Abusive Parents/Literature

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  • Mama Elena from Like Water for Chocolate. She is constantly controlling to her youngest daughter, Tita, and forbids Tita to marry the man she loves so Tita can care for Elena when she's old just because it's tradition.
  • Roald Dahl's Matilda has this and neglect; they call her names and deride her for not being like them (she prefers to read, they watch endless, brainless television). At one point, her father rips up one of her library books while calling it trash. Also, her parents leave her (a five year old) alone on afternoons when they are at work or bingo. But even they take a back seat to the Trunchbull, who is a Complete Monster through and through.
  • William Marsh's father is a brute, though how much of one is only gradually made clear. Lewis is so shocked about it that the abuse is never, ever played for laughs.
  • In Tanith Lee's The Silver Metal Lover, Jane, the heroine, discovers that her mother futzed with her phenotype to make Jane plainer than she should have been because she didn't want the competition. The reader sees all along how her mother passively-aggressively manipulates and undermines Jane at every opportunity. She also arranges for the destruction of Jane's android sweetie because Jane was growing up: growing *away* from her.
  • Tywin Lannister of George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire. He treated his youngest son like crap for years, culminating in forcing him to watch -- and in the end, participate in -- the gang-rape of his new wife because she was a commoner.
    • Samwell Tarly's father takes Why Couldn't You Be Different? to extreme levels, openly despising his son for his bookishness and lack of badassitude. After years of trying to make him shape up through means such as forcing him to constantly wear chainmail and slaughtering a bull and making him bathe in its blood, he fathered a second son who he liked more. So he threatened Sam with a "hunting accident" if he didn't join the Night's Watch, thus giving up his inheritance to his younger brother.
    • Cersei Lannister has shades of this, too. She loves her children, but clearly favors Joffrey, the eldest and a Complete Monster. After he dies and his kinder, gentler brother Tommen takes over the throne, Cersei constantly compares him to Joffrey, and uses him as a puppet so that she can act as queen. She goes as far as to force him to beat his whipping boy when Tommen refuses to obey her out of love for his new wife, whom Cersei hates. Tommen is 8.
  • Jaqueline Wilson's Lola Rose has Jayni talk about how her dad beats up her mum whenever he gets angry or suspicious, and constantly threatens her, and how he inevitably hits Jayni hard at the start of the book for the first time. Jayni repeatedly talks about how scared she is of her dad, even when he's miles away.
    • He treats her little brother Kenny 'okay', but his behaviour is slowly convincing him that it's okay to beat women, and it seems only a matter of time before either he starts hitting Kenny or Kenny starts hitting his mum and sister.
  • Micah E.F. Martin's Prophet's House Quintology has Lord John Blackwall, who despises his second son, Jonathan, for outliving Titus, his heir. Then there's Sen'Tan Alecad who engages in Offing the Offspring at every opportunity. Given, he has about eighty kids, so this may be justified.
  • Jess' father in Bridge to Terabithia The Movie was a borderline case. He was abjectly disrespectful of his son's creativity and constantly making sneering remarks about his son's kind heart and artistic ability. However, he'd started a Heel Face Turn by the end of the movie, brought on by Leslie's death. Jess retained his kindness and creativity, though.
    • Janice Avery from the same movie also had an abusive father. For her, it was a Freudian Excuse, in that she was the school bully.
    • Janice's abuse is from the book, however, Jess' father being abusive is not in the book at all.
      • Every single novel written by Katherine Paterson has at least one abusive parent. She claims that the reason is because it reflects her childhood.
    • Whether his father's actions constitute abuse is questionable, since he only seems to act in that manner at times when his temper might get the better of him, such as when Jess neglects his chores on the farm in favor of his art (and at one point loses the keys to the greenhouse, which would be deducted from his father's salary to replace). The fact that they live close to the poverty line might make his desire for his son to do something that he would see as more practical understandable, if not justified.
  • Terry Pratchett examples:
    • Coin, the Tyke Bomb from Sourcery was psychically dominated by (what was effectively the ghost of) his father almost from birth, leaving him with almost no personal identity after he was finally freed. May overlap with physical abuse, via Functional Magic; at one point, a bystander smells scorched flesh.
    • The Truth: William de Worde and his father are not, shall we say, on speaking terms.
  • In The Lord of the Rings, Denethor despises his more scholarly son Faramir, openly preferring the more war-geared Boromir. It's implied that that's one of the reasons Faramir doesn't try to wake up from a magical coma. This is played up very strongly in the movie, but it's there in the books too; Denethor does mourn Faramir when he's about to die, to the point of almost killing both of them in a murder-suicide, but he still says that he would've rather lost Faramir than Boromir.
  • Fanny Price of Mansfield Park suffers from neglect when she's adopted by her Aunt and Uncle Bertram and cruel emotional abuse from her Aunt Norris.
  • Justina from the Night Huntress books tells her daughter Cat about her rapist vampire father with the words "You have a monster inside of you". She convinces Cat that her rape and her ostracism for being a single mother is all Cat's fault. When Cat starts hunting vampires in high school, it's the first time that Justina ever shows pride or love for her daughter, not caring that her sixteen-year-old is risking her life to earn her mother's affection.
  • Trent, in Black Dogs, is forced by his sorcerer father to perform ritual bloodletting on unwilling women before killing them. If he refused, his father would do it instead, except more slowly and less mercifully. Trent even tried killing himself to avoid this a number of times, but he would be brought back to life using a sacrifice of one of the aforementioned women.
  • North Of Beautiful: The father. Exhibit A: One of his sons self harms. Exhibit B: Terra, the Main character, is almost anorexic, hates herself, is germophobic, and is in a mostly sexual relationship that she knows is unhealthy at the start of the story. Exhibit C: Her mother, a Binge eater, has nonexistent self esteem. Exhibit D: His eldest son has no healthy relationships at all. This book has a very realistic portrayal of abuse.
  • In Stephen King's IT, Eddie's mother takes him to the emergency room at least twice a month for imagined ills, bullies her doctor into prescribing unnecessary placebos for the psychosomatic asthma she caused, pressures his teachers into keeping him out of gym class, and tries to drive off the rest of the Loser's Club after Henry Bowers broke his arm, all because of her fears of him abandoning her.
    • Years later, when Eddie is middle-aged, his elderly mother is still treating him like a baby - despite the fact that he proves to be one of the bravest characters in the novel.
    • Beverly's father beats her frequently. As if that weren't bad enough, she ends up marrying a carbon copy of him.
  • Farrington in "Counterparts", receiving a surprisingly sympathetic, Anti Villain-like portayal.
  • Korit, father of Seregil from Lynn Flewelling's Nightrunners - his mother died at childbirth and he could not expect much more than coldness from his father - Seregil believed that his father blamed him for the death of his mother, but it is later reveiled that Korit never got over losing his wife. That Seregil is the very image of his mother didn't help. Not that this would excuse him being a distant, cold bastard who imparted a major inferior complex on his son...
  • Alanna's father from Song of the Lioness neglects his two children, spending more time in his study reading books than raising them. And during the time Alanna was at the palace, all he did was send one letter and nothing more. Even other characters such as Jonathan and Duke Gareth knew it and were both happy that Alanna had found a Parental Substitute in her teacher Myles.
  • Crowfeather of Warrior Cats is neglectful and verbally abusive towards his son, Breezepelt. This is because he only chose Nightcloud as his mate and had Breezepelt after he returned to prove that he was loyal to the Windclan after he had a secret relationship with the Thunderclan medicine cat and ran off with her, leaving their clans behind.
  • The Wolves Of Willoughby Chase sequence: Dido's parents are neglectful of her to the point of cruelty and her father, in particular, does not hesitate to imprison and endanger his daughter in the name of Hanovarian conspiracies. Worse off still, her half-sister, Is, is used by her mother as a drudge and treated with nothing but casual violence and verbal abuse by both her mother and father. It's never acknowledged outright by the pair that she is their child, probably since she is the product of an extramarital affair, a fact which might explain their disregard. An example of an abusive guardian is Miss. Slighcarp, to Bonnie and Sylvia in 'The Wolves Of Willoughby Chase', and to Dido and Dutiful Penitence in 'Nightbirds On Nantucket'.
  • Michael's father, in the Knight and Rogue Series, comes off as just a strict man with his sons. One who also told Michael that being honest was the only thing he could do right, and who was willing to let him go off as a man with no legal rights to try and take down a murder suspect to win favor with a higher authority figure, and who pernamently stripped away those legal rights to try and force a life on Michael that he knew his son didn't want.
  • In Time Scout, Skeeter's parents were so distant that five years after he went missing, his father's response was, "How much money can we make? Gotta be a TV movie in this." and his mother gave him a peck on the cheek for the cameras, started organizing his doctor's visits, and never said a word. Jenna Caddrick's father might never have hit her, but he was certainly a vile man. Meanwhile, Margo's father was a drunk who hit her and her mother.
  • Succubus, one of the characters from the Wild Cards series, was used as a sexual toy by her parents.
  • Harper and her stepbrother from the Grave Sight series by Charlaine Harris were nearly sold into prostitution as children by their drug-addicted parents.
  • In the book, film, and musical of Alice Walker's The Color Purple, Celie's adoptive father sexually and physically abuses her, not only impregnating her twice but taking the children away as soon as they are born and giving them to the local church. Celie believes that he drowns them.
  • Felice in the Pliocene Exile Saga by Julian May. Introduced as a sadist and violent sociopath, it's revealed that her parents sated their boredom and idle lust with her, and otherwise thoroughly neglected her. She later gains her all-consuming power after being sexually tortured, stripping her mind to a bare core of personality and conveniently also removing all her mental blocks. An attempt to heal her mind succeeds in making her sane, but it was far too little, far too late to save her soul. In the end, she's removed from the game via her mind being trapped in a crystal along with her torturer, condemned to torture each other forever.
  • Stephen King's Dolores Claiborne had a husband who, in addition to physically abusing the title character, had a decidedly unwholesome interest in their teenage daughter Selena, who suffered sexual abuse at his hands in addition to manipulation into being afraid of her mother in order to keep her from talking about it. It is this, along with the stealing of their children's college money in order to spite her, that would ultimately lead to Dolores's decision to murder him.
  • In another King novel, Gerald's Game, Jessie (the protagonist) was sexually molested by her father once. This was especially traumatizing to her because until then, they had a very close, loving relationship.
  • Lord Raith of The Dresden Files rapes his daughters when they start to be a threat to his position. The Raiths are White Court vampires, so it gives him supernatural control over his children as well. Lara turned the tables on him and kept this fate from falling upon her youngest sister Inari.
  • In Russell Banks's The Sweet Hereafter (and the critically acclaimed film adaptation by Atom Egoyan), 15-year-old Nicole Burnell is molested regularly by her father. Following the accident around which the plot of the book revolves, which leaves her paralysed, she even expresses some relief that he won't find her attractive any more.
  • Stormy Llewellyn from Odd Thomas lost both of her parents when she was little and was put in an orphanage. She was adopted by a couple who lived in Beverly Hills and didn't go three weeks before her adopted dad came into her room at night and molested her. She took it for three weeks before telling a visiting social worker what was happening and lived in the orphanage until she was 18, claiming she didn't want any parents except her biological ones.
  • Margo Lanagan's Tender Morsels features the teenaged Liga who is used as a replacement for her mother after her death when Liga was only a child. Because of this, Liga becomes pregnant by her father not once, not twice, but THREE TIMES. She later becomes pregnant a fourth time after she is assulted by some boys from the village.
  • This is central to the plot of Sapphire's novel Push, which was made into the film Precious. Precious is raped by her father from age seven. When she has her first baby at twelve, her father leaves, but later returns and impregnates her again at sixteen. Her mother fondles her and forces her into oral copulation, reasoning that since Precious was responsible for her husband's disappearance, she should provide sexual services in his place. Much of the plot revolves around Precious' love for her children and her determination to give them a better life.
  • Several of Zit's foster father's sexually abused him in Flight.
  • Mackie Messer from Wild Cards was physically abused by his mother. Possibly sexually as well.
  • Davy Rice from the Jumper book was physically abused by his father.
    • In fact, Davy's learning to deal with the emotional effects of the abuse he and his estranged mother suffered is a major subplot of the novel.
  • Count Olaf from A Series of Unfortunate Events was the Baudelaires' legal guardian, and, really, he covered all the abuses. He hit Klaus, called Sunny names, and was going to force Violet to marry him, all to get the family fortune. It was mainly played for dark comedy, but in The Movie, Olaf's abuse was a bit less comedic and a bit more shocking. The Baudelaires also managed to avoid the Freudian Excuse and grew up fairly well because they had each other to lean on despite the horrors plaguing them.
  • Beverly Marsh from Stephen King's IT, whose father took the Overprotective Dad archetype into abusive levels, and it was also implied that he held sexual feelings for his daughter. The man that she married, Tom Rogan, was just as abusive as her father.
    • It's hard to tell if Henry's bat-shit craziness was a result of heredity or environment. There's also a whole chapter on the disappearance of a boy who turns out to be one of It's victims. Newspaper clippings chronicle an investigation revealing that the boy's stepfather killed another stepson with a hammer.
  • And the title character's mother from Stephen King's Carrie, Margaret White, whose insane religious fanaticism led to physical and emotional abuse upon her only daughter, whom she believed to be the spawn of the devil since poor Carrie actually was conceived through marital rape. Margaret tried to kill her once when she was a baby, and when the two had their showdown following Carrie's telekinetic rampage at the prom, she tried to kill her again, putting a knife through her daughter's shoulder before Carrie killed her by either stopping her heart telekinetically (book and tv film version) or using several knives to stab and pin her to a door (1976 film version).
    • In the book, it's unclear whether it was rape or just the twisted mind of Carrie's mother. She and her husband were devoutly religious and she actually didn't know that she was pregnant; she referred to her growing stomach as "a cancer of the womanly parts". Carrie's grandmother was not like this at all; this suggests that Margaret has some severe mental health issues.
  • In one of the most harrowing treatments of the subject in a children's book, Willie in Goodnight, Mister Tom is regularly beaten and starved by his religious maniac mother. He is eventually found locked in a cupboard after a week's incarceration, cradling his dead baby sister.
  • Terry Pratchett has used this a few times in Discworld. Young Nobby Nobbs fears prison because his father's in there, and he used to break Nobby's arms. And while the Grey House isn't exactly parental abuse, it's still... icky.
    • In the novel Hogfather, the criminal Catseye is famous in criminal underworld circles for being able to see in the dark. But as he admits he is actually scared of the dark and of old cellars, because when he was a boy his father regularly used to lock him up in their cellar without a light for hours as a punishment. He trained himself to see in the dark mainly as a way of compensation.
      • Most of the working-class, smalltime criminals in Hogfather turn out to have been abused, physically and/or emotionally, as children, although they're still sane... compared to the main villain, the psychotic, boyishly handsome assassin Mr. Jonathan Teatime, who is implied to have killed his own parents when he was still a child.
  • This is The Reveal in The Thread That Binds the Bones.
  • In Sunny Ella, a dark retelling of Cinderella, Ella's stepmother slaps her across the face twice the day they meet. Later she uses her cane as a weapon and at one point removes Ella's voicebox as punishment for talking back.
  • Sara Fitzgerald in My Sister's Keeper is of the well meaning variety in that she essentially forces Anna to go through various medical procedures so she can donate her organs to her sister with cancer. Any time anyone protests in Anna's favour, Sara shoots them down saying Kate needs whatever. She is even willing to force Anna to donate her kidney to Kate with no regard for how Anna's life would be afterwards. She does, arguably, learn to love Anna for Anna later.
  • This is part of Darth Bane's Freudian Excuse. His father was a grade-A asshole who physically and emotionally abused his son. Said son went on to become one of the most Badass and evil Sith Lords to have ever lived.
  • In Time Scout, Margo grew up in a fairly crapsack home. Her father was a physically abusive drunk. Seven year olds are advised not to spill nail polish when playing dress up.
  • Sensei in the Japanese novel Kokoro, albeit through his uncle. It's one of the reasons why he crossed the Despair Event Horizon.
  • Wild Cards: The Amazing Bubbles was supposed to have had money from her modeling career put into trust for her until she was of legal age. But her parents instead funded their own decadent lifestyle. When she found out and sought legal help against her parents, they took the money and ran, leaving her with what they couldn't carry. And in a nasty parting shot, they also slashed open her beloved stuffed toys.
  • Harry Potter:
    • In Harry's case, the Dursleys were physically, emotionally and mentally abusive to Harry. Forcing him to live in the little room under the stairs of their house, hiding the letters from Hogwarts, telling people that he was a delinquent, lying to him about his deceased parents, boarding up/making doggy doors for Harry's new bedroom...
    • In Dudley's case, the Dursleys were an odd sort of mentally abusive because they raised Dudley to be a bully with an entitlement complex, and Petunia spoils him so much that he was morbidly obese up until Order of the Phoenix. This is made more obvious in the last book, where Dudley finally thanks Harry for saving his life in the fifth book and wishes him luck. His parents are horrified.
    • They also abuse Dudley psychologically through how they treat Harry, telling him what amounts to "If you don't live life by our rules, we'll treat you like this."
    • Although at the end of the day, it was implied that Petunia, despite the abuse, did somewhat care for Harry Potter. Vernon, on the other hand, absolutely hated Harry, and was perfectly willing to throw Harry out of the house with the excuse of Harry allegedly cursing Dudley (when in fact it was actually a Dementor), to which the only reason why he didn't was due to Petunia's (And Dumbledore's anonymous Howler's) interference. He's also the only one who doesn't attempt to say goodbye.
    • Severus Snape's Backstory indicates his father, Tobias, was physically and emotionally abusive. For extra points on the tragedy meter, Snape spends much of his adult life handing out the same kind of emotional abuse he received from others.
      • It's also implied that Severus's mother, Eileen, was neglectful, although whether it was because she hated/didn't want/was indifferent towards him or because she was dealing with the effects of Tobias's abuse could be debated until the Earth falls into the sun.
    • Voldemort's mother, Merope Gaunt, also definitely suffered some level of parental abuse. Some fans interpret it as going even further.
  • In Cloud of Sparrows, Emily was raped by her evil stepfather, and her brothers were regularly whipped and beaten at the slightest pretext.
  • Eve Dallas of the In Death series. Eve's mother was a prostitute who resented Eve's very existence; her father beat, starved and raped her regularly, with plans to sell her to pedophiles, until she killed him at the tender age of eight. Hers is a Line-of-Sight Name, since her "parents" didn't see fit to give her one. This leads her to become a police officer, in order to never again be a victim.
    • If that wasn't enough in the long cutie break that was her childhood, she winds up with Trudy Lombard, who had a pattern of fostering girls, treating them like slaves, forcing them to take ice-cold showers (the reason Eve takes 100+ degree ones), and so on. It was bad enough that just seeing Lombard again (she had come to Blackmail Eve and Roarke) hit her like a Shell-Shocked Veteran's flashback.
    • Roarke himself received regular physical and financial abuse from his father, and his hatred for the man is one of the things which motivated him on his way from being a petty street-thief to topping the Fiction 500.
  • In the Deepgate Codex series, the god Ulcis' abuse of his daughter Carnival lists so heavily on the holy shit meter that it might as well be breaking it. He only kept her mother alive so that he could rape her to his enjoyment, and was not pleased when she got pregnant, especially because as an angel's mother, she died in childbirth. Although he named his daughter Rebecca, he more commonly referred to her as a freak or with expletives--she calls herself Carnival as in carnival freak, and WILL NOT be referred to as anything else. He had his soldiers gang-rape her often and very brutally; when years of this treatment didn't break her, he executed a vicious Mind Rape on her and hanged her from Deepgate's chains. She got loose -- as a rather psychotic amnesiac. It wasn't for 3000 years, until Carnival finally got acceptance and kinship from Dill and Rachel (and bloodily killed Ulcis), that she finally started to calm down a little.
  • In the How Not to Write A Novel section "A Novel Called It" (named for a Real Life account of this), the made-up "excerpt" serving as an example of this trope has a heroine who is beaten by and forced to toil for her emotionally abusive dad, valiantly hoping that her little brother Tiny Tim will be safe if she takes the brunt of his cruelty. The authors proceed to discourage the use of this trope in fiction, as it is both hackneyed and depressing.
  • Sybil Dorsett, subject of the book (and miniseries) Sybil, suffered domestic abuse at the hands of her mother so severe that she developed sixteen split personalities. Even worse? The story is based in truth.
  • Mommie Dearest. There's also a film adaptation.
  • Scott Westerfeld's Midnighters. Rex Greene's father would beat him occasionally, once pointed a loaded gun at him, and made him sit still while tarantulas crawled over him because he wanted Rex to be "a man instead of some book-reading pussy".
  • Mayella Ewell in To Kill a Mockingbird. We know her dad beats her, and it is hinted that he also abuses her sexually.
    • Boo Radley as well. He was kept locked in his house for over thirty years by a man described as "the meanest man God ever blew breath into".
  • Ironman has a minor and a major example. The minor example is the main character's father, whose extremely strict discipline policies, while ultimately well intentioned, end up being a major contributor to the main character's anger issues and inferiority complex. He eventually gets better. The major example is Hudgie's father, a psychotic, inhuman sociopath who regularly tortured his son for even the most minor offenses. Thankfully, he's finally arrested for his atrocities towards the end of the book. Unfortunately, the semi-sequel Angry Management reveals that Hudgie killed himself shortly after Ironman.
  • The novel The Nature of the Daughters by Elizadeth Hetherington features a female protagonist, Renata Savannah, that suffers all but sexual abuse at the hands of her mother, a woman who has repeatedly tried to kill her. Her mother even enlists her twin sister to aid in the murder. Given that this is a coming-of-age novel about a teenage serial killer, the horrid abuse Renata suffers is the least disturbing thing in it.
  • In Mary Downing Hahn's Daphne's Book, the protagonist Jessica discovers that Daphne and her little sister are orphaned and live with their grandmother. Said grandmother is mentally unstable and unemployed--she feeds all the food in the house to her many, many cats instead of eating it herself or feeding her grand-daughters, she screams and throws tantrums in the grocery store when Daphne tries to buy a particular food item they need, is horribly neglectful, tells Daphne to her face that she "sent her father away" (in reality, he was killed in Vietnam), and terrifies the younger, kindergarten-aged girl by saying the ceiling will fall on them and kill them all. She also forbids the younger girl from going to school, calling it useless, and Daphne herself misses many days of school to take care of Grandma and her sister.
  • Shallan's father in The Stormlight Archive was violent, quick to anger, and got the entire family into debt with extremely powerful people. He also really screwed up his three sons, but left Shallan alone. Didn't stop her from killing him.
  • Odessa, the protagonist of the novel "The Fifth Born" by Zelda Lockhart, was physically abused by her mother while her father emotionally and sexually abused her. It doesn't help that she's the youngest of five kids and was three years at the start of the story.
  • Dwight from This Boy's Life was this. He would force Toby to spend hours shucking extremely spiky horse chestnuts bare-handed as a chore for no apparent reason other than to torment him, spent Toby's money on a dog that Toby himself didn't want, and tried to force Toby into the local boy scouts just to give him some work to do, and joined as the adult leader just to make sure he did. There's also the times where Dwight attacked Toby physically over some pretty minor offenses. In the climax of the film version, Dwight attacks Toby over something involving breakfast which a now fed-up Toby reacts to by fighting back. The two end up in a huge fight. Finally, Toby's mother helps him and the two decide to leave.
  • A favorite trope of V. C. Andrews. A particularly horrific example is found in the Casteel series, where not only does Jill Tatterton refuse to believe her daughter Leigh when she tells her that her stepfather Tony raped her (instead believing Tony's claim that the 14 year old Leigh attempted to seduce him), in a later book it's implied that Jill offered Leigh to Tony when she refused to continue having sex with him, believing that it would diminish her youth and beauty.
  • Danielle Steel likes this one too. Parents in her books are either perfect or display varying degrees of emotional abuse, although on book in particular does feature a physically abusive mother.
  • The French Sci Fi novel Malevil has Wahrwoorde, an Evil Poacher. He forced this family to live in backwards squalor in a swamp, without electricity or anything they can't produce themselves. He's cruel to his son (and mother-in-law), raped his step-daughters, and is willing to risk the young man's life for his gain.
  • In the Anne of Green Gables series, Anne goes through several homes and orphanages before being taken in by the Cuthberts, many of which were abusive and cold.
  • In Push by Sapphire, the main character Precious is sexually, emotionally and physically abused by both her mother and father. The sexual abuse led to two pregnancies before the age of 16.
  • In CS Lewis's Till We Have Faces, the king of Glome is physically and verbally abusive to his daughters, particularly Orual.
  • In the short story Parting Jane, a young girl is being harvested for parts to save her sick sister. Her parents don't seem to care about Jane at all, only the sick girl. Unfortunately this can be Truth in Television.
  • In Purple Hibiscus Kambili and her brother Jaja are often physically hurt by their father - whipped and scalded, but also forced into a strict, oppressive form of Catholicism. Kambili hardly speaks and never laughs - at least until her Aunt and Cousin get fed up with that.
  • The Night Circus has two prominent examples: Mr. Alexander H--, who isolates the orphan he plucks out of the street for uninterrupted study for about a decade and then, once the child has grown into a man, essentially vanishes from his life. There's also Hector Bowen, who never hesitates to tell his daughter how much of a disappointment/weakling/slut/whore she is while slashing her fingers open to teach her healing magic.
  • In Don't You Dare Read This, Mrs Dunphrey, the sixteen-year-old protagonist suffers abuse from both her parents. her father, who left the family years earlier, was emotionally abusive and tried to pass it off as just kidding around, and physically abusive--one of his last actions before running out on them was shoving his daughter so hard he knocked her out. The mother is neglectful, sitting around and being useless, letting her daughter parent her ten-year-old brother, and then finally just runs away from home without so much of a note, leaving her children to starve and freeze for a few weeks until the protagonist finally decides to tell someone what's happening.
  • Huckleberry Finn's alcoholic dad beats him, verbally abuses him, takes his money to buy whiskey, leaves him to live on the streets, and at one point kidnaps him and keeps him hidden in the woods. In The Adventures of Tom Sawyer it's implied that he also abused Huck's late mother--"They used to fight all the time."
  • In Gene Stratton Porter's Literature/Freckles, Freckles is horribly afraid that his parents were this, and otherwise disreputable, and so he comes of bad blood.

Does it seem to you that anyone would take a newborn baby and row over it, until it was bruised black, cut off its hand, and leave it out in a bitter night on the steps of a charity home, to the care of strangers? That's what somebody did to me.

  • In The 39 Clues, this is most certainly the case with Ian and Natalie Kabra. Their mother Isabel is a Complete Monster who verbally degrades them on a regular basis, and it's left unclear whether their father treats them similarly or whether he simply doesn't notice or care about what Isabel does. Ian and Natalie love and fear Isabel simultaneously, while believing that they lead the perfect lives because of their family's extensive wealth. They'd be Woobies if they weren't so nasty themselves!
  • The people who raised Felix and Mildmay in Doctrine of Labyrinths, who as close to parental figures that the brothers had after they were sold at the ages of four and three, respectively. Both of them were raised as kept thieves, with Felix going on to be taken in by a pimp and blood wizard.
  • Sherlock Holmes prefers the city to the countryside because this is more easily revealed.

There is no lane so vile that the scream of a tortured child, or [[[Domestic Abuse]] the thud of a drunkard's blow]], does not beget sympathy and indignation among the neighbours, and then the whole machinery of justice is ever so close that a word of complaint can set it going, and there is but a step between the crime and the dock. But look at these lonely houses, each in its own fields, filled for the most part with poor ignorant folk who know little of the law. Think of the deeds of hellish cruelty, the hidden wickedness which may go on, year in, year out, in such places, and none the wiser.