"I'm the only kid who was home at the time, and I have been sworn to secrecy." Physical violence is only ever an appropriate response to other physical violence. TAMHISFB is under no obligation to keep this incident secret. If mommy and daddy want silence about the incident, it comes with a price: TAMHISFB should only agree to remain silent if dear old dad agrees to seek some sort of counseling where TAMHISFB's dad gives the shrink permission to keep TAMHISFB updated on daddy's prognosis and progress.

Otherwise, call the police.
Oh dear. I'm so sorry for you LW, and your parents. I agree with what Dan has said, insist that this situation is open between the three of you. I think your older brother should be brought in on this, as well. If he has a level head, if bringing him in will support you and force your parents to see this is a big deal for the whole family.
What messes this hacking must be creating for people, everywhere.

This is possibly the best thing Dan savage has ever written. Thank you
Letter seems incredibly fake
They are wrong to ask you for your silence, you have nothing to be ashamed of, and a lot to process. This was not something that happened between *two* people, it happened among the three of you, and you have every right to tell this story and talk about how it affected you. Consider starting with the mental health providers at your college.
Beautiful answer Dan. This is why you rock.
I would not advise bringing the police in. If there is any concern moving forward your father must leave or you and your mom must find a safe place. Safety first and them move to heal. If there is to be a return to normalcy, your father and mother need to find that together. Involving the police will ensure that will probably never happen. Good luck. Stay calm and try to love them both. Love and compassion is what they both need now.
I'd just like to point out that throwing a glass across the room in anger, not intending to hit anybody with it, and throwing a person across the room in anger, are not on the same level. They're both wrong and abusive. But in the first case, you're not intending to hurt anybody (it's like a more dramatic version of slamming a door, as I see it); in the second, you should expect to hurt somebody.

Honestly, I admire Dan for being honest about this--but if he had said he actually meant to hit Terry with that glass, I would definitely never look at him the same again.
Initial caveat, domestic violence is obviously never OK, and I have never personally punched anyone....but as an angry young teen/early 20 year old, I punched a helluva lot of holes in walls. A fist goes through drywall relatively easy. A head is much more difficult, and it would take a lot of leverage and force to ram someone's head through a wall.

My guess is the dad punched a hole in the wall out of anger (or the thrown object caused it). Again, I'm not trying to excuse the behavior, just put it in context.

Punching a wall, throwing an object...while juvenile, are relatively normal reactions to discovering infidelity. Now, the tossing your mom around is more troubling obviously.

Again, I don't want to excuse any of it, but to me there are degrees that can be tied to the type of "tossing", and whether there was a history of any such abuse. Was he grabbing and shaking her; or was he physically throwing, punching, etc.?

While both are very bad, I think the latter is much worse; and I'd be more willing to forgive the former, especially if there was no prior history.

Also, and I hate to take the side of a potential abuser, but the LW seems to have no sympathy for her father whatsoever. For all we know, everything he thought about his life crumbled before his eyes after discovering the infidelity. It doesn't justify violence, but how about at least trying to sympathize a little.
@7: Why not bring in the police? If I saw the neighbor throwing his wife around, I would call the police. If a neighbor saw my sister or daughter being thrown around, I would want them to call the police. Why is his Mom less worthy of protection than a stranger? Why is Dad less guilty than a stranger? If DV laws, punishment, and treatment (often anger management classes are required) don't work, let's scrap them all and go back 80 years when beating up and raping your wife was perfectly legal.

Some guys get turned on by violence, including during sex. A lot less women do. Having chatted with professionals about this (after a babysitter hooked up with a paroled rapist), apparently nonconsensual violence during sex gives a poor prognosis for stopping domestic violence outside the bedroom. Maybe Mom was on AM to find a lover who wasn't violent in bed. That's an even harder question to ask Mom in private (and maybe best done by a therapist), but a more important one.

Instead of jumping to HOW do they get through this, discern if they SHOULD get through this (and remain a couple). Because neither we, nor the son, knows the answer to that as this point.
I might have more sympathy for your dad under the circumstances, TAMHISFB, a la dave1976's comment. And I think that Dan's very brave response creates a good dialogue about separating the need to smash things (that might represent their life together) vs. the desire—conscious or unconscious—to physically hurt other people.

But two things come to mind: 1) we don't KNOW that your mom has never seen him like that before, just as we don't know your mom's reasons for seeking affairs; and 2) in agreement with other commentators, I find it an incredibly unfair thing for your parents to ask for your silence under any conditions. Hopefully your older brother will be a source of great comfort to you right now. You deserve, and could use it so I hope he gets brought in to support YOU as well as shoulder some of the burden you now feel for your younger siblings' welfare. And in later years I think it only fair that your younger siblings know—not in the least to "punish" either of your parents, but just so that all of you live your adult lives on the same page, about the family you all come from—the bad and the good which every family has.

Otherwise there might be long-term division between siblings that operates in weird, dysfunctional ways. Therein, you suffer, as well as your siblings.

Again, though; so sorry you had to go through this.

Michael John Carley
I don't think you owe your Dad any sympathy. No matter what your Mom may or may not have done, violence is never an appropriate response. And given that this is how he responded, I'm inclined to think that Mom may have had good reasons for being on Ashley Madison!

Please don't allow your parents to sweep this under the rug. Your Mom sounds like she's stuck in an all-too-common abuse mindset, and is unwilling to get away from him at this time. Disobeying her, though, is probably the best way to protect her (and your younger siblings) from future violence.

This is completely unacceptable behavior. Dan, shame on you for your advice. This is probably the worst advice I've ever read from you. This guy beats up his wife, and you counsel understanding for him and hope for future forgiveness?! All because this feeds into your ideology about the AM hack (which I agree with, but it does NOT justify Dad's violence, not even a little bit. Doesn't "explain" it; doesn't deserve sympathy.) Please reconsider after you've had a chance to think about this. Maybe bring in an actual domestic violence expert (or three!) to respond to this letter.
What a horrible scene to witness. And great advice on what to do next.

On this topic, though did everyone see Gizmodo's astonishing analysis of the data? (Almost None of the Women in the Ashley M…)
Oh, dear. When I was fifteen, I saw my mother break a heavy platter (with a roast on it) on my father's head; quite sickening, and witnessing such violence must have been infinitely worse for anyone who actually had affection for the people involved. At this point, I'll mainly hope that everyone is safe and advise LW not not NOT to keep silent about it.
A lawyer must keep a client's confidence UNLESS "to prevent reasonably certain death or substantial bodily harm."
Obviously you are not an attorney much less _their_ attorney but it's not a bad test to think about: Are you "reasonably certain" that your father's actions will result in "death or substantial bodily harm" to your mother?
If not, don't think about the police.
If yes, then I guess you need to approach police (but you might think about approaching some trusted family counselor/clergyman to go along with you.)
I wouldn't think about involving the police unless I was "reasonably certain" that someone's actions would cause "death or substantial bodily harm" to some other person -- if the people involved asked me to keep things confidential, which they have done.
(It's a very different and much lower test if you are observing some unknown people and see something bad happening.)
So that means you have to talk to your parents, as Dan suggests, and gain whatever whatever facts to help to get at answering that question.

Involving the police is like using a hydrogen bomb -- you can't take it back.
TAMHISFB - I'm in agreement with the commenters who have said your parents have no right to silence you. You should do what YOU need to do... and that may not be what your parents want you to do. I think Dan's advice is very balanced. I am not clear on whether you witnessed actual violence or you filled in blanks because you saw the potential aftermath of violence. My advice might vary a little if that part was clear. I think you should see a counselor about this. You are young. You will learn (as time goes by) to gain perspective on this incident. If your mother is being physically abused... you need to talk to someone about it. If this is truly completely out of character for your father, you should think long and hard before involving the authorities. This can spiral far out of your control (and your parents) in a hurry when others become involved.

You should really discuss this with your brother (as Lavagirl pointed out) and potentially your two sisters if they are also old enough. You should discuss this with your mother directly. If she has no injuries whatsoever (not even bruises) then the violence may have happened around her, rather than against her. To me, there is a huge difference. I do not believe physical intimidation is okay either, but its certainly a lesser crime. This hack has thrown a lot of lives completely out of balance. Revelation of secrets can often do that. If you are unsure of yourself and do not know how to proceed... don't pressure yourself into doing anything you are not comfortable with. Talk this out with a therapist. If school isn't very far from home... perhaps you can see a therapist alongside your parents once you have seen one on your own and know more about how you feel.

I had a betrayal of this seriousness with my own father... and it took a lot of time for me to forgive him... but I did.... and i am better for it

Good luck. I hope you get through this with as much grace as it took to reach out to Dan under these circumstances.
God these stories are depressing. Seems we haven't moved past the 50s when, no matter how bad the situation, a woman couldn't get a divorce because of...stigma? financial dependence?
Don't tell me it's for the kids cause look what it's done to this kid.
I understand your concern.
But after
1. receiving assurances that you sincerely believe that your mother is safe (or not, in which case you may need to involve the police),
2. urging them to talk (and more than once perhaps) to a third party since there will, no doubt, be long-term repercussions
it's their life, not yours and I believe that you should not get too involved and should _follow their wishes_.

But you might want to document (in private notes) what you observed and discussed with them.
Oh and- amazing response Dan. Your willingness to put yourself out there to help your readers is touching.
Just chiming in to add to the chorus who says you should talk to your brother; you shouldn't be going through this alone, and he can be a source of comfort—and, possibly, additional information.
When I was just 5 or 6 years-old, my mother had an affair with my father's brother. I still remember hearing him slap the crap out of her in the living room when he found out. I remember my sister and I screaming for it to stop, and it did when we cried out. I also remember my mom trying to say it was all her fault. Even as a small child, I knew that wasn't true. Fast forward to when I was about 12 and my father was still upset about it. One night, they started fighting and the only reason he didn't hit her was because my sister and I, again, cried out to stop it. He supposedly "went back to the Lord" and everything was fine, until I was 28 and we found out he was spending thousands of dollars from their savings account and having sex with prostitutes. He ended up squandering most of their retirement money and giving my mother an STI. My mother, being a devout Christian, refused to leave him, even with my sister's and my encouragement and having other men interested in her romantically. Again, dad said he was going to go back to church and all was forgiven. Then, when I was 35, my mom got a call from the jail. My father (who was 63 at the time) had been arrested for some serious charges including assault with a deadly weapon. He had been spending time with this young girl (only 19) who grew up next door to us, providing alcohol, and smoking pot with her and her friends. Turns out her boyfriend didn't like having him around. They got into an argument and the boyfriend started hitting my dad. My dad got into his truck to try to get away and accidentally hit the kid as he was driving away. The charges were eventually dropped and my mother finally issued an ultimatum: he was to stop this sort of behavior or she would leave. He did stop and is now a regular church-goer, which makes my mother happy, but he still treats her badly in other ways (emotionally) and she still takes it. I often think my father's continued acting out could have been prevented if they had received actual counseling for their marital issues, rather than relying on religious counseling and pretending everything is forgiven. LW, please make sure you and your parents get some counseling for this. This is the kind of stuff that sticks with you. Neither of my parents got counseling for it and they are still dealing with it. I'm 45 and still remember the sound of my father hitting her almost 40 years ago. This isn't the kind of thing that can be swept under the rug, for any of you. Good luck to you and your family.
@15 (sorry if this seems like I'm jumping all over you. Nothing personal. But I AM jumping all over the mindset of turning a blind eye to physical abuse): "A lawyer must keep a client's confidence UNLESS "to prevent reasonably certain death or substantial bodily harm.""

Well, okay, that's one standard. Here's another: police officers, having witnessed what the LW saw, are required to arrest the one being violent. And another: psychologists, teachers, and health-care workers are mandated reporters if they have HEARD evidence of abuse. The LW SAW it happening.

And @18: "But after receiving assurances . . . it's their life."

Abusers are usually charming and convincing people. They are great at giving assurances. If they weren't, they never would have stayed up with anyone long enough to set their hooks. And victims are often quite practiced at dismissing the seriousness of the situation and taking the blame.

"urging them to talk (and more than once perhaps) to a third party"

I would go further. I would insist on calling their professional therapist to confirm they are in on-going counseling (they'd have to give permission).

And to vote as most others have: A promise of silence, extracted in a moment of shock and despair, is not binding. Yes, inform your older sibling because (1) you need support, (2) some offspring knowing and others not will cause unexplained rifts for years to come and (3) NEVER be the only person to know some damning information.
Who said to turn a blind eye?

But what's the goal? Put her father in jail? Put the parents' marriage under even further strain?

Police intervention won't help family matters UNLESS it's an ongoing continuing emergency and there is a "likelihood" (choose whatever standard you like) of further violence.

Suppose LW is totally convinced (by a wide variety of facts) that her father will never be violent. Should she call the police anyway?
This is a case for the Sacrament of Divorce (the 8th in my book, between Marriage and Extreme Unction).

If Dad had untied the knot, instead of Ashley Madison he could have just blown off steam in his own apodment by subscribing to Ashley Hamilton. Or Carrie Lovejoy. Or any number of real world .com porn sites instead.
Another point on involving the police:
If so, the entire event -- including mother's involvement with AM -- will become public.
The cops will want to know "why?" and there will be no way to explain what happened without that trigger.
Is public knowledge of the entire sequence of events beneficial to the parents, the children?
I don't think so.
My suggestion is to call cops only when/if (and hopefully never) there is "reasonable certainty" of violence.
LW, you don't have to keep this secret because they asked you to. And if you have any doubts that this was a one-time only event, you shouldn't keep this secret. While it's entirely plausible your parents want to keep this embarrassing and life-changing outburst (and all that led up to it) to themselves, it's also plausible that they are encouraging your silence to keep you--and others--from piecing together a history of abuse. Abusers thrive on silence. If it will help ease your mind, share what you witnessed and what you were told with someone you trust. Do what you have to to keep yourself sane and your family members safe and don't feel bad about it.

And I agree that you should leave the door open for forgiveness, not because your father deserves it (it's never about someone deserving it), but because someday you may need it. You'll never go back to that image you had of him before this, but even people who have done terrible things still have good aspects to them. He's still the man that raised you and your siblings, and those good memories you have of him are still just as real as these fresh, painful memories. The bad in him doesn't have to erase the good. In the future you may come to accept this more complete picture of this flawed human who gave into his worst impulses.
This poor kid, having to deal with this.. And in silence, what bullshit story are her parents living?
LW, I can understand your feelings of abhorrence towards your father.. And no doubt shock at finding the good marriage you thought your parents had, is just a pretence.
It is important now that your mother and sisters are safe, that's why you need to assume the adult role in this story, and insist on some dialogue with your parents.
And just please, despite their requests to stay mute.. Contact your brother. This is too big for you to navigate on your own.
As Dan and the others have mentioned, talk to your parents both separately and together to assess the situation. Involve your older brother; you should not have to bear this burden alone. Insist your father get counseling and suggest your mother go to a counselor as well (separately) in case there is longer standing DV at play. Your father's behavior was not okay and should never ever happen again.
You know that dad learned of mom's multiple infidelities....not good.
You know that dad hit mom....awful, and I'm so sorry for your mom, and for you to see that.
But are you sure of what happened between those two events? Dad accused mom of the infidelities; did that enrage her? Did she hit dad first? Do you actually know who threw the glass ball? You say that dad is usually calm; how about mom?
It may well be that dad is completely at fault here; but if both parents want you not to tell anybody, they both feel ashamed. Talk with both of them alone and then together, and maybe to your older brother. You say that mom and dad were both good parents to you; what will happen to the younger kids if the police get involved? Is mom acting afraid of dad, or do both parents agree that this was a one-time complete loss of control, and mom doesn't seem fearful? You can tell mom to get a restraining order on dad, and kick him out of the house, if necessary. I think you can make it clear that you will call the police if anything similar every happens again.
So sorry for having your world up-ended.
She should assume the "adult role"?
Seems like a bit of presumption and overreach.
And such imagination: to know some very few of the facts of ONE event and assume that the whole marriage was a pretense.
I think you are getting carried away.

My advice to LW is to listen to Dan and ignore the rest of us.

Dan - you are one kick-ass guy. 'nuff said?

regarding #9 you're right it's not easy to pound holes in a wall (I mule-kicked one once and my penance was the repair - drywall sucks) you can't do that to someone without causing serious head trauma and a hospital trip. sorry if that's kinda bleakly pragmatic, just how it works.
oh and - the part of being "sworn to secrecy" oh play it for now but don't marry it. I am PISSED about an alternate situation, but it doesn't seem quite right to say anything. when it IS right then damn right I'm going to say something. everything is greyscale.'
@25: Yep, the cheating angle is probably why Mom wants it kept quiet. Dad isn't the only one to have something to be embarrassed about.

Involving the police WILL blow the family up. Between Dad never speaking to the one who tried to get him jailed, and Mom being outed as a cheater, making it public will bring additional harm on the family. So weigh things pretty carefully. Do not involve the police to punish Dad. Only involve them to protect Mom -- that is, if you think there is a credible likelihood of a repeat performance.

@30, it sure seems like the parents are not behaving like the adults. A volcano bubbling away, and they just say don't talk about it. Husband finds out wife has had multiple affairs, he gets violent.. Then they both just close down about it?
If I was this LW I'd be worried to go back to college and leave these two with the younger children. So yes, she needs to act the adult and bring these behaviours out in the open, so they don't fester and maybe explode in a more serious way.
@30. One incident? The wife has been having affairs.. My take on affairs is that yes, they do indicate the marriage is in trouble, and if it has been presented as a happy one, then that is a pretence. What, affairs show you a marriage is going well?
Dan, you're awesome.
No easy answers here. Not sure about involving police, but LW doesn't know if her mom will lie about feeling safe. Even if Mom feels safe, she may not actually be safe. And I worry about the two younger kids still living at home. While I had to grow up with the crappy facade of my parents' marriage, my younger siblings had to live with both the facade and its disintegration after I left for college. It left a mark on them.
Assuming you are on good terms with your older brother, he should definitely be involved. You should not bear this alone.
Read it carefully.
We have no clear idea based on the hurried narrative whether mother merely registered on AM or actually has long history of affairs.
"He found her email address on Ashley Madison, confronted her, learned about affairs, and went berserk."
Not a lot there.
If you know for sure, then fine.
I don't read it that way....LW may not really know..Just the way she writes it glosses over her mother's activities, if any.

Proves Dan's point about how bad this AM outing has been.
@39. " learned about affairs", sounds to me like he learnt about the affairs she had had. Enough information for me.
takeaway: Dan throws like a girl
@39 The letter states that the mom had affairs. There's no ambiguity in the sentence "He found her email address on Ashley Madison, confronted her, learned about affairs, and went berserk"; since he learned of the affairs after confronting her, not just simply finding her email address on AM.

Anyway, I'm still in the camp that thinks the dad MAY deserve some sympathy (I do agree that the letter is missing a number of factors that the LW either doesn't know or didn't include).

Here's what we do know:

1. This was a very long marriage/ least 20+ years given the college ages and the older brother has moved out.

2. It sounds like the mom had multiple affairs.

3. The dad has never been a violent man, and always in control of his temper (aside from this episode)

Here's what we may know:

1. The dad probably isn't a serial/past abuser. Obviously we don't know this for sure. However, the LW already stated he's not a violent man; and I think it would be pretty tough to cover up abuse for 20+ years, and never have any of the four kids witness abuse or the aftermath like bruises, scars, etc. Again, we can't be sure, but this does sound like a one-time blow up.

2. The mom wasn't injured during this incident, so it sounds like there weren't any bruises or scars. I think that eliminates the possibility that the dad threw her through the wall, or punched her. Again, it doesn't excuse his behavior, but it may mitigate through the degree in which he acted.

And what we don't know:

1. How blindsided was the husband? Was he a complete dick of a husband (apart from this incident)? Was he emotionally abusive? Why did the mom cheat? Was she a "good cheater" or a "bad cheater"?

Again, I hate to take the side of a potential abuser, but I just can't get past this sentence by the LW "I don't care what my mom did—and he's definitely blaming his rage fest on her infidelity."

Of course he's blaming infidelity, and maybe rightfully so! I don't understand how she can be so dismissive of his feelings. This 20 year relationship, his entire life, may be ending as he knows it. If doesn't justify it, but it puts it in context.

So yeah, I find the LW's dismisiveness somewhat disturbing. On the other hand, there's just so much we don't know.
Good analysis, dave1976. It does seem this was a blindside for the husband, to me. The multiple affairs are a worry.
And yes, this girl could feel a bit more compassion for her father's' feelings in all this, along with her mother's.
It is not a situation for a young woman to be in, that's the tragedy.

Re police: The legal system treats all DV incidents as worst case scenarios - chronic abuse against a person who is in effect legally insane and doesn't know his/her own interests. There will be a no contact order between mom and dad that will last until the case is dropped or dad serves his time, which could be months or years. If a prosecutor decides to pursue this (possibly due to motivations that have nothing do with any anyone's well-being besides his/her own), they will use any means at their disposal to compel LW and mom to testify against dad in order to obtain a conviction.

Know that for every case that fits the legal system's narrow understanding of DV, there are many others involving wives, husbands, parents, sons, and daughters who've deeply regretted calling the police on a spouse, parent, or offspring who was simply having a really, really, really shitty day.

Over the years, I've heard various stories of DV from friends, the most brutal of which resulted in a broken arm and numerous bruises at the hands of a Dr Jekyll who became Mr Hyde when he drank. The most tragic, traumatic story I've heard, however, was from a mother who called the police on her teenage son who violently shoved her, only to watch him subjected to violence far worse than the original incident, inside her home, over hers and his screams of protest, at the hands of a couple of assholes with a badge who capped off their performance by threatening to arrest her as well for obstructing an officer. She had called 911 with the naive expectation that the cops might keep her safe until the son calmed down.

I don't know if there are any alternative services for people to turn to with cases that don't fit the legal system's mold. As for hotline numbers, LW should ask them under what circumstances mandatory reporting laws would require them to notify the police.

Perhaps LW should first talk to her siblings and her mother before turning to outside resources.
Dan's right.

But the poor kid should also tell his parents to DTMFA. Both of them.

And DavidinKenai, if you believe what you're saying, why aren't you calling the police on Dan?
Her parents. Yay autocorrect.
A several others have said: this advice is really quite excellent, all across the board.

I'd recommend a slightly different angle, along the lines of: do not insert yourself into your parent's relationship. Yes, they inserted you by doing this when you were present, but you should opt to not insert yourself further. I think it's appropriate to use the leverage over your father regarding his violent behavior issue (which is not his "anger") to arm twist him into seeking therapy. HIs anger isn't unreasonable; the violence is. He also probably needs the help of a therapist to process his feelings about the marriage and infidelity - neither of which are you the appropriate person to handle.

My advice comes from growing up in a household of constant emotional abuse (not physical and not really directed at the kids) which involved epic and near constant screaming matches between my parents for 10 out of the 13 years they were actually together. There were no innocent parties (and there really don't appear to be in your case), and your relationship to each of your parents is between you and that particular parent. The scale would be more tipped against your father if he had a long history of that kind of behavior (not feelings), rather than a one-time-thing; if such a history existed, you'd be aware of it, and so would your siblings.
@42 - I very much concur with your analysis of the situation as presented by the LW.

On the DV and charming abusers: yes, all true, and yes, if there are real concerns about safety, then it's OK (desirable) to push down on the big red nuclear button (calling the cops). However, even if he's a charming abusers and the whole marriage is a facade, I think the LW would be aware of it.

I also agree the brother needs to be clued in - in no way should the LW be a party to sweeping things under a rug.
@48: For what it's worth, charming abusers are usually every bit as charming with police, and often even more so (they're more likely to have had practice). Being charming is about as much of an "I win" button with police as it is with other kinds of people; cops are human.

When you're being abused by someone who is more charming than you are, you don't have any allies you can count on. Bringing more people into the mix usually just means giving the abuser new weapons--so it's something to do very carefully.
Really good advice. Dan forgot to tell the husband to grow the fuck up though.
Dear LW:

One of the hallmarks of growing up is realizing that one's parents are mere humans. This sounds like your first serious plunge into that icy @ss pool. In my case, it was much earlier.

Based on what you have written, I assume that, until now, your father has never displayed physically violent behavior or uncontrollable anger. Now, you know that any person - even the most mild mannered - can be pushed past the breaking point. However, one action at one of the worst moments of our lives does not define us, it is our actions over the course of years. Rather than seeing your father as a wife beater, let this expand your view of the humans around you - to know that people at times can do something really bad - but still be worthwhile human beings.

This also applies to your mom as well. If this has taught you anything, even children living there, day after day, do not understand all the nuance of their parents marriages. Again, that your mom had her address there doesn't mean she cheated at all, but even if she did once, that does not render her forever a CPOS.

So you see your parents differently. Yes, you do, and I think in a more honest way. I know you are in a crisis right now, so save this for later, but use this experience not to cast judgment and consider your parents "worse" or "bad," but to open your heart to the concept that people can be flawed and should not be condemned for mistakes.

In this, I consider what Dan recommended about as best as can be. I agree with Finch above that you should not become enmeshed in their marriage. You should not have any dog in your parents fight over whether to stay married or not. You're only goal is to make sure the violence is dropped down a level so that no one is beaten or killed. Forcing them into counseling is wise. I would not call the cops at this point. That is the nuclear option I'd only reserve if the physical violence does not stop.

I'd also find out if there is somewhere your younger siblings can stay over the next two weeks until this settles down.

Good luck.

(My SO and I have had several discussions about how the AM data could be manipulated to insert names and information in there to specially spike people, a great deal of suspicion must be applied to this.)
Ah in re-reading it, I see Mom admitted to affairs. Well then, I think my advice holds despite that fact.

And really, I don't blame dad going off the hook over this. I don't like any physical stuff, but the best person can lose it. The question is what you do afterwards.
I have no advice about going to the police. However, I think you need to talk to your siblings. The promise to not talk about this raises flags for me. You say your siblings have never seen your dad be violent, but they may be operating under the "this was only one time and please don't tell anyone" directive. You at least need to make certain that this hasn't happened before so that you can assess how serious this is.

I do go along with the people who say throwing a vase or any object through a wall is less of a problem than the fact that the father also tossed the mother around. The second is abuse and may indicate a potential issue.

In any case, my heart goes out to you. This is a horrible situation and you should not be in the middle of it. Whatever choice you make, it it goes badly, it is not your fault. You are doing the best you can.
LW - in the SL comments... people often ask the question: "if the genders were reversed, would your opinion be the same?"

It might be helpful for you to think in those terms to gain some perspective on this event. Suppose you came home to find mom going berserk because Dad cheated. Broken plates, holes in the wall, etc. Would you have the same opinion about it? Never forgive mom? Fear for Dad... etc?

Usually... doing this (at least for me), helps me regain some compassion for the person I was siding against originally. Not always... as sometimes it makes no difference. But my assumption in this particular event in your life is that swapping mom and dad would make a rather huge difference in your views.

I advise this only so you can gain some additional perspective while your equilibrium rebalances. You need a clear head right now. You don't want to look back on this in a few years and feel any regret with how you handled it. And regardless of what people tell you ("its not your fault!!"...) we all know how hard it is to let go of those feelings internally. Obviously, none of this is your fault... that is definitely true... but it doesn't sound like this problem needs to be immediately solved. Be patient with yourself. Talk it out. Sleep on it over and over. When your blood cools... you'll know what to do (or not to do)
I have just re read her letter (yet again) and IF she is sure mom will be safe, then she should stay out of her parents relationship and go back to school.

Here we're seeing a clash of absolutes.

Rule 1 that I absolutely believe in: Children, adult children, and almost adult college age children, need to stay out of their parents' marriages. If it works for those independent think-for-themselves adults, then it's up to children, whether well meaning or not, to stay the hell out of their parents' private business.

Rule 2 that I absolutely believe in: When someone, usually a woman but it could be a man, is being beaten up in a domestic abuse situation, it's up to onlookers to intervene to get that woman to a shelter where she can be safe before the abuse escalates and she ends up dead. Women sometimes don't want to testify against their husbands for a variety of reasons some of which have to do with safety, and that's why we have laws and police who know what to do.

Rule 3 that I absolutely believe in: When it comes to laws and police, opinion and hearsay don't matter; evidence does. In this case, we have opinions about infidelity and hearsay about infidelity. We know there's a head height hole in the wall but have no evidence that your mother's head put the hole there. We have first hand witness to your father tossing your mother around. We also have evidence that your mother is uninjured.

That's my long way of coming around to my advice. Ignore the secrecy thing. That's for surprise parties, not for physical violence against a family member. Contact a women's shelter in your area and ask to speak to a social worker there. Lay down the whole difficult story with all the emphasis on treating this as a domestic abuse situation in which your mother does not want to testify against her husband. Learn what you can from the social worker about your options. Let your mother know HER options should be need to get away from your father. Limit your visits home so as to protect your own mental health and physical well-being.

Good luck.
@56: Mostly agreed, but this part's a little strange: "When someone, usually a woman but it could be a man, is being beaten up in a domestic abuse situation, it's up to onlookers to intervene to get that woman to a shelter where she can be safe before the abuse escalates and she ends up dead."

Given that women perpetrate violence far more often in relationships--70% of the time--and that their victims are far, far less likely to have shelters (or any support whatsoever) made available to them, why is it more important for the women?

Remember that the rate of men being murdered by their domestic partners went way down when women's shelters became widespread. Giving a victim an "out" that doesn't involve suicide or murder turns out to have very good effects for everyone. Deliberately trapping victims with their abusers does not--even if it's the unsympathetic half who are violating their gender role by being victims.
Maybe it's because I just saw the author of this article interviewed last night on MSNBC, or maybe it's because I read her article here:…

But I think people are being a little cavalier about dad's decision to resort to violence. The fact is that men kill their significant others in staggering numbers and because they usually have a size and strength advantage over their partners, they can inflict significant injury.

I understand that people can snap under the right circumstances, but it is simply NEVER okay to physically lash out at someone else in anger.

I agree with the poster above who thought that Dan should have invited a domestic violence expert to help with his advice. Sometimes once the genie is out of the bottle it's harder to keep the lid on it.
LW, talk to your siblings. Until you compare notes, you don't know if you're the only one of your siblings to witness something like this and then be sworn to secrecy about it.

There is no sign whatsoever that there has been an ongoing pattern of abuse to anyone (except maybe the father.)

On what basis would you suggest that LW bring this family matter to a shelter? UNLESS there is likelihood of future violence?

I think it's a good idea for LW to talk to a social worker but hope to god the social worker has some commonsense and doesn't assume the worst when WE have no facts to suggest anything like that.

The big gap in our knowledge as readers as we have no idea what "tossed around" actually means. (The hole in the wall is even more ambitious.)

As someone who grew up in a household where my step-father threw my mother down the stairs in front of me (and cut her forehead open in the process, she still has a big scar), the biggest red flag in this situation is that they want you to keep it a secret. F**K THAT! You need to tell them you will NOT keep it a secret, that your siblings will be told so that if it happens again daddy won't be able to pretend it's the first time. Yes, talk to both of them (though if it were me I sure has hell wouldn't want to talk to daddy by myself should he not like what I have to say and throw me against a wall). SECRETS are a big problem. I don't care how embarrassed your parents are and I don't care if people think it's none of your business. You witnessed it and you are their child and there are other children involved. The incident I refer to above happened when I was 12 years old. I knew people knew my stepfather beat my mom because our landlord and his kids lived right next door (a duplex in Boston). I tried to tell my best friend at school at the time and when I did she looked so horrified I may as well have told her I had had sex with a dog. I felt there was no one to turn to - so when my stepfather called a "family meeting" regarding the incident I said "I think you should stop beating up my mother." I was told to shut up and that topic was not up for debate. If this is indeed a one time incident, your family is the unicorn of domestic violence. Your dad has every right to be pissed his wife cheated on him. He has absolutely no right to bounce your mom off the walls because she cheated on him. Do not keep their secret. And if it ever happens again, I'd call the police (or if your siblings are home and they witness it make sure they call the police). In the late 1980s, after my mom left my stepfather, when I called the police on a man beating his 11 year old daughter up (I could literally hear her body hitting the wall every time he threw her up against it) the cops did nothing. Now they have to arrest someone and remove them from the household. Pretending this incident is a "one-off" and keeping it a secret will pretty much guarantee that were this to happen again you will find yourself in a situation you don't want to be in or take responsibility for.
I'd want to see the basis of those stats, Euda. I clearly acknowledge we need far more sympathy toward men who suffer physical violence - it was brought home to me after someone I know clearly experienced physical abuse at the hands of his SO - I still think the stats show that women are murdered or beaten (such that they require hospitalization) by their male partners than vice versa.

Not to say physical abuse is ever acceptable, no matter who is perpetrating it or that women are not capable of it, they clearly are.
I see a lot of people (erroneously) splitting hairs about what constitutes violence and I want to clarify what I mean when I say violent behavior:
- throwing inanimate objects at other inamate objects is violent behavior.
- punching holes in walls is violent behavior.
- throwing someone around (even if they aren't injured) is violent behavior.

Each of these things is a not so subtle threat to inflict injury, and in the case of abuse, "no harm no foul" does not apply. I got sucked into the FOG of a relationship (slow boil frog) with an abusive woman half my size who struck me or threatened to many time, and really didn't see it for the abuse (gaslighting emotional abuse) and manipulation that it was because I never really felt physically at risk, and failed to appreciate how effectively those behaviors manipulated my behavior.

If mom admitted to multiple affairs, then dad is quite reasonably enraged. It's how he chooses to express his anger that's at question. LW should consult with her siblings to compare notes, though I think if dad were a rageaholic abuser this would hardly be the first time the LW had seen hints of it. While abusers are generally exceptional at charming outsiders, they cannot keep the mask on 24/7.
@xina. I would agree no silence - I would just be circumspect about calling the police without evidence of a pattern of this - that's all. Its hard to call it, for sure.
The lessons here are that acting angry turns a CPOS into a victim, even if you're the only person being long-term victimized. Don't do it. It might feel justified in the moment, but it never is, and it gives them the opportunity to ruin your life. Choose how you express your anger very carefully, especially if you're male. Doing anything that might scare your abuser is a crime.

The other side of the lesson is that if you can provoke your victim into throwing a physical tantrum, then none of what you did matters. Carte blanche.
And yes, no silence to siblings. 59 raises a good point: If your parents are the kind of people who demand silence about what their children see, then you might not know what else their other children saw.

@62: Today in More Data Than Anyone Wants, subcategory "Depressing Things:"
Turns out there's more than twice as much intimate partner violence as anyone is comfortable admitting.…

Props for acknowledging it when someone you know experienced violence in a way that didn't match hegemonic narratives about gender roles. I understand how hard that is.

It's absolutely true that women are murdered more often by domestic partners. The rates used to be more equal, and then we started giving battered women a way out that didn't involve murder, so they started committing a lot fewer murders. We should permit people to do the same for men; give them an escape route that doesn't involve killing their abusers or themselves. It worked for women. It's a problem to which we know the solution, but allowing it to be implemented would mean allowing gender stereotypes to be questioned, and society's priorities in that regard have been made quite clear.

Your statement at 65 makes me ill. I am sorry, but NO, you don't get to beat, hit, shove around, or kill people even if you think they've done deep emotional hurt to you. That he (or Dan Savage) threw something at the wall - eh- don't care. Hitting the mother, yeah, not right.

Ever heard of two wrongs don't make a right?

And I don't see Mom getting carte blanche from anyone here, or even her daughter. No one is saying, wohoo, mom was justified!!! Keep going mom!
For all we know dad was having affairs for years and mom finally had enough and stepped out herself. The point is, since neither partner in the marriage wrote in to Dan, we don't know what the relationship dynamics were before dad flipped out and tossed mom around.

My point is, I don't think we can speculate at all about the marriage. All we know is that dad got (justifiably) angry, and decided that taking his anger out on his wife was the proper response.

Not a good sign in my book, even if it just happened this once. Once you demonstrate your ability to physically dominate your SO, that knowledge will forever alter (however subtly) the dynamics within the relationship.
@66 it wasn't "hard" Euda. I am and have always been very fair minded about men. I admit, it sensitized me to some of the troupes that Hollywood has always liked to sell - women smacking men or throwing drinks in their faces.

I also support the guy in California who sued because he fled his violent wife with his child to a domestic violence center and was refused. I support allowing those options.

The truth is, we were terrible about domestic abuse all along, so now we move forward.

What I don't like is your decision here to minimize the actions of the father - which were physical - by the red herring that "other women do it too." So? So? Here, the father manhandled the wife around. I stated above that I wouldn't necessarily call the cops unless it appears it was part of a pattern. People aren't who they are at their very worst.

That said, to minimize or justify the father's actions either by saying "women do it too" or by saying she had it coming for cheating... well....
Clarification: I mention talking to a social worker at a shelter because that's where the LW can best find a social worker who knows about domestic abuse issues.

The LW can easily find a police officer by looking in a phone book or stopping a police car, but I outlined the problems with talking to the police first. How do you find a social worker? They don't hang out shingles. A counselor at TAMHISFB's college probably doesn't have the necessary expertise. A social worker who works at a shelter does.

That doesn't mean I'm recommending TAMHISFB 's mother take refuge there. Maybe that's not warranted in this particular case. But a social worker would have the education and experience to be able to advise in this situation.

At least, when I was wondering what to do when a neighbor might or might not have been getting beaten up and I didn't really know her, and I was pretty young and clueless, looking up the phone number of a shelter and talking to a wonderful social worker on the phone was great for me. It helped me understand my options and responsibilities.
@67: While I mostly agree with you, your comment makes me ill, too. No one hit anyone. Why did you say he did?
And why did you say this?
"And I don't see Mom getting carte blanche from anyone here, or even her daughter."

Here is a phrase from the letter:

"I don't care what my mom did"

I believe that you don't see it, even though it is happening literally in front of your eyes. That's the opposite of being fair minded about men, though.

"What I don't like is your decision here to minimize the actions of the father - which were physical - by the red herring that "other women do it too." So? "

That decision never happened. I agree with you in theory; I wouldn't like it either, if it had happened. Since it didn't, I'm not sure why you're saying it did.
Here's reality: He found out that his spouse of 20 years was a CPOS, and that he'd been in a nonconsensually nonmonogamous relationship for a long time. He threw a tantrum, injuring nobody, but apparently shoving her. Which is bad. Yes. I agree. Are you satisfied? Violent tantrums are indeed bad, but saying he "beat" anyone is a lie. Failing to lie in order to make it look worse is not minimizing; the truth is the truth, even if the lie is a more comfortable fit with our preconceptions. No one is minimizing it. Some people are dishonestly exaggerating it, and some people aren't. Accusing the latter of "minimizing" is gross.
Flip the genders--wife of 20 years finds out about multiple affairs, throws things, pushes husband around--and almost nobody would be accusing her of abuse. 90% of the comments would be about the cheating, and absolutely nobody would be talking about calling the police. No one would be claiming she "beat" anyone, and certainly no one would be accusing other people of "minimizing" anything for the (apparently) terrible sin of not falsely saying that she did.

On the separate issue: Correct. You don't get to kill anyone just because you're being abused, but if you're trying to avoid murders, putting someone in a situation where the only way out of the abuse is to kill someone--often themselves, but sometimes the abuser--is a really bad way to go about it. This was true of women, and we have no reason to believe it's not true of men.

Telling an abuse victim "We're going to hurt you and keep hurting you, forever. Your only way out is to kill someone, because we will never, ever let you have access to any other way of escaping the abuse" is a really, really bad way to prevent killings. We know this. We stopped doing that to half the population, and that half became a lot less murderous. We should try it on the other half. The first step is to stop falsely claiming that it's not necessary.
@66: "allowing it to be implemented would mean allowing gender stereotypes to be questioned, and society's priorities in that regard have been made quite clear."

Or you could simply not make all these stupid "not ALL men" comments. Your priorities are more questionable in this case than society's.
@69: He's in a perpetually stunted state of persecution-complex that turns every situation into a "cause" for him to preach to the masses over.
Call the police. Domestic violence is a crime. The court will order treatment for your father that he needs to comply with. Your Mom needs your help right NOW. She is justifying his behavior because of hers. Two wrongs don't make a right. She has been traumatized in a way that unless you yourself have been beaten, cannot comprehend. She needs professional assistance and help right NOW. Do not swear to secrecy about these things. Abuse continues under the cloak of shame. I repeat, help your Mother. Do not delay getting her help. Please. She needs an advocate.
@undead ayn rand, jibeho, etc: I understand that you want me to be one of the people who knows but says nothing. I'm not going to.
There is no lie and no insult that will change this. I understand that you'll keep trying, in hopes of finding the right one that will make me join in the pretense that what happens doesn't happen. It won't.
I'm pretty sure this covers everything you or I will ever have to say to each other.
@74: "The behavior of an abuse victim must be absolutely impeccable at all times, to avoid further abuse and public slander."
My brother found out his wife was having an affair this week - not an AM one, just your run-of-the-mill fucking her trainer kind. And his reaction was not to physically abuse his wife but rather to lay on the floor sobbing. Like a real man.

LW, you do not owe your parents your silence. You don't owe them your forgiveness. They both fucked up. And they should get counseling and think about whether either of them really wants to stay in a marriage that includes physical violence and infidelity. However, THEY have to make that decision. You cannot make it for them. You don't have to trust them or trust that they're treating each other as they should. But you cannot make them bend to your wishes/vision of their relationship.
I'm sorry you're having to deal with this. I wish you serenity going forward.
@77: "Like a real man."
If a man gets cheated on and gets angry, we shame him. If he doesn't get angry, we shame him. If you get cheated on, there is absolutely no way you'll ever get any sympathy, unless you had the good fortune to be born a woman.
@78, how in the fuck was I shaming my brother? I'm so unbelievably proud of how he's handled himself this week. So proud I could burst. I meant "like a real man" with utter sincerity.
I have spent this week bawling my eyes out, offering my brother my support, making sure my SIL cannot try to hide the evidence of her affair and offering to uproot myself and my fiance to help my brother with his children. Believe me, my brother has gotten more sympathy than he knows what to do with. From me, from our other siblings, from our parents, from HER parents and her friends.
Fuck off with your assumptions. Asshat.
Your statement based on your imagination imagination not facts in LW's letter.
@79: Ah. Sorry, I took the "like a real man" to be sarcasm, like it almost invariably is in that context. Thanks for the correction, I appreciate it (and that isn't sarcasm either).
Alas, Slog doesn't allow edits.
With the recent letter of the day about a woman finding old nude pics on her husband's phone... i tried to make the point in the comments about how one loses their right to righteousness in a hurry if their reaction is overboard. This letter is another example of that same concept.

LW - don't assume that just because your father reacted horribly, he is no longer reeling from his original discovery. He has just experienced something that crushed him...and he made it ten times worse for himself. I advise you to tell him you understand he is in pain. When things happen in life that make you suddenly view your whole world through the wrong end of a telescope.... feeling absolutely alone with your pain is one of the worst things. Telling him you understand he is hurting is not the same thing as excusing his behavior.

In my experience, it is possible to condemn one action while acknowledging another without being a hypocrite. (i refer to your own feelings about this)
To reverse the gendres in my particular case, I acknowledge that, had it been my father attacking my mother, there would have been a much greater likelihood of more physical harm than was actually done, perhaps both to the victims and to the witnesses. My father was able to get behind a closed door and keep her out, and I was able to keep my sisters safe until my brother could get her friend from next door to get her calm. I agree very much with the conclusion of Ms Jibe's post; it definitely changes the dynamics. In one respect, it was fortunate that my sisters were so young, as it didn't seem to do them much harm. But as adults they've been a bit on the enabling side (as far as I know, there have been no more instances of physical violence, but there has been an ongoing problem with alcohol).

I don't really recall the aftermath well enough to speak to the treatment of victims or perpetrators according to gendre. He got the medical treatment he needed, she didn't get into any trouble that I can recall - and it took them another thirteen or fourteen years to divorce.
So she was one of the statistically insignificant number of actual women who used the site. That makes for a convenient narrative.
Do NOT insist that your parents see a couple's counselor. Dan is dangerously wrong in this advice. Insist that your father see an abuse counselor or enter a domestic abuser program. Couple's counselor's are not equipped to handle situations of domestic violence. They are far too prone to draw false equivalencies, be unable to spot red flags for further abuse, and insist that abused partners give up essential freedoms for the sake of domestic peace. This will be especially true if your dad is the primary breadwinner and thus, footing the bill.
Mr Venn - i will agree that gender swapping in these stories gets undermined when the physical strength of each person (and therefore the capacity to inflict harm) is part of the narrative. When a woman gets physical with a man, a common response is "why didn't he defend himself?" That obviously is not the first thought that comes to the western mind when the roles are reversed.
I tend to agree with @42s careful analysis, if we applied the template that some of the other commenters seem to use then every woman I ever dated should have had the cops called on them at some point or another because they lost their temper and kicked/threw/hit something. People who are not serial abusers or violent anger monsters are capable of losing their temper as well.
Eudamonic - I hear MRA - types making the "women are WAY more violent!" claim all the freaking time, and it's never backed up with solid statistics. It's always backed up with links to mammoth .PDF files that you have to comb through for hours to finally discover that no, in fact, they don't support the claims made. You're right on track with this.
Me E, really, on this thread? A young woman in a prickly situation, who needs some care and loving help.. Shame on you.
Bloody phone.. Mr E.
Lava- i made the same assumption... but (unless i am missing something)... the LW could be a son.
Great response, Dan. I love that you pointed out that it would be enabling not to insist they get help. Because sometimes insisting on proof of help, is a really exhausting this to do and encouragement goes a long way.

Dear reader, I'm very sorry you had to witness this. I know how rough it is to come face to face with your parent's dark sides. But like Dan, I would encourage you to not rule out forgiveness. My father also had moments of rage and while he was violent more than once in my life, it's still only a handful of times and he is remorseful. And he is still a really great person, just not without flaws. Sometimes you have to choose to embrace the 95% of a person that is wonderful and not focus on their 5% flaws.
Chairman, the language used points to a young woman, that's all I can go on.
I'm guessing a son would have physically involved himself, if he walked in on dad throwing mum around. Nothing of that sort mentioned here.. Then, I'm just going on how I feel my sons would respond.
LW, I second Dan's advice, but unless your younger sisters are very young, find out if any of your siblings have witnessed past violence and been sworn to secrecy. If so, your Mom is not safe and your parents need to separate ASAP. Even if your Dad has never been violent before, it is probably a good idea for them to separate as a cooling off strategy.

Whether your parents stay together or divorce, they need to get counseling to understand what they each did wrong in their marriage and what changes they need to make to avoid a repeat in their continuing relationship or new relationships. Because we humans are creatures of habit and if we want to stop repeating our mistakes, we must understand the problematic thinking and behavior that we keep repeating. Your parents have both done trust-destroying things (Mom - affairs, Dad - physical violence) that may have made it impossible for this marriage to continue. If so, be supportive of any decision to get a divorce - that is, don't try to convince them to try to stay together - even if one of them wants a divorce but the other doesn't. Don't be drawn into arguments about their marriage or possible divorce. And you and your siblings could surely use some counseling of your own.

Finally, I think it may be helpful to your parents to read through Dan's advice and all the slog posts, just to see the different perspectives on their situation. We humans each have our narrow points of view, and it can be a revelation to see how others view a situation. It may provide an additional impetus to make necessary changes.

Best wishes to all of you in this difficult time. And please remember that if you make a concerted effort to change for the better, it does indeed get better.
@JibeHo #58:
I understand that people can snap under the right circumstances, but it is simply NEVER okay to physically lash out at someone else in anger.

It may be the case that not all of the commenters are pacifists and thus some do not agree with the part I bolded.

@AFinch #63:
- throwing inanimate objects at other inamate objects is violent behavior.
- punching holes in walls is violent behavior.
- throwing someone around (even if they aren't injured) is violent behavior.

Each of these things is a not so subtle threat to inflict injury, and in the case of abuse, "no harm no foul" does not apply.

Eh, bullshit. I've punched a wall out of frustration; I've smashed one of those idiotic hockey puck mice Apple decided to ship with their original iMacs in anger. Neither of those incidents was a threat against anyone, and in only one case was someone else even home, someone I have never wished to harm nor against whom I would threaten any sort of injury (and who didn't perceive my behavior as a threat). Under your absolutist assertion, shooting clay pigeons is a threat to inflict injury to anybody nearby, as it's flinging inanimate objects at other objects at extremely high velocity. Ditch the deontological approach to ethics - it doesn't reflect the real world. The behaviors you list certainly can be threats, and it's also very much the case that those behaviors might be perceived as threats by witnesses without intent to threaten (which sets up a quandary - isn't the concept "threat" defined at least in part by intent?), but that's a contextual determination of meaning in both cases, not an absolute.

@JibeHo #68:
Once you demonstrate your ability to physically dominate your SO, that knowledge will forever alter (however subtly) the dynamics within the relationship.

So if two partners go to the gym together and one observes evidence that the other is significantly stronger, is their relationship doomed or something? I feel like I'm being pressed into the position of playing apologist for domestic abusers, which is making me slightly ill, but all of the absolutist rhetoric being thrown around here is also making me very uncomfortable. The whole point of developing a relationship with someone over years is to get to know that person, how ze responds in different contexts, and establish a trusting rapport. Does an isolated incident in a clear, never-to-be-repeated context really signal a persistent pattern of problematic behavior to you? Do you all cut contact with every single person who has ever violated your boundaries/trust even once, concluding that such a person can never be trusted in any context ever again? (For that matter, why so few people rushing to pillory Dan while making absolutist statements about how, say, throwing things near-but-not-at other people is a threat?) If so, you'd be utterly alone, unless you live in some magical plane of existence where people around you behave perfectly all the time. I've been punched in the face by a female friend before (not accidentally and not in a consensual context like boxing or violent sex play or somesuch), under unique circumstances that will never be repeated - whose interests would it have served to have her arrested? Patterns are useful for predicting future behavior; isolated data points are almost entirely useless.

Anyway, regarding the letter, I'm not clear on exactly what dad was doing to mom. The observed violence is described as "tossing my mom around the living room". If he was literally picking her up and throwing her across the room, that would be a serious problem, and she should GTFO immediately. If he was pushing someone away who was trying to hold him (Ever had someone you were pissed at try to cling to you out of fear you would leave, both in the moment and perhaps long-term?) to reaffirm a social bond he was possibly considering dissolving, that's a very different situation. If mom was unharmed, the most severe scenarios (including literally picking mom up and throwing her) seem unlikely, but the actual events still could justify police involvement. The specifics and context determine the meaning, and we're missing most of both here. At any rate, LW is under no obligation to keep the incident secret, and I think definitely should not. I agree with the many commenters who have suggested that, at the very least, ze needs to contact zir siblings to determine whether this is indeed a pattern, which I think is important information to inform what ze does moving forward.
Tell your siblings- they might have secrets they were sworn too as well. Do doubt it's the only time this has ever happened or will happen.
Of course it's never ok to lash out at someone physically. This man is probably very remorseful, if this is the only time he has done this. It's a hard thing to hide, physical
Violence.. I'm guessing this man erupted when he found out his wife had been having affairs. And only this time. So far.
That's the danger, is he going this way again. A volatile situation like this, even with the coolest of heads.. Not to be ignored.
Maybe LW you have a trusted older female friend you could also confide in, as well as telling your brother. The younger children need to be safe, as well as your mother. Your father as well, needs someone to see if he is alright.
This cannot be ignored. Your parents know that, but they in it. Some help from the outside is needed, to move thru this carefully.
Im so sorry. Ugh. Not excusing what your Dad did...but this is what betrayal takes normal tempered folks and makes them unrecognizable. You wont see your dad the same way, but you wont see your Mom the same way. I can tell you , sadly, from experience finding out your spouse did this is hell. All the trust, who you thought they were....gone. it can come back..but in the thick of it it is shit. I have been reading excuses as to why folks jumped on AM.. my sympathy is gone. Its done. Im sorry folks felt unloved, unneeded , unwanted, bored, angry...whatever. They chose this distructive path. It affects more than just many more casualties. ..and most when caught , they see the loss, regret it. You are not your parents marriage. Ask your mom if your dad has been violent prior..or is she scared? Chances are it was a really impulsive reaction..if he did slam her head in a wall, that's a huge problem either way..but if he threw something at the wall in anger , sadly i get it. You are not your parents marriage. You need to focus on your life. Who knows, maybe they will work and be stronger now. Maybe not. Your mom made a shitty choice. Hopefully she will take responsibility for it, quit or try to dive in and make it work. As for not telling your siblings. Do what you want. Maybe asking them if they have seen anything violent prior? As far as AM? They will find out. Stupid for your Mom to think otherwise. Take care of yourself:)
@98 John -

"Eh, bullshit. I've punched a wall out of frustration; I've smashed one of those idiotic hockey puck mice Apple decided to ship with their original iMacs in anger. Neither of those incidents was a threat against anyone."

You're right, because in those instances you were not directing your violence AT someone. And while violent responses against infrastructure are not necessarily a healthy way to deal with frustration and perhaps indicative of someone who is more likely to inflict harm on another living being under the right circumstances, there is a difference between throwing an item near a person you are upset (even with intent to harm) with and going out to the yard to blow off some steam by shooting cans. The former is a threat--clear intimidation--showing their victim what they are capable of doing; the latter is redirection, a coping strategy to diffuse the violent urges (not a good one, but a fair bit better than directing their violent urges at someone). There may be some overlap, but the less control a person shows in being able to remove themselves from the situation and the closer their violent outbursts get to others, the more concerning the behavior is.

"So if two partners go to the gym together and one observes evidence that the other is significantly stronger, is their relationship doomed or something?"

You're misreading this. Knowing someone else is bigger or stronger than you are is entirely different from knowing they are willing to use that size or strength against you in a moment of weakness. What changes the dynamic of a relationship is knowing that the other party is capable of losing restraint and physically dominating you.

    Please wait...

    Comments are closed.

    Commenting on this item is available only to members of the site. You can sign in here or create an account here.

    Add a comment

    By posting this comment, you are agreeing to our Terms of Use.