Dysfunctional Family Law and Family Belief Systems


dysfunctional family“All children are born to grow, to develop, to live, to love, and to articulate their needs and feelings for their self-protection” ~ Alice Miller

We all grow up with laws and we learn what the laws of the land are and we learn to abide by the law or face certain consequences. We are taught that if we speed, we will get a speeding ticket which includes a fine. We learn that killing another person is wrong and it will land you to prison. We learn that stealing is also an offence punishable by the law. We are taught that punching someone in the face is assault and that threatening another person with any kind of harm is illegal. We learn these laws and are taught to abide by them from various sources such as our families, media, books, news and school.  Laws of the land are for our own good. They are meant to protect us and to sustain an at least somewhat civilized society.  The law of the land is set in place to give each human being equal rights as a human being.

But some of the things we learn are NOT for our own good. Sometimes we learn to live by a dysfunctional law. Sometimes we learn that we don’t have a right to what IS best for us, but that others have rights to use us and own us and do what they wish as though we don’t have any rights.  To these children, it is somehow communicated that for some reason they do not have equal rights as a human being and that they do not deserve protection.

I am talking about “the family law”.  “Family laws” are the laws and rules that we learn to live by in our own homes in childhood.  The family “law” might not abide by the state or provincial laws, but we are children; we only know what we are taught and what is modeled for us by the caregivers and adults around us.

Sometimes we are taught rules and ways of living in a dysfunctional family system that are not good for us. Sometimes we are taught to accept ways of living that are even illegal but we accept these dysfunctional teachings as truth.  If our parents communicated that they have a “right” to abuse us, then we accept that as their right. Some parents assault their children. Some parents sexually violate their children. Some parents neglect their children. (ALL of which is illegal) Some parents verbally destroy the self esteem of their children.  It is really hard to come to terms with the fact that these family laws are dysfunctional and that these family belief systems are not actually healthy when we have lived with them since birth. We learn to incorporate these mixed messages and we have come to accept that the law of the land is different than the law of the family.

Family loyalty is also part of the family law. Family loyalty is the notion that I must stay loyal to the family “or else.” There were rules within the family system and I learned by verbal and non verbal communication that it was dangerous to go against them. I didn’t know as a child that it was a dysfunctional system or that the law of the land still applied within the family system. I learned that there were different rules for different situations.  If someone assaulted me outside the home it was assault. If it was inside the home it was their right. I was an innocent little sponge absorbing the rules the way they were communicated to me. I didn’t think about it at all. I just accepted it. It was the family law.

We are not born knowing right from wrong; we are taught right from wrong.  If we are taught by our mentors, caregivers and teachers, that something wrong is actually right, then we believe it is right. It matters not if this dysfunction is communicated innocently or not.  It makes no difference if our parents “meant” to transfer their own dysfunctional family upbringing on to us, OR if they knew they were doing something wrong.  When I actually found the answers to my dilemma, understanding my parents and their past lives did not contribute to my emotional healing.  The damage has been done regardless of if they “meant” to do it or not. My freedom and recovery has its foundation in understanding that damage and in realizing that I had been raised with some funky ideas about life and how it works.

My value was defined by these dysfunctional family laws in a false way so much so that I didn’t know I had value. The way that love is taught and expressed in a dysfunctional home, is the wrong definition of love. Love does not cause harm and distress in children. Love doesn’t damage people emotionally. Love does not OWN someone as a possession. It was when I sorted that stuff out that I was able to embrace the real truth about what was right and wrong and when it came to my value and what I believed about myself, I had a lot of misunderstanding about the truth.

Many of us as adults know that we had (or still have) manipulative and controlling parents but because of this “family law, we don’t consider standing up to it.  We learned loyalty very young. We learned consequences very young.  For a very long time I couldn’t get past the “don’t blame” issue in order to see the truth. I was still afraid I was taught to be as a child (false definition of respect) to actually stand up to the dysfunctional family system and take my life back simply because the “family law” and fear of the consequences of going against it were still in place.

The law of the land is right and I agree that it is wrong to break those laws.

But the family law that I lived under was wrong.

Please share your thoughts with me. Please remember that only a first name (or screen name) is required in the comment form.

Exposing Truth, one snapshot at a time

Darlene Ouimet

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Categories : Family



You summed this up well Darlene, and oh how trying it has been to find balance between “good” family law and what I grew up learning, noting that first I had to realize the dysfunction of what I was taught. No longer making excuses for them and living my life – that’s what I am doing now.

And, “Exposing Truth, one snapshot at a time” – marvelous! Again, your courage to speak is inspiring. Thank you for for sharing.


The law of the family is absolute when you’re a child, family loyalty is one of those dynamics which enables the silence and perpetuation of the dysfunction


Yes, oh so much this.

I’m intending – hoping – to write to my parents and possibly my brother at some point in the next few months and speak out about their abuse of me, or at least the emotional side of it. But I stall and stall and stall and procrastinate and procrastinate and procrastinate. Sometimes I feel like I’m betraying my family just by still being alive when they made it so clear that I was unwelcome in their lives, let alone daring to try to be happy and fulfilled. And to speak my truth as well? It seems shocking, terrifying, impossible.

I know I’ll get there; I want to get there. But right now I’m struggling hard with all the feelings of guilt and worthlessness and shame.

Thanks for sharing your walk along this path, Darlene, and shining a light back for all of us walking it behind you. I can’t tell you how helpful and strengthening it is. You give me hope.


Elly (what a pretty name), this is a letter to you from your conscious to read and find strength. Feel free to rewrite it as you see fit on your continued journey of healing:

Dear Elly,

You have nothing to feel guilty or shameful about, and deep, deep inside you know this, or we wouldn’t be having this conversation. I am here waiting to unfold on your time schedule, under your terms, as you are comfortable. We will grow together and find joy each day for you are worthy of love, of loving yourself! Now say it out loud, “I love myself and I am worthy.” Believe!

Forever faithfully yours and yours alone,
my inner voice


Hi Faith
Thank you! Yay for living your life and no longer excusing dysfunction!
Thank you for sharing! (and for what you posted to Elly)
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Fi
Exactly. That is exactly what I am saying. Until we realize that, we are very often stuck in it. Even as an adult I was stuck in that dysfunctional family law system until I finally saw the truth. That it was wrong. (I was in my 40’s)
Thanks for sharing
hugs, Darlene

Hi Elly
We are ready to confront when we are ready.. that is just the way it is. It took me a while to let the truth sink in. While I was realizing all this stuff that I write about so freely now, I was still letting people walk all over me. I was still trying to win the love of abusive people by putting myself last. But look at me now! I just kept going forward; looking at the truth and realizing that I deserved better then what I was getting or then what I had ever received. Realizing that I was an equal. Realizing that with the things that I was realizing, there was HOPE. Hope was my biggest key and the one that I like to lend out the most today!!
Hugs and thank you so much for your comments!


This was another great post.

I’m currently in the MIDST of another level of boundary setting with my family of origin. What’s left of it anyway!

I’m the only one in the family who has had ANY type of counseling at all for abuse. I’m also the oldest child. I have younger siblings who I love DEARLY that are still deeply connected in the dysfunctional system of the family. I have already pulled back from my family of origin in many ways over the years as I have learned more about protecting boundaries AND as I become stronger to do so. (still working on these things) The latest issue with my mother as set off a major ripple that has triggered people to take up their conditioned roles in order to rebalance the system.

I’m really feeling that wave of pressure even though I’m doing my best to keep a fair distance away from it. My siblings are my main ties. So because of my love for THEM, I’m really having to re-address how best to take care of myself so I don’t fall back into a co-dependent trap.

Things are very touch and go for me right now.


Preach it, sister!:0)This rings true on so many levels that I don’t know where to start first…I always knew that my parents were different. As a young teenager, I felt I had to choose between them and the outside world. I didn’t fully understand why. I was taught that I was very loved and that our family was better than most. I was also taught that love was being physically and emotionally neglected, psychological and emotional abuse,being given greater responsibility than my parents, that I was to meet their needs but not bother them with mine,and that there was something wrong with me. I wasn’t like the rest of the family. I just didn’t measure up and I should try my best to be like my dad or my sister but I should never be me. I just wasn’t very lovable and if I wanted a man to love me some day, I had to earn it. No other future was painted for me other than belonging to a man. I was taught to change myself in order to please so that I would be loved. All of this taught me who I was. It was a lie but since I hadn’t had the opportunity to just be me and develop my unique self, I couldn’t tell the difference between the truth and the lie. I grew up to be a person with no set identity but instead, I reflected what others wanted to see. That is how I thought I earned love by filling whatever need someone asked of me. If they returned this with disrespect and abuse of me then I thought that was okay as long as they said they loved me. Love being what I experienced it as at home. I also loved myself this way and I became the worst abuser of me.

I was treated in so many ways that were illegal but I lived by another law. That law changed continually as it was written and rewritten by whoever I was currently trying to please. There was no value of me in any of it.I understood abuse as love. That was the crux, I didn’t understand the true law of love. That it is unconditional and never harms.

Life in my family was like living in a different country and when I went out into the world, I had to relearn everything. I think I am finally naturalized but it has taken a very, very long time to accomplish.

Great post, Darlene.



Hello TenderHope
I know exactly what you are talking about. One of the things that I found (especially in looking back) is that it was when I put my self first according to what was right, that only then could I shine a ray of hope on others. As long as I was on the sidelines of the family dysfunction, (accepting some not accepting some) the changes in me and even my boundaries were questioned by everyone in that dysfunctional system. This was also true with my own children (all minors at the time and living at home still) ~ that when I was not strong they didn’t trust that this new system would work even if it was based on right and truth.
I know this is so very hard. Hang in here with us and keep sharing.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Pam
I found that discovering the things you bring up in your comments were really key understandings, leading me out of the false definition of love and relationship that I had grown up with and taught to believe was the way love really worked. Realizing what I believed love was, (and how it was taught to me as a set of “rules” that I was supposed to live by, at the same time I was not “loved” that way. No one tried to earn my love.) helped me to realize why that wasn’t love.
I too went out into my life and adapted my false definition of love to suit who ever I was with at the time never considering that I might deserve better or that this love thing seemed to be so one sided.
I had to re learn everything too!
Love your comments, thanks for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene


addicted to fantasies, they are, those abusive grown-ups, and children are just too real, they get in the way…


Thanks Darlene.

My main problem when it comes to my family of origin is that to this day, all of the sexual abuse (well…ALL of the abuse that went on) is still an issue that has been grossly minimized. Especially by my own mother. I had come to accept, or at least THOUGHT I accepted, that there is absolutely nothing I can do to change my mother. To have ZERO expectations. At all. And to give up any hope of ever having what I used to want with her, some semblance of a normal mother/daughter relationship. At the point in time that my husband passed away, that’s when many of my boundaries slipped. I really needed support. And for a brief time, my mom arrived on cue to lend her aid. Which offered me a sliver of hope that things could be different. And I got my hopes up. Let down some guards. But my delusional fantasy of ‘happy family’ was short lived.

I pulled back again when I realized that it was just a temporary lapse due to the death that my mom was able to act out of character. Perhaps moreso because it was a time of ‘drama’ for her, then due to any genuine love. I honestly have no idea what my mother thinks or really feels so I’m only speculating based on behavior.

Then my mom became very ill. More pressure. And people looking to me ‘be there for her’. I haven’t been able to do it. Which led to a ton of pressure during the time of my life where I already had enough coping with grief my children were going through over the loss of their father. And what little grief I could effectively manage on my own with little outside support. So a lot of ‘coping’ mechanisms were back in force just to ‘survive’. Work to keep the pain at bay. So I didn’t have to think or feel the pain of loss so much. So I could still ‘function’ and not fall apart, afraid to fall apart because there is no one else there to pick up the pieces if I do.

So long story short. My mom BEFRIENDS the pedophile who sexually abused me as a child on FB. ON FB! As if it’s no big deal! It hit me like a ton of bricks. Completely FLOORED me when I saw his picture and name because I was NOT expecting this. Not at all. And to once again have to FEEL all those things again from having the abuse completely MINIMIZED again. Like it has been my entire life.

I deleted her.

So now, because one of my siblings chose to speak to my mom without my knowledge. Tried to fix it. An attempt to make things right between her and I again so things can ‘get back to normal’…for him anyway. Mom decides NOW would be a fine time to enlist my siblings in a common scheme of trying to get them to rescue her out of her home. Behind her husbands back. Which will involve moving her out when he is gone at work. Even though she is ill. And my siblings just ASSUMED that I was going to be part of the rescue deal.

No. No deal. I’m DONE rescuing my mother and HAVE been done rescuing my mother for years.

Naturally, there’s a ton more dynamics to all of this then time allows. But I just had to get this off my chest.

Thanks for listening.


Hello Darlene.

I have a little homework left to do but wanted to come in to this blog sharing. |WHat makes my whole store such a pathetic picture is we were taught to appear..to be doing every thing right. We had to do every thing just so.. We had to learn our prayers, cross ourselves in church, kneel, everything just like we were doing everything that was just right..

We had all the externals but the family was rotten to the core. I was of course. .the bad apple ..the most rotten. because I was different then the rest..

We were taught to do everything God wants but I was beat every day .. molested by mom and bro.. thrown in boiling water more then 3 times .. almost had my life snuffed out with a pillow ..was left outside in the snowy weather long hours without a key to get in..and the list goes on. . We were to love God but somehow loving God allowed all that mean stuff to happen.. Somehow the abuser who nearly took my little life was able to go to church every sunday and appear to be the model participant..

Keep holy the sabbath day: that was done perfectly. to the letter but the other six days?

What about the priest who knew I was being abused and silenced me. shouldn’t he had turned this in.. Was he bound to some seal of confession knowing that I hadn’t even made my first confession but was seeking help ..afraid and needing someone to Care.. Yes . .my sins of telling on my family would be forgiven if I never ever tell such a thing again. “go tell God you are sorry and never speak of this again”

So the Church all holy on the outside .. was rotten on the inside too. but I didn’t know that I felt that by the minister’s words .. my mom was right I deserved all the bad treatment .. I was the black sheep . I didn’t deserve to be considered a member of that family. I was there out of mercy and if I was not careful I would be thrown in the street. ..

I had to accept the the broken beaten bruised way of life as acceptable. because that is what the others said. THat is what my mom said.that is what the church said!..

Then the government got in. took us away .. I don’t know for how long i have a very big blank spot for the whole time we were away . I remmeber being mistreated in the foster home to. I remember the greenbeans i hated but swallowed down because I saw my brother beaten for not eating his. I remember being shut up in a closet for crying and wanting to go home..

The government took us back and never more checked on us. .My older brother and sister ran away from home. I was left there to take everything.. I wouldnt dare tell anyone what was happening. I got all the punishments now. I was the only one old enough to take it all. I remember going to school with bloody lips. ..black eyes. sitting in silence. and the teacher looking. Never did they ask . .IT went on like that till I left..

The law of the land was child abuse was wrong .but we were put back there. .Luckily my older siblings got out but i was too afraid to run. I felt i deserved it.It was my life’s call to suffer . to be beat because I wasn’t suppose to be born. If I complained I would be displeasing to god.

The nuns told me to read about the saints how they suffered… That was suppose to make me feel good. It didnt make the beatings feel better. it only gave me someone other lie to believe some other idea about why i had to suffer so much. Why God was pleased to have me suffer..

I was taught up to 2009 what was right and just to do: keep silent, suffer and never betray your family. Now I feel like I am committing the biggest sin in the world because for once in my life am caring a little about me. . Am I breaking the law of god or the land?



Hi Tenderhope

I totally understand. That must have been a very hard situation having your husband pass away and have the hope of real relationship with your mother. And then she got sick… which absolutely would put the pressure on. My goodness, I can’t even imagine what you went through with all of that. And I can’t imagine what I would do if my mother friended my childhood abusers on FB. The thought of it makes me feel discounted all over again. It makes me a little bit sick to my stomach!
Yay that you deleted your mother ~ good for you!
Thank you for your courage in sharing all this here.
Please feel free to share as often as you wish,
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Joy
Exactly! you just described what so many of us go through. Doing everything right, being trained to LOOK a certain way. That is so much what we went through. All the false teaching about God and all the false teaching about EVERYTHING!
You are NOT doing anything wrong in sharing the truth and in taking your life back for the first time. The fear and questioning that you feel comes from the life time of brainwashing but that brainwashing is such a huge lie. You are not breaking ANY law! You are doing so well and I know how hard this is, but you are doing just fine!
Freedom is on the other side of broken.
Hang in here!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Darlene

You don’t know how good your words made me feel.. This past Saturday. I went to the store and as usual ran into someone who I knew and who “use to be” friends. This person made me feel so bad about my healing and about not going to the church..telling me that I can get forgiveness any time I want it. That I just need to go to confession. These use to be my friends! She told me that I must forgive whoever did me wrong and should reach out to my family. ..this is the first one who abused my facebook wall. I felt embarrassed as I was with my landlords who don’t know the whole story so after I left there I had to explain things.. I have been so upset.. It’s like no one cares how I feel. I have been through so much trauma in my life . why is it so wrong for me to step back . .back away from everything ..and take care of me.. why is it sinful to want to feel good ..to want to be healed. .. I am judged a sinner. 🙁 I know I am not I have not hurt anyone except that I have chosen to be healed and to have therapy…I just want to stay away church . .and talk to GOd in my heart for awhile..



Hi Joy
I am glad that my note helped. It is not wrong for you to step back. I think it is interesting how badly everyone wants to make you feel in the wrong. What are they so afraid of if you leave the church? Are they jealous that you might get to escape that sick system? It isn’t sinful to want to feel good. If you read the scriptures that is what God wants for us. It is the false teaching of man here that is the problem. And remember WHO is judging you to be a sinner. People who have no right to judge. I know that is hard but I also know that with time it gets easier.
Hugs, Darlene


Joy, you are doing nothing wrong in choosing to step back, taking care of you, wanting to feel good, working on healing.

It is religion – the false teaching of man – that says you need to go to confession, forgive etc. You need to find out what God has to say to you personally on all this and what His take is on all this. I know you will as you take time to talk with Him in your heart. I think you’ll be very surprised by what He thinks and feels about all this.

Who is the church anyway? The real church is not man’s institution, it is men and women who have a living relationship with God in their heart, a relationship that sets you free from all the false stuff of man. God does not judge you to be a sinner in choosing to look after yourself and spend time with Him in your heart, in fact He’s really proud of you for doing that.

There are too many people who are quick to judge and point the finger when we aren’t doing life the way they think we should, whether that’s in the church or elsewhere.

You are not breaking any laws doing what you’re doing. People who want to make you feel bad have their own agendas and belief systems.

You have no idea how much of what you write I relate to. Much of what you write I could have written and I actually have written on my own blogs and in other places. I had to walk away from ‘the church’ and from man’s expectations and to find out for myself what God had to say on it all. I was flabbergasted to realise how much God had been misrepresented to me by the ‘rotten to the core church’, the ‘rotten to the core family’ and the ‘rotten to the core people’ who chose to judge me and call me a sinner for not conforming to their sick systems and to their sick way of seeing things.

I had to step away from all of that and prioritise my healing and find out what God’s take on it all was. It was the best thing I ever did.

Yes I was taught to be a good Catholic as a young child, say my prayers, kneel, genuflect, cross myself, do all the right things, say all the right things. I also witnessed nuns abuse kids and witnessed terrible things done in the name of the church or religion. I was also taught to be a good Anglican, to recite the 10 commandments, to recite all the creeds and know my bible inside out. People in the church knew I was being abused and did nothing. I was taught that being a good Christian meant respecting your parents and not saying anything bad about them and that suffering was the mark of a real Christian. I was beaten and told I was being beaten because that was how the bible says children are to be treated. I was told I was the black sheep of the family and deserved everything done to me. It’s all rubbish and all about controlling you. When I was thrown out of the house after a beating my parents called the police and said I’d run away. I was returned to an abusive home and told to respect and obey my parents many times by the police. Being a good little girl meant keeping quiet, saying nothing about what was happening, never ever speak outside the family of what went on in the family. To speak outside the family would have been the greatest betrayal. I was terribly let down and betrayed by my family, the church and the system i.e. the police and school authorities.

Over the years I’ve managed to really get to begin to see through all this rubbish. It takes time. For me it took separating myself off from all who tried to make me feel bad. For me it took stopping doing the right thing for the sake of being seen for doing the right thing and did what I needed to for me to begin to heal and to begin to feel good about myself for the first time in my life. I’ve been working on it for a good year or so and am amazed at my progress.

You are doing the right things Joy, it takes time to bust through the fog of all this stuff. I just want to encourage you to keep going and to encourage you that there is a way through all this stuff. I see progress in your writing!


Hi Darlene:

What hurts the most is that these people who now make such painful judgements on me were the people I hung around with for 10 years.. Now, When I want to go shopping. 9 / 10 times I am going to run into someone who is going to probe my reason for not being there. in the church on Sunday. Since I see this now, I am trying to make some plans of what to do to avoid the encounters.

ThoughI am shy. I had my handful of friends .and when I chose to heal to back away from the nonsense. I lost every thing. The rug was pulled out from under me and I lay face down on the ground with no one to help me up .

I am finding my support now throught Therapy and EFB and people who are on the journey but the paifn of losing so much is still so so present to me.




Yes,Darlene. That’s basically what it has felt like.

I was sharing with another friend in private that the wave of emotions that cropped up as a result are akin to phantom pain. There’s that part inside of me that felt all of those same feeling of fear, terror, and lack of safety that I felt as a child when I saw his picture and name. And the pain in realizing that even now, my mother values this man more then me. Even though he did terrible things to me. It really hurts to recognize that I still live in a world where abusers receive more mercy then the people harmed. It’s a gross injustice.

And it’s exhausting having to contend with it.

Thanks for your feedback and for listening.

Hugs back. 🙂



I so agree .. yet .. in agreeing I have 10,000 playbacks in my mind saying that I will burn in hell for my thoughts.. I am afraid even to agree yet I know the truth of what is being said and what I am coming to believe. about church, about God, about truth, about all I have ever been taught.

It is so overwhelming at times.. and so definitely.. I need to back away. I cry so much . .trying to process it all . but I know the tears are good.. though am ashamed of them.

I know that people who put me down have their own agenda.. indirectly they are saying to me. .they are the holy ones and I the condemned.. I am not worthy of God and they are.

As you were done , I knew too. being brought back to the same abuse only .. mine was intensified as the older siblings left which made me the one and only recipient. .of any anger issues mom had.. she hated me then and she hates me now.. because i remind her every day I am alive that she did something which was an act of desperation.. I think if she could realize she did what she did as she needed money maybe she wouldnt so beat me up with her words and her hate.. But she sees me as a constant reminder of that. I think thats why i got to feel the belt, wood, and everything else so much harder. I dont know. I feel sorry for her really i do but she wont let me love her and I cannot expect from her any love..

Am trying to figure things but in my efforts I find myself full of tears. which I am still afraid to shed..since that was a no no too.. I still let them fall despite the fears as I feel they are helping me .. releasing deep deep pain. which hurts me so very much still..

I thank you for your support, Fi, and for sharing your struggles and snippets of your story to show me that you made it through.

I am so afraid. I have also the legal cases going on. I am sometimes so weak. wondering why I am given so much . but then I realize.. I have support..i have only to ask..




Dear me my world just stood still. right back in my nightmare childhood in my dysfunctional home whereI often fought for my life every day (an older brother). He was protected by our mother she just could not deal with reality??? our father had no time for us whatever I have things to reveal around touching attempted things by brother im sitting here reliving it as it is so real and permanent this on top of so much more I escaped the clutches of all family My now ex brothers this in 2002. best day ever in my life.



Hi Paul
Welcome to the emerging from broken blog! If you like this post there are hundreds more like it ~ many about how I got past the pain.
I am so sorry that all the pain is coming up for you. Thank you for sharing your victory of walking away from such horrific family dysfunction.
Please share often and thank you for your encouragement,
Hugs, Darlene


Fi, #15 is a great post. Its sad that what you’ve written is true for so many. Church isn’t as important as it is made out to be. I can only think of one verse in the Bible in regards to church attendence and it is more of a suggestion. You are an encouragement to me in my faith because even with all you went through and all of the hypocricy you suffered, you still pursue God. Thanks for that.

Joy,There are a lot of people who want to be God in peoples lives or be the mediator between others and God. They are the ones who are sinning, not you. When you seek to find what you believe on your own, I believe you are doing that which pleases God most. God is love and He just loves you and me.:0) I know how hard it is when you have to face people who don’t understand why you’ve made changes in the way you live and where you go. I have that a lot also right now. Many old friends and aquaitances wonder what has happened between me and my family, especially me and my sister. It is hard for me to explain without sharing things that my sister doesn’t want to share. I want to live a life of truth and not have any garbage from my past hidden anymore, I don’t want to carry guilt for things that I’m not guilty of. I have a hard time deciding when to share what and if I’m being disloyal or revealing what isn’t mine to reveal. It would be so much easier if the choices we need to make in order to be well didn’t affect other people but they do. You hang in there, stand your ground and I’ll do the same. You are an encouragement to me.


Darlene, another great post. The family law – what a tangled up mess of stuff that is! More enforced silence than the Mafia, more whitewashed rotten boards than a fence in an old west town, more fear and threats than a snitch at a felon party. And I was a kid, a child. What did I know? I strive, so hard, to ensure that my son is heard, that he can be safe in expressing his own boundaries, his own needs are met and he can say ‘yes’ and ‘no’ and disagree (respectfully as we try to treat each other) with respect and love. It has been a conscious choice to break those old patterns, to stop with the bs stuff and move forward. It was hard, and so worth it. I broke the family laws and I’m still here to talk about it!

I love to see the encouragement with the comments, and the support! This love is amazing and I’m so honoured to see it and support it!


Hi Pam,

Thank you for your kind words. I agree..God loves you very much . I am sorry you have to suffer so much yet for your choices. I have lost everything so I don’t think there is anything i can lose. .I miss having friends in 3d but i have alot of friends online.. I miss family but they were never there for me. they were always present to me in some dysfunctional way. .I Have to learn what is healhty for me.. it’s unlearning all the unhealthy ways i was raised in ..and learning new ways.. So glad ihave so many to help me along the way..

Gentle hugs:



Joy, An old friend(since high-school)was trying to make me feel better about losing my family of origen and she said, “Pam, they were never a very good family anyway.” She was with me through so much of what they did to me and didn’t do for me as a kid. Her observation wasn’t one made just to make me feel better. What she said is true. That still doesn’t make leaving my family behind with my past a happy thing. Its just hard and it hurts. Wouldn’t it be great to have a family that doesn’t make us hurt? I hope some new, gentle friends come your way soon, Joy. I have lost a lot of my friends through the last five years of confronting my past. However, I have two very good friends that stick with me no matter what. Those are the kind of friends I wish for you also. Quality is much better than quantity. I also think that quality online relationships are better than poor quality 3d relationships. The internet is really a blessing that way. EFB is a special place.



I have been trying so hard to hold in the tears today but ..now they are coming out all over.. you words “wouldn’t it be great to have a family that doesn’t make us hurt’ . has hit a very deep chord..I am all undone 🙁 I wish I had a family who wouldn’t hurt me. Right now, though, I need to get to healing me. I wish had some gentle friends. .any friends .. 🙁 Thank you for your words.. now I need a box of kleenex..it’s all good but the tears were just waiting. I have been trying so hard today. Trying not to let them come out. now they are out. .. I wish familys would all be loving



Joy, I’m sorry I made you cry but I also know that tears help us to heal. Salt is a great disinfectant and it seems to me that tears clean the wounds in our hearts the way nothing else can. I think we will always wish our family would change and be what they’re supposed to be. I always pray that for my family but I can’t make it happen. You can’t either. We have to keep ourselves safe. That’s the priority and their is nothing wrong with doing that. I know you will have some gentle friends some day. I hope I am one even if I am just online.

God loves our families too and He is very patient with them. Who knows what lies in their future. When we do the right thing and live according to truth, it is the best thing we can do for family members who insist on living according to lies. I just keep praying that they will turn to God and He will free them some day. It’s all up to them to choose good or evil, the same way we all have to choose.

If human beings could understand their own behavior and behave in a loving manner, the world would be just about perfect. I believe that perfect world will appear one day when all people make their peace with God. I know that is what God desires also and He waits patiently for each one of us to turn to Him. Jesus is a very gentle friend, joy and He understands everything we go through. I can’t be with you and hug you and wipe away your tears but Jesus is right there with you to do what I can’t. I pray you find comfort and friendship in His person.

Love you,


Dear Pam,

You are my friend… you didn’t make me cry .. your words only encouraged the tears to come out finally . I have been fighting the back since Saturday. I haven’t had a really good cry .. they are now falling freely.. Thank you for your support and love . and kindess..

I know God is with me ..am just in a very lowly state right now. I don’t understand .. things.. but it all ok .

Thank you for being here ..for helping me.



Hi Everyone,
I just published a new post by Lynn Tolson about spiritual abuse… (church law) and thought the readers of this post might also like the new post!
You can read it here:
Spiritual abuse and the Catholic church


Im freaking out so bear with me. My daughter and grandaughter (she is 8)are living with my nephew and his family. They are alcholics and the 2 boys are 18 and 21. They pick on “H” call her loser, a piece of shit and other devalueing names. They hit her and push her around. My daughter is as sick as they are. Now the 18 yr old is taking “H” skating, out to dinner and switches from nice to mean. I think he is grooming her. My daughter will say nothing is going on but in reality there is a lot going on. She is unemployed and is stuck there. She also has a boyfriend that “H” hates. Am I wrong? Am I over reacting? Are these cousins grooming her? I know im not suppose to ask for advise but I NEED to know ASAP because im going to make some phone calls to DHS. I would rather be wrong and say im sorry than for this precious girl to be violated.
Thank you all.


Hi Renee,
It doesn’t sound good but I no one can give you advice. You are going to have to trust yourself on this one. I realize that this is very upsetting and scary for you and please feel free to talk about it here as much as you need to and get your feelings expressed.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Darlene

You know what is so good for self esteem .. at least for me. is hearing someone say ..” I believe you , I understand, we will work on this together”

I know some have had negative experiences with therapists or doctors but I am so blessed to have a good experience happening .and it’s good and nice to know that the one helping me truly believes me and understands me and encourages me.

IT is also good coming here and hearing all you say you believe and undertand and are walking with me..

Knowing one is not alone. that one no longer has to carry the heavy burdens , the secrets, all by one self does something good inside.

I know I am working hard on believing I am important and worthwhile; but its also the intervention of others that is helping me feel better about me.

We need others. .no matter how introverted we are.. to understand. we need a human voice to say . it’s going to be alright .

Thank you Darlene for this place of healing and your constant support and I also will be sending special thanks to my “T” . I was a lucky person to find someone who is not going to make my condition worst but better: )

Love you all ..hope its ok to say!



I needed to know what the signs are for grooming a child. I can not trust my own judgement I swore I would never trust it again because my oldest daughter was sexually abused because I trusted the abuser and I had no red flags when I let her go. So no. I googled it and I found some info. This 18 yr old is mean to my grandaughter the he is nice to her. He switches back and forth. Is this grooming? I was freaking out and when I get like this all 3 of us, my alters and I are running around trying to find a hiding place so I cant get the three of us on the same page. I dont know if im making sence to you half the time I dont understand myself. I just know my beautiful grandaughter is not in a safe place.


I understand what you were asking and I am glad that you did the research about it. Like I said, it sounds bad, it sounds like it might be just what you suspect. I thought you wanted advice about what to do, to go ahead and accuse or not. That is what I can’t advise on. Can you phone a help line? Like a local social services place? You can explain in more detail to them and over the phone they can give you more information and feedback about what you could do or what to watch for.
I understand how tough this is. I think you should talk to someone “in person” or over the phone about your fears and suspicions.
Hugs, Darlene


My daughter and I did. They just kept asking what is her dad doing to protect her. He gets her every other week.He is scared to death because he was accused of putting bruses on her. Unfortunately we beleive “H” was put up to accuse him.


Hi Joy,
The reason that I try to answer so many comments is because it was when I was “heard” that I found hope. It was when someone believed me, that I finally believed myself.
Thanks so much for sharing this,
Hugs, Darlene


[…] was watching a typical abusive family system highlighted on television.  The youngest daughter, who was a teenager and still lived in the home, […]

I just published a new post using an episode of Hoarders ~ to illustrate psychological abuse and how abusers get excused and the damage done to others isn’t addressed.

Please read it here ~ Hoarders ~ Illustrating psychological abuse and protecting abusers.


[…] was so important for me to believe that my childhood had in fact been difficult. I had been brainwashed that my childhood was wonderful, normal and that I was one of the “privileged” people in the world.  I believed that something was […]


Growing up under these abusive “family laws” is tragic, and it’s heartbreaking to hear the story of someone who did. I hear a lot of these stories in my private practice–I’ve been a psychotherapist for almost 25 years now. For some time now, I’ve been helping people using EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques), a way of working with dysfunctional childhood family pain that is extremely effective.


Right now I am struggling to come to some understanding about this past Christmas and the events that happened. I am easily goaded into anger especially by people who know that when I am not doing well I am easily teased into action.
My family is sick. They fool themselves into believing that they are intelligent, thoughtful and peaceful people. Denial helps them to maintain this sham. Bullying also assists the members into keeping other members in line.
The rule that my father put in place about anything that happened in the house that we lived in (because I do not claim it as my home and it still isn’t,) was that he was “King of the Castle” implying that we were his servants. As children my siblings enforced a “weakling” rule: if you couldn’t put up with bullying that was masked as “well meant teasing” but was actually mobbing, you were additionally harassed as a “cry-baby” or whatever name that was invented to get under a person’s skin. I wasn’t innocent and whenever I was able to would participate in the harassment of one of the other siblings. They had done it to me with just as much intolerance as the could muster. It was a way to strong arm someone else when we all felt particularly helpless.
Lately I have called a stop to it. I won’t be going to any family events. I can not change someone else’s behavior but I can decide not to participate in any more dysfunctionalism. I have decided that I don’t want to “pay my siblings back” for past bad feelings. It’s got to stop somewhere. And there are little children at these events with just as bright minds as mine was back then. They are not my children but I don’t want to be the bad example anymore. Maybe that is my new year’s resolution: Don’t be the bad example.


Hi Bipolar Bear
I can totally relate to what you are saying. One of the reasons that I do this work is because of those kids; Those bright and well deserving kids that really need to know their value. I wonder how I would have been had I known my value. I decided a long time ago that I was not going to be the bad example. YAY Thank you for being here.
Hugs, Darlene


[…] leaders who were bullies and predators simply because they were “my elders”. Being taught to blindly trust only taught me that I was not worth much. Being “told” to trust people who were not trustworthy […]


The “family Law” is spot on! We were not allowed to discuss the family secrets..which were abusive ones…with anyone! “Different rules for different situations” was exactly the way it was in my home for sure! I wasnt even allowed to discuss that my own real mother had died or anything about her at all. That crap about loyalty to the family is sickening because that is how we were expected to be. When an accident happened to something that was given to me by a member of the family, it was looked at as criminal and I was given the cold shoulder. I want to write about my older brother. The events that took place in our home were so traumatizing to me that I still tear up as I think about him as a little boy. My parents putting a plastic bag over his head so he was suffocating and only removing it when he was in agony…all of the beatings he received at the hands of my father …often on a daily basis for so long that it became “normal”. It was horrific hearing him cry! The making fun of him for the way he walked, for the way he talked and sniffed and looked. The utter disregard for the fact that he made straight A’s..they treated him like an idiot child! He was absolutely the perfect example of what I have read about the “scapegoat” in a family. All of the rage and disappointments for my parents childhoods and adult lives and dysfunctions were dumped on my brother. My “mom” actually said to me one time that before she married my dad she purposely tried to separate them because they were “too close”. I didnt understand that then..but I thought it was weird…but now I fully get it. He was forced to eat and drink things that they would never feed an animal…to “punish” him. He ran away for three months and lived alone in a park and my parents never even tried to find him. They didnt look one time. When he was injured mowing the lawn and his toe was cut off at the top, he was screaming in agony but they didnt take him to the doctors. Doctors were only to fix his annoying health issues, not to treat him when he was actually injured. There were several times he needed a doctors care. The yelling and verbal and emotional abuse he suffered was horrific. The neglect was worse than mine. It was all even worse than my own. There was 0 praise, encouragement or help …not voluntary. He used to sing and starred in musicals at school…no praise. He sang a solo at church for a huge event..they never attended. He is an artist and can play nearly any instrument…no help or encouragemnet. He was treated worse than a dog..it was HELL. I think my deep pain that never seems to heal is because I didnt understand…I was trying to survive. I tried to help him and love him , but I didnt see what abuse was in those years. I now have such guilt because we dont have any contact….my choice…because he turned against me. I know I trigger off the worst of the memories because we went through it together and he has not healed, and he pushed me away emotionally after he got married. I now see things so clearly and I wish I could have been or done things differently…I wish I had KNOWN HOW to help him or comfort him better than I did. I did try, but I didnt know enough! It is agonizing sometimes and I blame my parents for ALL of it. I blame them for us being apart. They absolutely hated my brother and I dont care what their excuses or words are now ….or were….their actions showed the hatred. In many many ways they tortured him. I cannot understand how no adult outside the family ever came to the rescue of my brother , if not for both of us…but noone ever did. Surely someone suspected? Those damnable family laws hid it all? I feel very emotional while writing this, but I have held it in for too long. I can be happy about one thing….my brother broke away and is no longer in contact with any of them…and my daughter never has had ANY family laws or secrets to keep in our household.


I cried extremely hard when I was writing the above…and after..and I started really thinking about it after I calmed down…the WHY ia am so eaten up inside. Two things came to mind…one is that I never told my brother how much I valued him and adored him and how terribly sorry I was for what happened to him…and secondly, I realized that I had not forgiven myself ….I couldnt help him! For not helping him, for not sticking up for him…for even contributing to the abuse anytime I blamed him for anything. As kids, we do things to push buttons with our siblings and we were like that to each other, but my brother would “get it” if /when I were to complain about him. I also felt so guilty for the way we stopped connecting as well as adults as we were growing in our own separate ways. I look back and there really isnt anything at all that I deliberately ever did to hurt him or try to manipulate or control him, but I wasnt aware of everything like I am today. So….I wrote him a letter and sent it . I did it right away and I also pondered my relationship with him and realized that I had not forgiven myself….even though these things were beyond my control..and beyond my understanding. So I sent the letter to him and I forgave myself. I now feel peaceful and completely drained. I feel comforted and like I did the right thing …and the best that I could give my brother, I gave to him. I hope that he will choose to read the letter and that a measure of comfort and peace help to heal him as well, but I am not waiting on any reply and I dont feel responsible any longer. The little girl who was tormented by her brother’s torment is now free of all of that false responsibility and guilt that I carried all of these years. I may do something like the Freedom Rocks ceremony to bring a tangible closure to this. I cant express how traumatic this was in my life, and how torn up and how many tears and sleepless nights all of this caused. But I am not to blame for his abuse.


Hi all,
Pam, your post #7 resonated with me on so many levels. What you said about having to choose between your family or the outside world was also my experience. I wasnt allowed to play with other kids after school and I was discouraged from making friends. On the rare occasion that I did make a friend, my mother would find fault with them and I would be forbidden to see them again. I was told that our family was special and different, that we were ‘better’ than other people and it was best to keep a polite distance. However, inside our family system, I was last in the pecking order. As the youngest child, I was taught that I was nothing special, that there was something fundementally ‘bad’ about me, and I had to make up for this by taking responsibility for the feelings of everyone else. This was drummed into me from being about 5 years old. Another topsy-turvy ‘family law’, was that I should put the needs of everyone else before my own, and should willingly sacrifice my own happiness in order to prioritise that of others. Yet, paradoxically, I was trained not to expect, or think that I deserved, even the most basic kindness and courtesy from others. How do they manage to do this to us? I internalised the belief that I had to give and give, but expect nothing in return. Of course, I grew up severely codependant. Who would want to do this to their child? Why would they want to? I have come a long, long way, yet I still struggle with over-giving. I still find myself doing it subconciously, but the good thing is that now, I start to feel sad for myself when I do it and I stop – in the past it made me feel good and worthy, but not now. I know how bad for me this approval-seeking behaviour is. I think I am much more in touch with my feelings now. Something thats not easy when you have had parents like most of us here have, Sylvia x


I missed this post prior. But again Darlene has said what I needed to hear. There is a family law in my FOO and I have indeed broken it. The silence since my last blowout with the Rents is deafening. With the holidays approaching I am still to stay no contact with my family, my choice. I was supposed to yet again forgive and forget, but this time I will not. So I am breaking the code of behavior. I was supposed to let them say disgusting hurtful things to me yet again and then remain silent. This is my job in life! I do think now that I am NC it angers mother because it proves a lock of control over me this time. Why else would this whole thing have caused such a huge war and everyone not
contacting me? Even my one sister, who always stays out of things and does everything to please the Nmom, has stayed out of it. Having said that, if this sister chose to contact me I would be very skeptical. I would say to her, Why are you contacting me now if you had no interest before? How do you go back and trust people that have all collectively finally showed their true colors to you? I never wanted to be the child that they didn’t love, and did not choose this. But in a way I guess I need to look at it as I am actually stronger than all of them since they all stay in a line for the Rents. (Out of fear I think.) I’m taking one foot in front of the other in another direction, to feel safe.
Diane I am so sorry to hear of your brothers’ abuse and also yours. Such a sad story. Peace all…


[…] healing process that I write about here in ‘emerging from broken’.  So many ‘victims’ of dysfunctional family systems or any type of abusive or one sided relationship see themselves as the one who might be the […]
NEW post on EFB about dysfunctional family law! See this link.


New post on EFB ~ this one has to do with the in-law side of things, but really, not much difference…

[…] to her. They demanded that she have respect for them but it wasn’t mutual respect, it was that one sided kind of respect. She was supposed to respect them even while they looked down on her and they were very open about […]


[…] talk about the belief system and how it is developed and how we are brainwashed into believing that the problem is us in the […]


Beautifully written Darlene.

I really enjoyed hearing someone else write about my life in such a simple, insightful manner… I swear we must have grown up in the same home!

Thank you for the perspective.


Hi Ruth
Thank you! ~ about the same home; you, me and several million other people!
Thanks for your comment!
Hugs, Darlene


Yes, it’s sad to think that there are so many children in the world today living in the same terror and anguish.

However, it’s great to see so many people like yourself and those who have posted comments gradually changing that, one person at a time. By taking steps to validate ourselves, educate ourselves, heal ourselves and express ourselves, we can stop it being perpetuated to the next generation.

Hopefully we are just the pioneers and gradually the majority of the population will follow.

To Dianne (43 & 44), thank you for sharing your experience with your brother. I’d often wondered why my brother watched my parents hurt me over and over again yet did nothing. This helped me see how it must have been for him. My heart goes out to you and your brother… What a horrible position for you to have been in, I’m glad you’ve found peace.


[…] chose to point their fingers at me and to blame me for their pain.  You see, once I stepped out of “The Matrix” – which is what I call their faulty belief system regarding love – they became very […]


I married when I was 17 & pregnant. that son was born mentally challenged. my husband blames me for his disability. I am still married to him, but there is no Love on my part at all. my husband disrespects me, my oldest son, my daughter-in-laws, my family ,friends, people he works with. the list goes on. I want to leave him, I am so scared. just talking to you is a help. thankyou.


I’m slowly realizing these false rules and it took me until last year (thanks to my church).
I have always felt like family loyalty (not telling anyone) was a good thing. Now I’ve found it’s just total dysfunction. The lie of “family will always care more” is just a cop out for family to be involved because of “concern.” Dysfunction of confronting when concerned (even when a boundary is put up) and disrespecting me on the process. I find myself more close to my friends and church family because my church believes that advice requires permission (love is not rude). I just assumed before that I had to sit back and listen because concern is the most important thing ever (next to loyalty). Of course standing up has come with negativity, but I’m still getting more inner peace than when I just was “nice” and listened politely. Not to mention the fact the concerns were seeped in huge assumptions and judgments (along with “helpful criticism.”)

I’m glad I found this website while googling subjects that I needed to find. I realized I’m not alone and that what I grew up with (being the black sheep, mom with narcissistic characteristics, dad who didn’t affirm and disciplined in anger, middle sister who decided she was my mom as well and youngest sister who was the golden child.) others had experienced as well.

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