Covering up for Emotional and Psychological Abuse

Abuse recovery
freedom is on the other side

I had this idea, well a belief actually, that my parents didn’t actually know that they were doing anything wrong with the way that they emotionally abused me. My father was extremely neglectful. He wasn’t interested in me or in my life. My mother constantly criticized me and humiliated me and stated in so many ways that I or my thoughts were not valid. I made excuses for them as a way to cope with it.  Emotional and psychological abuse is a tough thing to set straight in the belief system because for one thing, it isn’t legally liable, but I had to put the blame for emotional abuse where it belonged, the same as I did for physical and sexual abuse which WAS legally liable. All abuse has its origin in psychological abuse first.

At the very base of the lie, is the lie that abusers don’t really know what they are doing.  In order to survive, we create this “lie” to comfort ourselves; assuring ourselves that our abusers don’t realize that they are doing damage. (like they don’t know any better)  We can convince ourselves as adults that our parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents and close family friends, (or ANYONE for that matter) don’t remember what they did. (as though they were in some trance while they were doing it) We question our memories. We doubt ourselves. We doubt that what we remember happened at all or that at least it didn’t happen the WAY we remember. But where do those doubts come from in the first place? Do they come from the fact that we were invalidated before we had those doubts? Even if we were invalidated about something other than the abuse itself? I think so)

So here is what I was thinking; If they didn’t know that they were doing something wrong, then why OR how do we get so good at not telling? Why did I have this “feeling” which was really knowledge, that it would be disloyal and even dangerous to tell? 

If serial killers didn’t know what they were doing, if they were really “out of their minds” and didn’t really know right from wrong the way that I was sure my abusers were, then why did they go to such great lengths to cover up the crime? Why wear gloves? Why dispose of the body and the weapon? If they don’t know right from wrong, then there would be no secrecy.

And why teach children to keep the secret? Why blame the children? Why do abusers go to such lengths to brainwash children into believing that without them they will die? Why convince the child that there is nothing wrong with what is going on? That it is for their own good, or that it is deserved punishment, also for their own betterment. Why convince children that they are to blame, and then tell them ~ convince them (in so many ways, not always with words) not to tell?

Have you seen an adult beat a kid black, blue and bloody in public? Not often I bet. Do adults molest or rape children right out in public, at the shopping mall for instance? If they don’t know it is wrong, then why don’t they do it in public? Why the big cover up?

I was in my forties when I told my mother that she could no longer “remind me” that it was my fault that her boyfriend came into my room when I was barely 14 years old.  If my mother didn’t know it was wrong to accuse me of deliberately attracting him into my bedroom, then why didn’t she accuse me of that publically?

And why didn’t I tell her a long time ago to stop throwing that LIE in my face? ( answer: because of the power she had over me and because I believed that if she rejected me I would die)   

One lie is built on a second lie and the layers go on and on ~ they become thick; the truth becomes cloudy, murky, masked ~ harder and harder to find, harder to remember, harder to acknowledge.  It was vital for me to start looking at the lies, and realize~ acknowledge TO MYSELF~ that they were LIES.

Please share your thoughts, feelings, and your truth.

Busting through the fog, one layer at a time;

Darlene Ouimet

P.S. Note: If your family decides to believe you (about abuse) then they have to make some choices. They have to make some new decisions and even take some action. If they don’t want to make those choices, then the choice they make is NOT to believe you. That is about them, not about you. Being believed does not change anything about the truth of what happened. Never forget that.

When people didn’t believe me, I doubted myself even more. Sticking to my guns and standing firm on my boundary is the only way that I can prove that I BELIEVE ME. ~ Darlene Ouimet

Related posts ~ Unfriending my Abuser by Patty Hite

53 response to "Covering up for Emotional and Psychological Abuse"

  1. By: Carol Derry Posted: 30th November

    Gosh this rings so true, my mother has outright lied and disowned me because I believed my version of my childhood over hers. It took me years to be able to challenge her about this and she plainly didn’t want the narrative of her life being changed by me, even if I was correct and she could be proven to be wrong.
    Years of talking therapy has helped me see how I had been trained to take the blame for situations beyond my control, how I had been trained to carry the guilt that wasn’t mine to carry and the feelings that I would never be good enough or loveable for her.
    Finding this blog several years ago really helped me get to grips with untangling the guilt and control issues. In fact Darlene, you helped me see a way of letting go and keep what sanity I had intact. Removing the blinkers and retraining my thought processes takes time, a lot of time, but with perseverance and being kinder to myself has given me the opportunity to heal from the incideousness that emotional abuse leaves behind.

  2. By: Pinky Posted: 18th November

    HI, I called my mom on her denial not right away but when I was able to understand what was going on and I was still fairly young. I said do you not believe me because it is inconvenient to believe me? She said pretty much! Then she started calling me a liar and crazy and went into a deeper level of denial. All of your posts just validate my experiences and the experiences of others.

  3. By: Tracey Posted: 17th November

    I just spit out my tea when I read this (from an earlier post) “I was all excited one day because I had been asked to do a content edit on a book written by a therapist and I gushed to my mother that I was going to write a book too. She threatened to sue me! It took me a while (the awareness came in stages on this one) to even ask myself what the hell she thought she could sue me for? and WHY she thought the book was about her, but eventually I realized it for the truth leak of FEAR that it was; she thought I was going to tell the things she did that SHE knew that were wrong.”

    I have a similar story that I’ve used to explain just how absurd my mother can be. In therapy, I had been given the task of writing my autobiography. I was kind of excited at the prospect and told my mom & sister about the project. My mother freaked out and yelled that I couldn’t do that because it wasn’t my story, it was hers!! Then proceeded to berate me until I was adequately shamed. I was so shocked and confused. How could MY autobiography not be MY story? Talk about an admission that you have done terrible and shameful things. It’s not even like I was sending it to be published. It was a project about ME for MY therapy! (BTW, I haven’t written anything since that day & that was 20 years ago.) One thing for sure, I never, ever thought I’d see/hear something like this anywhere else!

    Your site continues to put a voice to things I’ve never said out loud. Most of the time, I feel like I could have written the post myself, it so closely matches what I’ve been through. The wonderful conversations here have helped to validate my experiences — and understand when I don’t need to. Even more importantly, I see every day that I am not alone. THANK YOU!!!!!!

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 18th November

      Hi Tracey
      When I first started public motivational speaking in seminars, I was shocked by how many people related to what I was saying. Time after time people almost everyone in the seminar would say they never thought anyone else felt that way or that happened to them too. People responded with such….. relief; relief that they were not actually the only ones! (that is what inspired me to start this website in the first place)
      There have been some big things that I realized as the ‘fog’ lifted and this was one of them. If she had nothing to hide, what the hell causes that reaction to me saying I was going to write a book???
      Glad you are here
      Hugs, Darlene

  4. By: Celine Posted: 17th November

    I am so glad I pushed myself to write my comment and I am so grateful to you for validating all of us on our journey to healing. You don’t even know how much better I feel. My anxiety went down instantly after reading your response. Being treated with kindness, understanding and care is so foreign to me that when it happens it makes me cry. I have to remind myself that it is ok and stop looking for what feels familiar (ie, abuse). It is moments like this that I have to stop resisting and tell myself Celine, you deserve it. Take it in and stay in the moment. By going on your website everyday I keep my hope alive even if it’s extremely faint. I’m not alone. I’m not crazy. I knew it all along. Finally at 43 years old I can be reborn again.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 17th November

      I am really glad that you feel heard here. The first step for me was when someone really heard me ~ I was in my 40’s at the time too. I try to re-create that here so thank you for what you have said. Celine YOU DO deserve it! We all do.
      When I came through this process and realized when I was actually on the ‘other side of broken’ for the first time in my life I think I understood what “re-born” meant!
      Hugs, Darlene

  5. By: Celine Posted: 17th November

    Abuse sucks. It really does. I post my comments but then afterwards I feel stupid. I ask myself why, why did I do that for and once again made a fool of myself? I feel like I always say the wrong thing or my words don’t match what I really wanted to convey. And what if my comments have nothing to do with the subject being discussed but somehow it triggered another issue that I suddenly need to express? Being told and taught to emprison your soul without a possibility of parole placed me on death row for as long as I can remember. Death is always in the back of my mind. I don’t want to be the last woman standing. I HAVE to die first. My life doesn’t depend on me, my life is being dictated by others. I agree with everyone by fear of being rejected if I don’t.
    When I hear my parents say to me (we don’t understand why you don’t call us anymore. You know, we’re getting older, we need our children around us more than ever) ok so lets erase the past and take it from here just because you don’t want to die feeling guilty. Once again, I’m being dismissed. It’s not about me, it’s about THEM and their immediate selfish, distorted, perverted, fake needs. I refuse to feed those needs anymore in my own expense. They’re toxic and they try to continue to inject their poison into my brain. Only now I won’t let them bite. I have found my antidote, my body and soul are fighting back.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 17th November

      Hi Celine
      Yes abuse does suck. I know that a lot of people feel the same way about commenting. In fact this site has 2000 to 2300 readers a day and only an average of 33 comments a day which indicates that a lot of people don’t comment at all. (which is fine) One of the great things about commenting even if it makes you feel insecure is that YOU get to feel those feelings and can examine them more deeply. For me the more the fog lifted, the more clarity I got, the easier it got for me to articulate my responses without feeling guilty or anything like that.
      YAY for finding your antidote! Please continue to share whatever you like, and it matters not if it is off topic or not! Sharing is for YOU.
      hugs, Darlene

  6. By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 15th May

    Hi Anon Girl
    Some of these stories make my mother look (almost) like Mary Poppins too, but abuse is abuse. It is the damage that it causes that is the problem and what needs to be healed. (did you know that almost all victims of abuse even torture will believe that it wasn’t “that bad”. It is a coping method to see it that way)
    Thanks for sharing, and YAY for healing!!
    Hugs, Darlene

  7. By: Anon girl Posted: 14th May


    Some of these stories make MY mother look like Mary Poppins.

    I did not have it as bad as some of you, I am very sorry for what has happened to all of you here.

    My mother was fake in public, all smiley and happy and acting, but she was a differen person at home.

    She always told me I am a ‘matyr’ whenever I tried to complain about the fact that she treated me like a servant from the age of about 5 made me do all the housework, cleaning, organising, everything in the house.

    I hate how both my mom and dad were charming in public and strangers and people who do not know them all think they are okay and nice, but in reality they are complete psychos who emotionally and psychologically tortured their children to badly that both of my brothers are on drugs and will never, ever be okay because they are in denial and can’t face this.

    I am slowly healing, its been about 2 years since I have realised all of this and started to deal with it, it will take more time.

    All my love to everyone here, I hope everyone here can learn to love themselves and see how none of these things were our fault.

    All my love to you all,
    Anon girl


  8. By: Denderah Posted: 3rd March

    Some of these stories make my mother look like Mary Poppins! I don’t know how some people survive. And you are right on Darlene-the abusers know full well what they are doing. My mother acted all sugar in public. People even called her the Charming Miss… They had the advantage of course. They didn’t live with her. But-yea…abusers don’t beat the little chitluns in public do they? You don’t find the abusers screaming like maniacs on the street…that behavior is reserved for home. In truth the abusers are not maniacs because madness is an affliction. They are cold-blooded, clever and evil. One time my older sister was threatened by “Mother” that she would be taken to juvenile hall. And sister replied…”You do that and I will tell everyone about what goes on here!” “Mother” froze. Now I wonder why she didn’t carry through on her threat? Hmmmm…I bet that she knew EXACTLY what she was doing and probably enjoyed it-confident that she could get away with it. In fact “Mother” never bothered my older sister much. My older sister was tough and could fight back. I was the chosen one. Little. Afraid. Weepy. Prime target for an ogre.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 3rd March

      Some of these stories make MY mother look like Mary Poppins. That is part of it though. My mother constantly told me that it was all in my mind… not using that saying but the constant “oh you think you have it so bad” type of stuff.
      I was all excited one day because I had been asked to do a content edit on a book written by a therapist and I gushed to my mother that I was going to write a book too. She threatened to sue me! It took me a while (the awareness came in stages on this one) to even ask myself what the hell she thougth she could sue me for? and WHY she thought the book was about her, but eventually I realized it for the truth leak of FEAR that it was; she thought I was going to tell the things she did that SHE knew that were wrong.
      I was prime target too… my mother just picked different manipulations for everyone though..
      Hugs, Darlene
      thank you!!!

  9. By: Jackie Posted: 19th January

    I was 7 when my “dad” had married our “babysitter” an as it was prior to them hitching up…. she didn’t like me because I was a “bad seed” she’d say. I guess my “bad seed” showed only to her though because every other babysitter my “dad” had for us before her…we got along. So here I am 7 years old, lost my real “mom” and gained a “step mom” who said now that she married my “dad”…. I had to call her “mom”. I didn’t like that at all, because #1. She wasn’t my “mom” #2. She use to be my babysitter and I had to call her Ms. “J” (name protected)…and #3. She already showed us how mean she was as a babysitter, I was afraid to find out what she was like now that she was my “step mom”. To explain a bit about my new “mom”…let me back up to when she was our babysitter….

    Our “dad” would need his “fix” in certain areas of his life so he’d dump us off on any one who’d want to get paid “his way” and he so happen to come cross this woman when he’d be at the bars. She’d “eye” him and he here you know…all that yuck stuff grown-ups like. He eventually asked her out to our house to baby-sit for him and of course, she did. She had 3 kids of her own who lived with her, she’d been divorced already and she was looking for someone to help her with her kids, just as my “dad” apparently was. Anyway they hooked up and she became our babysitter. I went from being whipped, stripped, pawned, raped, used and sexually abused to now having the crap beat out of me, and more. If I had to go to the bathroom, I had to beg to go and if I said one thing she didn’t like…I ate a knuckle sandwich swallowed down by a tooth or two or my face would become her punching bag so. I learned quickly to say “mom”.

    My “dad” and this babysitter soon began to really enjoy each other’s company on a daily basis. Either he’d take us to her house or she’d come to ours, and this went on for a while. Then my “dad” started leaving us with her for a few hours at first, then…. a whole afternoon…until finally he’d leave us for days at a time with this woman. I guess she got use to it because she always told my “dad” what angels he had…then when he’d leave us for days, she’d let us know how grateful we should be that she even offered to watch us by telling us what a no good of a “father” we had and how he’d pay for leaving us with her all the time, etc.etc. Well, this babysitter was “ok” to begin with, but soon after she started dating my “dad”…. she changed. We had some of the most gruesome rules you could imagine for one thing, another…. she treated us different that her kids and I thought, being young here…. you’re not suppose to show favoritism. My babysitter was also beginning to be very mean to me and I didn’t like her no more. She would come in the room and just start yelling and cussing at us…grab us by the back of our hair and yank me to my feet…. sometimes hard enough to where I would actually lift off the floor. I think she liked pulling my hair more than actually spanking me at the time. Ya…our babysitter had the right to hit us, spank us when she felt we deserved it…with whatever she had available to do it with. This woman would do anything she wanted, to us but wouldn’t do it to her own.

    I soon developed a “bedwetting” problem with this babysitter…funny thing though, with every other one we ever had, I never wet my bed…but with this one, I did. When she’d come get me up in the mornings, she’d see the wet spot and go crazy! I couldn’t help it, I was just a child and I wasn’t allowed to use the bathroom after 8 pm, don’t hit me please! My babysitter would get so mad that she would hit me in my head several times before she’d move on down my body with her blows. When she got done yelling at hitting me, she’d then grab the back of my hair, snatch me up out of bed still yelling, still hitting…then she’d do the most horrifying thing…she would smother my face hard, in my bed, in my “pee”, and rub it back and forth, all the while yelling “does it feel good”…”does it smell good you little piss ant”…still snatching the back of my hair in all this. She eventually stopped doing her “way of handling”, and threw me to the ground but promised to “plug me up” so I wouldn’t wet my bed again. I learned after several of these “episodes”…not to wet my bed because this lady did as she said she would. As sadistic as it sounds…she found a way to plug me up…for the next few nights when I would sleep, she’d come in and viciously wake me by snatching me out of bed and dragging me to the bathroom constantly yelling how “bad” I was and how she was going to “fix” me. Once we were in the bathroom, my babysitter would strip my clothes, whip me with a closed fist, then put me and scream at me not to move. She’d then begin to run the water, slowly at first, then a little harder…until it was full blast and I wasn’t allowed to move. “This’ll teach you!” she’d say, then she’d tell me it would sure cure me from “peeing” the bed, “it’s for your own good” she’d say…as she “messed” with me…her hand first, then the faucet…hairbrush, curling iron, plunger handle, and more all the while yelling at me to stop fighting because if I kept fighting it, she’d make it worse. I was fighting to breathe more because the water kept rising and she didn’t care! The more she did, the more I’d squirm and fight, the more I fought, the more angry she’d become and the more angry, the more it’d hurt. It helped me not wet the bed, I was too afraid to even “pee” a drop…by the time she was done…I was scarred for life.

    After I had “learned” not to wet my bed…my “dad’ began having me sit on his lap again. I use to wonder why this kind of behavior he’d do and always be “nice” about it…when I saw it made him smile, it made me smile too, I didn’t know I was doing something wrong until one day when the “babysitter” walked by and slapped me off his lap. My “dad” got mad and got up, walking and started yelling at her for hitting me, I thought…. but then she’d get in one of her rages and start yelling back at him on how “the little slut” just loved the feeling of his shaft and what she meant by that, I had no clue. Then she and my “dad” would make up and she’d kick me in my side on their way to the bedroom. I didn’t know then, that this was the reaction I deserved by obeying my “dad” and doing what he asked of me. I didn’t know what I had done wrong nor why I got kicked, was I knew I was a bad kid. She didn’t like me and she let me know, she told me she wished I was never born, how she could “send me away” and all kinds of things. I didn’t like crying so much only to be hit for being a “baby” or being hit for doing something I didn’t know I was doing. I soon understood why my “dad” loved it when he’d put me on his lap and that was just the beginning of a nightmare that lasted for a long time.

    My life had already been doomed since before conception. My parents didn’t want me, especially my “dad” …he would get so angry and yell at us how he couldn’t afford another stupid kid to feed and how he didn’t like having to be there when he could of been in the bars, how we weren’t worth nothing but the trouble we were born with and how we had ruined his life and on and on…so much that it sunk in, finally. I knew I was no good, I knew I would never be loved no matter how much I showed them I loved them, I knew I’d never amount to nothing, I was born a nobody and would stay one so my life was a life to get use to…ad I tried to do my best to do just that. I tried to please my “mom” and “dad” by doing everything they wanted or by coloring a pretty picture for them, only to have it ripped up and thrown in the trash but I kept trying to please them, everyone, anyone who would come to our house…I would make them happy by doing anything they asked no matter what…I was only 7 and I wanted them to love me, not hurt me.

    By the time school was ending, I had already failed. I didn’t try any more after my “mom” had left and this “babysitter” started taking over. I was dreading the day she’d move in with us and at the same time trying to stay out of her aim of fire. I wasn’t good at that but I gave it my best shot always. Reports cards come home and yep, I had failed 2nd grade. I didn’t care no more, would you if your mother had all of a sudden “died”, never to come home again…or so I was told. My “dad’ wasn’t to happy with me though and he made me go get his belt. Not the soft one no, but the one that had holes with metal rings in it and he sat me down and began to talk to me on how bad it was to be a stupid girl but worse to show it by failing. I hadn’t been the only one who failed no but I guess being the “scapegoat” of everyone, I was taught the lesson. I got whipped so bad, I couldn’t sit down, then to make matters worse, I moved and my “dad” didn’t like us moving when he was punishing us, he shot out his arm with that belt towards me and it hit me square in the back, wrapped round to my face. I wore a huge buckle mark on my cheek for weeks and my “dad” said I shouldn’t have moved and he never would have missed his target. It was a good thing school was out because I wasn’t allowed to go to school if I had “marks” on me, my “dad,” said so. I stood in the corner after my whipping like I was told to, but I think I was forgotten because before I knew it, I woke up on the floor, and when I saw I wasn’t standing up straight like my “daddy” had told me to do, I realized I must of fell asleep. Later on, as I stood in that corner, my “dad” came to check on me then told me to come over and sit on his lap…I began to walk over to him and then I remembered what the “babysitter” said and I didn’t want to then but “dad” pulled me on over on him and he talked to me in his soft voice and began to hold my hands saying he was sorry. He then began to softly rub my arms with one hand as the other hand began to find it’s way down my leg and what he did next made me cry. Once done, I would be told to hush before he did it again and when I couldn’t, he’d take me to the closet, shove me in and lock the door behind me, then walk away.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 19th January

      You had a brutal childhood. I am so sorry that this happened to you. It takes a lot of courage to share this kind of thing with others as you have.
      The things that happened to you were wrong. There is no way that you deserved any of it. What they did to you was sick and illegal.
      I wish I could say something to comfort you now but please know that you did not do anything wrong.
      Hugs, Darlene

  10. By: Fi MacLeod exNicholson Posted: 30th November

    I can so relate to the double standard thing. That describes my mother’s control of the behaviour and activities of the household so well.

    She was always right. She always had justifications dripping off her tongue for everything that happened. Her justifications always showed her in the best of light and me in the worst.

    Mean, evil, calculating, cold, deliberate, nasty, sadistic, cruel, self seeking are the main words I would use to describe her in the home. But outside the home she was warm, witty, charming and always plausible. An accomplished liar and actress who was always deliberate and calculating in all she did and said.

  11. By: Paulette Posted: 30th November

    Reading this post again, I have to concur that abusers know exactly what they’re doing. They have to or they wouldn’t go to great lengths to cover it up or hide it! My mother would often humiliate me and degrade me in public, but in private it was WAY over the top. I suppose that is why my family sides with her – they never saw what she did to me in private and so would be my word against hers that anything happened. However, I’m not the one who lies, she does. I remember once where my one sister was talking to a mutual friend of hers and my mothers. This other lady was telling my sister something my mother said to which my sister responded, “She’s lying.” This lady was flabbergasted. This lady also went to my mother and confronted her saying that her kid said this. My mother then asked my sister if she said that she lies. My sister confessed, “Yes.” And my mother replies, “Yeah, so I lie – so what?!” …. ???? … someone who responds like that knows exactly what they are doing. My mother’s actions toward me always reflected hatred – and I guess its easier to show hate than to come right out and say it as saying it would make you look heartless. My mother thinks its okay for her to behave this way and because we, the kids, were taught to never question our parent – she gets away with it. Furthermore my siblings seem to think that its okay for their mother to embarrass them in public – since when would this be okay???? But it does explain then why they say to me, “Just get over it.” This is not healthy behaviour! And like I said, my siblings have no idea the callous abuse I put up with when it was just my mother and I alone. Having had nothing to do with any of my family for the last four months has been …. wonderful.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 30th November

      Hi Paulette,
      I can relate to this too. The whole double standard thing. My mother, (and many others) lived by a different set of rules then the ones they demanded that I live under. There was certain humiliation that my mother put me through in public too. But there were other things that she never would have made public because she knew. And what she knew best of all was how to protect herself from looking bad. (although looking back on that I have a different opinion of that now too. I guess it depends on the “health grid” of the person she was saying certain things in front of. ) And YES, we the kids, are taught that we are not to question our parents. My mother used to say to me “you know Darlene, no matter how mean and nasty my mother was, I still loved her” WHAT???? and yes, that meant that I should “love” my mother according to her definition of love, too. But you know there is a whole other way to look at that: was my mother admitting to being mean and nasty??? LOL Just sayin….

      Thanks for sharing Paulette! I appreciate all your comments and contributions to this blog!
      Hugs, Darlene

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