Are there Excuses for Emotional Abuse and Child Neglect?By
Sometimes it strikes me that my blog may not be “fair” to my mother because I had two parents and the truth is that my father did as much damage in my life as my mother did. Although I want to write about my father, there just isn’t much to write. My father was emotionally unavailable and emotionally absent and by definition my father was emotionally abusive.
My father didn’t contribute much to my life at all. He didn’t pay attention to me, he didn’t affirm me, he didn’t communicate with me in fact I don’t know what role he did play in my life other then financial support while I was growing up.
I think that my father is dissociated. The “disconnected from the world and from himself” kind of dissociated. Perhaps he has dissociative identity disorder and since that is what I had, I know a lot about it.
My father is passive and apathetic as though nothing matters and nothing impacts him. He refers to himself as easy going. I think that he is passive abusive and as I said emotionally abusive.
Why was my father so apathetic when it came to me? Why did he behave as though I didn’t matter and communicate that message to me through so many of his actions and inactions? Growing up, I didn’t think that it was about HIM. I thought that it was something that was wrong or missing in me. Realizing that he was dissociated at first made me say “OH YA that makes sense” BUT it didn’t go any distance towards my freedom from the pain I had always had in relation to my emotionally unavailable father.
People say things like “well at least he didn’t beat you.” And I never knew what to say to that. That statement is a guilt trip. It is like saying …“well you should be grateful that he didn’t do anything violent like some fathers do”. People say things like this as though the good about the fact that he didn’t beat me cancels the bad about the rest of what he didn’t do. Good does not cancel bad. Good is Good and Bad is Bad. Two different things.
In this blog ~ “Truth is Truth”
My father didn’t care about me. He neglected me. He didn’t engage with me and he wasn’t interested in my life. I don’t remember conversation with him when I was a kid. That is emotional neglect. I don’t remember any conversation with him that was about ME as an adult either.
I found the following definitions of Emotional Abuse on the US Department of Health and Welfare site.
Emotional abuse (or psychological abuse) is a pattern of behavior that impairs a child’s emotional development or sense of self-worth. This may include constant criticism, threats, or rejection, as well as withholding love, support, or guidance. Emotional abuse is often difficult to prove and, therefore, child protective services may not be able to intervene without evidence of harm or mental injury to the child. Emotional abuse is almost always present when other forms are identified.
And These from the Department of Justice in Canada;
Neglect is often chronic, and it usually involves repeated incidents. It involves failing to provide what a child needs for his or her physical, psychological or emotional development and well being. For example, neglect includes failing to provide a child with food, clothing, shelter, cleanliness, medical care or protection from harm.3 Emotional neglect includes failing to provide a child with love, safety, and a sense of worth.
Emotional abuse involves harming a child’s sense of self. It includes acts (or omissions) that result in, or place a child at risk of, serious behavioural, cognitive, emotional or mental health problems. For example, emotional abuse may include verbal threats, social isolation, intimidation, exploitation, or routinely making unreasonable demands. It also includes terrorizing a child, or exposing them to family violence.
My father didn’t protect me from my mother. I don’t remember my mother hitting me with a belt when my father was at home, so he may not have been aware of some of that physical abuse, but this one time she slapped me as hard as she could across the face because I was late getting home. The truth about that situation was that my father forgot to tell her that I had called and that he had given me permission to stay later at my friends across the street. My father stood there with his mouth hanging open when my mother slapped me. No one comforted me. No one supported me. He didn’t protect me. He didn’t say anything to her in front of me to validate me or stand up for me. I was hit and it was a mistake ~ but so what?? Who cares about Darlene? She is “just a child”.
My father failed me. There is just no denying it and believe me I tried to deny it for most of my life. I tried to tell myself that he was busy and that he had an important job. I told myself that his mind was elsewhere and it needed to be so that he could provide for us. I was in effect telling myself that his actions were correct… that he had many things in his life that were far more important than I was and that I was the one with the problem for feeling unworthy and unlovable.
But really, are there excuses for emotional abuse and child neglect?
The truth is that it doesn’t matter even if my father had some unknown disease that caused him to completely detach from me for some unknown reason… the damage was done and it is the damage that needs to be dealt with instead of excused by finding out the answer to the WHY questions.
Deciding that my father fits the description of being dissociated did not contribute in any way to how I was able to heal from the damage that his lack of interest and emotional neglect of me caused. Like the above definition states ~ “Emotional neglect includes failing to provide a child with love, safety, and a sense of worth…” And that IS the damage that was caused by my fathers inability to have any kind of real relationship with me.
The real emotional healing came with self validation. I realized that just because my fahters actions and ill regard for me showed that I was invalid and unimportant in his life did NOT prove that I was invalid and unimportant. The fact that my father didn’t hit me or even yell at me did not make him a good father. The way that he regarded me fits the descriptions of emotional abuse and child neglect. The fact that he didn’t even bother with me is the fact that I had to deal with. The damage that he caused to me by his emotional neglect and passive abuse is what I had to face in order to overcome that damage.
My father was emotionally unavailable and emotionally abusive. His lack of contribution in my life was his fault and it defines him. NOT ME.
Please share your thoughts about the subject of child neglect, emotionally abusive or emotionally absent fathers, focusing on the damage instead of the reason or anything else that you wish to share here.
This is the truth that set me free.
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