Abusers who Blame Victims and the People who Support Them

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Abusive manipulative people

I can’t believe how many abusers, controllers, and manipulative people present themselves as the victim. This is so normal that it is usually accepted without question in our society! These controlling and manipulative people tell everyone that some horrible thing has been done to them and no one questions them about where it started. But when a child of any age tries to communicate harm done to them, especially if the harm was done by family or parents, so many people defend the abusive/manipulative parent or family member and completely discount and dismiss the offended child! It’s crazy to me how many people defend these toxic people and discount the actual victim of this disrespectful and abusive treatment ~ BEFORE they even hear the whole story. Being invalidated in this way contributes to the distress of children and adult children in such a huge way.

I have been thinking a lot about this subject this week and interestingly enough some great examples have come in through the comments;

Because there is so much information in this comment, I am going to put my comments in green throughout “G’s” comments. Here is what G. shared:

 “Though I don’t remember it, my parents tell me I banged my head against a wall and smashed a mirror over my head when I was 14 (I remember that one). It was awful, because my mother would come in my room to torment me when I was already sad, and then I would react this way after she finally felt like she’d taken all of her negative emotions on me and crushed me enough.

Darlene says: “It sounds like your mother burdened you with her negative emotions so much that you reacted in a self-harming way. This is very common when a child has been brainwashed to believe that ‘she or he’ is the problem. They blame themselves just like the parents blame them and then they self-punish.”

  My father would close the door with the creepiest calmness if he ever heard crying my crying annoyed him, but didn’t affect him.

Darlene says: “And then the father adds to the damage by shutting the child out; closing the door is further punishment and defines the child as being unworthy of comfort. This shutting out also defines the child ‘the problem’ and invalidates the reason for the crying as if there IS no reason for the crying but that the problem IS the crying. This is very difficult for a child to comprehend and forces a child to find survival techniques”.

They used this as a reason to medicate me and then as an excuse to have me forcibly removed from my home and locked up for almost a year.

Darlene says: “They used that event as something YOU did in your distress to PROVE that you were the problem which then justifies their actions. As you say in this paragraph, he never took responsibility for HIS inaction when it came to parenting and never considered that perhaps it was what they were doing and not doing that was the real cause of the problem.”

 I mean, two years later! My father paid a lot of money to not have to parent me and still guilts me about how much he spent. As if that traumatic event was something I ever would have chosen on my own! It messed me up a lot. He never took responsibility for not parenting, let alone look at the fact their behavior might have been a reason for my distress (I am at my most stable with NC so that’s proof enough for me!). It’s always my fault. That is something I am really dealing with and trying so hard to challenge.

Darlene says: “And see how these parents see themselves as the ‘victims’ in these situations?  A child is NEVER a burden; it is the responsibility of the parent to take care of the child’s needs in every way. When a parent communicates that a child was a burden in this way, the child BELIEVES they are a burden. One of the hardest things I had to work through was un-doing the brainwashing that my mother was a victim of my behaviour and see what HER behaviour communicated to me about me and her feelings about me. Realizing how much I had assumed the blame for everything and seeing the truth that the blame did not belong to me, was a huge pathway to healing”. 

  I was so ashamed. They blamed me for getting ‘sent away’ in a ‘letter of accountability’ so I had to read about the smashing mirror thing to a group of people I didn’t know, some of whom were bullies. Parents’ only reasons were the mirror thing and a single joyride I took with my sister for 20 minutes in town.

Darlene says: “In my recovery I realized that there were a couple of things that that I had done that I applied to myself as “proof” that they were right about me. Like you there were not many but it doesn’t take much when a child has been defined as “the problem.”

Now he guilt trips me, “If your mother really didn’t love you, why did she spend hours in your room, trying to make you feel better?” Really, really? If she was trying to make me feel better, I would have felt the intent, but she had her own issues that she had to (and still tries to, though we are NC) today. It was always about making her feel better at MY expense, never the other way around.

Darlene says: “This is an important realization. I had to take a long look at what the role of the parent was supposed to be so I could come out of the fog about where I believed that I had failed in the dysfunctional family relationships. I was a child and I had NO responsibility as that child to assist in any way with an adults emotional issues. ”

So many other examples of how she didn’t love me- involving neglect/emotional abuse- I still have this awful feeling of having to prove myself. They are intent everything bad in their lives is my fault. Last time I spoke with her she said, “Everything is good in my life except you’re not in it” while simultaneously bawling and cutting me off. Every boundary I tried to set on that call was disregarded. Of course she mattered, poor her, but I was nothing. Even when I don’t talk to her or communicate, I am the reason for her unhappiness. How sick is that? And family members guilt me “If my daughter didn’t talk to me”….

Darlene says: This is how it is done. They refuse to see any part in the dysfunction of the relationship with their own child. They use guilt and shame, we are groomed with guilt and shame until we don’t question it anymore. My mother used to tell me that she was going to have a breakdown if I kept talking about my feelings. She could tear me down but if I tried to communicate my side of it, she cut me off. I didn’t deserve a say. And for many years I accepted or tried to accept that but my depressions got worse as I got older. Today I see a direct relationship between the way that I was disregarded and those constant depressions.”

I have an aunt and her boyfriend’s family whom are people who understand the concept of love and respect. So when I contrast their behavior and my own parents, I poke so many holes through the “We love you/it’s all your fault” logic.

Darlene says: “I had to learn the real definition of the word “Love”. I had to look up the laws when it comes to children and children’s rights. I had to look at the government definition of child neglect. Through doing all these things I came to see the truth that set me free ~ I was not the problem. I was the injured and discounted party”. 

 I spent the holidays with them last Christmas- best holidays I’ve had in 10 years. Why is that now?? Even if they hadn’t invited me, I would have been happier alone in my apartment.

Sorry this is so long! Wow, what a great community this is. I can no longer live in the dark, I never will again. G”  Thank you so much G for your great examples of the real root of the problem. 

I also received a comment from a reader who expressed to her Dr. her difficulty with people who automatically defend her mother;  Read what this commenter had to say and what her Dr. advised:

A writes: “I just got back from a doctor’s appt (annual) where he asked me about any stressors I’d had over the past year. Among other things, I mentioned my mother and how hard it was when people to whom I’d otherwise look for support immediately defended her and discounted me.

I told him that was a major source of stress. He told me that since my parents were old, I should expect to take care of them. He told me that many people would defend her just like he was and that I should just get used to it.

He told me that I should consult a psychiatrist if my anxiety over this issue increased and that I should look at meds.” ~ A

Darlene says: “It makes me crazy when I read about stuff like this! This woman told HER doctor about what was causing her stress and he told her that SHE was the problem and that SHE should seek help and consider going on medication! Why is it so accepted that our ‘parents’ have all these ‘human rights’ that WE don’t have??  What this doctor did is so devaluing, so discounting of HIS PATIENTS feelings and concerns. He doesn’t even know the mother or the circumstances in this situation! How could he possibly know the details of why this woman needs support when it comes to her mother?  He told her that she SHOULD take care of her parents and even that it is expected of her to do so! And what makes this so disgusting is that in my experience, children NEVER are right. Not when they are kids, not when they are teens, young adults or older adults.  In our society, in almost ALL society, No matter what age children are, when it comes to parents, the parents are always right. This is devaluing. This is defining to the child or adult child; it defines the child as ‘wrong’. It assigns the blame to the wrong party, validates the perpetrator of the abuse or mistreatment and serves to perpetuate and continue the cycle of abuse and dysfunctional family dynamics.  But it NEVER serves the child or validates them as a person with needs, feelings and human rights.

Here is one more example from my own life; I remember telling my mother when I was an adult, that when I was a teenager I stole my clothes because she didn’t give me any money to buy them. She immediately turned this around to make the story about HER, bringing up all her crap about all the sacrifices she made for us kids and then she finds something like ‘this’ out. She said things like “well…you think you know your kids…” but she never once addressed, admitted or validated WHY I was stealing clothing. She skipped right over that part of the story and made this disappointing information about her, her difficult life and her pain.

Please share your thoughts and examples with us in the comment form. Please remember that you may use any name you wish here; only the name you use in the comment form will be seen by other readers. Your email address is not published. Your privacy is important to me.

Food for thought on the journey to wholeness!

Darlene Ouimet

The Emerging from Broken book is ready for download! If you find that the subject matter I am writing about resonates with you, get this book today! This 197 page, downloadable, printable, live linked e-book will put you on the fast track to healing.  Get yours here through the upper right side bar or click this link~ Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing

 

108 response to "Abusers who Blame Victims and the People who Support Them"

  1. By: Ananda Tumsi Posted: 13th February 2017

    Carlos,
    Bravo! Self ownership of needs and right expression is your right and responsibility. Good on you for claiming back what was forced away from you, your integral, human right to Self preservation.

    Stay SAFE.

  2. By: Ananda Tumsi Posted: 13th February 2017

    Damaged creates damage.
    Alice Miller
    Finding the way to Self and connection to the Source is the start of peace. Peace is absence of confusion. Truth is in all. Balance is Non-Judgement. We are all innocently harmed.

  3. By: S1988 Posted: 6th February 2016

    Carlos

    Unfortunately, a similar law exists in China. Adult offspring in China are required to visit parents or risk facing litigation. You can find out more about it on the Internet. How sad is that?

  4. By: Carlos Posted: 6th February 2016

    This was a great article, for it suddenly led for me to remember the words of gold that came from my mother being: “There is no law whatsoever that states that the children should look after their parents” Reading this article led me to believe that her words were trying to say that we (the children) are not obligated to constantly supply forgiveness and understanding to those parents who have done actions for the “greater good” just because they feel entitled to such non-existent rights. That we don’t deserve to be treated badly, just because they are raking in bucket loads of money to the house. It has also led me to believe that her words meant: “Parents should be the one to set the benchmark” Of course if I had family who hadn’t embraced their false perception of love, then I’ll happily take care of them no strings attached. But as I am continuously seeing piles of shit and validating them for the shit that they are, then I am slowly but surely making my way to a much more pleasant life where I’m no longer blinded by the shards of glass that I was forced to accept as “good things”. That I don’t owe my abusers “good karma” in the form of paying off their hospital bills and what not just because they provided for me and did the “best they could.” Oh and as I walk out of the club, I am also carrying the words from my mother being, as already stated: “There is no law whatsoever that states that the children should look after their parents.”

  5. By: Christine Posted: 24th February 2015

    I see so much of me in this post – both pre fog and post fog! I was so well-trained and well-groomed to accept abuse as love that I sought it out in other relationships in my life. I fought to prove I was worth loving as a child, I sought to prove that I mattered, too, that I deserved respect and to be cared about when *I* cried or *I* was hurt. The truth is I couldn’t give enough reasons to my mother to love me, because even at the end of her rope of excuses as to “why I am such a terrible daughter” and even when all points had a logical and sane rebuttal to her argument, she resorted to just flat out making stuff up to hurl over the net at me. She always suffered, I never did enough for her, she was emotionally delicate, from ages 2-30 I was expected to be more like her mother than the other way around, she couldn’t do something on her own, therefore I had to do it for her, she never made mistakes, I made mistakes even when I did exactly what she wanted me to do – in fact I was even told “I was a mistake” by her sister (my “God mother”) that my mother claimed she never even wanted me and was stuck with me, she was always correct, I was “the crazy one” because I didn’t remember “how it happened” and every bad thing she ever had done to me she magically didn’t remember or flat out called me a liar.

    How damaging it was as a little girl to KNOW what happened in one instant like, “Mommy hit me in the head” to your mother scolding/screaming at you that it never even happened. I felt like my mind was always spinning out of control and I lost a sense of reality – AT SIX YEARS OLD! Because, how could a mother possibly lie to her child? She was my world, she was all I had, and she abused that dependency and that trust. I was so caught up in wanting to please others I completely forgot about the “ME” that was inside. I wasn’t allowed to develop my own interests, or to partake in things I enjoyed. My desire for art and freehand drawing was squashed with “That’s stupid, how can you make any money from that? You’re not even good!” (I am a design artist now with a Bachelor’s Degree in IT thank you very much!) I had an interest in animals and wanted to be a vet as a child through my teenage years and was steered away as “What do you want to always work with SICK and DYING animals for? That’s twisted!” like I should be ashamed for wanting to help an innocent creature. I did whatever I could to please her, took the classes she wanted me to take in school, only partook in hobbies she approved of and only hung around people she deemed “acceptable” (not that anyone ever was good enough in her eyes for me to be friends with, they were all too short, tall, fat, skinny, ugly, superficial, rich, poor, etc… always SOMETHING was wrong with THEM – my choices while she remained a social outcast and no real friendships her entire adult life).

    When I was molested by my older brother and had the courage to tell a family member as he had step daughters and I was afraid for them (this wasn’t even about me anymore!) I was shamed into “how could you tell someone???” There was no protection, there was no care or comfort or empathy of any sort, it was that I was bad for telling. I asked why, she said because I wasn’t supposed to say or do anything to make people look down “on the family” and that I was a shame “to the family” for having told a dark secret. It was more important to her what other people thought of us than protecting her daughter from a sexual predator AND furthermore protecting OTHER children in the family from a known sexual predator. WHAT IS WRONG WITH HER???

    Luckily I have a very loving husband with the patience of a saint, he was skeptical when I confided in him the issues I had with my family and thought “Well she is just a young girl who can’t be tamed, that is just one side of the story…” (Very logical, right?) After a year of knowing my mother and her “happy face mask” started to crumble, he let me know “I didn’t even scratch the surface of how deeply crazy, illogical and irrational your family actually is — nothing could have prepared me for this… crap.” He helped me see the dysfunctional ways my mother treated me, yet treated him and the step kids on a completely different level. He couldn’t fathom how a mother could sit there and bad-mouth her own daughter infront of her “new family” then turn to him and the kids and act as sugary sweet as apple pie. And it wasn’t like it was a personality switch, this came and went to me as a selective person. Speaking one moment sweet and comforting and giggling to one person, and then turning to me and cursing me out for “not sitting the right way” or “holding a spool wrong” with a lot of f-bombs thrown in there, to only turn back and giggle and smile and try to continue the conversation like nothing had happened. She also started trying to hide her aggression towards me because my husband finally couldn’t tolerate my mistreatment and told her he wouldn’t put up with her abusing his wife anymore, so she tried to only do it when he stepped out of the room or left the house or was working in the wood shop. So sick to go through all that trouble just to torment her own daughter!

    I had to go no contact. I did in the 11th grade when I left home to raise myself (had a job, paid for my own place, finished school with high honors), only to come back after being married wanting “the fairy tale family” I didn’t have growing up, hoping something had changed or she’s see me differently now that I was a wife and step mother. Nope. It was actually like whip-lash, it was even WORSE coming back around the second time. I had to go no contact again, as she drove me to the point of suicide. (Yes, she was that detrimental to my well-being, and to my emotional and mental health!)

    She started gaslighting the kids, convincing them that I was evil (step parents and children have enough issues without a crazy mother in law being involved!), not their dad because they wouldn’t hear of it, but what as a rebellious step child would you think if someone’s own MOTHER spoke so ill of them? Common enemy much? I was so sad they never came to us and asked what was happening. I came across transcripts of their conversations where I found my mother flat out LYING my own mother LYING about details of her living with us, she claimed she paid everything (we did), she paid the utilities (we paid them on two homes, hers that she lived in and our current one), she paid all the repairs (we have all the receipts where paid them) and we went on a few trips together and she told the kids she paid for the entire trips – for my husband and I (flat out dead face lies). Then she was begging them “not to say anything to me, or Christine will kill me.” So instead of getting to the bottom of what REALLY happened they just went along with it. Well her knowing they never verify their information, guess what??? She knew she could say whatever she wanted and they would just BELIEVE IT – how crazy is that? Where do people go to not having a brain or caring about the truth anymore??? I mean this was also against their own father, how could they not even ask HIM what happened? Oh, because all the things she claimed we took advantage of her financially, she was throwing money at the kids, buying plane tickets and dinner meals and Christmas gifts galore — something they craved more than their family love. Just. So. sad. That she taught a generation of kids to think in this corrupt and perverse way. Makes me want to throw up just thinking about and it is sick that she passed on her crooked ideas to kids and intentionally went out of her way to break up a family.

    I saw a goofy little quote that made me stop in my tracks that read, “Before seeing a therapist, make sure, in fact, you are NOT SURROUNDED BY A-HOLES.” I was like, “You know what, let’s do a no contact test, I’ll drop her like a hot potato and we’ll see where my emotional levels are at.” My stress dropped, my anxiety went away (and all the physical symptoms of chronic anxiety), my moods elevated, I was just HAPPIER ABOUT LIFE. My husband noticed the change and has vowed to never go back to speaking to her again, no amount of anything is worth the kind of torture and torment he witnessed me suffer first hand. What was sad was at the time I WANTED her to love me more than she did, I welcomed the abuse because again I associated it with her love. I threw myself to the flames over and over again to be shattered by disappointment. We have obviously left the doors open for the kids, which they will take one step in and two steps back, but the door is there for them…

    Just sad, this is the beast I was burdened to live with and relying on for my well-being as a developing child. There is no doubt in my mind that this is the type of person that will rot in Hell when the time comes, because no good person could ever go out of their way that much to be that wicked.

  6. By: S1988 Posted: 21st February 2015

    I can relate to this in a sense. My two older siblings are practically our mother’s hand-puppets. I told them that the way she treated us was wrong and that we should not continue these patterns. My brother insulted me for this and has hated me ever since. He has three teenage sons himself. (I’m not sure if he still hits them. He lives in another state, so I don’t see him often and plan to keep it that way.) His enabling wife does nothing about this and even participated in hurting them or gave excuses. He insists on how he loves me, though. (Blech.)

    My sister was “kinder” about this to me, telling about the stresses our mother suffered from losing her own mother and being raised by her grandmother, to marrying young to an abusive man, our father, who she separated from, then divorced many years ago.

    Even our mother herself told me after I expressed my pain related to insecurities I have as a result of a hypocritical upbringing and being bullied in school, she just said to get therapy, but did nothing to own up to it. (Sigh.) What a convenient way to shirk accountability.

    Now, I moved six miles from her and live with roommates. This isn’t the first time I estranged from the family, but I can’t take their dysfunction and hypocrisy anymore. I felt that I gave them too many chances only to be tricked many times. I haven’t heard from my mother yet so far. She stopped contacting me only because I heavily insisted that she did, but I don’t think she will ever feel remorse. I told her many times why our relationship is strained, but she still doesn’t seem to get it. In her view, I hate her or I’m being difficult. Well, let her and the others think that. I’m not going to be a broken record anymore. If I associate with them, it will be on my terms, not theirs. I will no longer waste time with a family who like to point out others’ hurtful actions, but not explore their own. It’s a wonder I made it this far without hurting myself. The important thing is to help myself, not try to understand the unrepentant.

  7. By: stepgrandma Posted: 21st February 2015

    Kathryn,
    It made a real impression on me when you said that you thought your grandma loved you, but that she never stood up to your parents. It also made an impression that you said it would have helped if she had told you in some way that she knew it was bad and that you would be free one day when you were old enough to get out. Those were not your words, but my interpretation. (I hope I didn’t misinterpret)

    I have done this for my teenage adopted step granddaughter. She knows that I understand what she has gone through and that she is not all of the horrible things her parents and adoptive parents have told her she was. I do think this has helped her that one adult actually sees things from her perspective and does not blame her for everything that has happened to her. Thankfully, she still keeps in contact with me. Her adoptive mother doesn’t want anything to do with her, which is really for the best. It is just so hard to see my granddaughter still want and hope for a mother’s love. It will never happen and that just breaks my heart for her.

    There are two little granddaughters, 3 years old now, that are still living with these adoptive parents that I see as very emotionally abusive along with other kinds of abuse. I have “stood up” to the parents, but I am sure the children do not know this. I hope to at some point let them know that they are not “bad” people as that is what they have been led to believe. I do love them and they do seem to turn to me when I am around for comfort. Even with their adoptive mom there, they come to me for empathy as there is NONE of that in their household. I absolutely hate that in a sense, I have to let the abuse go on. I can’t make them stop it and they know I think they are abusive, but they are sure they are right and they are raising their children the “biblical” way. It makes me want to vomit to hear that. If I want to be able to be in those precious girls’ lives, I have to keep my mouth shut. I don’t know what else I can do. There are no physical bruises which seems to be the only kind of abuse that the “system” can do anything about.

    Thank you for saying that it would have helped if your grandma had let you know that she knew that things were not good, even if she couldn’t stop it. I definitely plan to do that for these girls, too.

  8. By: H Posted: 21st February 2015

    I can’t even begin to say when the truth started coming out, I can say when I finally decided it was enough. I was adopted by my great aunt, let’s call her L, and my adoptive father, they were divorced shortly after my adoption. He died from a heart attack when I was four, 48 hours before the decision of custody for my brother (also adopted) and myself, in favor of him. So in complete custody of L I grew up thinking and believing he and his family were abusive and neglectful, I had no idea every time she pointed out the flaws of that side of my family she was trying to hide her own abusive tendencies. I can’t list all the ways I felt negected/abused growing up but I’ll try to give a condensed version, 1. Parents that make a child’s weight an issue, make adults with weight issues. I remember little things that she would say that I didn’t pick up on, I asked once if I’m related to anyone royal, her response, “you’re related to the prince of Wales” which I’m not, I realized she meant whales when I think back to why her boyfriend looked at her and said, “don’t say that L!” 2. Emotionally making herself the victim, which is something you’ve written about, but it hits home with me. She would cry, get angry, yell, shut me out, act depressed, anything to be dramatic – to avoid the real issue of WHY she was upset. I ALWAYS felt like I was the reason for her pain and anguish. So I would try to be as pleasant as possible, never talk back, never disrespect. We never fought because I was so willing to make her happy, we fought because she couldn’t express in words how she felt. 3. As a kid/teenager there’s a point when you just don’t want to “hang out” with your mom, I never had that because she wasn’t there to begin with. I would ask her to watch a movie with me, or eat dinner with me, she would always act happy and say yes! 5 minutes into anything, she started feeling ill and would recede into her dungeon, it upset me but after a while I stopped expecting any of her time. Fast forward out of highschool living alone in her home, paying rent/bills/paying for myself completely. I lost my job, she decided it would be a good time for me to move and take care of my great grandmother, whom I love very much, so I hesitantly agreed under the understanding after she sold the house I would move back, we set 6 months as the time line (basically we were trading places). While in my care my great grandmother fell (she’s extremely stubborn) I saw her close to death and couldn’t handle it, I begged L to find someone, ANYONE, else to watch over her, she said okay I understand I’ll find someone. Which brings me to 4. Her bipolar actions. after calmly agreeing to find another person, the very next day she asked if I was okay, and if i had changed my mind about taking care of my g. grandma, I said no I don’t want to be the one to find my sweet g.grandmother dead, I think it would ruin me for the rest of my life. A switch flipped and she started yelling at me saying I’m not appreciative of her, that I should suck it up, and that she’ll never find anyone else. So of course it worked and I continued taking care of my g.grandmother. A year after the 6 month mark, L finally comes home, I’m engaged planning on starting a new life, and she’s less than supportive. I happen to get a letter in the mail from a credit card company, it had my name on it and of course I open it- just to find a credit card bill, that was opened for a year in my name, but it wasn’t mine. 5. Money Hungry. I confront L, asked her if she did it, she said yes, and for the first time I thought to myself this woman has no shame, no dignity, no respect for herself or me! I ask why she didn’t ask me first, “because I knew you would say no.” Those words crushed me, not because they were right (which they were), but this woman I respected and cared so much about acted like stealing my identity wasn’t a big deal, and I should appreciate what she bought with the credit card. I’ll also mention a check from my car insurance to fix my cars engine was cashed, but not my me, by L and my brother, my brother came running to her defense and said it’s his fault don’t blame L so my question was “where’s MY money, why don’t I get what was meant for ME?! I paid for the insurance it was MY car! why do you two feel like this is normal or acceptable?!” So back to the credit card, I get kicked out of the house for standing up for myself to her, the first time ever doing so and I felt like… I have no words. It was awful but amazing. I wasn’t lost though, my future in laws took me in (I was getting married in less than a month, they knew it wouldn’t be a long stay, they let me sleep there many times, under supervision of course, fiance already moved into our home, they were one of the sweetest families ever). I continued with the wedding as normal, but now with 3 am phone calls from L yelling incoherently about anything and everything. She was still invited, but apparently it wasn’t enough, my brother told me I need to suck it up and basically beg for L to come, that was never going to happen-neither of them came. I was now married so here comes the next issue, 6. I didn’t know how to be happy with my life and choices, the example I had growing up was unstable, in and out of dysfunctional relationships, not a family. So I couldn’t handle the kindness and generosity shown to me by my new family, it was strange, it felt so wrong… I didn’t like it. I had to get out, I wasn’t worth the life I was living. I got divorced less than a year later… 7. I finally found someone who was like me, understood the craziness of family life, we promised it wasn’t going to be like that for us, it was at the beginning – but we found how to communicate and look for the love between the issues. We got pregnant, L decided the way to get back into my life was to wish me a “happy birthday” via fb, I was livid. 8. Acting like nothing had happened. she had hoped to casually sway herself back into my life, now that I was going to have babies (yes twins!) NEVER. 9. Not realizing her fault, never feeling guilty. She is unable to give an apology, I’ve reached out to her, telling her all it takes is an apology, she’s too good for that I suppose. 10. Ignoring. After 3 attempts of reaching out, my last words were “eventually I’m just not going to care any more.” It came a lot sooner than I expected, immediately after sending that message, I was freed, I didn’t care anymore, her life is not my issue. She can’t drag me through the mud, to hose me off and hang me up for later. I decided to make it stop. It did. I’m in an incredible relationship, I have an amazing family with my SO, my twins, our two dogs and another pup coming soon. I do think about L sometimes, but to only remind myself that I’m never going to be like her.

  9. By: pooloftears Posted: 21st February 2015

    Oh boy, have I lived this one.

    I think a particularly great example of this in my life was the general case of being criticized over my anxiety. In particular by the time I was 8 I had been made petrified of getting anything – I mean anything – the least bit wrong at school. I’d wake up in the middle of the night and go through my backpack, petrified that I had forgotten some piece of homework. My mother would be exasperated that I was up with the light on disturbing her sleep at two in the morning…I didn’t get that terrified of making an innocent mistake on my own. She was the one who’d scream and accuse me of being lazy and careless if I came home from school and anything had gone at all wrong during the day.

    Of course the school anxiety just got worse as I got older. The homework got more plentiful, the expectations got higher, my mother got meaner, and in general life got worse. When I was 11 my grandmother was in the hospital and it was quite a long trip to visit her. I very much wanted to visit her – I loved her more than anything and everyone knew that – but considering that we weren’t likely to get home until quite late and I had school the next day (and homework to do and turn in) I wasn’t sure how to go about managing the demands on my time. Asking one’s mother would be the logical thing to do, right? Ha.

    “Your grandmother is in the hospital and you’re worried about getting your homework done?!”

    A lot of increasingly inflammatory talk from her side alternated with increasing attempts at appeasing from my side. I did my best to clarify what I was saying…

    “I’m not saying the homework is more important. It’s really not important at all to me, except that if I don’t do it I’ll be in trouble at school tomorrow. I’m just saying I have to do it and I don’t know how since we have this long trip to take tonight. I’m not saying I don’t want to go. I’m just trying to figure out what to do and I’m being treated like the bad guy.”

    “Well, I hate to tell you this, but you ARE THE BAD GUY!!!”

    She gets me to the point of living in mortal terror of displeasing her, and thus in mortal terror of displeasing a teacher, then when I am asking her a question about how to manage the combined demands of our family life and my school work, I am “the bad guy.” Interesting too how half the time I was a problem because I was “too sensitive” and the other half of the time I was a problem because I supposedly didn’t really care about anyone but myself.

  10. By: laura Posted: 4th January 2015

    Hi Lori,
    Horrible experience you are describing.But,just like you wrote in your blog,you have all the traits of a survivor who rises from the ashes.

    I know that abusers are sick,yet the clinical reasons are sometimes not enough to explain their actions.They go beyond medical reasons.the only explanation is their evil nature and sadism.

  11. By: Lori Posted: 3rd January 2015

    My father abused me and my mother knew. she walked in on it one night as it was happening and instead of responding to my screams for her, helping me and making it stop – she turned around and walked back out of the house, not to return for hours. She continued to ignore it, allowing it to go on until she divorced him and GAVE HIM CUSTODY of us. Fast forward to present day. I have processed through all the crap from the abuse and am a THRIVER. I am at the best place in my entire life! The last step in my therapy was to confront my mother. So when I decided to do that, I emailed her and let it all out. I decided to email because I know my mother. She plays the victim, refuses to communicate or face anything that puts her in the position of being wrong or at fault. I knew that if I tried talking to her that she would begin crying, get up and walk away from me – all the while making excuses about how bad she had it, blah, blah, blah. I wrote that email in February of 2013- I have YET to get a response from her. I know she read it because she whined and cried to my brother and sister about it. I have no idea what she said but both siblings have turned against me. They didn’t turn against me when I went public with the abuse and it put our father in jail. But now I confront our mother and am accused by my siblings of playing the victim, attacking our mother, petting my demons, shaming our family…the list is endless. Also, when the abuse was happening to me as a child, I molested my younger brother once. So I am told that I’m a hypocrite and have no right to feel anything or do this to my family because I am a predator just like my father. My siblings have always known that our mom is a narcissist that lies, plays us against each other, creates drama, etc. We have had so many conversations with each other throughout the years about this. But suddenly, our mother is innocent, being attacked, being lied about, misunderstood and has such a good heart and it’s really a shame that one of her children would treat her like this and accuse her of such ugly things. I still can’t wrap my head around this or how my siblings blame ME. I just don’t get it. I mean, I DO understand the “clinical reasons” but still – don’t get it.

  12. By: Heather Posted: 12th February 2014

    At my grandmother’s funeral, my aunt tried to get through to me, talking about how no one knew my mother like she and I did. It was when she said, “You know your mother loves you. And you know your father loves you.” that something in me just clicked. If I had it to do over again I would say, “You think this is about love?” But it was that moment when I knew no one was on my side, no one had ever been, and it was time for me to be on my own side and on my daughter’s side.

  13. By: CH Posted: 12th February 2014

    This is a very timely article as my mother just told me that she has forgiven me for “what [I] have done.” She says that I need to “acknowledge [my] role in this mess.” (All I have “done” is expose the dysfunction and ask for kindness).

  14. By: DXS Posted: 29th August 2013

    Hear Hear! For me and my mom, it was mostly emotional stuff, covert stuff. So covert even SHE didn’t realize it.

    And it did affect me. But my mom still says, “it’s in the past get over it.”

    I’ll get over it when you admit you had problems and took them out on me. And APOLOGIZE.

  15. By: Cori Rice Posted: 29th August 2013

    I am so sick of people being so insensitive towards child abuse victims saying this like “stop blaming your parents” is one of the most insensitive things you can say because to me it implies making excuses for the abusive parents and a total disregard for what that person had to deal with. Sure we can’t blame our parents for everything, but they do play a MAJOR role in how you turn out. Parents have a responsibility to have the child’s physical AND emotional needs met. If they abuse and disrespect the child it causes all kinds of issues. So blaming parents is not completely immature and it’s silly to think abusive parents does not affect you in some way or another.

  16. By: Gidon Posted: 27th March 2013

    Hi, Darlene and everbody.
    This site has been very good for my recovery.
    I am a former amerikan living in Israel. After 40 years of living in a non Christian country I begin to see very big differances. So every body asks us to forgive the unforgivable, forgive distroying basic trust. Just realized that this Christian ethic of forgivness is Christian and has nothing to do with Jews!! Before Yom Kippor we go to people we may have hurt and beg them to forgive us. O Yom Kippor we beg God to forgive us. We don’t forgive so easily, yet it has creeped into our culture too. No dead or alive the people who hurt me have to beg me to forgive them. If I just write it off than I myself deny that what happened to me and that I myself are important

  17. By: Kalispell Posted: 23rd March 2013

    Anna said: “…the unhealthy abusive one is using certain activities and behaviors as ‘proof’ that they are a good parent…”

    My mother got up every Sunday morning. Dressed us for Sunday school, drove us 15 minutes to church. Dropped us off. Drove home. Turned around 15 minutes later and picked us up again.

    Unless it was a wedding or something, she never went to church. In 51 years I never heard her discuss religion, god, morals, etc…

    So why did she go to all this trouble to take us to Church?

    Because it was what parents were supposed to do. They were supposed to take their kids to church. It was PROOF she was a conscientious parent. When we were 13 we were confirmed and had a family party.

    It was totally meaningless.

  18. By: Laura S Posted: 22nd March 2013

    Gabbi,
    You are NOT crazy!!!!

    Some pastors have a tendency to turn things around to “make” you do what is “right” in there eyes. They never hold the person doing the abusing responsible. I have been there while mine was with a husband who was into pornography. If I went home and made it “right” and not divorce him it would all be okay and I would not be screwing up my kids. He had been into it for over 10 years. I had nothing to do with it. I did have to dig deep, read my Bible and search out what God had to say about things for myself instead of letting someone spiritually abuse me. I felt for a long time that I couldn’t explain enough, be clear enough or be viligent enough about making sure I did what was “right”. The problem was that I had to define for myself what was right and wrong. It wasn’t wrong when I stood up to my mother and stopped letting her verbally asault me when I had done my best. It wasn’t wrong for me to say that if this is how you chose to act then I will not communicate with you. Abusers will always justify their actions and if they can make you think it is your fault all the better.

    Oh, I don’t miss that part of the healing process. You put into words things I have felt, said, done, or just thought about in the last several years. It has gotten better. I have learned to let go of the guilt and the second guessing myself. It has taken a lot of counseling to get through it all and some really great friends. I have spent time searching out truth at every corner. God didn’t make me stupid or to need and accept any answer that comes out of a man’s (preacher, preast or anyone) mouth.

    Keep searching Gabbi. It does get better!

  19. By: Gabbi Posted: 22nd March 2013

    Please tell me I’m not crazy.

    It’s hard for me to say this because I have a hard time finding the words to describe the seriousness of how I feel.

    A little while ago I discovered how very abusive, controlling, and cruel my mom was. And gosh the very fact that I was blind to it for so long just shows me how serious the brainwashing was. But anyways, seeing how much control she had over me I broke off contact with her, because I knew how easily she could get into my head and I wasn’t gonna let that happen again.
    Everyone in my family though seems to act as if everything’s fine.

    But my pastor found out a lot about what was going on, and despite how many times he denied it, he didn’t believe me. I don’t remember all the articles you said it in, Darlene, but he fit the profile exactly of those kind of people who support abuse: Gave me the “respect your parents speech”, tried to shove reconciliation down my throat, judged me constantly, blamed me for my “loss of joy” (as if being depressed or in pain is a non-Christian thing) and using it later as proof that I wasn’t doing the right thing, told me I was doing everything wrong, kept on wanting me to let go and acted as if being angry towards this injustice was a bad thing, I wouldn’t talk to him about it(because I wasn’t going to trust him with this information if he wasn’t going to believe me) and told me it was wrong to isolate.

    I keep feeling so much guilt and doubt. It’s really hard to trust my judgement because he talked about my “trust issues” (quoting: Your conclusions are based on a small sample in a bubble…made with a heart that doesnt trust many people, which looks for ALL PERCEIVED HIDDEN AGENDAS.”) he told me that I was perceiving things wrong, making assumptions, over processing motives and intentions. He completely denied judging me or not believing me.

    And maybe the thing that I have a problem with most of all. He tried calling me and I told him I didn’t want to talk about it, he tried calling me again and I told him I didn’t want to talk about it, then he called my home phone (which I had no way of knowing it was him) to pretty much force me to talk. And on top of that threatened to go to my mom and talk to her.
    I told him I made boundaries and he completely disrespected them, that confiding in him and opening up to him was a privilege, not a right, and that he had disregarded my choice.

    I confronted him with all of these things today and he either justified them in some way or put the blame back on me. I can’t help feel like I’m crazy. Like maybe I over-exaggerated because I have trust issues, or that I’m wrong about everything I’m feeling and seeing because my “perception” is altered.

    I even have a really hard time writing this because I think that I haven’t written enough or given enough details to establish my credibility, or that I haven’t said every single little tiny thing that happened and I’m being biased with what I choose to say. Or even that I’m wrong about the things I’m saying he did because of him saying things like “that’s not what I said” or “You have generalizations and conclusions that are far from the truth.”

    I’m just so sick of people in my life that are not on my side.

    Do I sound sane to you?

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 24th March 2013

      Hi Gabbi
      You sound perfectly sane to me! I totally relate to your whole post. I was “hooked on proving” that I deserved to be heard and that I had a valid story. It took me over a year to get over that after I dealt with the damage and faced the truth. I STILL felt like I had to prove that I was justified. All my life I would give in to the defence of the people who hurt me so it is understandable that I had a hard time believing ME or even ‘hearing’ me. These people can give me all the b.s. song and dance they want today, and I don’t have to believe it. I KNOW what my situation was and I KNOW it was never fair to me. I also know that from what the Bible says, Jesus Christ would not defend them so I pity these people who do! If there is one thing I am sure of it is that Jesus is an advocate for truth and equal value and he never gave parents the right to abuse just because they are parents, however, if the world preached that, they would lose all thier control and that is not nearly as appealing as being in power over someone esle..
      Thank you for sharing,
      Hugs, Darlene

  20. By: SMD Posted: 6th March 2013

    Hi Darlene,
    This link to Gaslighting really helped me to understand this Control Tactic Abusers use. Abusers are the gaslighters who tell the victim that their truth is wrong. It’s about them being in control and right all the time. I see this clearly now, esp in my sister. She plays this mind game very well. I don’t believe want she says, however there usually some grain of truth focused on the victim’s insecurites.

    http://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/verbalabuseinrelationships/2011/10/gaslighters-seek-to-destroy-your-sanity/

    Sonia

  21. By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 5th March 2013

    Hi Everyone ~
    I just published a new post about how I was convinced that I was the problem and the ways that belief came out. My mother had a way of reminding me about how she saw me too, which of course got in the way of the truth. Lots of examples of how my mom made sure that MY focus was on MY faults in order to deflect and even justify hers hers. Here is the link;
    “Toxic mother daughter relationship ~ when mom says the problem is YOU”
    Looking forward to the discussion there;
    hugs, Darlene

  22. By: Ginger Posted: 4th March 2013

    I also wanted to add something else to my last post. That is,

    I have come to realise that the people who have hurt me in the past did it so easily and thoughtlessly because they never truly loved or cared about me anyway. I did not mean anything to them other than what I could do for them. I was in essence a non-entity to them. Once I realised and accepted that, it was easier to let go of the pain.

  23. By: Ginger Posted: 3rd March 2013

    For me, the hurt has lessened over time…….not just through physical time passing……but by giving myself time to think and tell a few trusted few people about what happened to me. writing down my thoughts and feelings, as well as learning and reading about the experiences of others has been more therapeutic than any counselling sessions i have ever attended. Through these actions that I have taken, I feel less sorry for myself. I feel stronger emotionally as I have started to trust my own truths. As Darlene said above, it wasn’t until I could look at the root cause with a level of objectivity that I was finally free to be myself.

    I still doubt myself. I still worry about exposing myself too much …….but not obsessively as I use to. Gosh, I have lived so much of my life trying to make myself as small a target as possible. In the last couple of years, I have been a big xxxx target……and it was felt so good.

    Pity it took me 48 years to finally live life like I want to. Not through obligations or expectations of others, but the way I want to. I cannot take back lost years, but I can try really hard to not lose any more.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 4th March 2013

      Hi Ginger
      Yes, the pain certainly didn’t stay sharp! Facing it was not nearly as horrible as I was sure it would be and I didn’t expect to feel this much freedom and wholeness when I finally faced the truth! I love your comments! Thanks for sharing
      Hugs, Darlene

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