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Eleven-year old is abusing me

We brought a very traumatized and abused little girl into our home 6 months ago and now that the “honeymoon” period is over she has turned violent and horribly verbally abusive towards me (new Mom).

She screams at me, spits, and has hit and kicked me. I have never in my life allowed anyone to treat me like this.

I have been with my DH for almost 20 years and he is a rock. He does his best to help, but much of the worst treatment is when it’s just me and her.

What do you do when faced with a little tiny girl who screams at you 8-10 times a day saying awful things, then 5 minutes later wants a hug or says she loves you? It’s not healthy for anyone.

I’m starting to hate her for the way she treats me. Even as I write that - and know that it makes me sound horrible - I know it is the truth.

I can’t read “Love and Logic” one more time. No amount of choices matter.

I need concrete advice from people who can imagine what it is like to want so much to help a child but not know how to survive the abuse that comes with it.


It sounds like this little one is exhibiting signs of RAD.  I would find a very good therapist in your area that is knowledgeable and successful with treating this disorder.  Best wishes to you.

Posted by pednurse91 on Mar 04, 2018 at 4:02pm

I meant to say 11-year old. NOT 1 year old. Sorry. New to this.

Posted by Mom4Girl on Mar 04, 2018 at 4:05pm

TBRI parenting: trust-based relational intervention
-find a class for it or a therapist certified in it
-watch the videos (online at Texas Christian University Institute for the Child, local library, or Amazon) and read the books (start with Karyn Purvis “The Connected Child”)

Theraplay dyad sessions with you and your child
-find a therapist certified in this attachment and bonding therapy
-join, read their free resources online, use their directory of adoption therapists, attend their annual conference (Virginia Beach in the fall)

Trauma recovery therapy for you individually
-get a trauma-informed therapist to work through your secondary PTSD
-EMDR is one treatment modality that can be very effective very quickly, once you are strong enough to try it (recovery can take a couple days, and you may need some respite care for your child)

Respite Care
-another adoptive mom or provider outside your home who is familiar with trauma caregiving, to give you an occasional break

Adoptive Parents Groups
-find a local one or start one
-check with local adoption agencies and churches
-try a book study with a group; Paula Freeman’s “A Place I Didn’t Belong” is helpful on your own but even more powerful in a group discussion
-you are not alone; other adoptive moms are also being targeted and struggling

-whatever that looks like for you
-your worth and dignity as a person have nothing to do with the outcomes for your child

Good luck from another mom deep in the struggle. Keep reaching out for help.


Posted by RKS on Mar 04, 2018 at 4:07pm

try reading parenting the hurt child by keck

you need help by a therapist or social worker who understands trauma, adoption etc, Call around to adoption agencies and ask for a referral. Did she come from foster care? Do you know her history and triggers?

After she attacks you and is in the calm mode try to attach. Have her “make up” by helping you do a chore together ( not on her own the thing is together not the chore)then have a break for a book, coloring or a snack. You have to nurture her when she is open.

Children with attachment issues always target the mom. It is the mom vibe not you personally.

It is not you she is lashing out because she is afraid of getting to love you only to have you dump her like everyone else. She is trying to make you abuse her as everyone else can then she will know where the line is. When you don’t abandon or abuse she can move in with the I love you for a little until she tests again. She is terrified.

Posted by Regina on Mar 04, 2018 at 6:10pm

You don’t sound horrible you sound frustrated. I’m a foster mom & have experienced aggression from a 6 yr. old. Even after 2 yrs she still lashed out at me. Throughout it all she was receiving therapy. I got frustrated because she was so good around them & then turned on me. Really the one major advice I can give is try to video the attack. The therapist didn’t fully believe how bad it was till I taped it. I showed it to her psychiatrist &‘she was finally diagnosed with ADHD, PTSD & ODD. She was put on medication that did decrease some behavior. I did try respite a couple times but it made things worse when she came back. Just remember that sometimes you may not be the right fit for that child. Hope things get better.

Posted by Becky18 on Mar 05, 2018 at 12:29am

BTW ODD is oppositional defiant disorder.

Posted by Becky18 on Mar 05, 2018 at 12:29am

therapy should be with you in the room as the child can be as good as gold with strangers.

Posted by Regina on Mar 05, 2018 at 2:22am

As a FFY (former foster youth) I have to wonder what you expected from an 11-year-old whom you say was horribly abused and who has only been with you for six months.
And now you are starting to hate her, and I’m sure she is aware of that.
So you took in a child that you know is 11—and thus has a whole history—that you know was horribly abused—and thus likely to have “issues”—and became offended when she “verbally abused” you and then went on to kicking or whatever (not defending that) and now you are starting to hate her, all within six months.
As an FFY I can’t agree with the posters who think she has a problem with RAD or ODD or whatever, but that she is six months into a home where she is aware that she is hated, and that it’s actually rational for her to not bond with someone who hates her.
No bad, but this child not bonding with this obviously hostile family isn’t good for either of you. “Therapy” isn’t going to make you feel less hateful to her or her more loving to you.
Let her go while she and your family still have a change.

Posted by NoraT on Mar 08, 2018 at 12:42am

It sounds like you’ve got a really difficult situation on your hands. I can’t imagine how stressful that is. I would also suggest a therapist, but I would recommend a Ph.D. level child psychologist for behaviors that are this severe. Master’s level therapist are great, but it sounds like she would benefit from a specialist.

Posted by DEC93 on Mar 22, 2018 at 1:06am

A Ph.D. vs a Masters is not as important as someone who understands trauma, abuse, adoption vs someone who doesn’t. I would talk to every agency and every adoptive/foster parent I could to see who is competent in treating these issues.

Posted by Regina on Mar 22, 2018 at 12:59pm

I know this isn’t popular here but again I’m going to speak up. From the post, which is all I can go on, it doesn’t seem to me, as a FFY, that this girl is the only one who needs therapy. The poster says that the girl is 11, that they knew she was severely traumatized, that she presented herself right away as the “new mom” and that at least at first the “abuse” was mostly verbal.
She is confused why the child would act out in anger and then want hugs—which makes me think that the agency didn’t do much to prepare this couple for what to expect from a traumatized child in a new environment-and is reacting in outrage rather than concern—there was apparently a “honeymoon period” where the child was compliant, but then when she started acting out—nobody treats me like this, I’m starting to hate her, etc.
Im not saying this child couldn’t benefit from therapy—couldn’t we all? and especially a traumatized child in this situation—but to suggest that therapy for her can “fix” her so that her “new mom” won’t be disturbed or might even stop hating her, just hurts my heart.
I did start another thread on this because really, what do people expect? And I ask that sincerely.

Posted by NoraT on Mar 22, 2018 at 8:06pm

The best therapy would be family therapy and the therapist can help the parents understand her issues. There may have been education, there usually is if adopted through foster care but sometimes people don’t get it until they live it.

Posted by Regina on Mar 22, 2018 at 9:35pm

Regina, I appreciate what you are saying, but why is it that it’s still the child’s issues? That the burden is still on the child?
flip it. would you recommend a therapist who can help adoptive parents understand their issues?

Posted by NoraT on Mar 22, 2018 at 10:06pm

I don’t think she needs any therapy. She is 11 years old and her behaviour depends on the atmosphere where she lived or grew 11 years back. So i would suggest you to give her some time to mix up with you.

Posted by Child Adoption India on Mar 23, 2018 at 11:27am

Wow. This is a difficult situation but you can get through this. Don’t give up! She is just adjusting and fighting back because she is probably used to everyone else giving up on her. She is testing you to see if you will give up on her too.
When she is showing anger toward you, just remind her that you love her and it’s ok for her to be angry. Show her ways that she can deal with her anger. She can use a squeeze stress ball, punch or scream in a pillow, draw a picture, exercise…. something to get her aggressions out. Once she is calm, she most likely will feel regret or sadness. At this time, you should let her know that it’s ok to have those feeling but it’s not ok to hurt other people. Hug her, hold her, let her feel loved.
I know it’s so hard. My child kicks, hits, throws things at me too. I get so mad. But you have to remember that it is all from the past trauma and it is her way of dealing with all of this inside of her.
I think a therapist can also help her to deal with her feelings and it will be another adult she can come to trust in your circle of people.
Six months is a very short amount of time. It will likely take years for her to deal with so many emotions. It’s a long road but you will see the bright side through all of the clouds. Best of luck !

Posted by Angela17 on Mar 27, 2018 at 3:41pm

After reading the post again, I have a question: when you say you brought this girl into your home, have you adopted her? Since you posted in foster families I assumed she was in your home as a foster child, but maybe I missed something and as you said you are the “new mom,” maybe there has already been an adoption?
I ask because I think that might affect both of your responses to your current situation as well as how you should proceed.

Posted by NoraT on Mar 27, 2018 at 11:28pm

Hi Mom4Girl,

This is not at all uncommon in older child adoption. It is not healthy as you say, and feels like being an abused and battered wife but where you can not leave. Most often this abuse is to the mom and not the dad.

What happens is when a child trusts you, they transfer all their rage at having to be adopted, and at the abuse they lived with previously onto their new mom. They also literally are terrified that you will leave them. When you love them they know only that you are asking them to risk trust and caring in a way that has never lasted before and therefore is dangerous to them. This makes them furious.

The good news is she is saying she loves you and asking for a hug at least some of the time.. (It took my daughter adopted as an older teen about 2.5 years to be able to ask for a hug, and express anything other than rage and hatred at me.)

My advice is this. Post your state of residence and ask for resources. Find and join support groups for adopted families like yours (I was in 4). Work out some way for you to get time off weekly. Do the things that you love as much as you can. Consider home schooling. Enlist and educate the support of a few close friends.Do not let her physically or even verbally abuse you. Give her reasonable, relevant, consistent non violent repercussions that matter to her. (Figure these out ahead of time so you don’t overdo them. My daughter fought these like her life depended on it, but it actually became a source of comfort for her that I was consistent and dependable.I take away time with friends, and internet or cell phone for a week if she can not be reasonably polite to me.) When they are out of their minds in rage, you have to hold the balance…leave the room, don’t engage as it will escalate. Get a pet if you can. Learn what is calming to her. Get enough sleep. Don’t do too many activities. Simplify life and nest at home - it takes the stress off.Get adoption therapists and do attachment work with her. Figure out her triggers. (It may be bad times, good times,  PMS, certain foods, or holidays.) Get her adoption support and do attachment work with therapists familiar with her situation. Do homeopathy, massage, and alternate medical interventions that help.Get therapy for yourself if you need it. Don’t let her continue to be violent with you or for your home to be unsafe.Don’t forget to do as much that you both love together as you can. Laugh together. The more connections you build the more likely you will get thru this and life will improve.Take care of yourself.

Posted by Happy Camper on Apr 13, 2018 at 8:32pm

Happy Camper, I respect you and agree with some of what you said, but as a FFY I have to disagree with a lot also.This child has only been with the people for six months and maybe she doesn’t love them (even if she says “I love you” sometimes, traumatized kids will say that even to strangers in the mall, or the lunch lady) or even like them. She might not be testing their commitment but just not want to be there. She might not be terrified that they will leave her but actually terrified that she can’t leave them. Maybe she doesn’t want a new mom.And if she’s only been there for six months then has she actually been adopted?
And even if she was testing the commitment, the “new mom” says that she is starting to hate this child. The kid has to feel that.There’s a big difference between not letting someone spit on you or hit you, which I agree no one should accept, and starting to hate them.
And why would home schooling be a good idea? This child and mother can’t stand each other, and isolating the girl more, keeping her from normal kid things and interacting with people outside the home, and stressing the “new mom” more by spending more time together and being responsible for her education as well, just to me seems like putting more pressure on everybody.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that maybe this traumatized little girl is in the wrong place with the wrong people, who may have meant well, but to assume that she loves, or should love, or will grow to love these people if she just gets enough “attachment therapy” or something does a disservice to her, and to the “new Mom” who is growing to hate her as well.
I do agree and appreciate that you are encouraging the “new Mom” to take some time for herself.

Posted by NoraT on Apr 17, 2018 at 4:13am

I counselor can definitely help because they can get the history of the child. You do not mention the age of the child but it sounds like she has been through a lot. Get the child individual counseling and try family counseling. I know it can be expensive but there are students studying to be a therapist that charge a lot less but can be just a worthy as an experienced therapist (they are supervised by experienced therapists).

Posted by Elimir on Oct 19, 2018 at 6:03pm

It is not the child’s fault or the parents we can put the blame on the person(s) who traumatized her. And yes a therapist who understands all of this would work to educate the parents and help them parent in a nurturing way to improve the relationship. The child can’t get better without a family and the parent(s) need help understanding their hurt child

Posted by Regina on Oct 21, 2018 at 8:35pm

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