I'm at the end of my tether with my step-father

I’m 20, my step-father is 40. I find him a horrible vile man. He shouts all the time at us. He frequently calls my mother a ‘fat cow’, ‘stupid cunt’ and ‘fucking bitch’ and other phrases of that ilk. My mum never says anything. She’s an immigrant so I think the gravity of some of the insults he says don’t quite sink in with her.

He is the breadwinner. He drinks, smokes, has poor diet, high-blood pressure, angina and is impulsive. He is charming in public and at work but takes out his stress of work on my mother. I often stick up for my mother because I don’t care if he shouts at me, I shout at him right back, giving him all the verbal abuse he’s given to my mother. He’s not physically abusive but he is extremely verbally abusive. He reacts solely on his instincts and never engages his brain before he acts.

The stress literally makes my heart hurt and I have exams and it’s making it difficult to focus as I have to hear him shouting at my mother all the time and it raises my anxiety levels. He mostly uses my mother as a verbal punchbag. He doesn’t shout at me, but I feel like defending my mother all the time. I can assure you all the abuse is one-way traffic from him to her. It sickens me.

I don’t know what to do or how to handle him.

If you are in your 20s, there is no reason for you to continue to subject yourself to him.

If I were in your position, I would do everything in my power to get a job, get some money, and get out. Your mother is a grown woman, she can choose her own life, you can’t save her, nor should you be trying to. That’s not your job.

Your job is to do well in classes, become a productive member of society, and find something worthwhile to do with your life while trying to remain sane and relatively content. Doesn’t sound like continuing to live at home is going to help further any of those goals.

I know that’s not the answer you’re looking for, but that’s the reality. If it makes you feel any better, consider your moving out into your own place as the creation of a safety net/alternate refuge for your mother also if she ever decides she wishes to be free from verbal abuse as well.

Actually, I’m a student, so I can’t actually take up a job right now.

I have to agree, much as I hate to. There’s just nothing you can do. You are not going to change him, and there’s nothing you can do to make your mother stand up for herself and put an end to it. I can see how it would break your heart to see this idiot being so mean to her. Given that you simply cannot do *anything *about it, for your own wellness, you need to remove yourself from that situation. They are stuck on those paths, but you aren’t. Don’t be a martyr for your mother; it won’t help her and it could hurt you.

With luck, this guy treats others like this and someone will put an end to it. Or he will just keel over, though don’t count on that…

Good luck.

I mean, does this count as domestic abuse? I would write a big note listing signs of domestic abuse to show him except he’s dyslexic.

Actually, unless you’re studenting more than 14 hours every day, including weekends, that’s a cop-out answer.


I did it my whole life (still do, actually - full-time management and grad-school), lots of other people do it, some people even are students and work **more **than one job!
If you want a better excuse/reason, you could say that you’ve been looking, and no one needs help during the times you aren’t in classes, or that very few places are hiring in your area. Neither of those are entirely legitimate excuses either, but they’ll get you a lot further than simply stating that you’re a student.
You can do this if you want it bad enough. If you don’t want it bad enough, then that should tell you more than I can about the relative severity of your living situation. If it was intolerable, you wouldn’t be tolerating it.

You could try video/audio taping him when he’s being verbally abusive, and play it back for him so he can see/hear what he sounds like outside of the heat-of-the-moment. Get a sampling over the course of time so he can’t just dismiss it as a one-time thing.

If it’s all impulsive, and he’s able to be charming in public, he should be able to realize that it’s not acceptable when he acts that way. Shame is a powerful motivator for people who aren’t always self-aware enough to realize that they often act like douchebags.

That’s kind of a misguided thing to say. I don’t tolerate it, I shout back at him. That’s akin to saying anyone in an intolerable situation deserves it because they’re not doing enough to get themselves out of that situation. I understand that if you’re economically independent, you can be free of these situations, but it’s not always possible to be economically independent at any stage of one’s life. To assume that just because you can do it, anyone can, is quite short-sighted.

I’m an Ivy League student and I don’t know many others, if any, that have the time and energy to take on a demanding job that can pay for two people’s living standards on top of academic studies. If you really want me to break it down to you, I study about 8 hours a day on weekdays, and I’m part of a few societies too so I have responsibilities with those totalling roughly 3 hours a day also. Then factor in 8 hours sleep so that I can function properly. Add in another 3-4 hours for showering, chores, grooming, eating, travelling etc. That doesn’t really leave enough time to get a job that would earn me more than pocket money I think. I’m not going to sacrifice my academics for the sake of earning a few bucks in a bar. I live at home in order TO save money.

Since it’s obvious you’re stuck in the environment for a while so you really need to develop some tools to deal with it. Tune him out as much as you can. You and your mother take walks when necessary. Ask for help from school counselors, etc. Good luck.

Nobody’s saying you deserve it, but you *are *tolerating it. You may be tolerating the situation because that’s the only way you can get an Ivy league education and there’s nothing wrong with that, but if it were truly intolerable you’d be less worried about getting the education of your choice and more worried about getting out. And in this situation, your only options are tolerate it or leave.You can’t make him change, you can’t make your mother stand up to him and you can’t make her leave him. The only thing you can change is your reaction. You can learn to tune him out, or better yet, use headphones to help with that. You can see if counseling will help you not to become stressed or anxious, but you can’t change either one of them.
About it counting as domestic abuse? Maybe. But remember, domestic abuse is not against the law . Certain acts such as assaults ,rape, kidnapping etc. are crimes and may also constitute domestic abuse, but being verbally abusive and shouting generally isn’t illegal. I’m not sure what god you think it would do to categorize it as domestic abuse- it’s not like he’s going to say “Screaming insults at my wife is a form of domestic abuse? I didn’t realize that” and suddenly stop.

bolded and italics added by me.

This is exactly what I was going to say, but much more concise. I agree with it all, especially the emphasized sections.

All you can change is yourself.

Why two people? We’re talking about you moving out. You can’t make your mom leave her husband.

You’re so stressed out that it’s hard to focus, hard to study, hurting your health and grades, but you’ll blame a job and moving out for potentially derailing your schooling? :dubious:

He’s an abusive fuckhead, but screaming obscenities at his wife isn’t illegal (last I checked) unless the neighbors call the cops because he’s disturbing the peace. Your yelling at him obviously isn’t doing anything to make him not do it again, because he’s still doing it. If you want, bitch him out when you’re around, but you can’t be there constantly to be her bodyguard.

You need to stay out of the house as much as possible so you can study, and focus on getting your mom to face reality. If she doesn’t understand what he’s calling her, translate for her. Get her resources aimed at women who are being emotionally abused, preferably something from her cultural group. Tell her you’ll stand behind her if she leaves. But she has to decide what to do.

Save yourself.

I don’t know what part of Europe you are in, but I advise seeking counselling at the college. They can direct you toward local abuse foundations that can help you deal with the situation, even if your mother can’t. And you might get your mother some help that way, too.

I’m beginning to think that the OP might have been expecting kittens and huggles.

Yes, it is domestic abuse, so don’t expect your mother to come around – odds are she’ll put up with it despite all reason.

It is not your job to try to rescue or protect your mother.

Yes, you’re stuck until you can financialy free yourself.

Seriously, you’re at an ivy league school, they have services to help you. Talk to someone.

You’ll have to be honest, upfront and sincere. Apprise them of the horror of your home life, tell them you don’t want to be a burden, maybe there’s a spare dorm room you could use for a month and get a break from the madness during exams? Don’t try and tidy the story up, it’s vital that you’re direct, open and asking them for some assistance. Even if it’s just asking around for you, if there’s any help out there.

Speak up. Use your words, speak honestly and with few words. You may be surprised that someone will listen and take up your cause, find you a better situation. Even if it’s just a loan for a 30 day break, it sounds like it could really help you through. It costs you nothing but your pride, to try, and see what shakes out. You never know till you try.

Beyond that, I’d be looking to stay on friend’s couches, someone who stays near a library where you can study in quiet.

You should be most concerned about your own exercising, of the very practice, you claim to loath in your father, I think. Instead of shouting at him, have you tried telling him that his verbal abuse exercises, which clearly do something for him, are threatening your exam results? Since he’s housing you, it’s somewhat counterproductive to sabotage the education he’s helping you get, don’t you think?

At any rate, all you can do, is recognize it’s a dance and it takes two. Your Mom is unwilling to change anything. Not unable to, unwilling to. You are just a child caught between an overbearing verbal abuser, your opponent , whom you also love as a father, and a long suffering mother you feel the need to defend. This is their battle, when you engage, you lose. You cannot save her from him. You cannot save him from himself. All you can do, is save yourself.

At all costs stop practicing his ways, or you’ll risk getting addicted to them, just as he has.

If it’s Ivy League it’s the US.

You say that he acts better in public, so have you tried bringing the public in? If you could get somebody, or two or three people, to come over as a study group would he behave himself while they were there?

Do you all have any relatives near by? Someone who could come over and help calm him down? I would try bringing in any people I could to help diffuse the situation.

Does your mother appreciate it when you yell to take up for her or does she wish you would hush, too?

Can you find some kind of organization for people of your mom’s culture and that speak her native language? Maybe they could talk to her and provide her with resources.

As for you, I don’t think giving him verbal abuse back is going to do any good. You can stand up for your mom without playing his game, which he probably loves playing anyway so it’s not like you’re hurting him.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough.

Shouting back isn’t going to do any good. Seeking out your school’s counseling center, however, will likely do you a world of good. Start there, and good luck with your exams!