Brenda claims her husband, Drew, is physically and verbally abusive to her 14-year-old son, Austin — who suffers from ADHD and bipolar disorder — and ridicules her intellectually disabled 20-year-old daughter, Destiny, making her cry. She accuses Drew of throwing Austin against a wall and constantly calling him names and threatening him — and she says divorce is imminent if he doesn’t change. Drew denies throwing Austin against a wall and insists he’s not abusive — he’s “aggressive” and is “trying to get these kids ready for the real world.” He admits he has a short temper but says he’s tired of being made out to be the bad guy. Dr. Phil faces off with Drew — does he have the kids’ best interest in mind, or is he just a bully? And, what is at the root of this stepfather’s anger? This program contains strong language. Viewer discretion advised.
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A Family on Edge
“My husband is an abusive stepfather.”
Drew explains that he gets annoyed with his stepdaughter, but says she’s not the problem — his stepson, Austin, is. He says his stepson pushes his buttons. “I think if he decided to listen and quit back-talking and being disrespectful, there wouldn’t be any problems,” he says.
“You said, ‘He’s just a bad seed.’ What does that mean?” Dr. Phil asks.
“He’s got an impulse problem with his brain,” Drew says. “His brain completely does not know when to shut off the adrenaline. He gets adrenaline rushes, so he turns into a hyperactive Incredible Hulk in less than three seconds.”
“So, it’s involuntary?” Dr. Phil asks.
“It’s not actually his fault that it happens, but it does happen quite often,” he says.
“Well, if not his fault, and you understand that, why do you yell and berate him?”
“Actually, that’s a good question to answer, and it’s a hard one,” Drew says.
Will Drew take responsibility for his behavior? “Man up and own it.”
Dr. Phil asks Drew if he threw Austin against a wall in front of a family counselor.
“I did grab him and put him up against a wall,” he says.
“What was your theory when you did that?” Dr. Phil asks.
“Hopefully, I was trying to put some fear in him to make him calm down,” Drew says.
“You’re trying to get him under control — you’re calling him names, yelling at him, telling him you’re going to ‘beat his ass,’ throwing him against wall — how’s that working for you?” Dr. Phil asks.
“Calling him names really isn’t the greatest thing in the world that I’ve ever done. I’m not too proud of it,” Drew admits. “It’s not the greatest thing that you should do to any child, but when you’re pushed past your point, and you’re losing control, you say things you shouldn’t.”
“And you need to learn to control your temper and your mouth,” Brenda tells him.
“You get really frustrated with your stepdaughter as well,” Dr. Phil says.
“Sometimes,” Drew says. He explains that when she asks the same questions over and over, he’ll tells her, “That’s enough.”
“You think she’s smarter than she leads people to believe, right?” Dr. Phil asks.
“Oh, she is smarter than she leads people to believe,” he says.
“She likes playing the victim?”
“She likes playing like she’s helpless,” Drew says.
“Have you called her stupid and retarded?”
In a previously recorded interview with Destiny, she says Drew is mean to her and once hit her in the arm when she accidentally spilled his drink. “I got sad. I cried myself to sleep,” she says. “I just want Drew to be nice to Austin and have some peace.”
After watching the video clip, Drew says, “Cool. I’m glad she said that.”
“She’s a very sweet kid and wouldn’t do anything to hurt anybody, and she doesn’t deserve to get hit,” Brenda says.
Drew says he does a lot for his stepchildren and even attended parental counseling, as a favor to his wife. “So, I’m the bad person here, which is what it looks like, and sometimes, I might be a little too rough. I’m not perfect,” he says. “I was willing to try and change that and help out, because this is my family. But the way things look right now, looks like you guys are going to try to drill me here, and I don’t think that’s too cool.”
“I don’t think you realize the impact and gravity of what you’re doing.”
Dr. Phil asks Drew about his childhood. He says his father wasn’t in his life, and he didn’t really have any male role models growing up.
“What are you so angry about?”
In a previously recorded interview, Austin shares what his life is like with his stepfather. Will his words make an impact on Drew?
Don’t miss Part 2, when Dr. Phil’s wife, Robin, confronts Drew about his bullying behavior!
To get help or report child abuse, please call the Child Help National Child Abuse Hotline at (800) 4-A-CHILD(422-4453). If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship and needs help,
please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-SAFE