Psychological Abuse and Dysfunctional Parenting





psychological abuse, dysfunctional family
emerging alive

I received a comment on the post “More on Mother Daughter Dysfunctional Relationships” from Pam, and it began like this;  ~ “I have lots of bad memories from my childhood but what is worse is what I don’t remember. I can’t remember my mother ever holding me. I have no memory of my mother ever supporting me in anything or encouraging me. I don’t remember my mother ever siding with me against someone who had hurt me. I have never felt that my mom liked me. It seems that my mom was angry with me from the time I was born.”

I can totally relate to that with my own mother.  I felt like I was born to fill something in her and I failed to do it.  And I believed that I was a failure; that I was defective and unlovable.  Realizing that was only a fraction of the process to recovery however. The belief system problem was that I believed those things about myself and they were not true about me.  I can’t stress this part enough ~ I was NOT born to fulfill a need in my mother. I was NOT a failure. I was NOT defective and unlovable.

Today, I use this comment from Pam to explain the progression of emotional and psychological abuse and dysfunctional family upbringing; how those beliefs are born and incorporated and how they become cemented and why they are so hard to realize and then let go of.

~Pam goes on to say that her mother resented her for being born sickly (not the perfect child of her dreams) and then used that as a means to garner sympathy from others for the burden of having a weak child.

Once again, I also believed like Pam, that I WAS a burden to my mother.  I believed that because I could not fulfill her wishes for me fill the longing she had in herself ~ then it was true that I was a burden. I failed and that was the proof that I was useless.  But that is also a lie.

Growing up believing these kinds of things in the first place creates a very fertile ground for other false beliefs to take root and grow. False beliefs flourish when the foundation is primed that way. 

~ Pam was raped at age 14. She had been told that it was impossible for a woman to be raped and once again, having no choice, she believed that too.  She blamed herself, and took on one more lie which added to her already low self esteem and further diminished her self worth.

And as with ALL cases of dysfunctional family teachings, and falseness taught and accepted as truth, one lie rooted in the believe system builds on another;

~ Pam was raped and believed it was her own fault. On top of that she had been taught that if she lost her virginity, she would be “used merchandise” and that she was ruined.  And she believed that too.

Why wouldn’t she believe that? What other frame of reference did she have?

~ So Pam ran away.  And as these things so often go, the focus of her parents was never about why she had run away or what would cause her to run away. The focus was once again on how much she hurt her mother. It was all about her mother.

Keep in mind that the child in the situation accepts everything that the parent says because the brainwashing that the parent’s value is much greater than the child’s value is already cemented in place from such a young age.

~ Her mother never stopped berating her; emotionally abusing her for running away, constantly asking when she was planning to do it again. Remember the original cause was never addressed. This child had to endure the knowledge of her rape with no support, no understanding and she believed it was her own fault.

~ Pam was in so much pain (and understandably so!) that she turned to drugs as a way to cope. As a way to dull or numb the pain. The drugs led to associations with dangerous people. Therefore, this child was raped again. Once again, drawing from her already cemented belief system, she blamed herself.  He offered her a place to live, and since she needed the drugs to dull all the pain, she went to him.  Her parents did not protest; they did not investigate this man’s background, (he was a man, she was a child.) BUT her parents felt sorry for themselves and used this situation as a way to garner support and sympathy! That this ungrateful and out of control daughter had done this to them and is causing THEM so much pain. AND STILL the child herself was never considered. Still the child is at fault; both parents say it and the child herself believes it and is willing to accept that this is something she brought on herself.

And this is how so many of us grew up! One lie, one more false belief piled on top of another, the first one feeding and supporting the birth of the next one.

All the while their daughter is in extreme pain, grief and needs to use alcohol and drugs to cope with it all; to escape the constant pain, believing that the failure is all hers. She has believed it from birth.

~ The man that Pam went to in order to escape the pain of her dysfunctional childhood, the pain of being raped and blamed for it, used her and raped her for six months and then passed her to another man who did the same and even worse.  Her parents did nothing to help her though they knew where she was. They continued to blame her. Furthermore, as is so common in these cases, they held it over her head for her entire life and used the guilt and shame that THEY planted in her in the first place, to manipulate her.

Pam lived with the false truth from this psychological abuse and these lies in her belief system for years, her self esteem was diminished; the value assigned to her by her parents, by the traumas and events and then by her own self, was nothing.

~ At the age of fifty, Pam realize what happened to her was a crime. She went to her parents and confronted them about it. The offered excuses and lies but never acknowledged the truth. In the end, Pam told them that if they wanted a relationship with her that they had to treat her with respect and to acknowledge to her that what happened to her was a crime and take responsibility for their part in it.  She never heard back from them. And that in itself, speaks volumes… about them.

When our belief system still accepts that it is our own fault; that we failed, that we are to blame, returning to that belief is the default method. That is why we don’t stand up to abusers who still abuse us. We are convinced that we have some part in it. That is the same reason why we don’t/can’t stand up to dysfunctional parents or see where they did the damage. We were convinced very young that had we not failed them or disappointed them in the first place, then we would have been loved.

Writing this article was slightly surreal; there were times when I wasn’t sure if I was writing about Pam, or if I was writing about myself.  I had to remind myself to stick to the comments that Pam made, as I was tempted to add information of my own that was not included in her account. This is my story too, only the details are different.

This is the story of millions of children around the world who have not been listened to, have been falsely taught, and who have been discounted. This is psychological abuse.

Please share your feelings and comments.

Exposing Truth, one snapshot at a time;

Darlene Ouimet

Click to read “more on mother daughter dysfunctional relationships” Pam’s comment is # 84

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

127 response to "Psychological Abuse and Dysfunctional Parenting"

  1. By: Laramar Posted: 26th September

    Julie –

    I’m glad to hear that was as liberating for you as it has been for me!

    Truly we all make mistakes, and truly in hindsight we can all do things better, but right now the most important thing I see is getting your own life together as best you know how, and trusting that all these grown people can make their own decisions, and that they are the only ones responsible for the outcome – it’s not your job, and in the case of your mother, it never was.

    You don’t owe them anything, nor can you change them. Just live the best life you can and maybe they will benefit by your example. If not, that is not your responsibility. Let go and trust that they are living the life they choose and if they want to change, they have the power as fully grown human beings to do so. If not, that is their responsibility as well.

    Blessings and freedom – Laramar

  2. By: Julie Posted: 26th September

    Thank you so much for your post. You are the first to give me “permission” to sever ties. I somehow needed someone else besides my dear husband to tell me. No church, Bible study class, etc. has ever helped me in this…not that I have shared much with anyone. I only have read in one book (Boundaries) of a lady who severed ties only after confronting her abusers (her parents, very much like your situation) and getting no results such as a ‘tearful reconcilliation’ . Most stories I read have a happily ever after, ‘group hugs” ending. I know what I must do, but it is so difficult and am 61 years old now somehow expecting them to change and have a relationship. It is eerie that you too have a dysfunctional sister who is enabled by mother! My sister is, unfortunately, a drunk (although she is functional) has meds for anxiety, OCD, and other ailments that I am sure were caused by a life of drug abuse, alcohol, cigarettes, you name it. She has even been named Executor of our mother’s will. Mom is almost 87 and I am sure what she has will go to sister and maybe to my two (yes two) dysfunctional adult children. My oldest one, 41, is a drug addict on the streets awaiting a court date, so I am told. My sister and mother have condemned me for not rescuing her. My younger daughter, 31, is raising her child (by a felon) and her niece now , for her sister. The whole situation is grim, but I must remember, like you said, that they are all adults and were raised in a loving home with all advantages. Again, thank your for giving me your views which in turn gives my strength
    and resolve.
    God Bless You,

  3. By: Laramar Posted: 25th September

    Julie –

    I’ve posted this before but feel it has been helpful enough in other blogs that it may be of benefit to you in this one.

    There are always two sides to an abuse story – the active perpetrator and the passive enabler, and as far as I’m concerned both are equally responsible and equally guilty. I’ve undergone all sorts of therapy over the years to deal with my rage at my mother for basically hand feeding me to my sexually abusive father(I know of no kinder way to put it) and my little kid guilt for not loving my parents.

    I was a victim of incest and my mother ignored all the signs of my abuse, including an STD at age three that she “cured” at home with herbs! I went through years of all kinds of therapy. I finally got a really great therapist at the Rape Crisis Center who helped me face the guilt I had about not wanting to see my mother anymore, and I will never forget her life changing words:

    “Your mother is an adult. Her life is her own, her choices are her own, and you do not need to take care of her or fix her, or do anything. She is a grown woman who is responsible for her own decisions, and she is free to do that however she sees fit, and you are free to protect yourself from her unhealthy influence by severing ties and not feeling guilty.”

    It was one of the most liberating, empowering moments I have ever experienced. My life has been saner and better ever since! And I too have a sister who is not only severely enabled in her own dysfunction by said mother, but is also bipolar, and will not speak to me anymore because I suggested she get treatment. So I was able to let go of my need to have closure with her as well.

    Make the most of your life with your new husband, and don’t contaminate it with false guilt created by control freaks who don’t ever want you to have your own life outside of their games. If you can’t do it for yourself, do it for your mates sake, so he doesn’t have to carry their baggage either.

  4. By: Julie Posted: 25th September

    Hello! I have been reading some of the letters here, skimming some because of their length. My abuse, and I have just begun to call it abuse, began as a child too. I have blocked out so much and actually don’t remember much of my childhood. As a young child, it wasn’t so bad, but as my sister and I grew older, teens, we both realised that Mom was a control freak. Of course, we grew older with our own opinions, likes, etc.
    we found out that if we didn’t agree with her, we were wrong. I was actually discouraged in activities outside the home and some were even sabotaged so that I would fail. When I married, I was accused of abandoning my “family”. Long story short, I am on a third far the best and have wanted to distance myself from this (mom and sister) for a long time…truncate it !! My Christian faith tells me to reconcile….but this will not work. My mother is delusional, never wrong, and is know to lie. I would like to get counseling, but am reluctant. Please advise…..

  5. By: Julie Posted: 24th September

    I just need to know how and when to truncate from my still living relatives…a sister and mother, who blame me for everything and are jealous of everything I have since I have recovered from emotional abuses.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 24th September

      Hi Julie
      Welcome to emerging from broken
      The decision is always up to you and only you know when the time is best.
      Hugs, Darlene

  6. By: Kim M. Posted: 15th May

    Very sad story and experience by Pam and Darlene. I admire the bravery of people searching for their truth and having courage to speak up. You both matter to the World, whether you got respect from your parents or not. You deserve love from the World and from us. Thanks for speaking up.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 15th May

      Hi Kim
      Yes, each person has equal value and equal rights. That was something that didn’t sink into my brain all that easily due to the brainwashing that I had in there from such an early age. I am passionate about speaking up and empowering others to find their voices too.
      Hugs, Darlene

Leave a Reply to Laramar Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.