Parental abuse is a form of domestic violence. It can leave a person feeling embarrassed, ashamed, angry and terrified. With emotional feelings that are so intense they overtake logic and reason but it doesn’t mean you are weak or not intelligent.

Parental Abuse is real behaviour in homes; a form of domestic violence has traditionally been characterized by silence as parents are too embarrassed to bring the abuse to light whenever a child or teen intentionally harms a parent physically or psychologically - emotional or financial damage to gain power and control over a parent. The abusive behaviour usually begins verbally and emotionally that is deliberately harmful to the parent and then may become physical.

Parental abuse crosses all social, cultural and economic lines - poor and rich, educated and uneducated. Women who are single parents are often the target of abuse as mothers seems to continue to be the primary caregivers in most families and often have closer emotional and physical connections to their children.

Parental abuse can affect single and two parent families equally. It is usually the mother (or the main caregiver) who is most affected along with other members of the family too.


Types of Parental Abuse

Children as young as eight or nine do abuse their parents, but it appears more prevalent during adolescence and in young adults up to 26 years of age. Children being abusive toward a parent may range from a one-time incident, escalating in frequency to the point of a daily occurrence to adulthood. It can range from

  • Verbal abuse and intimidation to outright physical assault
  • Belittling parents in front of friends/other family members/public,
  • Continuously running away from home,
  • Manipulative threats such as suicide (without intent to attempt),
  • Controlling the running of the household,
  • Expecting the parent to drop everything to meet their needs.
  • Financial abuse includes stealing or "borrowing" the parent's belongings without permission, damaging the home or possessions, demanding things which parents cannot afford and acquiring debts that the parent must pay.

If you are the target of parental abuse, you’re probably living in fear of volcanic eruption of abusive behaviour. Many a time it occurs with no emotion: a quiet, deliberate act used to maintain power or get their self destructive way over a parent. You can help yourself by asking yourself if you will tolerate the actions of your child as assault or abusive if it was someone else’s – a family member, friend, neighbour or co-worker – This would open your inner eyes of understanding and help you take the emotion out of evaluating an abusive situation that has led to so many disfunctioning behaviour in society at large.

Warning Signs of Parental Abuse

Some children feel vulnerable and isolated leading to releasing their anger often directly towards their parents. These children who abuses often has poor communication skills, wants to control, always places blame on others, has little control over impulses, and suffers from low self-esteem. It’s been identified that often those abusing their parent does it wilfully and for enjoyment. Society plays a role in creating, accepting and perpetuating abusive behaviour. Sometimes a situation escalates without us even realizing it, as to understanding some potential warning signs that a child’s behaviour is abusive:

·        Feeling Intimidated. It’s normal to feel your child is pushing boundaries to get what he/she wants until a parent can finally snap, “I told you no!”  the child will retaliate in a way that is fearfully harmful to you by Intimidation with words, the tone of voice or even just a look.

·        Extreme oppositional behaviour reaches a point that your child has no respect for your authority as a parent, outright defying the rules of your home with no fear or concern of consequences. When your child is not just defying the house rules but breaking the law, you have every right to call in law enforcement to curtail this type of behaviour before it leads to criminal offence.

·        Escalating Pattern of Violence. Kids get angry, slam doors, throw things in a fit on the floor in their room may result in you having to re-buy things you valued to the point of destroying property, punching walls, shoving, hitting things near you or throwing things that “almost” hit you, making verbal threats or violating your personal boundaries to even adulthood, this is a definite pattern of abusive behaviour by action of control, manipulate and try to intimidate.



Parental Abuse Effects on Parents

Effects on Parents

Parents being abused experience

·         Physical harm resulting in medical treatment, damage to property, theft and bullying at the hands of their child, and tragically, some led even death.

·         Their children behaving aggressively, abusively and self-destructively, instead of being the healthy child the parents want them to be, leaves many parents in a state of despair. This is because they feel helpless and have no control over their child's hurtful actions.

·         The biggest obstacles to overcoming parental abuse are shame and blame, because it's tough to even think about getting help as to acknowledging or naming the problem is painful.

·         Often do not find the help they need, once parents that are suffering abuse find the courage to reach out, that is the reason why parental abuse is an increasing common problem but not often talked about or adequately addressed.

·         Suffering in silence, which parents’ sufferers do not have to go through as there are support systems out there to take back control. You do not have to give your power away and can put a stop to this abuse. As with any form of abuse, you must recognize that you are not at fault and do not deserve this treatment from any child.

·         Giving their best to their children with life guiding skills, but a child deliberately ignores parental guidance and later blames the parent that they are abused child of an all-giving lovely parent for every error step taken that backfires suffering and some criminal record offenses to them. A parent must never accept this definite pattern of abusive behaviour by action of control, manipulate and try to intimidate from any child because you refuse to accommodate their path of self destruction.

Many parents feel guilty, blaming themselves for their child’s behaviour, by questioning their parental skills. While true underlying factors contributing to parental abuse including

·        Poor boundaries

·        Substance abuse (by either a parent or child),

·        Poor coping skills with moral upbringing due to peer pressure.

·        Deliberate act and enjoying of the power that comes from intimidating a parent.

·        Underlying psychological conditions such as

1)      Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) :- symptoms can cause significant problems in a child's life, such as underachievement at school, poor social interaction with other children and adults, and problems with discipline.

a)      The main signs of inattentiveness are: having a short attention span and being easily distracted, making careless mistakes – for example, in schoolwork, appearing forgetful or losing things, being unable to stick at tasks that are tedious or time-consuming, appearing to be unable to listen to or carry out instructions, constantly changing activity or task, having difficulty organising tasks

b)      The main signs of hyperactivity and impulsiveness are being unable to sit still, especially in calm or quiet surroundings, constantly fidgeting, being unable to concentrate on tasks, excessive physical movement, excessive talking, being unable to wait their turn, acting without thinking, interrupting conversations, little or no sense of danger


2)      Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) :– this is defined by negative and disruptive behaviour, particularly towards authority figures, such as parents and teachers. They often try to get a reaction out of people, and they are often successful. Common ones are: inciting spouses to fight with each other and not focus on the child, making outsiders believe that all the fault lies with the parents, making certain susceptible people believe that they can "save" the child by doing everything the child wants, setting parents against grandparents, setting teachers against parents, and inciting the parents to abuse the child. I frequently see children with ODD in which teachers and parents and sometimes others are all fighting amongst each other rather than with the child who is causing all the turmoil in the first place.

3)      Conduct disorder (CD): - repetitive and persistent pattern of behaviour in which the basic rights of others or major society rules are violated. Which often involves a tendency towards highly antisocial behaviour, such as stealing, fighting,  run away from home overnight or without returning home for a lengthy period Or often skips school;  vandalism and harming people or animals,

4)      Learned behaviour : Can be positive or negative impact, where the feeling of being approved or belonging leads to imitation of the behaviour they have observed, which usually lead to a change in a person's behaviour. In society, while parents play a major role in their child's development, other people, such as family members, friends, peers, teachers, police and church leaders influence our children. The media and advertising are also strong influences as children are exposed to characters on children’s TV to violence at every turn. Even world leaders and Disney films sanction violence by the "good guys"..  Theses models provide examples of behaviour to observe and imitate.


Responding to Parental Abuse

Responding to Parental Abuse

There is no excuse or rationale for abusive behaviour; despite we try to understand what’s going on in any situation. So is aggressive and abusive behaviour in childhood or adolescence, that matures to adulthood of your child violating the rights of others. Parental abuse is serious or illegal as the home is the place where a child learns how to interact in the world by learning what’s acceptable, not acceptable and consequences for behavioural accountability. It’s natural for a parent to protect their own child’s abusive behaviour or feel torn as igniting buttons of anger, disappointment and hurt in a parent.  Only you as a parent can decide what you’re able to follow through with at any given time. Here are some suggestions:

1)      Clearly Communicate Boundaries by making sure your non-verbal communication (what you do) matches your verbal communication (what you say).

2)      Clearly Communicate Consequences for Abusive Behaviour of any kind despite you love them entails you calling the police and they will be held accountable for their behaviour. When the child is in their teens and are basically ignoring, arguing and disrespecting youtake a step further by taking them to a Solicitor to explain to them consequences of their Abusive behaviour to you as a parent and to the society at large and make them sign an agreement with you that if they cross the boundaries set on the agreement you call the police. You may choose to provide other consequences, other than legal, that you could enforce.

3)      Contact the Authorities if out of hand, though it can be difficult for a parent worrying about the long term consequences of contacting the police or unable to handle the thought of their child facing charges. Remember you are not doing any child a favour by allowing him/her to engage in abusive behaviour without consequence or there is the risk that this will generalize to his future relationships with a spouse, his own children or other members of society at large. Children up to the age of 18 are governed by the laws and procedures of juvenile court. Any conviction on abuse charges would not appear on their permanent criminal records. Juvenile laws are in place to take over when a child refuses to abide by parental rules. Therefore, a parent suffering physical, emotional or financial abuse at the hands of a child should not be ashamed to call the police. Penalties for criminal behaviour such as assault and theft may be less extreme than those for adult perpetrators, but they can effectively stop abuse at home before irredeemable harm occurs to the family.

4)      Get Support.  Parental abuse is a serious issue and needs immediate attention and intervention before it gets out of hand to self-destructive behaviour and communal problem. Get support from family or friends – anyone you think will be supportive by giving a Listening ear - Being non-judgmental - Respect confidentiality - Looking for strengths - Giving helpful messages, "You don't deserve to be going through abuse”- Being aware of community resources that will provide support to you. If your natural supports will only make the situation worse by judging you

5)      Seek help from a professional who will support you in gaining a leadership role in your family by contacting a local domestic violence hotline, mediation if the child is willing to acknowledge that they are responsible for their own abuse, anger management and parenting workshops, counsellor or support group as Restoration for Abused People (RAP) in your locality.

6)      Break the barrier of helplessness of Parental Abuse by educating yourself. Braise yourself to work on the issue, instead of being passive and feeling helpless, often gives parents strength.

7)      Safety plan by calling a relative, friend, or police. It does not mean you don't love your child as protecting our children is essential, but that protection cannot be traded against personal safety of self and your family.

8)      Refuse to be provoked by your child to react. If you react emotionally or physically, so will your child.

9)      Learn to be assertiveness - Think before reacting to act. If you mean no, say no without threaten or yell. Don't give in, you will eventually regain power.

10)  Model and Acknowledge respectful good non-abusive behaviour. But be clear and consistent about rules, boundaries and consequences.

If you are facing Parental Abuse issue in your family, rely on your inner strength and wisdom to guide you toward the best answers for your family as you need strength and empowerment for immediate attention and intervention before it gets out of hand to self-destructive behaviour and communal problem. Remind yourself that you might not feel like you have the strength right now, to handle what look like insurmountable problem, but doing something can help you get rid of the feeling of powerlessness that often comes with parental abuse .That distressing feeling which makes you feel you have done something wrong while raising your children. Instead of beating yourself up about the way you are being treated by your child, as you may not have a part in causing what is happening now but you do have some power to directing how your relationship will be going forward for there’s no shortcut or quick fix to a healthier relationship with your child, it starts with acknowledgement of the issue and accountability for their behaviour to adulthood.

Reason for raising Awareness of Parental Abuse is to increase awareness of this issue in order to help rebuild resilience and improve family relations for a better community at large.

                                  Restoration for Abused People (RAP)

Note – In English law, a non-molestation order may be granted under Section 42 of the Family Law Act 1996. Non-molestation orders are a type of injunction used to protect an individual from intimidation or harassment. Breaching a non-molestation order is a criminal offence.Non-molestation orders sought for protection from domestic violence qualify for legal aid regardless of the applicant's income