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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
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Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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Back in 2008 my ex-boyfriend got into a physical altercation

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Back in 2008 my ex-boyfriend got into a physical altercation with my 15 year old son. They wound up causing damage to my home and he wound up with a criminal mischief charge. He wound up being arrested on a warrant and now he is in jail. His mother called me crying because she wants me to do something about his present situation. I didn't press charges or even file a complaint. The police department brought forth the charges.

I don't hate him and I don't want to see him in jail but he is a 45 year old man who needs to be held accountable for his actions. I feel guilty about the whole situation though. Is this a normal feeling/reaction and what can I do to make myself feel better about the situation? I know that what is happening is the right thing, but it just hurts my heart.

Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.


What you are feeling is very normal. You are a normal healthy person who feels guilt over someone else's distress, even if that person brought it on themselves.


The phone call from your boyfriend's mother probably added to your guilt. She is asking you to do something about a situation you have no control over. If the police were the ones to charge him, there is nothing you can do about that. His mother may have a co dependent relationship with him. It is common that parents do not want to believe their children can break the law. The parents want to believe that everyone is against their child and their child can do no wrong. This dysfunctional relationship helps continue the adult child's belief they can do anything and should not be blamed for it.


The fight was not your fault. Your boyfriend chose to act out and damage your home and hurt your son. To do nothing would have sent the message to him and to your son that you value your boyfriend more than you value yourself, your home and especially your son. By allowing him to get arrested, you helped show your son their are consequences to breaking the law.


Guilt is meant to tell you that you have done something wrong. But in this case, you did not. You only feel as if you did because you have taken on the responsibility for what he did. What would you do if you had it to do all over again? Would you change what you did? What would be the consequences if you did? Ask yourself these questions. If you would not change the situation, then accept that you did the right thing and move on. Repeat it to yourself as needed until you can let go of your guilt.


You once loved this man. And he may have had qualities you appreciated. But his behavior and lack of control has overrode his good qualities. If he was left to do what he wanted, he may hurt you or your son again. It is hard to think of that. It is easier to remember his good side when he is not there to remind you he has a bad side too, one that is very damaging and hurtful. You have a right to not have to deal with that bad side. And he has a choice as to whether or not he changes. Let him own the responsibility for what he has done. You may find that jail helps him rather than harms him. It may be enough to help him change, for good.


I hope this has helped you,

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Your answer was very helpful, thank you. My only other question is, if his mother should call again, should I just ignore the call or is there something I can say to her to keep her from calling?

You can tell her that you are no longer involved and wish her to stop calling. Ignoring her may cause her to lump you into the category of those against her son. But if that is ok with you and you don't intend on continuing a relationship with her son, that would be fine as well. The important thing is that you do not have more guilt put on you and that you feel ok with the situation. If talking to her only makes you feel worse or you think she may try to hurt you, then ignoring her is a good option.



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Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I have one more question, sorry...My son who was 15 at the time was the one that egged the situation on. I feel as if my son was wrong also, but I feel that he should have been the adult in the situation. Am I wrong for feeling that way and what could have been done to avoid what transpired?

No problem. I am happy to help anytime!


Your boyfriend should have been the adult in the situation, no question. When it got out of control, he should have stopped it. Your son is 15 but that is still too young to control his emotions like an adult can. Most kids can act like adults sometimes, but for the most part they are too young and immature to control themselves.


When it started to get heated up, the best thing to do is stay calm. Breaking it up may have been difficult since you are out powered, but appealing to your boyfriend would have been the best option. That does not mean he would have listened, but it was basically the only option.



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