“My mother is often at the receiving end of my father’s temper. When he’s mad, he’s abusive, but what I can’t understand is why she takes it without retaliating. He has whopped me once or twice but the pain I feel is a hundred times worse when I watch him do it to my mum. How can I help her?”
Mmmmm… I’m so sorry. Research shows that children from abusive families often suffer much more; you bear the scars for longer than if you were the actual first hand victims. First, it’s the shock of seeing your “protector” vulnerable, then the lack of understanding – of how your parents, your first real role models, could appear anything less than powerful and in control. With no fundamental pillars to cement your sense of values and stability, it can surely turn your whole world upside down.
I don’t know how old you are. Speaking as a mother, I will say that my first instincts would be around the safety of my children, and then in defense of my home. I would act to ensure you are safe first before me and then (even if it sounds incomprehensible) my husband would be protected (to my detriment at times).
A woman in your mum’s situation is not herself, far from it. She is buried too deep in surviving her abuser and you will see she often lacks energy and feels incapable of the simplest things she otherwise would handle without issue.
What you could do is convince your mum to talk to people who will help, and if the situation warrants, talk to a lawyer or the police. She is whole woman, fully alive, fully human. Tell her you need her as her complete Self; tell her everyday how much you love her and need her back.