Violence in the Family


Violence in the Family


your avatar   Jayne, 32-year-old woman

My grandmother was fighting the day before giving birth to my mother. She hemorrhaged and died. My mother once tried to shoot my father and kill her brother - unsuccessfully, thank God. She was impulsively violent with me as a child. My sister threw a knife at her fiancé and I broke my husband's nose after he came home late.

Have we inherited a personality disorder or just a bad temper? I'm frightened as my husband and I are starting a family. We are all generally shy, caring people and work in nursing. We just explode now and again. Is there a test for personality problems? Do you think I need to see a counselor before having a child?


    Susan Maroto,

Dear Jayne,

The only way to test for a personality disorder is to be evaluated by a mental health professional. What is clear, though, is that there is a history of violence in your family. Everyone learns by example, and it seems that you have learned to repeat the patterns of violent behavior that you saw in your family members.

You can unlearn the patterns that your family has created and replace them with new patterns, but you will need help to do it. A qualified counselor or therapist will help you learn to identify your feelings as they are building and to express them verbally. When you are able to express feelings such as anger by talking with others, the anger will not build up inside of you until you reach the explosion point, which is when you take it out physically on someone else. It can be hard for a shy person to learn to let others know that you are angry, but it is critical that you learn to do so if you want to stop the violent outbursts.

You are wise to reach out for help now, before your child is born. If you do not make the conscious decision to work on and change the violent patterns of behavior, it is likely that you will inflict them on your child.

Good luck and take care.


Susan Maroto

This question has been answered by Susan Maroto. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker working out of Mount Laurel, New Jersey. She uses an eclectic approach to holistic healing, mind-body relationships, life transitions, depression, and anxiety.For more information visit:


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