We all know child abuse is rampant, but we don’t hear as often from parents who are being abused by their own children. This story from the BBC resonated with me because my seventh grade friend, we’ll call her Melissa, frequently gloated about hurting her mother. She’d brag about pushing and shoving her mom around and calling her names like “stupid” and “weak.” Melissa was a stocky girl, and she was a head taller than all the other tweens in our class. I was actually a little bit scared of her — I remember how excited she got when it came time to dissect a squid in science class. I can still see her turning that blade in her hand and commenting on how she loved how sharp it was. Maybe that’s why I was her friend, better to have her on my side, you know?
Wow, I hope my parents don’t read this.
Anyway, in this story, Lauren* shares about her abusive son, Michael*.
“He’s pushed me down the stairs, he’s tried to gauge my eyes out, he’s kicked me, he’s spat at me…what hurts out of everything is the name-calling. I feel like he’s a partner, not a son, really.”
Michael’s now twelve. No one has ever diagnosed him with any medical condition. And so Lauren believes his violent streak is the result of abuse he witnessed years ago, perpetrated by his father against his mother.
This is what I always wondered about Melissa. What was her reason for lashing out against her mom? I can make a few conjectures now that I’m an adult with some perspective. She was obsessed with sex, but not in a typical seventh-grade way. It was almost all she talked about, when she wasn’t talking about violence. She brought Playgirl magazines to school and when I refused to look at them, I became the group “prude” and never heard the end of it from her.
I can’t remember a thing about her dad. But I’m willing to wager she lashed out at her mother because she saw someone else do it, or because her mother failed to protect her from an abusive relative. I used to fear Melissa, even hate her at times, but now my heart breaks for both her and her mom. I just hope other parents abused by children can find the strength to get help — both for their own and their childrens’ physical and emotional health.