Under-studied among intra-family violence, child abuse of parents remains taboo.
It is difficult when one is a parent to speak publicly that his child is violent, even more so when the said violence is not just insults but many blows. At Emma, it all started with her only son punching holes in the wall when he was upset. One day, the fist hits his cheek. Her son was only 14 when she received that first punch.
“His father was violent with me. He hasn’t had any contact with us since my son was 8 but I think it traumatized him.” explains the mother to the British newspaper i. “All my son remembers is this toxic relationship between his father and me. I feel like the blows and anger he would like his father to feel for leaving him are on me. . “
The child copies domestic violence seen at home
In Emma’s case, right after her spouse (a former military man suffering from post-traumatic stress after deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq) left the family home, her son began to brutalize classmates. A few months later, it is on her that he strikes for the first time. “I think it was clearly linked to his father’s departure. My son saw us beat up several times and I found him terrified, hiding under the covers or under his bed. One day his father hit me right in front of me. him. He stood there scared and peed on himself. “
Before the beatings, her son would let out his anger by screaming at the top of his lungs or throwing any object he could reach on the ground – a nightmare for his mother who felt helpless. “I know kids need limits but when I told him no I was scared. I was shocked the day he laid his hand on me but not that much. I knew it was going to happen eventually. ” Emma also explains that her son always ends up in tears after his bloodshot, begging her to excuse him. But the mother knows that the violence will repeat itself with the next tantrum.
The ultimate stage of the child tyrant?
Concepts in child psychiatry exist to define children whose behavior towards parents is toxic and manipulative. The theory of “the tyrant child” is part of it and is the name chosen by Doctor Catherine Perrin in an academic article published in 2003. In Montpellier, a support group dedicated to parents of tyrant children in the same situation as Emma meets during a 13-step training program to help them understand and take action. In a report by France Culture, mothers confide in the difficulties of raising angry children, who suffer from attention disorders or social anxiety, but none refer to cases of violence like that of Emma and her son.
According to a study from the University of Oxford and Manchester published in August 2020, 70% of parents who have experienced violence from their own children saw the attacks become even more serious because of the confinement started in March 2020 in the United Kingdom. To date, there are no precise figures concerning this violence in France. The taboo being there for many. “I don’t dare talk about it outside because we are told that children’s behavior is the result of parents’ education. Finding out about this group was a revelation.” tells Emmanuelle, mother of an 11-year-old boy in the France Culture report.
See also: My child is a “tyrant”: how to get out of it?
A teacher with a black eye
Like Emma, another couple of parents of an abusive child, questioned by the i, fear that the violence will only get more serious over time. Parents of a little boy they adopted at age 5, Anna and her husband Aiden (borrowed names) quickly had to deal with excruciating temper tantrums.
The child screams, bites, hits, pushes, and even goes so far as to swing the house cat from the top of the stairs. “He also attacks his teachers every week. A teacher ended up with a black eye from a brush the child threw in her face.” And the mother of the family concludes: “We love him deeply but we are afraid that growing up our son will hit us even harder.”
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