Archive for psychological abuse
Happy New Year! Welcome to Emerging from Broken 2013!
I talk about the belief system and how it is developed and how we are brainwashed into believing that the problem is us in the first place. There are specific abuse tactics that are used to cement this brainwashing which cause the ‘fear of consequences’ for going against the controller in a dysfunctional relationship. One of these tactics is ‘punishment’ or ‘fear of punishment’ and like so many other abuse tactics it is very often issued in a way that is hard for the receiver of that punishment to put a finger on it. Remember that the foundation is laid very carefully to discredit a child in an abusive or dysfunctional family and to make sure the child is always looking at themselves when it comes to where the problem originated or who it originated with. This part of the grooming process is usually rooted in psychological abuse although it is often cemented via other types of abuse.
There are many ways to punish people without physically hitting them or calling them names. There are tactics such as “the silent treatment” “withdrawal of attention” or “withdrawal of interest”, in other words “rejection” and those abuse tactics communicate a message very clearly, even if we are not consciously aware of that message. When we are kids and an adult uses psychologically abusive methods to ‘punish’, most kids understand the consequence of their action (rejection) but don’t always recognize the actual message with any clarity or consciousness. Then, the way that we learn this acceptance of the message without questioning it very deeply (out of fear of the consequences), is carried into adulthood with us, therefore as adults we don’t see the tactics we have already been successfully groomed to accept without question. But the fear of the consequences may be very much still in control of the now adult victim.
For example, the time my father-in-law took my 2 year old son out of the farm yard without telling me he was taking him. I freaked, thinking my baby crawled under the fence and was lost in one of the many fields or had been mauled by a cow or had been cornered by a coyote. We have literally miles of land. I jumped in my car to go get my husband and there was my father in law, with my husband in one of our hayfields with our 2 year old son. Without thinking (normally I would never have stood up to him) I told him to never take our child out of the yard again without letting me know. He got angry with me! He was so angry that he spat out that he would never take him again.
There was something about the way he said it though that gave me an erie feeling as though I was the one that had done something wrong. I agonized over that whole thing, justifying to myself that I was right, that I HAD to know where my son was, that I could not actually be expected to just “wonder” where he might be at any given time. But I was really scared too because I had dared to Read More→
R.E.S.P.E.C.T. find out what it means to YOU………
A lot of my emotional healing grew out of realizing the truth about some of the concepts that I had been taught wrong. The people who were in a position of power in my life taught me a lot of false definitions of words like love, respect, relationship, trust, forgiveness and a few others. Growing up from so young with the false definitions I had been taught caused me to automatically accept them as the truth.
Yesterday on my previous post “how to recognize when your best interest are not being considered” when referring to her mother a commenter wrote “I am sure she thinks she deserves to be respected…” and it got me thinking about how much learning the truth about definitions of certain key words and concepts helped me in my process of overcoming depression, trauma and low self-esteem.
When I refer to a person in a position of power I am not just referring to our teachers, the police, or judges or government. I am also referring to “our elders” and our families. My parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles were all in a positions of power in my life. My in-laws were in a position of power in my marriage and in our lives. All these people were in that power position because they were “the adults” and I was a child. In my childhood that meant that they were right and I was wrong. In my adulthood, this belief didn’t change because they never let it. In both cases (as a child and as an adult) this is called a dysfunctional relationship because the elders decide and communicate that not everyone in the relationship has equal value.
It was a huge part of my survival mode to go along with these false teachings and when I became an adult I still believed the false truth that Read More→
Abuse is a word that carries a whole lot of baggage. When most people think about “abusers” they think of wife beaters and people that take express anger violently against others, rapists, pedophiles – well you get the picture. But those are only the extreme definitions of what defines an abuser.
When I didn’t know what abuse was, I didn’t know. When I didn’t know that there were abusers in my life I didn’t know who those abusers were. That might sound logical but there are pretty deep roots associated with this denial and with not recognizing abuse AND abusers.
I am writing this “mini snapshot of truth” today because of a profound comment that I got on my blog post “How Children Become the Black Sheep of the family” this morning from Michelle. (comment #55)
Michelle said “I kept trying to be validated for many years. (I should have realized you can’t get validation from an abuser, but I hadn’t yet recognized her as an abuser at that point”)
This comment brought me back to the first time I realized that there were “abusers” in my life. There were people who abused their power and authority over other people and they were in MY life too. I remember the first time that I actually realized that my mother was abusive. I had been at a seminar about the misuse of power and control in relationships and I was exhausted from all the information that I was trying to comprehend. On the second day of the seminar I suddenly realized that my father in law was a huge bully. He used bursts of anger to control and manipulate everyone into doing whatever it was he wanted. He used the fear of what he would DO if people didn’t do what he wanted against everyone. Understanding that he was an abuser was suddenly so clear to me that I felt like I couldn’t breathe while simultaneously having this major revelation and understanding which felt like a relief. It was kind of like a “OH NOW I GET IT” moment. About an hour later I realized that Read More→
Eventually, at some point in my childhood, I accepted the fact that I was not heard and not going to be heard. I did not consciously accept it, but it was an effective part of the grooming process and I came to understand that it was “just the way it was”. I think perhaps I believed that when I was “older” or when I was an adult, I would have “my chance” to be a part of the world and finally have a voice.
When I grew up however, nothing changed. I had been taught compliance and subservience and I didn’t step out of that role just because I became an adult.
I wasn’t heard so I stopped expecting to be heard. I was not “allowed” the impact that I saw other people had. I had to listen to what everyone else wanted, but I was not given that same consideration. My opinions rarely had any impact. I sought out friends who were similar to me in their own victim mentality and found fellowship with them but I continued to have bosses, parents, boyfriends who communicated that they were more important than I was. Once again with those types of people in my life, I stopped trying to be heard. I accepted that I was not going to be heard and that my voice didn’t really matter. Not having a voice and not being heard had become Read More→
My mother is a victim. In fact, she is the exact same type of victim that I was. She was a victim of her parent’s abuse and dysfunction and she learned to survive in that dysfunctional family system exactly as it was taught to her. She accepted it because she had no other choice and no other example. The cycle of abuse was “normal” for her. When she grew up, it was as though she couldn’t wait to have someone to pick on because she believed that’s how life works. It was “her turn”. Not her turn to ‘abuse’ or overpower someone, but her turn to be loved in the only definition of love that she knew; the false and dysfunctional one that she had been taught.
It was her turn to be right; her turn to have impact and her turn to be heard.
Abusers believe in the system and very often victims believe in the system too. The sick dysfunctional family system seems to have “worked for their parents” so why wouldn’t it work for them? It was the best that my (dysfunctional) mother had to hope for, but only because she didn’t believe there might be something better. She accepted the reality of the cycle of abuse, psychological abuse and dysfunctional family as “normal” and functional exactly as it was presented to her and the cycle of generational abuse continued.
She communicated to me that it was my job to restore her life and her self esteem; her mother had delivered the same message to her. I wanted to “save her” because I believed that if I could prove that I “loved her” then she would love me. This cycle of generational abuse stopped with me when I no longer accepted the role of victim but I also had to stand up to the myth that Read More→
When I was a kid my parents got us a puppy! Although I only have one memory of playing with the German Sheppard puppy that one memory is a happy one.
I have very strong memories however of how much my mother hated having the puppy. Long after the puppy was taken away, I heard her complaints about it.
The reason that they puppy had to go was not because my mother hated it though. The reason that the puppy had to go was because both my oldest brother and I were allergic to it.
My mother had an uncle who was a dairy farmer in Quebec. I have a few memories of visiting the farm, of the cows, the milking barn, the orchards my great Aunt and Uncle and their two hired men. I remember the smell of the big kitchen, the fresh baked pies and the fresh garden food that we ate every time we visited.
My father LOVED the farm. He has spent summers there as a teenager. My mother hated the farm and didn’t make much of an effort to try to hide it. I think she went there out of family obligation and also because my father loved it there so much.
After I got so sick in grade 5 and developed asthma as a result of being so badly emotionally abused by my teacher, the pediatrician told my mother that I was too weak to visit the farm anymore because of my asthma and allergies. I was 10 or 11 when this news was delivered. I remember feeling really badly because Read More→
If there is ONE place that I recommend starting the emotional healing process, it is starting with the damage. That might sound easy, but I had to actually find out what “the damage” to me was.
I had to find out how I got broken. What happened to my self esteem in the first place? How did my self esteem get so low? What happened to me? That was where the keys were and those were the keys that led to freedom.
I remember when I realized that my depressions and dissociative issues came from somewhere; I sat stunned, repeating to myself over and over ~ What happened to ME?
I had to look at the roots. I thought that I was born depressed. But the more I thought about it, how could that be?? There were actual events that caused damage and my depressions were in fact related to those events! I just had to see it. I had to finally SEE it.
The biggest obstacles in my way were avoiding looking at how I used by others, how I was objectified and not considered to be equally human, and how I was failed by others. By avoiding looking at the truth about that, I was able to excuse the damage they caused. I excused them because I had to. As a child, survival is of the utmost importance and if we start complaining about the people who are failing us, but are also in charge of our welfare, it is a pretty sure fact that we are not going to survive.
When I tell stories about teachers who were bullies or outsiders who devalued or abused me, I get a huge response. It is much easier to face the truth about someone outside of the family that hurt me and damaged me than it is to face the truth that my parents let me down, but the truth is that my parents knew about the bullying and the way it was effecting me, (I was sick in bed for months) and they avoided doing anything about it until I was so sick that the Dr whose care I was under, figured it out and MADE them do something about it. As I have written before, my parents tried to resist the Doctor, but he threatened to get a court order on my behalf.
If the damage, (including the emotional damage) is excused and ignored… there is further damage. I am saying Read More→
I was not heard for most of my life. My voice was silenced in many ways. I was sexually abused from a young age. I don’t remember if I “told” or not in those young years, but there were signs. There were physical and mental distress signs that went unaddressed. That is a form of not being heard.
My mother used violence to vent her anger and frustration. My father either didn’t notice or didn’t care; he never tried to stop it. Who could I tell? The way things were in my family was “my normal”. In my survival mode, I only knew to keep trying harder to be “good”, to be what those manipulative people wanted and to be quiet because it seemed to me that I was causing a problem for them.
I don’t know how I kept going.
I know I told about a teacher who was emotionally and psychologically abusing me in grade 5. I told but I was ignored. I was shushed. I was silenced. I was lectured about “respecting my elders.” I was not heard. When I finally got so sick that the pediatric specialist asked to speak to me alone (without my parents) he ordered my parents to take me out of the class I was in. My parents didn’t want to do it and the Dr. said he was going to get a court order if they didn’t remove me from the presence of that teacher.
That doctor heard me. But my parents did not hear me. I felt I was “wrong” for telling. I knew that I had caused Read More→
I was dying my whole life; I just didn’t know it until I started living.
The fog that I grew up with was almost completely transparent. I didn’t know that I didn’t know. I lived in a false normal and growing up like that was the way it was. It was my truth and my “real”. I didn’t know that there was any other way. I didn’t know that I didn’t know there was indeed another way; most of my life, my reality and my truth were dysfunctional. The adults, the reality all malfunctioned.
And therefore so did I.
That is what living in a dysfunctional family was like for me. Those were the effects of psychological abuse emotional abuse and trauma. That is the effect of being groomed and being trained in silence, compliance, obedience and obligation. That is what happens when a child is taught that their value as an individual is not the same as the value of others. There are consequences and negative results when we are raised in a false normal.
Psychological abuse is at the root of all forms of abuse. It is part of the grooming process. Emotional abuse and neglect makes a statement to a child. Abuse in any form makes a statement about human value. It teaches things that to the child that no child should be taught. It teaches the WRONG thing.
Sexual and physical abuse leave a child living in fear every day of their lives. It doesn’t make “sense”; abuse is incomprehensible and as a child I had to try to understand. Trying to understand something that is incomprehensible as a child is impossible. So, I “tried” to understand “them” for the rest of my life and as I was slowly dying I didn’t realize that my life was being extinguished by the very people who Read More→