Verbal Abuse

I do residential electrical work. While working in a woman's home, I over heard the woman's mother in the next room tearing into the woman's son, probably 10 I would estimate. She was telling him how bad he was, worthless, how it was his own fault he had no friends (though she, the grandmother, was home-schooling him) and he would be a failure in life because of his personal flaws. As he cried louder and louder she kept at him. I've never heard such cruel and deliberate crushing of a person's soul. It was brutal. I think this whole horrid exchange was brought on by his attempts to have friendly conversation with me.


I re-think through this often. I don't know what I should have done or how I would do it differntly if it ever happened again. I didn't intervene. I felt certainly like I had no place to step into their home hired to do construction and dictate how they talk to one another.  Lately I've felt haunted by sensing what impact this aweful grandmother had on this outgoing innocent boy.


I go from feeling I should have spoken up and tried to verbaly spar with the grandmother, but I fear when I left things woudl be worse for him. I think I should have mentioned it to the mom, but surely she knows, it didn't seem isolated or hidden. Maybe I should have said, "You're a monster to talk to him like that" and walked out... I think I should have contacted authorities, but despite how crushing and cruel she was, she was still a feeble old lady who didn't lay a hand on him physically. Sometimes I'll have an irrational impulse, that I should have yelled and shoved and made a huge deal out of it, get myself thrown out or have the police called on me for my actions... I still don't know what I should have done but I feel guilty for having done so little. All I did was be friendly back to the boy and I thought I conveyed with a look my understanding of what he was going through.


I'm haunted by my inaction. It was years ago, the grandmother was dying I believe and is probably long dead, and I'm not even a friend of the family, just someone hired to fix a few things around the house...action now is too late. But back then, What should I have done?

MechanicalBull MechanicalBull
36-40, M
12 Responses Nov 9, 2009

I've been in situations like this so many times. I wouldreport it to cnild protective services now but at first I had no idea what to do.

I once read a sign that went something like this... "Never ignore something you can't go a day without thinking about." Look the boy up.

I use to be a sunday school teacher and I really enjoyed being involved our church and it was good for my two boys, at the time I joined I was having problems with my oldest son, he's always been jealous of his younger brother and little has changed with that but he's a great guy now and he's married and has a little girl now. And my youngest son just graduated college and probably will soon be married. My oldest became a Jr. deacon and I've been very proud of my boys, they mowed yards and made money to buy there cars they both played basketball in school. I think it's good to keep them busy,.they don't have time to get into trouble that way.

Don't beat yourself up. You can't fix everything. But maybe you could have asked if he has a father figure in his life, Maybe that's what he needs and if she said no then you could have suggested to come by and take him fishing with you and your son or friends. Maybe like a big brother

Thank you Jess. There's a chance I'll come across him again before long actually. There's a food pantry weekly dinner that I'm re-arranging my schedule to be able to attend regularly soon, and it's associated with the church I know he and his mother were very involved with. I wouldn't mention it to him of course, I can only imagine how embarrassed he would be, especially now that he's older, to know someone heard it all and heard her make him cry. What I would certainly say is how impressed I was with how smart he was (she said he wasn't) and how charismatic and likable I thought he was (another thing she denied). How I wish I could remember his name so I could make him feel that much more remembered! Yesterday in the grocery store I stopped and talked with my next door neighbor I've lived next to for almost a decade. She clearly knew me...but I had no idea who she was for half the conversation. I still don't know her name.

Burn, that is awful. It seems like a reflex to say "I hope someone does something about it" but my story kind of highlights how hard it is to know what to do when you know about it happening. I have faith that you're a good friend to her and that support is something she must rely on.

I hate it. My best friend has been abused and it tears me apart when I see her the next day or a few days later with bruises and cuts all over her face and body.

You're right, it was absolutely a big factor into how I parent now. I never realized before that day just how deeply words could be made to hurt. I know it didn't start like this on day one, that awful grandmother had to keep turning the thumb screws tighter each scolding to hurt him, so it could have (If I can imagine that grandmother being less evil) started in a more innocent manner. I'm very mindful not to take the first step down a road like that!

I don't know either, but my inaction that day still bothers me :-( I really feel for you or anyone who knows what that feels like first hand.

What a sad sad story. Ten years ago so now he is . . . 19? If he was raised by a monster like that he is probably still a young man in need of a friend. Look him up.

I am doing my utmost not to be haunted by regrets.<br />
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There is one thing you can do for sure and that is to act differently in the future.<br />
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However in this case I doubt there is anything constructive you there you could have done.

There wasn't really anything you could have done. Terrible, but true. You could have contacted the authorities, but absent proof (which is very difficult to establish with verbal/emotional abuse), they couldn't have done anything, and it would have went down as the 2/3rds of CPS cases that are "unsubstantiated". Confronting the woman would have made things worse for the child; it just would have made her more angry/_______(insert whatever would motivate her to treat her child in such a manner).