Anger Intervention: The Mothers

A Trail of Abuse?
“I blame my parents for why I have built up so much anger,” Sara says. She says her father has hit her more than 20 times and has spent time in jail as a result.

“I never laid a hand on her,” Sara’s father, Junior, says in a previously recorded interview. “I spanked her with a belt because talking to her wasn’t doing any good.”

Sara’s mother, Tracy, acknowledges one incident. “My husband never laid a hand on her until that day when she was 16 years old.”

“I don’t look at it as discipline; it was more abuse,” Sara says. She claims that she got “regular spankings” when she was 16, and says her mother never stood up for her against her father. “She would say one thing to us, but when he said something, she would take his side.”

“I don’t know where she gets that all we did was beat her and scream and yell at her, because we never did anything like that,” Tracy says.

“There are some things bothering her, I don’t know what they are, but I know something is eating her inside big time,” Junior says in a previous interview. “The way Sara acts, and her aggression, I don’t know what causes it.”

[AD]Quinn’s mother, Rene, says she’s afraid Sara could end up killing her son if she doesn’t get help. She also fears for her 2-year-old granddaughter and 6-and-a-half-month-old grandson. “I believe because my granddaughter is two years old, and can talk back and have an attitude, that she will escalate her violence toward her child.”

“I agree 100 percent,” Tracy says while choking back tears.

“You think these grandchildren are at risk?” Dr. Phil asks Tracy.

“Yes,” Tracy responds.

Quinn says the last straw occurred when Sara attacked his mother.

Sara says she was staying at Quinn’s parents’ house when she overheard Rene talking about her. She says she confronted her mother-in-law, and hit her. “I punched her in the face multiple times, pulled her hair; I beat the crap out of her.”

“I got in the middle and separated them,” Quinn says.

Rene says she was left with two black eyes, but did not call the police on Sara. “She told Quinn that if the police were called, and she went to jail, that when she got out, she would kill me.”

“What do you think about that when you look back on it?” Dr. Phil asks Sara.

An emotional Sara responds, “I don’t know why I did it. I can’t believe I did something like that. I don’t see how I’m capable of saying that, how I’m capable of doing it. I love her. I’ve had more of a mother-daughter relationship with her than with my own mom.”

“Even after she beat me,” Rene says.

Dr. Phil reads a text message Sara sent to Rene on June 27, 2011:

“OK. Well, I’m not going to make it again because I have no one to take the kids for a few. Plus, I’m ready to beat your granddaughter black and blue. I so cannot take much more of her!”

"I did write that," Sara says, "but knowing how I talk, and how things are said in the household, I didn’t think she was going to take it like that."

As Dr. Phil hands tissues to Rene and Tracy, he asks Sara, “She wasn’t going to take what like what?”

“That I’m going to beat my daughter to the point where I’d hurt her,” Sara responds.

[AD]“But Sara, when you can take a belt to a 2-year-old, you can hurt her because you can’t stop,” Rene tells her.

“All I know is a belt because that’s how I was raised,” Sara responds.

“No, you weren’t,” Tracy says quietly.

“Yes I was! Don’t sit there and lie,” Sara tells Tracy.

“Don’t start yelling at me. I’ll get up and leave,” Tracy utters to her daughter.

“What is she lying about?” Dr. Phil asks Tracy.

“They whipped me with a belt, and she’s going to sit here and say they didn’t,” Sara says tearfully. “I love my husband so much, but I felt hat because a man has beaten me and abused me my whole life, that’s all I know, and that’s why I take the anger out on my husband; because I’m getting back at a man.”

“Can I ask you a question?” Rene says. “What does that have to do with adultery?”

“I don’t know,” Sara says while crying.

“Under deployment, I have to call home to tell my wife that a serious incident happened, and I get interrupted to be told that my spouse is committing adultery,” Quinn says. “I lose my temper after I get off the phone, and get punished by the military.”

“Where is the relation between physical abuse with a belt for her, when she was a child, to leading it all the way to adultery?” Rene asks openly.

“When it comes to adultery, the only thing that I can think of and figure out is that I was tired of being alone. I thought marrying him and being in the military was going to be great, and it wasn’t. He was gone all the time,” Sara responds.

Quinn reveals another shocking accusation!

Sara says she believes her violence has affected her young children, yet she doesn’t feel she has abused them. “Our children are my world. I don’t know what I would do without them.” Sara says the kids have been exposed to “everything — yelling, screaming, fighting.”

“Sara yells at them every day, over stupid stuff — not picking up toys,” Quinn says. He lists the things he says his wife tells their daughter: “I’m sick and * tired of this. I’m going to beat the hell out of her. I’m going to knock your teeth out of your mouth.”

“I have witnessed Sara striking my granddaughter with a belt,” Rene says.

“I do pop her on her butt or her bare legs,” Sara admits.

“She’ll just give her that whip, and that crack noise, which is what petrifies my daughter,” Quinn says. “If I step up for my children and defend them, then my wife will divert her anger from the children to me.”

“I have to stand back and watch because I’m not the parent,” Rene says. “The laws will not allow me to protect them from their mother, and that kills me.”

Sara turns to her mother and asks, “How can you sit there and say that’s not how I was raised when you have a problem as well and you don’t want to admit it?” She says her father has mentally and verbally abused her mother “for as long as I can remember.” Sara claims that she “learned from experience.”

You have a problem with anger, and your children are at risk,” Dr. Phil tells Sara. “Having access to children is not a biological right, it is a privilege that you earn and that you maintain by good choices and reasonable conduct.”

“And I want help,” Sara responds.

[AD]Dr. Phil continues, “That’s not something that just because you share DNA, you have the right to those children. Let me assure you that you do not. That’s not how it works.” He lists the violence that Sara admits to using against her children: “You hit your daughter with a belt. It makes a whip noise that petrifies your daughter; you scream at her for no reason; you scare the kids when y’all fight in front of them in the car.”

Sara denies accusations that she leaves her kids alone for hours in order to get away. When asked whether she told her daughter, “If you back talk to me, I’m going to knock the teeth out of your mouth and slap you across you jaw,” she says she only threatened to slap her.

“Do you have any understanding about how children reason and what level of understanding they have?” Dr. Phil asks.

“No,” Sara responds.

“Let me tell you what it looks like to them: 'You are supposed to love me, protect me and nurture me — which you do sometimes — and then all of a sudden, you attack me and inflict pain on me?' What is a child supposed to say to themselves about that?” Dr. Phil asks Sara. “You obviously have a very low frustration tolerance, would you agree?”

“Yes,” she responds.

“And you attribute this to the upbringing that your mother wants to deny the majority of?” Dr. Phil asks.

“Yes,” she says.

“You’ve been incarcerated twice — once for five days and once for a few hours. You’ve been assigned to a 12-week anger management course,” Dr. Phil says to Sara.

“How many of those did you miss?” Quinn asks Sara. “You didn’t even go because you didn’t feel like it, you were tired, you were whatever.”

Sara responds, “No, a lot of times it would be that we forgot or we had stuff going on—”

“It doesn’t matter why,” Dr. Phil interjects. “I don’t want to hear it. Don’t come here and tell me you want help, and then defend missing half your anger management courses.”

“It’s a waste,” Quinn says quietly.

“There’s a legacy here, OK. It is true — children learn what they live,” Dr. Phil says. He turns to Tracy, “If you think for one second that you did not write on the slate of who this girl is, with what she grew up in and around, then you’re just missing something, right?”

Find out if Sara's mom takes any responsibility for her daughter's actions.

Sara’s mom says she would get mad when her kids were younger, but never took her anger out on her children.

“Children are products of their upbringing. If they grow up in turmoil, chaos, they watch abuse — whether it’s directed at them or just around them — that changes who they are. It’s like when you burn yourself really bad, it leaves a scar for the rest of your life. That’s what happens when a child grows up in a chaotic, tumultuous environment,” Dr. Phil tells Tracy.

[AD]Tracy says when her husband went to jail for striking Sara, she was torn. “I loved my husband, but I love my daughter.”

“But you picked a man over your child. You picked a man over your own flesh and blood,” Sara tells her mother.

“This is about me and you and our children, Sara, and you getting help,” Quinn tells his wife. “We need the bickering to stop.”