Psychological Abuse; if you don’t like it LEAVE


psychologically abusive mother

After my parents split up a couple of months before my 13th birthday, my mother started to get even more impatient.  She got even more blunt about stating where I “stood” as a member of the family and communicated my value to me in some new ways;  She started saying “If you don’t like it, leave”.  Just like that. If I didn’t like the way things were, then I was free to just “go”.

This is not a rare expression; many kids have heard it lots but have you ever thought about what that communicates to a child?

These statements are really hurtful;

If you don’t agree with the way that I do things ~ get out.

If you don’t like the way that your life is here ~ go away.

If you don’t approve of the way that I treat you ~ leave.

If you don’t like MY rules, then you can just go find your own place to live; find your own way.

Some kids did; they left home and lived on the streets. They got picked up by pimps and put on the street selling themselves to strangers, just so that they could eat. Drugs and alcohol were “normal” coping methods in those situations too and often “forced addiction” is a great way to control a teenager. Some parents remind children that this could happen to them if they don’t comply with the rules of the psychologically abusive environment at home.

It is common for a teenager to trade an abusive home life for life with another abuser, this time having a new person in charge of their lives and responsible for their survival. At first it looks a lot better than life with parents; there is usually the illusion of independence. But when it all goes wrong, the child gets blamed for the results because they “chose” to run away, or leave.  Other kids who left or ran away may find an older person to give them shelter, but rarely without a huge price to pay.

If you did manage to get out, what lesson was learned?  For me it was the same lesson that I had already learned; that if I want to survive, I better do things the way the “chief” wants them done, and I better accept it because I don’t have a say.  Since this was the message that I had always known it was an easy transition for me to fall into the same rules in every relationship I had.  I never considered that these relationships were one sided and psychologically abusive because I was so used to it. It was all I knew.

My mother used to say “like it or lump it”.  I have no idea what that means but I accepted that it meant I had NO say and No choice.

Another favourite expression my mother used was; “if you don’t like it, go and live with your father”. This sounds like a viable option but it was more psychological abuse.  One day when I was around 14 and didn’t think I could take it with her anymore, I asked my father if I could live with him.  I was so sure that would be an option and I didn’t even feel nervous asking him. But he said no. He was remarried by then and had a new child, and there was no room for me in his life. Looking back, he had made that rather clear to me already, but being accustomed to not being valued, I didn’t catch on that quickly.

So now I had a mother who told me to leave, (communicating that she didn’t care about me) and a father who told me that he didn’t want me either.

I felt such a panic over the depth of what this meant.  I was not wanted or needed for anything more than the chores I could do and the meals that I cooked. My value was defined by those things. I had to comply or lose what little security I had ~ a place to live and food to eat. That is what was communicated to me. If I didn’t “like it” then I could just leave. Find a better way. Find somewhere where I could have some say, some value, and find some acceptance. I can still see her sneer, because at 14 years old, where was I going to go? My father didn’t want me. I don’t remember telling my mother that he said no; I doubt that I would have given her that satisfaction but I bet she knew.

These truths defined me. Saying these types of things to a child is psychological abuse and it works; I believed the implications. I took them to heart. I believed that because I wasn’t wanted I wasn’t loved. The sayings and actions of my parents defined me as not worthy. I couldn’t blame that on them; I had been convinced from so young that it was me. It was easier to believe it was me. If it was my fault, I could try harder to change it. I thought that I could prove my worth somehow in order to be loved and wanted.

The truth was that I could never get the desire to leave off my mind! But I didn’t know how to escape. I had been convinced that leaving was the answer but also convinced that I would not “survive”.  A child knows that he or she won’t survive without food, shelter, and clothing.

“If you don’t like it then let’s see if you can do better on your own.”  More psychologically abusive sneering. Or “I suppose you think you could do better on your own”.  And “you think it is so easy to live in the “real world”. I wonder what she meant by the “real world”.

And you know, about that saying “if you don’t like it” well I didn’t like it ~ there was nothing about it to like so eventually I started to look for a way out. Since I was not raised to believe in myself and believed my survival depended on someone else, I tried to find “someone” who would want me. I had also been raised to believe that my value was sexual so I put that power to work. I wasn’t sexual and flirting wasn’t sexual to me, it was just survival. It was all I thought I had and all I had ever been told that I had. Men were my mother’s answer for everything, and surely they would be my answer too.

One night I fell asleep and didn’t come home till the wee hours of the morning. She made all the typical accusations about what a tramp I was telling me that was my last chance; that the next time I decided to do something like that I would have to get out. A few weeks later I stayed out all night on purpose. When I came home she asked me when I was leaving, I told her that I just “came to get my things” At first I wouldn’t tell her where I was going. It was an attempt to try and make her prove that she cared. I secretly hoped that she would worry. She was the one that taught me how to “prove” love after all. She taught me these psychologically abusive tactics. I don’t think she was worried at all, she was just mad because I found a way out.

And that was how at the tender age of 17, I ended up starting my “adult life” living common law with a man who turned out to have a drinking problem and a violent temper.

I went from one frying pan into another fire; I was “rescued” by another captor.

Please share your thoughts

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

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101 response to "Psychological Abuse; if you don’t like it LEAVE"

  1. By: Ashley Posted: 1st January

    I appreciate your story and I know exactly what you mean. I live with my grandma and father. Sometimes my grandma says that to me when I don’t like the way she says things to me or if I get mad about something she’ll say “you so quick to get an attitude”. I don’t like when a person tells you if you don’t like it then leave because its basically saying that I don’t care about you or your feelings. If you live with someone whether its your child, relative, or whoever you should take their feelings into consideration instead of making it seem like they don’t have any say so.

  2. By: Hope Posted: 20th November

    Hi Light,
    I totally empathize with you for the way your mother treated you. Only I got the “If you don’t like it…too bad” or “If you don’t stop…I will leave”. None of those reactions helped or comforted me. I think it doesn’t matter which way you look at it, our mothers just didn’t make sense. Fear was the only thing in their mind.

    I was HUGE on crying for most of my life until the day I said no more. No more to the abuse and no more to the devaluing. I still get most people in my life who try to break my boundaries and over-step them with their controlling ways to me but I feel much stronger for the way I feel in general. I still have anger for not being able to do this at least 20 years ago but I now say it is better late than never.

    I say, don’t even try to understand why your mother acted and reacted the way she did as that is such a waste of precious time. The more you live a happy life the less you will ask why. There is no answer.
    I hope that helps.
    Cheers xx

  3. By: Light Posted: 19th November

    I’ve been on here for years but it’s the first time I’ve read this post. I feel sad, Darlene, reading of your experience. How awful to experience the panic of a mother who doesn’t care if you leave, and a father who won’t let you live with him.

    When I was a child and pre-teen I used to cry a lot, and my mother would say “I have no sympathy for you”. I still don’t know how to interpret that and I’m open to ideas from anyone here. I do know that I felt the animosity in her words when I was in pain, rather than empathy and caring.

    I was generally met with criticism when I “complained” or was upset; I was told I shouldn’t be complaining, that I had it as good as anyone — therefore my feelings were devalued.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 25th November

      Hi Light,
      Thank you for your comment here.
      I would take your mothers comment at face value; she didn’t have any sympathy for you, which is really brutal. We live in this world that makes excuses for all the carless people and asks the victims of such carelessness to “understand” the person that is communicating that they don’t care about you. Ugg. We are told to stop “complaining” all the while being told that our complaints are invalid in the first place. So messed up!!!
      Hugs, Darlene

  4. By: Cori Rice Posted: 19th November

    This is another tactic parents like to use on teenagers and young adults in their early 20s. Many parents like to use the “my house my rules I pay the bills” to justify being a bully. Just because you live under someone’s roof doesn’t mean they can treat you like crap. A parent can provide the basic needs and still be abusive either its physical, sexual or verbally and this is what a lot of people tend to overlook.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 25th November

      Hi Cori
      Yes, exactly. Well said,
      Thanks for sharing,
      Hugs, Darlene

  5. By: Karla Posted: 3rd July

    Dear Darlene,
    I have been told youre to be seen not heard . thinking about some of the programming of our parents . when my father would introduce my 2 sisters and myself to any of his male friends these are my three sons. we would correct our father by saying we aren’t boys ,we are girls. we have been also told you are to be seen not heard . meaning you don’t matter .when I was 16 years old I had enough of the abuse mental physical and sexual abuse . then when i called my father to come back home from another state . he said you hurt me leaving me ,me me was all i hurd then he said you wanted to be adult so you made your bed now lay in it . I told him the 27-year-old man i was with was beating me . I begged to come home saying i was sorry every other word to my father , telling him I would pay him rent anything if he would send me $50.00 for a bus ticket to come back home . he wouldn’t budge . so i hung up the phone . I didnt speak to him for years . I was a throw away I really didnt matter . out of sight out of mind ,thats another saying . wonder why I dont have self esteem . ive caugh myself telling people that tell me I work like I was a man. then I tell them my father thought he had 3 boys . now I de value myself , brainwashed well . now I will not say that any more . can anyone relate to how parents call you boys if you were girls? I feel like I am pealing off my skin one layer at a time pealing off the lies that sink into my skin . my parents gennaration are so into them selfs we dont matter . its so sad they were so self absorbedand narissistic, I see why they only loved my older sister she was a carbin copy of them . the world revolved around them . oh and its worse to be told that your parents had to get married , almost bragging that you was a mitake . I beat myself up cause mothers day and fathers day I couldnt honer my mother and father . so messed up ! then if you didnt get Mommy dearest or daddy dearest a card for celebrating thier big mistake (YOU) people treated you like a peace of crap ! for not threwing mommy and daddy a praid . oh and lets not forget when you get depressed wanting someone to just care or hug you ,then they say you have nothing to be depressed about you have food and a place to sleep ,like its paradise island. trying to clear the fog and heal . Karla

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 4th July

      Hi Everyone
      Grieving the losses is defiantly a big part of the healing process.
      Thanks everyone for sharing,
      hugs, Darlene

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