If you haven’t heard of this before, yes this is real and typically unspoken hidden concern. If you know someone with children or blended families with children 12 to 20 & have suspected something is not quite right- this may be that gold nugget that puts the pieces together. For those who are not familiar, you may be thinking “but they’re kids, how much damage can they do, how do their parents let this happen?” The approx. statistics suggest only 7% of parents speak up, & during lockdown it increased by 20% (hypothesised). And no, its not just ‘troubled kids’ from troubled backgrounds, this can be any teenager at home on their devices late at night, mum keeps asking them to get off and go to sleep, nope, nope, nope then she turns off the Wi-Fi and “#%$@”
Teenage logic- yes you guessed it, hasn’t fully developed. The frontal lobe (above the forehead) responsible for impulse control, decision making and understanding consequences; doesn’t fully develop until 25… imagine that, mixed with dependence on the amygdala (fun word) which is associated with emotions, aggression, and instinctive behaviour. Remember those times when you watch kids doing reckless, silly stunts & you think “what are you doing?” this is why! BTW, have you heard of the phrase ‘raging hormones’ officially a trifecta of chaos.
So, abusive (big word), lets break it down. It can be obvious physical abuse & breaking stuff; verbal abuse, gaslighting, intimidation. Also, psychological; playing mind games, taunting, and instilling fear. Emotional abuse; insults, patronizing, belittling, guilt and blaming you for their actions. Financial; dads credit card to live large & stealing for ‘cashies’. Yes, I could go on, but its brutal.
How do parents feel? Honestly – Ashamed, guilty, embarrassed, failure, trying to protect their family so it doesn’t get out. This is a big secret to protect someone who is hurting you. Like walking on eggshells, and during lockdown; being trapped with a caged lion. The obsession to keep this ‘in house’ leads to isolation, self-blame, and depression. This can be a perpetual state of anxiety resulting in trauma #facts
Help is always here. Tacos fall apart sometimes, but we still love them. If you get that joke you are still with us & want to know answers. Let your mates know they are not alone; we don’t judge you; we just don’t understand. You are not to blame & don’t be scared anymore. Get your power back. Yes, you’re exhausted, but don’t give up! No, you’re not a failure. That there is no excuse for any type of abuse, even if it is from a 12yo (they can be really mean!). There is no simple answer, but if we don’t resolve it now, then when? FYI. Abuse thrives in silence & isolation.
Checkmate: Have a safety plan (google it). Don’t keep it a secret – things won’t change. Seek counselling with someone you can trust. Learn the cycles, not obvious at first but they are there. Inform yourself about legal options so you & your kids are protected. Learn about new ways to handle communication & conflict, then teach them to your family to grow healthy relationships. Create opportunities to unite as a family. In crisis, call Parentline, Wire, or Lifeline. Find support groups to normalise your experience. Break the cycle of violence so it doesn’t repeat when they have kids. You got this. I believe in you.
This is hard, there are a lot of barriers for a parent to get help. I have presented several presentations to other professionals on this subject and it is so devastating that this is not a well known subject. If yourself or anyone you know is in this situation and would like some advice or more information, please contact me. You will remain anonymous and the information will be presented to your sitation so you can help things move forward in a positive manner.
Elena Bishop – Director or Supportive Therapy and Social Work (0447 015 571) BPsySc MSA AASW