Is Verbal Abuse A Form of Domestic Violence?

Tommy, age 11 and his sister Abigail, age 9, launched into a breakfast food fight—started by Abigail. The mother was demanding that they stop. Then their father, dressed in a suit and tie, came storming into the kitchen.

He turned to his wife and shook his fist. “You are useless. Either you learn how to be a mother or I will give those kids to someone who does!”

The food fight ceased closest. The children ate breakfast in peace, giving quizzical looks at both parents then grabbed their lunches and book bags and headed out the door. Neither child said goodbye nor did their parents. So they were sent off to school with breakfast and hearts complete of anger.

“Don’t you ever threaten to give our children away,” his wife said bitterly. “When are you going to learn how to be a father? Parents do not say such threatening things around or to children. So in any case triggered such a hateful remark needs to be handled. Grow up! And apologize to both of them when you get home!”

He took a sip of coffee and stared at her. “I have nothing to apologize for!” he said in an imperious voice. “You can’t seem to manager anything. There is nothing wrong with what I said. They were being brats and you were allowing it! I get enough pressure at work without having to deal with kids who think they can do anything and not be stopped. at the minimum I stopped them!”

An hour after he left for work, the mother received a call from the school.

“We need to see you, Mrs. Johson. Abigail is in the principal’s office now. Her father is on his way.”

She hastily dressed, her hands shaking, knowing this was going to be an awful confrontation. Abigail had hit a boy for calling her ‘stupid and useless.’

When both parents were present, the principal said: “Abigail, tell your parents what happened and why.”

She stammered and blurted out, “‘Cause my dad calls my mother that a lot. I couldn’t stand to hear it from that kid. He’s a bully, just like my father. I’ve wanted to hit him before too.”

Her statement now took verbal abuse to a new level…the stepping stone to Domestic Violence. According to the Department of Agriculture, Safety, Health and Employee Welfare Division, verbal abuse often leads to Domestic VIolence.

The principal asked the parents to leave the room for a moment. Mr. Johson objected but the principal simply said, “Now, Mr. Johnson. You and your wife can sit in the waiting room.”

As the door closed behind them, the principal said: “Children, please tell me what happened this morning before school. And don’t be afraid. I will not be repeating this to your parents.”

Embarrassed, the children took their turn relating the morning events. When they were by, she asked them to go sit in the waiting room so she could talk to their parents.

The father closest tried to take over the reins, changing the story to make his wife appear to be the incapable parent. He was accustomed to gaining and maintaining control. He jumped up, leaned over the principal’s desk and shouted, “I’ve heard enough.”

“Sit down, Mr. Johnson,” the principal said in a commanding voice. “Now! It has been apparent in both of your children that they are experiencing stress, trauma. They were “A” students. But their grades are dropping. The complete family needs family counseling in order to resolve some of these issues which I am going to recommend to the educational authorities in this district.

Again, the father stood up, straightened his tie and said: “My wife does. Not me. So if you will excuse me, I am late for work!” and stormed out of the principal’s office.

Variations of this same theme happen daily across the country. And if not handled appropriately, it can often be the precursor to Domestic Violence, according to Cathy Myer in an article on the website.

It is crucial that educators, friends, etc. encourage couples to get counseling. It can only get worse.

And keep this in mind. No one knows just what happened that night when the husband returned from work. Verbal abuse is not only damaging, it can often be the precursor to Domestic Violence.


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