerns me even more, unfortunately.
This. "Drew blood" is bad enough, but can mean a fairly shallow, small scrape. The dad may not have even have meant to do it, I've scratched myself by accident enough to draw a little blood and kiddo has scratched enough to draw blood without even meaning to scratch. I've never seen a human-induced scratch that bad, that doesn't sound like a quick swipe, where the person may not realize how much damage they're doing, it sounds like a purposeful, slow, nails-digging-in scratch. That is far more horrifying than quickly lashing out, which was bad enough.

I really disagree with the PP who said this was a discipline difference issue. Even people who use spanking wouldn't go that far unless they're completely abusive. There certainly are Christians (people of all religions and atheists) who use their beliefs to justify abuse- but that doesn't make it any less abusive, and most people of any belief would be horrified.
MeepyCat's Avatar MeepyCat
02:39 PM Liked: 5155
#29 of 71
07-29-2014 | Posts: 3,734
Joined: Oct 2006
Have you considered your parents as a resource? Could you talk to a counselor about how to explain events to them and ask them to stay calm?

The thing is, though, you're not going to convince them to stay calm and do nothing. They might be great, though, at staying calm and helping you out.

I went through cancer treatment a few years ago, and every doctor on the planet seemed totally sure that I could handle everything. Some people work right through treatment! What they don't say is how much that sucks. I was exhausted, ill, and miserable. So it's really likely that your parents are going to be at your house a lot, or your kids are going to be with your parents a lot, and information is going to pass freely between your households. The closets will not stay closed, and any skeletons in them will wind up all over the floor.

The best I can say of your husband's behavior is that he appears to forget that he is the grownup. When a child scratches you, you don't scratch back, because you are an adult, and you have the sense and patience to explain right and wrong. When you begin to lose that sense and patience, you call for reinforcements. If you can't do that, you consider, after the fact, what you can do to avoid the same stress in the future. Asking a child to not provoke you is not a realistic option. Asking a child who is freaked out by a new sibling and a parent with a serious illness to not provoke you is even less realistic.

So, one thing to do is to sit down with your husband and lay it out. Your parents are going to find out about this, and the best way to manage their reactions is to sit them down and tell them about it. When you do that, you can also tell them what you plan to do about this problem, and how they can best help you. If your husband is not willing to do this with you, you will need to make a plan to have this conversation without him, and possibly to consider removing him from day to day contact with the kids as a more important part of the solution.

My cancer treatment came with a ton of social workers. You can ask to talk to one before you talk to your parents, but it should be this week.
littlec's Avatar littlec
03:00 PM Liked: 7860
#30 of 71
07-29-2014 | Posts: 300
Joined: Sep 2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by katelove View Post
I think at the very least he needs anger management and parenting classes. There isn't enough info in your OP for me to say whether I think the two of you need counselling as well but it's always worth considering.
All the best. I'm sorry things are so stressful at the moment.

I agree completely. I am so sorry you are dealing with this. I have no idea if this incident would be a mandated report kind of thing, but if you are worried, he could talk in general terms, not specifics. I'm in no way condoning this, but it sounds like something you want to work through, and I don't think child services getting involved will do any good at this point.


If he doesn't want to get help from a counselor (because he is incapable of helping himself on his own, that is clear), you are going to have to decide what is worse for you and your kids- you being a single mom, or you guys living with someone who has serious anger issues and lacks self control.


I believe you that he is a good guy 95% of the time, but women and children get killed by the 5%. Sure, that is extreme, but drawing blood on your child is pretty extreme too. I wish you the best with this situation. Truly.

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