General Question

MilkyWay's avatar

OK, Mum and Dad are fighting. What to do?

Asked by MilkyWay (13136 points ) April 6th, 2011

I’ve tried ignoring this for the past few years but it’s only getting worse. Mum and dad are constantly fighting and it’s not pretty. It often ends up in physical violence, and this scares me. I’ve tried to put this at the back of my head and not think about it but it’s not working. I need some help and advice on how to deal with it. It’s affecting me and my siblings and I’m really worried. My youngest sister is only two and she’s had to witness some nasty stuff.
What can I do?

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27 Answers

snowberry's avatar

The next time there’s a fight, You need to dial 911.

In the meantime, tell a teacher at school, call a relative you trust, or social services in your area. Or just call 911 if you can’t figure it out.

It’s against the law to strike another person in the presence of a minor. This is serious stuff. Please take care of it. Let us know what happens dear.

MilkyWay's avatar

That’s just it…I don’t think that will work. Won’t it just mess things up for my siblings?

blueiiznh's avatar

What they are doing is wrong and messing you and your siblings up.
It is completely wrong and unacceptable. Domestic Violence and emotional abuse is creating damage that needs to be resolved.
Nobody should live in fear like this. Please contact an authority in school, police, etc.
Know that you are doing nothing wrong to deserve this and in seeking help are also doing nothing wrong.

MilkyWay's avatar

I’ve dialled the emergency number before and the police did come….but it’s complicated.
Mum refused to give a statement against him. I’m so confused.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

A safe and abuse-free home is what you and your siblings need. The only way to get it is to contact the authorities. The next time call and you can give the statement, talk with social service or community relations in your city today or tomorrow.

Violence is not okay just because it’s “complicated”.

blueiiznh's avatar

@queenie you are right. it is complicated and confusing. You may not understand either.
It is difficult to look forward in this all.
Simply know that people care about the well being of all involved. The first step is always the hardest and you are at that point.
Please try to think of what is really right and best for you and those around you.

aprilsimnel's avatar

Are you in the UK, @queenie? Call these people, and they can find you help locally. If you’re in the US, call here, or Canada, call here, or Australia, call here. They can help you help your family. They’re available 24 hours a day.

I wish I’d known of such places when I was your age.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

The law has changed in the last few years. Now, if the abused spouse doesn’t want to press charges – too bad! The police charge them anyway. Maybe getting the court sytem involved will wake your parents up. It would also protect you and your siblings from retaliation from your parents for blowing the whistle on them. It’s not okay for you our your siblings to continue to live like this.

MilkyWay's avatar

Thanks for the help guys… but I’m not sure I’ll be able to call the authorities again.
My dad is sorta more careful not to do it in front of me again, as I called the police last time.He does it when I’m not there…
He has hit me in the past too…isn’t there any other way?

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

I don’t see any other way, except maybe putting arsenic in his tea. (Just kidding.)

MilkyWay's avatar

Does anyone know what happens after I tell the authorities? will my siblings be put into care?
Will dad go to jail?

BarnacleBill's avatar

Do you have relatives that you can ask to take your and your siblings in?

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@queenie That’s the part that gets complicated, all of the above maybe none. I helped a friend in high school many years ago to call the authorities. She had a tough time for a while but it all got better for everyone.

MilkyWay's avatar

Hmm, okay… I’ll keep you guys updated on this. Thank you.

GracieT's avatar

I wish we could do more than just listen, but we will all do that. Thank you, @skaggfacemutt, I didn’t know that things have changed and the victim doesn’t always have to press charges to get an investigation. @queenie, it is absolutely important that you find someone to talk to about this. Often people that live in situations like this act it out on themselves. The men can become abusers, and the woman seek out partners subconsciously that will abuse them. Please know that we are hear to listen, but you need to find someone that can do more, like the police and a therapist to talk to.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

I would think that a safe foster home would be preferrable to what you are being exposed to now. Your dad could go to jail. He could subsequently loose his job. Things could get a lot worse before they get better. I know upheaving your family is scary as hell, but if nothing ever changes, your future looks bleak indeed.

marinelife's avatar

It is hard to tell what will happen after you call the authorities. Best case: your dad gets help with his anger issues. Worst case: your dad goes to jail.

Your family will likely be kept together with your Mom.

You can also tell a counselor or trusted teacher at school.

You are too young to carry the burden of this. Your siblings will be better off without the fighting and abuse going on. Be sure and tell the authorities that your dad has hit you as well.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

To be quite honest, I’m not sure there’s much you can do. The authorities rarely step in unless the abuse is very severe (putting people in the hospital for more than an ER visit, at least), and even more rarely is there any kind of help other than a police dispatch. Any kind of help via the courts takes months, often even years, leaving the abuser plenty of time to punish those who called for help. Foster homes are often abusive, taking you from one abusive situation to another, but splitting siblings up. My advice would be to simply try to keep your head down and stay out of it as much as you can, and get out of that house as soon as you possibly can. And to get therapy if you can.

Cruiser's avatar

My best advice is too grab your siblings and either get out of the house or go to a room far away from the fight. Their fight is between them not you or your siblings. Trying to get involved will only make you a pawn in their disagreements. I would guess they are aware of what they are doing and the more you stay involved in their fights the more likely one parent will try and use you against the other. Do not let that happen.

If you can…praise your folks when they are happy or being nice to each other and just mention how nice it is to see them being nice and not fighting.

And do talk to a aunt, uncle or grandparent about all this.

echotech10's avatar

@queenie I am not sure how to answer this. I would think that maybe talking with someone who is an objective third party,lik a therapist,social worker, or psychologist may be your best bet. Those folks are trained to handle situations of the emotional type like yours. Tat is what I can say about it. I had a situation with my wife in which I was in emotional turmoil, and the therapist helped me a lot. Good luck, and I hope everything works out for you.

wundayatta's avatar

I did a search on this, and found a page from a website devoted to kids health. It has a section on what to do when parents’ fighting goes too far:

When Parents’ Fighting Goes Too Far
When parents argue, there can be too much yelling and screaming, name calling, and too many unkind things said. Even though many parents may do this, it’s never OK to treat people in your family with disrespect, use unkind words, or yell and scream at them.

Sometimes parents’ fighting may go too far, and include pushing and shoving, throwing things, or hitting. These things are never OK. When parents’ fights get physical in these ways, the parents need to learn to get their anger under control. They might need the help of another adult to do this.

Kids who live in families where the fighting goes too far can let someone know what’s going on. Talking to other relatives, a teacher, a school counselor, or any adult you trust about the fighting can be important.

More Resources (both US and English)

These are some contact points in England for those in your situation:

WebMD talks about how harmful this kind of fighting is for kids.

Some resources and advice for kids in your situation.

In England, The Women’s Aid Center has information, and can probably advice you about what to do. There is a reference to English law about this issue:

What’s the legal definition of a child “at risk” in relation to domestic violence?

Children living in households where domestic violence is happening are now identified as “at risk” under the Adoption and Children Act 2002. From 31 January 2005, Section 120 of this act extended the legal definition of harming children to include harm suffered by seeing or hearing ill treatment of others. This would include witnessing domestic abuse

From 31 January 2005, Section 120 of the Adoption and Children Act 2002 came into force, which extends the legal definition of harming children to include harm suffered by seeing or hearing ill treatment of others, especially in the home. See a complete overview of protection from domestic violence under civil law.

If you or a friend need help

Contact the freephone 24 hour National Domestic Violence Helpline
run in partnership between Women’s Aid and Refuge

CALL: 0808 2000 247 0808 2000 247

EMAIL: helpline@womensaid.org.uk*
Please note we can not respond to emails by telephone as safety may be compromised. If you wish to speak to somebody please call the number above.

Read questions and answers about the Helpline

*We will respond to your email within 3 working days. The National Domestic Violence Helpline can only offer limited information by email as we don’t have the resources to provide in-depth information in this way. If you require an urgent response or need in-depth support please contact the Helpline on 0808 2000 247. When you email us it’s very important that you specify when and if it’s safe to respond and to which email address (please note we can not reply to emails by telephone). Your safety is our main concern.

cak's avatar

@queenie: There is so much good advice, I can only add that I have seen domestic violence from the point of volunteering in a shelter. If the mental/emotional/physical violence is already there, the damage is already being done. (to your siblings and to you!)

Call the police. Let someone know. Don’t keep the secret. It may be something that you are afraid to do, or don’t quit understand what will happen; however, in the long run, you will know you did the right thing.

choreplay's avatar

@queenie: Dear girl, I’m so sorry you are enduring this. There is a lot of advice above, but you have to be the sifter that divides the wheat from the chaff. Pressing charges against your father may be warranted at some point, but you know the full scope of the situation far more than you can explain to anyone on here. It scares me that some of the advice above is very extreme, with the advice givers having such a brief account.

Accept for Cruizer and Mynewboobs, the advice is strong and comes with many life changing complications. It should only be in truly dangerous or damaging situations that families get torn apart. I am not saying I know if your situation has reached that point, but I will say that the wisdom and maturity that you have displayed suggest to me that you are capable of making the best choices in the most difficult situations. I would hope that there are other dimensions to your father where you place your hope and realize in a very crippled way he tries or wants to love his family and do better. I would also suggest that your father gets caught in a vicious cycle of anger and remorse of which frustration only further tears down coping with life from his perspective and spins into the downward spiral he loses himself to. Don’t give up on him, he needs help, he needs to stop.

Navigating through this mine field is very very tricky. I have suggested this book only about a thousand times on Fluther, but the book called The Dance of Anger is an excellent source for navigating tricky highly emotionally charged situations. The fighting is not your fault but depending on how you get involved it could very well make it worse. This book has a whole section and the impact of triangles on disputes and fights. I agree that it is everyone involved objective to get themselves and siblings out of the line of fire. First your father’s responsibility to control himself, than far after everyone else’s to move away from the children or remove the children and remove yourself. The fact that you said he no longer gets physical in front of you tells me he is capable of some sense of control. The Dance of Anger book could teach you in a healthy way how to act on yours and your siblings behalf rather than be powerless. Another very affective book is dealing with difficult people. I know your situation is worse but the advice in this book provides sayings and ways to say them to defuse situations before they get worse.

Sometimes things get worse before it gets better. Sometimes the key is in a direction that wouldn’t seem right, like giving your parents the responsibility and permission to work this out on their own and turnover the burden of trying to fix it for them.

I didn’t grow up with a father, but many older brothers that got into violent fights that my mother could not stop. As I look back now the most significant difference I could make is not continuing the cycle. I could not do anything to change this past until I had a family of my own and did not make these mistakes. Learn from this so you are not like this or don’t get caught in a situation like this.

Finally and most important, do seek out counseling for your self (through school if need be) and for an outside professional’s perspective on where to draw the line on too much.

Your in my thoughts and prayers.

EddieTheHead's avatar

This might not help but, look, if your mum and dad are fighting try to calm them down, dial 911, or something but don’t ignore, just don’t

stormking21's avatar

It’s extremely important that you talk to someone immediately.From what I’ve taken from you situation this domestic violence has been an ongoing thing and if this thing is not taken care of soon it will only escalate into something more serious.You need to take into consideration your two year old sister.I understand that you are a kid but you’ve so far shown the understanding that your family needs help and that is a huge important thing.

So I urge you to take that next step and talk to a school counselor and talk to a police officer.Your safety and that of your siblings is the most important thing right now.Domestic violence is a very serious thing.Whether it be the man or the woman as the abuser.I wish you well and hope that things get alot better for you and your loved ones.

MilkyWay's avatar

Thank you.

stormking21's avatar

you’re welcome.

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