My Father Lashes out, Yells at Me When He is in a Bad Mood

The Japan News

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a female office worker in my 20s and I live at home.

Since I was a child, my father — who is in his 60s — has taken his frustration out by hitting things and raising his voice whenever something doesn’t go his way. Whenever I cried because I was scared, he would yell at me for crying.

He used to lash out once a month until I graduated high school, but since about two years ago, it happens once every two weeks. He now drinks and smokes more too and threatens to kill me and my mother.

Last year, he could not control himself and would not stop yelling for what felt like an hour. So we called the police, and he was taken away. He was tested for alcoholism and went to counseling for several months.

After this incident, he told me that calling the police was unnecessary. He showed no signs of remorse and continues to take his frustrations out on us. Whenever he is in a bad mood, I freeze up. I’m scared by the loud noises, his raised voice and his behavior.

He is a bad, self-centered father. But at the same time, he is the one who raised me, so I have mixed feelings.

I don’t want to run away from the situation and want to do something, so I’m asking for some advice.

T, location withheld

Dear Ms. T:

You wrote to this column because you want to take action. I appreciate you coming forward.

Your father’s abusive words must be terrible. It is natural for you to fear loud noises, raised voices and such behavior from him if you have been exposed to them from a young age.

At the same time, you have a kind, caring heart for your father.

I understand how you might think escaping from the situation is weak-willed of you. However, I believe you are growing and becoming stronger. This is shown by the fact that you were able to call the police when he continued to yell.

You’ve been able to distance yourself from him because the police intervened. It did not change your father, but he didn’t try to get back at you, either. Since you have that strength, why not take the plunge and live your life on your own?

You cannot change your father’s actions, but can change your own. It is natural for people to become independent from their parents.

I hope you can use your kindness to make the world a better place.

Yutaka Ono, psychiatrist