Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Abuse Is Not...The result of being abused yourself

Growing up I knew two brothers whose Dad was not a nice guy. I don’t really know what went on behind closed doors but I do know he was bitter, negative and used to demand his much more qualified wife stay home and ‘keep house’ returning home from work to say “where’s my dinner woman” and other such niceties.

One of his teenage sons was starting to be very much like his dad, also demanding his mother iron his clothes before a night out and referring to her as ‘woman’ he was starting to display the same sexist attitudes as his dad. The other however couldn’t be more different. He was mild mannered, respectful towards women, loved to spend time looking after children and was able to iron his own shirts.

Like these two boys everyone has a choice about how they behave, what attitudes they follow. If your Dad is a poor role model I am sure it’s more difficult, but when you become an adult you have a choice about whether you do what he did or reject the notions he held.

When I married my husband his mother said to me “you don’t know what you’re letting yourself in for, he’s just like his father” 
She was right.

My father in law was not much of a Dad, my husband used to tell me his Dad never said he was proud of him, didn’t show him much affection and was lazy and workshy, leaving everything to my mother in law. I suspect he was abusive too.

I always blamed my father in law for my husbands lack of self esteem, and this lack of self esteem for his abuse. I was convinced that if my husband had had a loving father
who was a good role model his life would have turned out differently.
And maybe it would.

But that’s not an excuse. As I see my husband re-living his Dad’s life I feel sad. But I look at my sons and see that cycles don’t HAVE to repeat themselves. Loads of children grow up with an abusive or an absent father and don’t do the same things he did. They have happy productive relationships because they choose to reject their father as a role model.

And as I raise my boys I will always teach them to be discerning in who they see as a role model. To think carefully about the choices they make. To be their own person and take responsibility for their own actions.

Men who have grown up in abusive households have a tough time, they may be profoundly affected by what they’ve experienced but if they themselves become abusers that is something they have CHOSEN to do, not something imposed on them by the baggage of their past, which they have the power and control to let go of.

Please check out the rest of the Abuse is not series by clicking on the tab at the top of this post


  1. I think it's tough to break the cycle of abuse but that it can be done. It definitely helps when someone offers you a different way, and guides you through it. We don't have to be a product of our past, you're right in that the choice is ours for the making- it just requires us to see the choice and be aware of our present and our choices. I believe you will empower your boys and hopefully your husband will empower himself. <3

  2. Thank you. I am determined my boys will not grow up like their father and grandfather and I am sure they won't ;o)


Thanks for your comments and encouragement.