The Rise of Child On Parent Abuse: ‘I Am Embarrassed To Tell My Friends In Case They Think I’m A Terrible Mother’

It's been revealed that thousands of children have attacked their own parents during lockdown - up 25% from last year. Here one anonymous mother tells her story.

Rise of child on parent abuse

by As told to Nadia Cohen |
Updated on

Waking up with a jolt at 3am I see my son’s face looming over me. But this boy is unrecognisable from the toddler who used to wake me up for a cuddle in the early hours because he’d had a bad dream or wet the bed.

Now he’s a teenager, his face is contorted with rage and he is screaming that he wants to hurt me.

This nightmare happens about once a week.

David, 14, is taller and stronger than me now and I am covered in bruises from where he shoves, kicks and punches me – as hard as he can.

The situation is so out of control that I am scared to go to sleep - even after I have hidden all the knives and sharp objects I can think of - in case he find something else to attack me with.

My son is autistic and usually attends a fantastic local school where dedicated staff help him control his violent outbursts, and his love of sport gives him a physical outlet.

But due to Covid, David has not been at school since March and there has been no respite from his furious anger, which is mostly directed at me.

My own release was going work, but with my office closed too, we have been cooped up together for almost six months.

Last night I tried to stop him taking money from my purse and he swung my handbag in my face, the sharp metal buckle leaving me with a painful black eye.

A week ago when I was cooking dinner David grabbed a red-hot pan off the hob and went to smack me in the face with it, but thankfully he missed.

I am worried that next time I will not be so lucky, and I dread being left alone in the house with him.

My husband is working from home at the moment, and he can usually restrain David, although even once he has managed to calm him down and settle him back into bed, I often hear David begging him: 'Please go downstairs and punch Mum.'

Luckily he seems to adore his little sister Amelie who is eight, and he has never directed his rage at her, although she is terrified when she sees him lunging at me.

This type of violence surged dramatically during lockdown (says a GMB investigation), and police received over 4,000 reports of children abusing their parents, but even with a staggering 25% spike in cases between March and June, women like me are still ashamed to admit what is going on behind closed doors.

Campaigners have described these sobering statistics the ‘hidden’ domestic abuse.

We live in a lovely house in an affluent area of South West London and when friends visit they often remark on what a charming kid David is. Those are the normal moments when I still catch glimpses of my adorable son, and instantly recall happy times playing with Lego or singing together in the car.

I can fondly remember him stretching up to hold my hand as we crossed the road, but now if David reaches out to me I flinch in fear.

It defies every maternal instinct I have, but I instantly know he is not looking for affection, he wants to hurt me.

David would often become frustrated and shout or throw things, but until lockdown happened I never really felt it was directed at me.

Without the reassurance of his teachers and limited social contact, David has regressed emotionally.

It feels like he blames me for telling him that he could not see his mates, or go to the skate park, and although the restrictions are lifting now, he is stuck in this behavioural pattern – something that is common in autistic children.

Of course we discipline and punish him but he quickly forgets and lashes out again.

I swing between feeling furious with David and then huge waves of sympathy for him, but mostly I feel powerless to help him or get the support we all so desperately need as a family.

I am embarrassed to tell my friends in case they think I am a terrible mother.

As far as I know his school is reopening next month which will be a huge relief as we will finally have some breathing space, but I am scared that the situation has escalated so far now that I will still be in danger.

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