Patented Q & A Database


My son has been verbally abused by his stepfather for 15 years. We are now going to get a divorce. I have a 7 year old daughter with him. Do you have any information about step parents who verbally abuse step children? Do you also have information regarding how to help my daughter cope with this divorce?


Harry Panjwani Replied: Your children will both need therapy and counselling as they are both very vulnerable.
Posted On 2006-07-29 10:10:38
Annie Fox, M. Ed. Replied: I'm very sorry that your son has grown up in this environment. Verbal abuse, whether it comes from a step parent or a biological parent is stressful, demeaning and can permanently damage a person's self-esteem. Your son would greatly benefit from counseling. He deserves help sorting out his feelings and tools to enable him to understand that while the abuse was directed at him, the abuser is the one with the problem. You and your son may also have fences to mend because it is highly likely that he may feel a sense of abandonment that for all those years, you did not protect him from his stepfather. In that case, I'd recommend family counseling for you and your son. As for your daughter, be honest with her about what's happening, taking into account what is appropriate for her level of understanding. If she is going to have an on-going relationship with her father then do your best to be good co-parents to her. While there will certainly be an adjustment as the living situation shifts, don't automatically assume that this will create emotional problems for her. Much depends on her relationship with her father and the environment that she has been living in. If, for example, during the marriage there was a continuous feeling of tension between you and your husband (as there seems to have been between your husband and your son) then a divorce might actually provide more safety and security for your little girl. As for resources, check with your county's mental health services your children's school counselor and/or your physician for a referral to a licensed family therapist in your area. Also there are many excellent on-line resources available. Go to your search engine and type in: divorce support for kids. I hope this helps. Good luck!
Posted On 2005-06-08 21:34:10
Mark Viator Replied: In addition to the divorce, the issues with the verbal abuse must be very troubling for you and your children. The first thing is to reassure yourself that you are doing the right thing by not subjecting your children, as well as yourself, to the verbal abuse. I recommend that you do seek some form of family counseling for you and your children. This counseling will not only help your children deal with their feelings concerning the divorce, but can also help them disassociate the feelings of the verbal abuse with their self-concept. It is very important that your children understand that the things said to them and about them by their abusive father and step father are NOT accurate. You may also want to do a little book shopping. There are many books written on divorce and its effects on children. Visit a few of the bigger bookstores and browse the self-help section. There are really too many to name. I do recommend that you take a little time to read through some books to get a better understanding of what to expect with a divorce. Finally, make sure that you take care of yourself. Your children will be counting on you. Chances are you have been your children's constant protector from the abuse. While I do hope that role will soon not be necessary, you do need to take care of yourself to ensure that you and your children do emerge from this ordeal in as good of shape as possible. You are in the process of starting over, make sure you take care of yourself so you can get the best possible start. Good Luck
Posted On 2005-05-29 13:25:19
Press Esc to close