Hoarders Illustrating Psychological Abuse and Protecting Abusers


Psychological abusers and hoarders“This notion, that parents must never be blamed no matter what they have done, has caused untold damage.” Alice Miller ~ Banished Knowledge


The other night I was watching the show “Hoarders” on television. The eldest daughter came home from University and brought her boyfriend along for a visit.  Even before they entered the house, she started reminding him not to “say anything.” Inside the house was a shocking mess. Her mother was a hoarder. The “hoard” in some places was up to the ceiling. There were slim pathways everywhere so they could make their way through the house. Before the daughter and her boyfriend arrived, the mother told the camera crew that her daughter was “happy” as long as she could sleep in her bed; that the stuff piled all over her bedroom didn’t bother her.  Again, the “stuff” was piled up to the ceiling in her room too.


There were bugs everywhere. There were mice and rodent droppings everywhere.  The boyfriend was pretty disturbed about it but she kept warning him not to say anything.  She reminded him, pleaded with him and she told him outright not to say anything.


The biggest concern that she had was to protect her mother. Her mother had a problem that was affecting the whole family, but the mothers feelings had to be protected.


The family cooked in the kitchen and the boyfriend said on film that he felt the house was unsanitary and disgusting. But he sat down at the table and he ATE there anyway. I was wondering WHY he would sit down and EAT in that house.  He would make an honest comment to her about his revulsion to the whole thing, and she would ask him to please not say anything.


I could not believe it when they went to BED in that house!


I was watching a typical abusive family system highlighted on television.  The youngest daughter, who was a teenager and still lived in the home, was not allowed to decide what she could throw away from her own bedroom.  Her room was a huge mess as well; she wanted to get rid of things and was not allowed. She had no choice.


For anyone who is not familiar with the show “hoarders” the hoarder always agrees to get some help and the helping crew comes in and organizes a cleanup process. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.


On this show the hoarder mother was in serious denial. She didn’t think there was a problem. They showed a scene where the mother was angry because the kids threw away an empty box and she wanted to keep the box.  She made it clear that she didn’t trust her husband or kids in the clean up process and that since she couldn’t trust them they could not make decisions anymore about what was garbage and what wasn’t.  She made it clear that the teenage daughter did not have a choice about what stayed or what went and insisted that the daughter was the one who was unreasonable.


It seemed that the mother who was the hoarder and the cause of the destruction and emotional devastation in the family, was excused because she has this “problem”.  Did the daughters know they had a right to be upset? Did they ever realize mother was wrong, or did they only consider that mother was sick? When all the focus is on the person who had the disorder, “sick” is communicated as a justification for what is in this case, psychological abuse. This communicates that the feelings of the person who is perpetrating the damage are more important than anything or anyone else and the dysfunction is preserved.  The boyfriend has a right to say that he didn’t want to be there. The daughter has a right to live in a clean and safe environment.


Please understand my point; I KNOW that the mother is sick. I know that hoarding is an illness but my point is that her illness doesn’t lessen the fact that damage is being done to other people.  There is major emotional damage and psychological abuse happening in that home because of the hoarding.  Everyone deserves to have help, not just the mother.  All the damage to each person should also be validated.  Just because the hoarder mother is sick and because hoarding is a disorder, does not cancel or excuse the damage that the mother is doing to the others in her family. Protecting her feelings enables her to malfunction, and it also devalues everyone else.


The people who live with a hoarder communicate that the hoarders’ relationship to the “things” is deeper than her relationship to the people in the family.  Can you imagine how painful that would be to a child of any age; the hoarder cared more about broken dolls, than she did about her own daughter.  That is mother daughter dysfunction and overall dysfunctional family stuff. That is emotional abuse and psychological abuse.  That does damage to the self esteem of the daughter and other children.  It sends a message to the child that embeds itself in the belief system and that damage must be dealt with too.


There is no difference between this dysfunctional family system and any other type of dysfunctional abusive family system where the “abuser” and the feelings of the abuser, are protected and the welfare of the others is not considered.


The hoard is just the symptom and the manifestation of what happened to the mother and the damage that has occurred in her life.  Who knows what the manifestations of what happened to the daughter will be.  Without help, the cycle continues.


Comments are always appreciated and make a difference to everyone here.  Please share your thoughts. Keep in mind that you can use only a first name or screen name if you wish.


Exposing truth; one snapshot at a time


Darlene Ouimet

The Emerging from Broken book is ready for download! If you find that the subject matter I am writing about resonates with you, get this book today! This 197 page, downloadable, printable, live linked e-book will put you on the fast track to healing.  Get yours here through the upper right side bar or click this link~ Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing

Watch episodes of Hoarders on video

Hoarders ~ burried alive (the T.V. show)


96 response to "Hoarders Illustrating Psychological Abuse and Protecting Abusers"

  1. By: Melinda Posted: 4th April

    This is a tough one for me, because my husband has jokingly implied that I may be a hoarder.
    I don’t believe that I am, but it’s all relative…everyone has different standards of what constitutes cleanliness and being tidy.

    I will admit that there are certain things I have trouble with getting rid of.
    I suffer from severe depression and a form of OCD, plus I grew up in an environment where perfection was constantly demanded of me.
    My stepfather and mother were anal about cleaning to the point where it was borderline abusive. Sometimes we should consider that hoarding is a subconscious reaction to trauma or abuse that the “hoarder” experienced, esp. if they grew up with abusive clean or neat freaks.
    I would never excuse anyone who forces others to live in filthy conditions, of course…people with animal feces and rotting food, piles of junk, etc. are in serious need of an intervention.

    Just wanted to throw that out there, for what it’s worth. Hoarding is not OK (especially if the hoarder is also abusive in general) but like Darlene said, it is often a coping mechanism. An unhealthy one, yes, but for some people it becomes a way to deal with their pain.
    If you really look at it, it’s not that they place a high value on “stuff”…it’s that they have been hurt in some way and somewhere down the line, this manifested in keeping a lot of things around them.

    I hope I didn’t offend anyone. Just wanted to share my thoughts on this subject.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 11th April

      Hi Melinda,
      Thanks for sharing on this. You make great points!
      hugs, Darlene

  2. By: Rose Posted: 10th November

    I am super happy to find this site. I’ve been on a forum with mostly hoarders who are trying to change. It’s been useful and supportive in my efforts to clean up, but not a good place to express anger and call the abuse what it is.

    I married into a dysfunctional hoarding family. I’ve been struggling with this for decades, spent many years of my life cleaning up after people in a futile effort to have a nice home. I raised my daughter in this, and she is now very angry.

    I wish I’d had some support and insight into this 20 years ago.

  3. By: Katherine Posted: 21st August

    Cecilia, a note on how they start out, I can’t speak for all, but my mother started out EXTREMELY tidy. As a child, I would not have dreamed of calling her a hoarder. She called my dad the pack rat while she was thrifty and enjoyed historical “finds.” She did things like bleach and oil grout weekly. Would spend full weekends scrubbing spots out of the carpet. Our house was pristine. Then my dad passed away. She let some of the cleaning go and became more thrifty. She had always done things like save wrapping paper (I still can’t bring myself to rip into a package because of her training, though I throw it away), but she started secreting things home from work. When she finally became financially stable again, the shopping started. By this time, the house was an uncontrolled mess, blamed on her teenage children. When we moved out, the mess could no longer be blamed on us, but the house was down to pathways, whole rooms could not be used. She would grocery shop, and not realize bags hadn’t been put away until she would smell meat rotting. They blended into the mess so well, she overlooked them. The last time I helped her, she had a pipe burst in her kitchen. Everything got remodeled and she decided to hold Thanksgiving. I spent 48hrs (total not two days) cleaning one room. Within a few months, you couldn’t tell I had been in it at all. I think hoarders often operate in secret for a very long time before they are discovered. For my mom, it is ALL about control. She retains things that she hates just so that someone else cannot have it. She won’t allow for help because someone else will do it wrong. When something goes missing, we must have stolen it, even if it’s something that was garbage, it wasn’t ours to take. It is impossible to have a healthy relationship with her, because she doesn’t have one with herself.

  4. By: Cecilia Posted: 14th August

    I always thought hoarders had to be the people with stacked, boxes and filth. I’ve come to the awareness that is extreme hoarding. I’m curious how it looked when it first started. I think the heart of the hoarder is the same….their things or stuff whether junk or not if are more important to them then their children or other relationships something is seriously wrong. They are in denial of their being possessed by “things”. There are hoarders in my family and there are those who feel they dont deserve anything nice and are jealous of those who enjoy the fruit of their labor. Two opposites that come down to a pose a problem in trying to have a healthy relationship.

  5. By: nancy Posted: 12th August

    I have a wonderful friend who is a hoarder, her daughter and I have tried to help her, it seems she is in denial also. Rats in her kitchen doesn’t seem to bother her. She has cats and dogs also. She had a garage sale and started putting the stuff back in the house? Finally the dumpster was filled and off it went, her front yard is a mess same stuff there left by the garage sale. I wish I could do something her daughter has done everything I support the daughter, so the Mom goes over and babysits the grand-nephews all day and does not or care about her kids. So the daughter is in Europe and I don’t answer her calls, because I cannot go in that house and truly do not want to go anywhere with her. The friendship has become more than I can handle. I tried to help her she does not want any help or does she care. So I am only answering her calls every 3 days. It really hurts me because I am losing a close friend.

  6. By: Katherine Posted: 11th August

    My mother is a hoarder with narcissistic personality disorder. It infuriates me when she is critical of other’s house cleaning skills. One of the many abuses she heaped on me was telling everyone I was a pack rat and wouldn’t let her throw things away. I’m sure she still uses that excuse even though I haven’t lived there in over 20 years. I don’t know for sure because I finally cut her out of my life. I was exhausted with her abuse and suffering in silence. No one wanted to hear it, believe it. Her story was of course how great she was and how horrible I was. I no longer care. I know the truth and I broke the cycle.

  7. By: Connie Posted: 2nd October

    So many victims. My mother and sister are both hoarders. I’m the unloved black sheep because I refuse to be ok with it. I have tried to make sense on the chaos my entire life. I’m grateful that trying to make a path through all that mess made me a very good organizer and as a professional organizer now I have many happy clients. I learned to organize without removing anything. But it just make available space for more hoarding. My work is fulfilling when I can help clients live a minimalist life or KonMari their home by purging and keeping only what sparks joy. Most clients want to keep all the crap but think miraculously I can help simplify their life. When I agree to only sort and smile and make room in the mess I feel abused by my mother all over again. I’ve organized a few rooms in my mothers house and she never misses the opportunity to blame me any time she can’t find something. I can’t watch the hoarders show. The way the hoarder takes out their anger on their children and chooses the mess over relationships every time is beyond painful.

  8. By: Jennifer Posted: 29th January

    I have been married for 7 years to a hoarder. When I met him I thought he was guy who didn’t know how to clean and organize. I had no clue what a hoarder was. I know now. It’s a person who makes your life miserable. You learn that if you want to throw away an item, any item, they will pick it out of the nasty garbage can. They will tell you it’s still useful. Your home, if you ever get it partially de hoarded will have water damage and mold and spiders etc. I have suffered so much depression in the last 7 years and I have had enough. I lost it just today and told him I will not live like this anymore. It’s killing me mentally and physically. So I called a garbage company and tomorrow I will have about 12 huge contractor bags hauled off along with 20 year old tables, oh and a ” Thigh Master”! Of course I had to do this while hubby was at work and now he’s furious. I always backed down before and let him have his way on most things. This time is different. I said to him,” it’s either me or the clutter, you can’t have both”. I said I’ll call a divorce attorney tomorrow if he tries to stop me from getting rid of this junk. So he backed down for now anyway. If I were financially secure I would leave him because living with a hoarder is miserable. So I just found this site because it’s 3 am and I am wide awake. I just keep wondering if I I even want to be married. His hoarding isn’t ever going away. I deserve better.

    • By: Jennifer 2 Posted: 19th April

      I know what you are going through. I am, at this time, unable to leave my hoarding husband of 15 years. I have been so miserable for so long, I love my husband and typically he is very nice, however, when it comes to throwing away his things or talking about getting rid of stuff he becomes verbally violent and a bit off his rocker, such as sifting through garbage because he doesn’t trust that I didn’t throw something away without his approval. Or calling me names and saying I brain wash our kids because they want to donate their toys. Its miserable I am so unhappy, I recently started taking control as you mentioned and started donating toys clothes etc.. But he is also a compulsive shopper so it seems that whenever I get rid of something he buys something to replace it. Uggg I never win in this situation, he has told me that I am the one with the problem because I can’t properly organize all the stuff he buys. I did organize it originally by putting it all into our 3 large storage units (which are several hundred a month) but when those and our broken down car got full he started filling the house. Its driving me crazy, I hate that the experts want you to be paitent and tip toe slowly around their feelings, what about us the victims, I’ve looked and I can not find any support groups. I know he will never change and when I become financially stabe to make it on my own I will give him an ultimatum, its just sad because I know what he will choose.

  9. By: Tara Glisson Posted: 28th April

    The whole family Protects, while comming down on me for saying THIS IS WRONG!

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 29th April

      Hi Tara
      it’s bizarre isn’t it??!
      Welcome to Emerging from Broken
      hugs, Darlene

  10. By: lisa Posted: 11th November

    Thank you for this string. I have a close friend of 35 years who hoards. She let me into the house six years ago. It was not piled to the ceiling, but a few rooms were unusable. Every surface was filthy. It stank terribly. Maintenance was neglected to the point where there were bugs, rodents and black mold. I offered to help in hopes I could get her to seek real treatment. For six years, I would come over to help a few days each year and it was gross and tiring and oh so tedious. I remember one discussion that she needed to keep an empty plastic nut container because she used it on her living room table to put her remote on. Otherwise she couldn’t find the remote. She became furious when I suggested that if the table were clean, she could always find the remote.

    Ultimately she ended the friendship. First there was a year of snapping at and being discourteous to me. Next she shunned me for a year without explanation. Then she told me we couldn’t be friends and railed at me for percieved flaws that don’t exist..or which aren’t flaws at all. Like, she doesnt like that I’m Catholic, or outgoing or my political party, or whatever, and states these traits are abnormal.

    The difficulty is we have many friends in common and her truth is a secret. She fakes to the rest that we are great friends which puts me in a bad spot. I am figuring out how to cope with her dishonesty.

    She has a daughter, gratefully she is now out of high school and moved out. I tried to make the house at least liveable for the girl but it was like trying to empty a rushing river with a teaspoon. I regret not reporting the conditions now.

    Yes, my formerly dear friend is a hoarder, and has turned to abusive tactics to protect her hoard. The healthiest thing I have done has been to accept her decision to dump me as a friend. I can’t help her, and I don’t want to live in this world she is constructing out of her garbage.

  11. By: Sarah John Posted: 28th August

    My 80-year-old father hoards, is abusive go everybody including his children, my mother who has below average intelligence , grandchildren , neighbours and even the police who come in to break up fights when neighbours get so angry they want to punch him and he starts beating up my mother right in front of them to take out his frustration on her instead and get this , she always , always, always protects him and begs and cries for people to not harm him!!!! He, the abuser has always had to be protected – never us the children !!!! I can’t take it anymore – the stinking pig sty of a house , them constantly complaining how people are ill treating them and how I need to help them but have abandoned them… I have spent thousands of Dollars, hours and every sneaky scheme in the world to clean up their mess which they have been furious about and then it all piles up again . I just want to give up- I wish he was dead! Dead ! Dead! But for some reason that is beyond Any logic, he seems to still be hale and healthy and thriving and continuing his relentless abuse on everyone despite people much younger than him who have lived in good sanitary, healthy conditions dropping dead like flies !!!! I want to b able to clean up the house and at least give my mother a decent life, especially in her last few years as I can imagine, but much of the time she is just as bad as him in wanting to protect him and his stuff. I have a beautiful home and family and good life but this makes me so unhappy and angry. I feel bad about completely walking away from them but I just don’t know how to help them any more . Please help!

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 28th August

      Hi Sarah John
      Welcome to EFB ~ I understand your dilemma, and I have a few questions for you to ask yourself;
      Why do you think you can help them or even that they want help?
      Why is this up to you?
      Hugs, Darlene

  12. By: Sarah John Posted: 28th August

    My father hoards, is abusive go everybody including his children, my mother who has below average intelligence , grandchildren , neighbours and even the police who come in to break up fights when neighbours get so angry they sent to punch him and he starts beating up my mother right in front of them to take out his frustration on her instead and get this , she always , always, always protects him and begs and cries for people to not harm him!!!! He the abuser has always had to be protected – never us the children !!!! I can’t take it anymore – the drinking pig sty of a house , them constantly complaining how people are ill treating them and how I need to help them but have abandoned them… I have spent thousands of Dollars, hours and every sneaky scheme in the world to clean up their mess which they have been furious about and then it all piles up again . I just want to give up- I wish he was dead! Dead ! Dead! I have a beautiful home and family and good life but this makes me so unhappy and angry. Please help!

  13. By: Walli Tay Posted: 25th July

    Yes. You are right. But very few people recognize that the children of hoarders need help.

    My mother was a hoarder, and alcoholic and an emotional abuser. She still is but managed to stop drinking which is the only reason she gets to have a relationship with my kids.

    My extended family blamed my sister and myself – they would say to us, the pre-teens whose parents had gone through the ugliest divorce on record, that we needed to help out at home more. We protected her. We did not tell that when we tried to throw things away, she would remove herself from the home, come home drunk, and scream at us that everything was all our fault. The hoarding grew worse, we could no longer have friends over, she chased me a gun and nobody did anything, and spent the remainder of our youth avoiding the home, pretending we were asleep and getting out as soon as we could.

    She has mellowed but never accepted responsibility. I flirt with not having a relationship with her, which I believe she is aware of so is careful of her behaviour. I haven’t been to her home in almost fifteen years so if she wants to visit she has to come to us.

    The biggest issue I have now is that nobody helped. Everyone knew to some degree what was happening: grandparents, aunts and uncles, neighbours and friends, but nobody did anything to get her, and us, help. It is abuse and thank you for calling it what it is.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 26th July

      Hi Walli T
      It is tragic that this happened to you AND that nobody helped. Thank you for sharing.
      I am glad you are here,
      hugs, Darlene

  14. By: Pinky Posted: 13th August

    @Darelne, I do remember this post.Thanks for re-posting! Since you first posted it we have had a problem in my building.I live in a building in one of the 5 boros of NYC. It is considered to be a luxury building. NYC standards are lower in many ways than the rest of the country so luxury can mean anything here. But in our case we have a pool. We pay a lot of money to live here. We cant really move because everything else costs just as much in the 5 boros even ghettos. Its crazy here. Anyway , I have written about this before but our so called luxury building is being infested by bugs. If we complain to the city about it we will be evicted like others have. The bugs have caused PTSD. I have been raped as you know by 2 different people and have been though alot. This has caused me to live in fear and panic. We get exterminated weekly.We got all new furniture and carpeting.We have done everything we can. We were not sure why a big free building all of the sudden has an infestation. Long story short we believe it is due to hoarders moving in. The daughter of the hoarder who was only 30 committed suicide. So management feels bad for her and will not force help. The thing is we are not allowed to report anonymously in NY. We live in a building where we get inspections from management twice a year.Anyone who violates any of the 6 pages of house rules will be find $500.00 Management will not force them to have an inspection even though if anyone else did they would be fined and then evicted if they do not cooperate. So it is not just in small families it has ruined out lifestyle and my peace of mind! They are huge water bugs so big that I can hear them coming! The entire community of 2000 families has joined in the dysfunction and we are all made to suffer! This is mass insanity! Like a dysfunctional family everyone and I do mean everyone is mad at me for telling the truth. I dont care what these people do I am not a nosy gossip I hate that! I just want the problem resolved but I am now looked at by everyone as the problem for trying to resolve the bug issue! It is really like being raped all over being told it was my fault! Really upsetting! Plus we are in serious debt due to medical bills as we lost our insurance and my condition Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy is an illness caused by an injury.Scientists say it is the most painful condition known to humans! It is exasperated by stress! A very few only recover and only in the first year. I have been sick since 2011 and at the end of 2011 is when the bug situation started! I am praying for a financial break through and healing but this is just what hoarding can do to ruin someones lifestyle and health!

  15. By: Julie Posted: 12th August

    I have had an abusive parent, but even so, I still feel sentimental towards my parents when I remember that they will one day be memories. I used to be able to see things as just enjoyable additions to life, and not feel attached. But my life feels empty now. And when I run across old things there is a warm memory of someone I love. I am only wondering how will I not become a hoarder when they die. I would want to have some of their things. Generally, I am a person who likes tidiness and organization and cleanliness. Another idea I had is that people save things because they are lonely and have no one, and the object helps remind them of loved ones. I say this because I think it is my motivating force. Although I am not a hoarder yet, I can see things that I would like to ‘collect’, and thus I can in some ways relate to the people on Hoarders.

  16. By: Brenda H Posted: 12th August

    My mother is a hoarder. Not of the serious, dirty, messy, bug infested kind. She just collects stuff. Lots of stuff. She throws her trash away, but she isn’t always clear on what should be trash.

    She is hoarding my old toys right now, so my daughter can’t play with them. My Grandmother, her mother, was not allowed to give anything away, especially to me. Things have always been more important to her than I was. I say was, because she doesn’t have me any longer, she has her stuff, and the people who put up with her, and the golden sociopath brother that she created.

    The most important things in life…..are not things. She never understood that. She never had enough. She has a big 4 bedroom, 3 bath house filled with stuff that she will never use. Now she’s filling their old dairy barn with more stuff that they will never use. And she does this to make sure no one else has the stuff. It’s hers and hers alone. Too bad she can’t take it with her.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 13th August

      Hi Lora
      Great comments! ~ I have come to understand that most of us are “Taught” to feel selfish if we ever think about ourselves or our own needs. And we are taught that adults have different rights than children, but we are never taught that we one day will have equal rights to the adults in our lives, and the dysfunction is all entangled in that mess. Realizing that I had rights and value was key for me. I agree with you about ‘god’s plan’ ~ I don’t believe in a god who advocates on behalf of dysfunction! That doesn’t seem very loving to me!
      Thanks for sharing,
      hugs, Darlene

  17. By: Lora Posted: 12th August

    Hey Darlene! I enjoyed this article very much and it has twigged something in me that I’ve been pondering about recently.

    My mom has bi polar disorder and I can honestly say I walked a very fine line in our home. It was all about not upsetting mom because if mom got triggered by something I have said or done, look out! Part of my own healing process is defining boundaries because I wasn’t even really aware that I lacked boundaries because my focus has always been reading the situation and acting accordingly to maintain some sense of peace.

    I changed the person I was so I could tune into what my mom expected from me to keep her calm and happy. The lights went on for me 3 years ago when I had my last bout of depression and I realized if I don’t start taking care of me I really don’t think I will make it this time. My thoughts of suicide were so intense I knew I had to make serious changes. I had to take care of me and that meant I could no longer see my mom anymore. As she gets older her illness is getting worse in a different way and it was then that I realized I will never be free to have a life of my own.

    Why did “I” feel so selfish for wanting to take care of me and have my own life?… A life where I can choose to be happy, healthy and free. Mental Illness is a very tangled web and as I free myself from it I see more clearly what I have come from and I weep for myself. My mom may have a mental illness and for that I am truly sorry but I really don’t think it was God’s plan for me to be sick with her. I know there is deep learning here for me and I may not have all the answers yet but one day I will.

    I believe we are all on this journey to learn who we really are and enjoy life to it’s fullest, no one, not even our parents should have the right to interfere with such a divine process. Every day I am growing in love for myself and others and I long for the day when I can look back on my life through compassionate eyes and be proud of myself for how far I have come. I’m getting there.

    Sometimes the best thing we can do for ourselves is walk away from those who choose to stay in a sick place. Everyone has their reasons for why they don’t want to get better but I also understand it’s not my responsibility to save them. I’m very, very grateful to learn that the only person I need to save is myself. The truth is a lot more gets accomplished when I do focus on me and I know my mom is being well taken care of by her husband. I refuse to allow myself to become a hateful, bitter person from the abuse I endured and I know if I am not careful with my healing it could happen.

    I choose to be the best version of myself I can and I now have the resources to help me get there. Thank you Darlene for creating a ripple affect of wellness by developing this site. Your light is a blessing in this world and I love you for it. Namaste!

  18. By: Cory in Texas Posted: 17th December

    I just stumbled upon your site after watching an episode of hoarders and thinking back to my own childhood. There were very few times where I wasn’t embarrassed to bring friends to my house as a kid. Honestly, it was because of the smell of cat urine…which was constant. Weirdly, my mom was a neat freak. Basically, if it was HER mess, it was me complaining about something inconsequential (her dog pooping on my clothes), but I would get scolded for an hour for not taking my boots off when coming inside (if you saw the floor you wouldn’t take your shoes off, either.). Her “hoarding” hoarding started after I moved out when I got older.

    Piles of just plain garbage she was sure she could “sell on Ebay.” One item in particular was so ridiculous that when my daughter was 8 she brought it into the living room to make fun of it (no better way to describe it than it was a 3 foot tall, “trailer trash barbie” with a mullet, one arm, and one eyeball).

    My daughter’s making fun of that doll is what started my mom’s beginning of emotional abuse like I had as a kid against me, which is also when I ended my relationship with her on my terms.

    Thank you for this blog and for the last comment you made on the thread.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 18th December

      Hi Cory in Texas
      Welcome to emerging from broken.
      I am glad that you are here.
      hugs, Darlene

  19. By: Rose Posted: 6th July

    I just ended a five-year relationship with a hoarder who was quite abusive. Grew up with a mother and father that sounds a lot like yours, Darlene, but my mother was never prone to depression; she was never anything but angry. Sadness of any kind was not tolerated in our house and would get you a nice long talk about how pathetic/fat/ugly/worthless/useless/lazy/disgusting/vile/etc you were. Or the family favorite since we were adopted, “You are not my child. I can’t even stand to see your disgusting face.” Super fun.
    The man I was involved with was a lot like her in that he seemed to derive pleasure out of making me unhappy. I finally figured out that I was picking people EXACTLY like her in my life, and I ended it. What helped me in the beginning of my journey to wellness was this: there is something wrong with them. Not me (except obviously that I didn’t figure this out before and therefore avoid attracting people like this into my life). Anyway, it was/is up to me to be happy and well. In this case, neither of them can help themselves and they’re both on their own paths. I could tell the both of them what they were doing is WRONG but it’ll never get through to them because they have a problem.
    As long as I put thought into it and pour energy into worrying over it, I am the only one it will affect. I am capable of rising above their antics and so I do.
    I understand how desperately people want their abusers to at least acknowledge their wrongdoing, or at best, show some kind of remorse. I mean, we torture ourselves long after the abuse is over by silently carrying these burdens. In my case, I know it’ll never ever happen, and I don’t even care. Honestly I feel sorry for them. Here I am able to love and be open to love, ready and excited for where life is taking me. They are sad, angry and have stubbornly insisted on making their lives miserable. All I can do is lead by example and shut out her (since I still speak with my mother) negativity. This is the life she’s chosen and she let it get so bad she can’t control herself anymore.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 6th July

      Hi Rose
      Welcome to emerging from broken!
      Finally realizing that it was them and not me was a huge key for me too. Another huge key was in realizing that ‘they’ are not going to hear me. I had to hear me however and that has been huge in leading myself out of the darkness.
      Glad you are here!
      Hugs, Darlene

  20. By: Theresa Posted: 4th July

    Thank you SO much for this. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    I was once married to a hoarder, years ago, before it was in the media and discussed. At first he was eccentric and functioning and then over the years he got worse and worse and I left him. At that time our son was a preschooler. I’ve always had custody, but son visits his dad.

    Son is now 15 and opening up for the FIRST time about the conditions he lives in. It breaks my heart. I knew, I suspected. I’ve called code enforcement on ex many times, but he’s always allowed to clean up and fill up again. I’m now in another state that takes this shit seriously and yesterday I got a court order that forces him to submit to a home inspection, which hopefully will mean my son doesn’t have to go there.

    He absolutely lives with an abusive dynamic, he totally protects his father. And his father manipulates and plays the victim and treats him like crap. He’ll pull it together for show, for other people, he maligns me to others — oh, I take him to court! Oh, I try and take his child away! Fact is, he sues ME. Pro se. Representing himself and loses. But it has cost me nearly 100K over 10 years. He is a controlling, abusive asshole and my son has to see him because he has his “rights.”

    I hope those rights are about to terminate. My son cannot get to the kitchen, he has to step over things. He cannot have food, he has to buy it each day and keep it on himself. There is only one functional bathroom, the other is full of stuff. He has never had a friend over in 10 years.

    It is abuse. I know his father is mentally ill. But he has that knowledge and he CHOOSES to not get treatment. He CHOOSES his illness over everything in his life.

    My son, despite his horrible father, has turned out beautifully. He’s a good kid, all As, friends, sports, a loving relationship with his step-dad. I’m proud that I left when he was small and that hoarding is a peripheral part of his life. But his dad is an anchor. A heartache he’ll have to deal with for a long time. He is an only child and he will have to deal with his aging, sicko father. I’m trying to teach him boundaries so he realizes that this is NOT his burden. It’s not his fault or responsibility.

    But the protectiveness… OMG. Yesterday he had to tell a judge about it. It was so hard for him and he minimized because there was a reporter. He didn’t want his dad to see or find out. It was enough to order an inspection, but the judge also is sending him there for the summer. More court battles ahead.

    It blows my mind that people want to treat hoarders with kid gloves. I think they should be committed. Seriously. They are a danger to themselves and others. It is a serious mental illness. And to not treat it and submit children to it –yes, is abuse. They think they “know better.” They are narcissists and without empathy.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 4th July

      Hi Theresa!
      Wow, thanks for sharing. This is exactly what I am talking about. You express it so well ~ the issues that people are dealing with. The way that kids are so scared to tell it because of the father or other parent finding out. We are taught to never shame or expose the truth. The way the courts do this needs to change! (both the way they treat perps and the way they deal with children) And the courts need to realize treating the perp with kid gloves only keeps the cycle going! Yay for you for getting out. My heart goes out to you and your son!
      Hugs, Darlene

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