The Grooming Process of Discrediting Children and the Cycle of AbuseBy Darlene Ouimet
If you read my blog as the daughter YOU were, instead of as the mother you ARE, can you honestly tell me that you would not completely relate to what I am saying? If I wasn’t YOUR daughter, (if I was your next door neighbor), I know you would be a fan.
My mother always said a lot of things that indicated that I was the problem ~ her problem. Those types of things that she said were a big part of the grooming process in the cycle of abuse. Grooming a child to believe that the child is the problem and communicating that publically serves several purposes one of which is that it discredits the child to other family members and friends of the family way before the child ever tries to stand up to abusive treatment which serves to insure that the abuser will never be questioned by other people. It is important for the controlling or abusive person to discredit the child in case the child ever tells or exposes the truth about the dysfunction in the family. Another purpose for grooming the child to believe he or she is the problem is that it also causes the child to spend more time questioning themselves than they ever would spend questioning the treatment that they have been groomed to accept as ‘normal’ treatment. In other words this type of grooming insures that all eyes are always on the child and never on the parent or adult involved.
The truth is that my mother comes from a dysfunctional family herself and she comes from an abusive family as well so she herself went through this same grooming process. She learned to discount me from the same grooming process that she learned her own value from. I don’t mention that to excuse her, but to show the cycle of abuse. The only way to stop the cycle is to expose it and to stand up to it. I stood up to it and I have been successful in stopping it in my own life and within my own family.
And some would say there is a price I have paid. I have no family. I have nieces and nephews that I will never meet. I will always be referred to as the crazy one in the family and I suppose that if I didn’t have this website, if I didn’t get hundreds of thank you notes every month, if my writing wasn’t shared by hundreds of thousands of people and studied by universities all over the world, I might still question that old belief that I was the crazy one… but I don’t believe that lie anymore because I understand that it was part of the grooming process all along. The ‘price’ for my freedom from the abusive cycle, however expensive, was well worth it.
I understand that in order for my mother to give herself credit, she had to discredit me and she still ‘has’ to discredit me. But that doesn’t make her right. I understand that in order to deny the truth about the cycle of abuse that she comes from she had to say that it wasn’t actually abuse so that when she repeated the same abusive treatment that beat her down in childhood, she could justify it. But that doesn’t make it acceptable. It is important to recognize that this message communicated in this dysfunctional family system ~ that children are worth less than adults or worth less than their parents ~ is achieved by discounting and dismissing children in order to ‘teach’ children to learn their ‘place’.
But here is what I learned about ‘my place’;
“My Place” was nowhere. “My place” was in first knowing and then accepting that I was not actually as valid as a human being as ‘they’ were. Respect, according to this false system, is worshiping parents no matter what the sick desire or motive of those parents is. The false definition of respect is to accept anything they dish out and be happy about it. Respect in the dysfunctional family world is acceptance of any type of treatment, without question. Respect in abusive relationships means NEVER asking to be respected in return. ‘My place’ was no place.
The confusion happens because of the mixed messages children get in a dysfunctional family system; it is very confusing when we experience that we don’t get that same ‘privilege’ as they get; we are taught how to prove our love for them, but we are not loved in the definition of love that they have taught us proves our love for them. It is puzzling when we are ‘taught’ how to love but we are not loved back in the way we are taught to love. It is baffling to a child when we don’t get this respect (that proves love) back! And in order to adjust and to cope with it, we discount ourselves even more and consequently we are stuck in the spin of proving our worth in the dysfunctional ways that we are taught to prove it!
And that is the cycle of abuse and dysfunctional family.
Coming out of the fog and Emerging from Broken is a process of seeing the lies that were set so deeply in place that these lies are believed to be true and overturning them. It is a process of seeing the lies for the lies that they are and changing them back to the truth.
Perhaps I didn’t see this consciously when I was in the fog, but it is evident that I believed that I didn’t deserve the other side of respect and that respect wasn’t ‘mutual’. I believed that the way I was taught to prove my love for them was not the way that they should prove their love for me. In order to believe and accept that lie, I had to believe that I was ‘less valuable’ than they were ~ which is exactly what their actions taught me in the first place. I had to believe in the dysfunctional pecking order system where I was less and they were more and I would never be as valuable as they were in order to survive in it. My parents and other adults communicated to me by their actions that I was ‘worth less’ than they were. As a child, I had no choice but to accept that I was worthless and try to survive by compliance and obedience to their actions and messages about me.
This ‘grooming process’ is the same for all abuse and all abuse has its foundation in psychological abuse. The grooming process is the same for domestic violence as it is for sexual abuse only the details are different. The “worth less” message is communicated in the work place by bully bosses or bullying coworkers, the same as it is communicated in dysfunctional family systems. If someone can get you to believe you are worth less than they are, they can make you look at yourself instead of at them. As long as I was looking at what was wrong with me, (which is survival and there isn’t a better way to try to cope when we are children) I was trying harder to make them like and accept me.
Everything changed when I finally took a look at the truth. Everything changed when I realized that I was being controlled by the fear of the consequences of standing up to them. Everything changed when I realized that I was no longer that child and that I had become an adult with real choices. Everything changed when I realized that my biggest fear was that they would reject me and that truth was that they already had. It had already happened when they didn’t see me as having equal worth as an individual and when they invalidated and disregarded me by their actions or inactions.
When I stood up to that dysfunctional family system and declared my own value, I got dumped. When I insisted that I deserved the same respect that was demanded of me, everyone was shocked. I was rejected because I asked for something unheard of in a dysfunctional and abusive family system; I asked to be regarded as having equal value. When I asked for respect and simply asked to be treated the way I was expected to treat her, I was rejected. My mother never experienced that with her mother because she never stood up to her mother but I am certain if my mother read this blog as the daughter she was instead of the mother she is, she would totally relate to it.
Please share your thoughts about this angle of dysfunctional family relationships, the grooming process in the cycle of abuse or about the pain of being rejected for requesting equal value.
P.S. My mother doesn’t speak to me. (She would likely tell you that it is ME who doesn’t speak to her, but that would not be exactly the truth.)
There is freedom on the other side of broken;
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