Punishment as a Control Tactic in Abusive Family Systems



escape abusive family

there is peace and freedom on the other side…

Happy New Year! Welcome to a new year Emerging from Broken!

I talk about the belief system and how it is developed and how we are brainwashed into believing that the problem is us in the first place. There are specific abuse tactics that are used to cement this brainwashing which cause the ‘fear of consequences’ for going against the controller in a dysfunctional relationship. One of these tactics is ‘punishment’ or ‘fear of punishment’ and like so many other abuse tactics it is very often issued in a way that is hard for the receiver of that punishment to put a finger on it. Remember that the foundation is laid very carefully to discredit a child in an abusive or dysfunctional family and to make sure the child is always looking at themselves when it comes to where the problem originated or who it originated with.  This part of the grooming process is usually rooted in psychological abuse although it is often cemented via other types of abuse.  

There are many ways to punish people without physically hitting them or calling them names.  There are tactics such as “the silent treatment” “withdrawal of attention” or “withdrawal of interest”, in other words “rejection” and those abuse tactics communicate a message very clearly, even if we are not consciously aware of that message. When we are kids and an adult uses psychologically abusive methods to ‘punish’, most kids understand the consequence of their action (rejection) but don’t always recognize the actual message with any clarity or consciousness.  Then, the way that we learn this acceptance of the message without questioning it very deeply (out of fear of the consequences), is carried into adulthood with us, therefore as adults we don’t see the tactics we have already been successfully groomed to accept without question.  But the fear of the consequences may be very much still in control of the now adult victim.

For example, the time my father-in-law took my 2 year old son out of the farm yard without telling me he was taking him. I freaked, thinking my baby crawled under the fence and was lost in one of the many fields or had been mauled by a cow or had been cornered by a coyote. We have literally miles of land. I jumped in my car to go get my husband and there was my father in law, with my husband in one of our hayfields with our 2 year old son. Without thinking (normally I would never have stood up to him) I told him to never take our child out of the yard again without letting me know. He got angry with me! He was so angry that he spat out that he would never take him again.

There was something about the way he said it though that gave me an erie feeling as though I was the one that had done something wrong. I agonized over that whole thing, justifying to myself that I was right, that I HAD to know where my son was, that I could not actually be expected to just “wonder” where he might be at any given time. But I was really scared too because I had dared to talk back to my father-in-law.  I ‘knew’ that I was going to pay for my actions.

He came over later that day saying ‘gramma’ (my mother in law) had told him he was out of line, but instead of apologizing, he told me off, saying that I was going to turn my son into a ‘panty’ if I continued to be over protective of him in this way. I call this the old “I’m sorry but……” and “sorry with a but” is not sorry at all.

But guess what? I didn’t argue with my father in laws lecture. I somehow just swallowed it. I sat there and took it. I accepted his words. I let him be angry. My silence very likely communicated to him that I accepted that *I had been out of line with my expectations* and that ‘grandpa’ should NOT have to tell me when he is taking my son somewhere.

‘Grandpa’ never took my son or any of my kids without informing me after that day. And he never took my kids anywhere with permission either. Looking back on it and in my opinion, he totally lost interest as a grandfather as of that day. My in-laws never took the kids to the amusement park or to the zoo. They didn’t babysit and they didn’t have the kids for sleepovers until they moved and could have the kids for a few days without (my) supervision. My father in law was not interested in watching dance performances, music concerts, hockey games, or any of the other things that I always thought grandparents were interested in being a part of when it came to their grandchildren. At some level I suspected that it all started that day when I dared to speak up to him. It was ‘the punishment’ that I had been groomed all my life to avoid and then that one time I just burst out with mama bear fear.

Later when I was coming out of the fog of how abusive and dysfunctional the relationship I had with my father in law was, it became very clear that he had punished me (or he thought he was punishing me) by withdrawing his interest and involvement as a grandfather. I think this was especially true if he thought that his involvement would give me a break or do me a favor such as through babysitting or taking the kids out somewhere.  

‘Punishment’ (consequences for going against the one in control) as an abuse or control tactic is for any kind of stepping out of line. Children and adult children are ‘punished’ for going against the wishes of the one who in ‘in control’ of the one who is ‘boss’. Sometimes I have to think about what really happened when I realize that I am the one without family. Sometimes I have to remind myself WHY I finally stood up for myself and my kids. Sometimes I really wonder if I made a mistake in my choice to stand up to the dysfunctional family relationship stuff and I have to remind myself just what my requests were that ended up with my kids not having grandparents anymore and with my husband and I not having any extended family.

My requests were for equal value and equal respect.  I asked for some of the things that they demanded from me with one difference; I was still willing to respect and value them. They however, were not willing to respect or value me.

I asked to be heard. I asked for my mother to stop talking about me and lying about me to other people and to stop inferring that the sexual abuse was my fault.

I asked my father to listen to me, to actually show in some small way that he was interested in me. Talking to my father was exhausting because each time he cut me off and changed the subject (about anything including what my kids were doing or an accomplishment of mine) it was a painful reminder that he didn’t care. And even these small requests were too much.

I asked my father-in-law to let me know if he was taking my child away from the farm yard. Just let me know so I don’t worry. And that request was grounds for punishment that went on for years.  (Or so he thought; the truth as I know it today is that he did me and my kids a favor. Nothing good could have possibly come from my kids spending a lot of time with such a toxic and mean spirited man.)

So today when I feel bad that my kids don’t have grandparents on birthdays, holidays and other special occasions, I think about the alternative and what I had to do in the past in order for any of us to have a relationship with those so called grandparents. The alternative was to jump through all those crazy hoops. The alternative was to love (in the false definition of love which is obedience and compliance to their unreasonable wishes) and then not be loved in return by the same rules they taught me to love them.  The alternative was to be treated like ‘nothing’ in front of my kids which only taught them that;

a)     I can be treated like this and I won’t do anything about it

b)    That I actually agree that this treatment is right. (compliance is consent)

c)     That this type of treatment is how we show love and respect for your elders

d)    That certain adults have more rights and more value and should be excused from respecting or considering other people.

e)     That power and control is the most important thing to have in any relationship. Without it, you get treated like crap.

Today I am grateful that I decided NOT to teach those destructive ‘false normals’ but rather to take a stand against them. I am grateful that know what real love is. I am grateful that my husband and I have broken the cycle of abuse and dysfunctional family systems in our family with our own kids. I am grateful that I model and teach by example, love, respect and equal value and that my husband and I are a great example of mutual love and respect for each other in our marriage. I am grateful that although our family gatherings are often small, they are so much fun!  I am grateful that I learned a new way to have relationship based on equal value and that we use our power to empower and not to tear down and disempower for the purpose of control. I am thrilled to have found the truth and to have found freedom and wholeness through that truth.  

Today I reject being treated with disregard and disrespect. I am not afraid of their ‘punishments’. I am no longer a victim to a dysfunctional family system. I no longer bow down to the dysfunctional pecking order. I embrace equal value for all!

I had to look at the FEAR of the consequences as an adult and through the grid of the truth. If my fear was basically the fear of being rejected by them, the truth about that is that I already was rejected by them. I had never been accepted; I had never been heard or even seen. My wishes and needs were not important to them. That is rejection. And the truth is that my children were also being taught this same dysfunctional family system; compliance and obedience. They were being taught that they didn’t matter much either. So the truth is that I had nothing to fear and I had everything to gain.

Please share your thoughts and your insights, your struggles and your victories, your laughter and your tears and remember if you have a concern with privacy, you are welcome to use any name you wish in the comment form. Emerging from Broken has a facebook page, however your comments here will not be published anywhere but HERE in the website.

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 in the upper right side bar or click this link~ Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing

This website is supported through donations. If you find value here, please consider helping with the expenses by making a donation using the donate button in the right side bar.

Related Posts ~ The fear of good-bye if you don’t comply

How Children become the black sheep of the family (click)


Categories : Family



Removing a child from their home or wherever the mother placed them without permission or informing the parent of where the child is could be considered a criminal act. It’s just UNBELIEVABLE that he would do this without telling you. And if he really was that “thoughtless,” and really had made a mistake (a few men I know might have done such a thing), then a real apology would have been forthcoming. Instead, he punished you and the granchildren.

But like you said, thank God your children were spared being around such a toxic person. My son was poisoned by my parents and family, even though most of the time they refused to keep him or do anything at all for him. The few times he was around them, he came home really messed up. Twisted and teasing and unpleasant, JUST LIKE MY FAMILY OF ORIGIN.

It was so bad my husband, who never says anything about anything, said he did not want our son going back there. I couldn’t believe it! My husband was right, but the damage was done. And continues to be done, as my family goes after me through my son and now they attack me as such a terrible mother as well.

It just never ends. And the notion of control by punishment or even the “fear of punishment” does keep the rest of my siblings in line. One even said to me “We don’t want to be treated the way you were.”

And still are.

I think people like the parents that are described on these pages would have been the same sadistic creatures that created and contributed to the Holocaust. The terrible tortures and deaths they were responsible for… now because they can’t outright kill us physically, they do it with words. Or rejection. Any way they can.

I want to be like “Peaceful” who says healing is an inside job. Like Darlene says, seeing things through a grid of truth.

But seeing that my whole family of 10 people are all poisoned and ill, and there is nothing I can do about it, and that I cannot trust anything they say or do, as it’s a “Trojan Horse” for sure… they are all infected with a virus that will kill our spirit and damage our soul.

I need to find peace and it’s got to be more than just “staying away.” Yes, that is the first step: to avoid re-injury. But how to rebuild my ever-shaky self-esteem? It’s hard, it’s so hard. Just when I think I’m getting somewhere, WHACK, something happens and there’s an earthquake and I’m back to square one. Like today.

Dear God please show me The Way.


Hi Cahterine,
Keep reading and keep digging into YOUR pain. Sorting out the truth and by doing that I empowered myself. It takes time and there are some setbacks because this is so painful to realize this truth about our own ‘loved ones’. The re-building happened for me as I uncovered the lies and messages that I had accepted about ME and rejected the lies in favor of the truth about me. Although I so often felt like I was back at square one, I never was because the lessons that I had learned and the fog that HAD lifted, was still lifted. I just felt overwhelmed by the next wave.
p.s. everytime you end a post with “dear God please show me the way” I remember that was my prayer too; and HE DID and every time I read your plea to God I think “Catherine, I think HE IS doing just that. 🙂
Hugs, Darlene
I just left you what I consider to be an important comment on the last post. I am mentioning it here cause I don’t want you to miss it! 🙂


thank you Darlene. I am on “overload” reading everyone’s comments and seeing the truth come CRASHING DOWN. I’ll take a break and wish everyone well and continue to ask God to SHOW ME THE WAY as I’m lost searching for the shoreline.

You say it’s always “in sight” but it doesn’t feel that way right now. Now I can see so many of these evil Narcissist types all around me, digging, digging with their words and their fake smiles and their cruel comments and I don’t know what kind of world we are living in. And they are doing this to their OWN CHILDREN. That’s the worst of it.

It’s scaring me to death. What kind of world do we really live in? A world of hatred, war and fear?

Dear God please show me The Light and move into a world of Peace and Love, though I don’t know what these words mean. I know it exists and I won’t quit until I get to that Promised Land.



I am not sure where I said ‘it is always in sight’ since that isn’t actually ture! Often times I felt hopeless and lost sight of my faith that I could one day overcome.

To answer your question ~ we live in a world full of the misuse of power and control. It all comes down to that. People have power mixed up with love and self value and it is through thier power that they feel valid. Of course that is not how we get validated, but this is the cycle of abuse.
Hugs, Darlene


Wow..that’s a new take on what I’ve been through in my life. Not in a good way either, now I truly see! Both of my parents have been fond of this method of control ever since I can remember. Like you, Darlene, I am doing my best to distance myself from the toxic dysfunction that existed, still exists with my family. I’d rather have no contact (with anyone) than to choose to continue living under the controlling thumb of an abuser. I prefer healthy relationships, and if that’s too much to ask of family, or friends for that matter, then those people are not welcome in my life. I am not going to be a doormat for anyone anymore.

Thank you for helping to open my eyes to all the abuse in life I never deserved nor asked for as a child or adult. Now that I understand what’s truly right and wrong, I have a chance to live a fairly peaceful life. That is not to say that I expect perfection, because that is flawed. Human beings by our very nature are imperfect, I can deal with mistakes as I make them all the time. However, no one should be punished for human error when it is not intentional. All I ask is that others treat me as they would expect to be treated by me and others.

Again, I wish to thank you for the thought provoking blog. You have once again, showed me the way to true health.



Darlene, you probably didn’t say exactly that. Perhaps it was “you have the shore in sight” (based on my saying that same thing). I’ve calmed down a bit, thank God, but it’s just been overwhelming reading the same storyline, over and over again, as if people are all actors in a play reading from the same script! How in the h$%^&* did these parents come into play? How did they get “starring roles?” How can we eradicate this behavior? How can we find Peace? How can we know Love? How to attain Forgiveness and Move On?

I could care less about “Power.” I want to know the Power of Love. Amen.


OH yes, I understand now. Perhaps you can’t see the shore, but I can see it (for you) and I know it’s there, might have been a better way for me to put that!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi January
Welcome to EFB!
Ya, I don’t expect or desire perfection either, I want equal value! And I declare that my right! (and that is true for all human beings!)
Glad you are here!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Darlene!
This feels so familiar to me, it’s like home. Of course your silence during his lecture wasn’t good enough, don’t you know? You were supposed to apologize and tell him you were wrong to react in that way. He probably felt like he was being more than fair by telling you that “grandma” said he was out of line… and then it was supposed to be your turn to apologize for your overprotectiveness and overreaction and tell him how much it means to you that he spends time with your children, and that you really, really hope that he will continue to do so, and hope that he understands that it was just your mothering instincts getting the better of you, etc….


Well… happy new year! I feel like this is going to be a good year. Things are still a bit up and down for me, going through the process and whatnot but I’m riding it. Getting stronger—or maybe just realizing how strong I already was. I know where I stand. I don’t yet know how the pieces are going to fall, though, but I’m confident I’ll deal with whatever comes my way. Even when sometimes I get knocked down for a while, I get back up with evermore belief in what I’m doing. And that feels awesome! My best to you for the coming year. xo, A


Overwhelmed is just how I feel when I read this. It takes me back to the times this kind of abuse was used on me. I feel so vulnerable and I tend to think that I can’t defend myself against this kind of treatment. I no longer live with the person who abused me. But I’m still scared and anxious.


Hi Darlene,

I’ve been healing from reading you website. Thank you! My entire family of 5 brothers, mom & dad took great joy in physically and emotionally abusing me. As my Dr. said to me “the only one lower than you was the dog!” How true!

As a child and the only girl I was treated horribly and as you say after a while I felt like a deserved it, even though I did nothing wrong but exist. I was never included in anything good or fun. My mother loved to tell me that I was a bother.

I was a smart child, I knew that what they were doing was wrong but I could do nothing about it. If I complained about the treatment I got my mother would say it was my imagination.

My mother wouldn’t buy me any clothes. I wore the neighbors castoffs and when the supply dried up I wore my brother’s castoffs. If I asked for anything she would tell me to save my money. What money, it’s not as though I received a paycheck.

After I married things got better for me. My mother still tried to control me. She died 6 years ago.

Now as we are growing older, my brothers have gone back to their old ways. There was a huge party for one brothers 60th birthday. I was not invited but I got to see so many pictures of all the fun on Facebook. Then the same brothers son got married, I wasn’t invited, got to see the pictures online though. This brother will not tell me why even though I have emailed him several times. The others brothers obviously agree with it, they all hang out together.

Sorry to write a book here. It just feels good to get it out.

Mary K


Hi Alaina!
Happy New Year to you too! Great to hear from you! You know, at the time I really didn’t ‘get it’ at least not consciously, that he really expected ME to be sorry, but that is exactly what was going on! And it reminds me of when people say “I’m sorry” and kids reply “I’m sorry too” ~ for what?? They don’t know why they are sorry, but they know they are supposed to SAY IT!

YAY for getting stronger AND realizing how strong I already was. Well said, I can relate to that!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Mary K
Welcome to Emerging from Broken
My early work talks a lot about how we come to believe we deserve it as part of a survival method. About your situation, I understand how much that would hurt; it sounds like they are not people that you would have much fun with though if they treat you like that!
Hugs, Darlene
p.s. when you see some of the other comments you will understand that yours was no where near a book! We get comments here over 4000 words. (to give you an idea, my entire articles are around 1700 words.) Please share as much and as often as you wish!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Helen
Welcome to EFB
This site is about everything you just shared. There is a reason for all those feelings. It is okay to feel them as you find the roots of them in order to overcome them.
Hugs and please feel free to share often.


Alaina, what you just described is exactly how I would have felt the need to respond in such a situation… although if ‘grandpa’ would have worded things in the way that it was, I would have been too angry to respond. If it was an honest apology from him, however, I would have thanked him and stated exactly those words… more or less.

Darlene, your post hits home for me in a different way. I do not recieve this type of abuse from my FIL, but my MIL. She constantly laughs off the things I say, when I tell her that she needs to inform me when she removes my children from my yard. Just because there is no fence does not give her the right to take my kids all over the farmyard when I have explicitly told them to stay on my yard! The brother does the same, and it is frustrating and disrespectful, and I’m not sure how to deal with it… and they don’t see how they’ve done anything wrong. I cannot speak to my inlaws without somehow feeling inferior, or as though I’m out of line. I don’t even know what it is that they’ve said or done that makes me feel this way, to be honest. I’ve been living on this farm almost 10 years now, too. You’d think I’d have gotten used to how things operate and have it figured out. Although, I do feel as though my parents-in-law accept me as a daughter in how they see a daughter as being… but they don’t feel like parents to me… if that makes any sense.

My home is not my own… it feels like I’m borrowing it. Like my mother in law still sees the yard as hers… just in some of the things she says and does. It’s infuriating.

Sorry… I get a little sidetracked lately.


Darlene, what you write about in this post is exactly how my narcissistic parents treated me. My mother would deride me until I would speak up about it; then she’d get angry at me and go cold shoulder on me, for weeks at a time. My narc father would be abrupt and uncaring, and say harsh things. If I ever said “ouch,” he would blame me for making him say harsh things. In other words, his lack of caring was always constructed as the punishment for some intrinsic flaw in me. It’s another version of blaming the victim. I took the same stand with my narc parents as you did–it took me decades to get the point across that I WAS an equal and would be treated with respect. They never did swallow that one very well, my narc mother especially. Thanks for a good post.


This is very timely for me. I’ve been working through recently how my parents, and particularly my mother inflicted grand, massive and permanent ‘punishments’ upon me for small things I did as a child. Despite the fact that they shouted at me several times to “move on,” they never did themselves. It was as if I could never possibly change, everything I did (and by that meaning what, make a simple mistake here and there because I didn’t know what I was doing, or act out from their abuse) was written in stone, and they would bring up things over and over again.

They would never say ‘let’s talk things out,’ either I would be silently punished without even being told why, or the final judgement would simply be screamed at me out of the blue, laced with insults but no explanation. This did leave me nervous all the time, wondering if I would have my most basic needs denied again because I said or did something that didn’t fit their moods that day. Meanwhile they lived by different rules, and could do and say whatever they wanted to me.

I’ve still made a lot of my decisions in my adult life on the basis of that fear of punishment. I haven’t felt secure in many things, fearing that they could suddenly be taken away from me for random or bizarre reasons, or because I did some small thing to offend someone. I’ve been looking at the role it plays in my current relationship, and am trying to stop tiptoeing around.

I do know that today if someone else makes an irrational outburst like my parents would, that it isn’t my fault or because of something I said or did; I don’t have to search for how I caused it to happen, because it’s their fault and something about them, not me. If people want the static to reign supreme in a relationship as opposed to communication, then that isn’t something I want to be involved in anyway.


It has been my experience with my father that he is afraid of confrontation and backs away and defends himself, and that he sees the past in just ONE way, HIS way, and if I try to tell him the way he treated me and how much he hurt me, and if he ‘doesn’t see it that way’, that means that he is right and I am wrong. Thus, he never has to admit to any wrongdoing. My point is that some people are not emotionally equipped to handle confrontations, especially by someone they’ve harmed. We think when we are confronting someone about their past action, we are ‘apples’ talking to ‘apples’, but really we are ‘apples’ trying to talk to ‘brussel sprouts’. In addition, some people never were brought up to recognize or name their own emotions, or even believe that feelings are something important. They thus are like men from mars. Their brains are just not equipped to handle it.


I had a beautiful childhood. I am the youngest of 8 children. My parents stayed together until my fathers death about 17 years ago. My father worked 3 jobs to support us & my mother worked as well. We had an incredibly happy childhood. This being said, I married at 17 years old. My husband was 21. Together we had 4 children. What I don’t understand is, with such a loving childhood, how I allowed myself to be treated in just that way for 32 years, by my husband. So many times in our marriage I would get the silent treatment & never, ever understood why. I would continually ask what I did wrong. How I can make things better. How does a person allow themselves to be put in that position, especially when my upbringing was so beautiful?



I think it’s a Canadian thing, too. Heck, I apologize to inanimate objects on a fairly regularly basis. The nice thing about them is that I don’t continue to feel guilty after I’ve already apologized. 😉

It’s interesting about kids saying, “I’m sorry too.” I think there’s a need to reestablish hierarchy. I imagine that it could actually be kind of scary to have a parent apologize to you as a kid, especially if it was for something big. As kids you need to feel like your parents are in control and know what they’re doing. I imagine learning that parents make mistakes and sometimes really big ones could be tough when you’re young—being faced with their vulnerability as well. My sticking point with my mom is the fact that when I was a teen, she realized and admitted (in front of me but not to me) what she had done to me as a child, but she did nothing to address it, correct it, or apologize, and instead continued to reap the benefits of my compliance and abuse me in a different way, which ultimately led me toward my breakdown. But I imagine if she had actually addressed it and apologized and told me that I hadn’t deserved that treatment and what kind of mother I should have had, I think I would have felt incredibly uncomfortable. It’s what I needed to hear and it would’ve turned my life around, but I imagine it would’ve been difficult at first. The attention, for one, would have made me squirm. I’d want her to stop it. I’d be defensive in some way… because it would have been scary—new and destabilizing. I bet after my initial armour and defences, if she got through, I would also have said “I’m sorry, too.” I would have apologized for being “difficult” or something like that. Of course I was just being a normal kid going through the normal stages of development but yes, I would have apologized, too. And my feeling is, unfortunately, that it would be a very, very small percentage of the parent population who would actually say that—no, no, you were just being a normal kid and did nothing wrong. But if it did happen, I bet as a kid, it would be tough to hear, tough to sit with, even though it would be helpful and healing.

Hi Sab,
Yes, I think I would have said those words, too. It’s that peacemaking thing. It’s often only in retrospect that I go, “Hey, wait a minute….”


Hello Everyone,
I continue to read the blog and comments and want to heal so badly. I fear the “work” I have in front of me will be very, very difficult. At 52 I’m just starting to know who I am, how my life and personality developed, how no matter how hard I tried in life it seems I could never make a good decision or end up in a good place. My life has been a series of traumas, with a thin sprinkling of some goodness here and there. After the psycho drama I’ve been through not only during this holiday season, but really my entire life, I’m finding myself tired. Very tired. I tried to find a therapist this week, and trying to find one that not only took my insurance, but also worked on a sliding fee scale…it was a draining effort to me. I still haven’t found one. I guess I’ll start fresh Monday on this effort. The only reason I feel like I need a therapist is because I really feel like I need someone to help me purge 50 years of crap that clutters my soul. I don’t know how to get rid of it on my own. Until I remove this garbage from inside of me….I know I will not be completely healed. Has anyone else dealt with trying to rid themselves of this kind of inner turmoil? If so, what techniques did you use? Thanks for all the wisdom and healing. Thank you God for leading to these pages; Thank you Lord for leading to your “well”, as I would like to never go thirsty again. Amen.


I think the fear of consequences was so ingrained in me that I didn’t even realize it until little by little …as I became more determined to be treated more respectfully and determined not to be the doormat or allow ppl to put me down anymore…I got freer and freer of that. I started caring less what the abusers thought as I felt safer in who I am and safer because it dawned on me how old I was getting….I wasn’t under anyone’s roof but my own. My childhood was a big mixture of all kinds of punishments so that the control and power was always with my parents…but I can now see that even other relatives were doing the same thing to me…I just couldn’t see it back then. I got the physical beatings and slaps, had to write punishments about stupid things, was kept in my room for long weeks at a time …could only go out for meals and school and bathroom….had to sleep naked, stand in corners, eat my dinner for breakfast, drink out of the cups mom used for her hair conditioner, was made fun of frequently, neglected for illnesses and things I needed a doctor for…given the cold shoulder so frequently and was verbally and emotionally abused so that I tried hard to never ask for anything or voice my needs or wants etc etc….it is now as I think back that I am beginning to understand about power and control and using punishment and fear , and it makes me feel absolutely disgusted! The levels of terror I went through….and there were days I was in sheer terror of being punished….are disgusting to me. To know that I was brainwashed to live in terror so that it would keep me in control and in the power of the abusers….and to them it was almost like a game they got a fix from playing! This is a great article for ppl who are just like me….and asking themselves over and over, “how could they do this to me.” and ” what did I do to deserve this treatment?”. And ” why ME?!”. This article answers those questions powerfully and I am so glad you wrote it Darlene! This answers the WHY and HOW and shows the tactics very clearly that are
used .


Hello again Darlene and others,

My mother is dying; the central person of my abuse,my eldest sister also played a huge role and is taking over where she left off, my 2 siblings are on board.
These last few weeks and since connecting with your site on Dec.22, I change daily. I think my heart has a grip and I am going to move forward, attend her service when it happens and find the faith to withstand all the contempt other relatives have for me because of her slander of me and my character since infancy.
Today I again don’t know, don’t know if I can go to her service when she does pass. I will need help getting there and my siblings refuse to keep me updated on her condition, I maintain contact with her by phone as she weakens daily, my heart is full of forgiveness, I have peace and at times some sorrow. When my dad passed over 4 yrs. ago I grieved for a long time. He was my only link to nurturing in my life. It was short lived as a young child, but he was it. He was abused himself as a child, he did his best I guess, for a short period of my life, he would not approve of this abuse but was passive uninvolved as a father, and jumped on board with the others during my life bigtime. My parents barely tolerated each other yet they stayed together.

I still need this site: the comments of pain and abuse shared by others. As much as I like to go full boar ahead with Faith that moves mountains, it all receeds back to not having it all together. People who have not experienced deep childhood rejection are usually not a positive in my life, they are so easy to judge and follow the crowd who sees me as unworthy of love.
I have love in my heart for my mom and always will, that is from God as I commit my will to His. The very few memories that were not abusive I hold onto, however I do not feel much of anything in knowing she is at death’s door, as far true loss of a “loved one.” I am a hospice volunteer, I have been educated that everyone grieves different. I start the process when I know they will not recover, I am in that process now for my mother, I feel very little, yet I have peace,(repeating because it surprises me.) I believe that is progress. I cannot help that it is not more then that. I will no longer take on the lifetime of shame, guilt and unworthy-ness, rejection, etc. the best I can. It is a one step at a time process, I expect too much from myself, but guilt in this crisis put on myself, I will not allow. I think this is also progress, I will keep reading others’ experience, it is my only human support and is therapy. My God will continue to supply all I need, finding this site and the other kindred hearts that in the process of healing and loving myself more fully as God intended and commanded.



This came at the perfect time, thank you. Struggling to get out of a toxic relationship, your experiences could be mine. So grateful to have support here. I love your website 🙂


I just want to say thank you for your sharing and your website. Everything your write rings true for me. About a year and a half ago my husband and I started drawing boundaries with our abusive parents and siblings and extended family members, we did it for our young children because somehow we thought it was ok to be abused ourselves but not for them to be. We now know that of course we deserve to be treated with respect also, but the brainwashing was so strong that at first we didn’t get that. The holidays have been especially difficult. Reading this website is one of the things that helps me stay strong and realize that there are lots of us out there.

I just keep telling myself that children are better off without abusive grandparents. At one time I’d hoped my abusive mother would be one of those people who turned into a nice grandma after a lifetime of being a horrible and destructive mom. She proved this was not true and that was that. But I still miss her, and I do grieve for my hopes and dreams of what could have been.

Anyway, thank you.


I am trying to take a break from commenting, to get my balance back, but I had to say to Susan who wrote: “My mother is dying; the central person of my abuse,my eldest sister also played a huge role and is taking over where she left off, my 2 siblings are on board.”

That is exactly what happened to me, except there are 8 children in my family, and my sisters have taken up the cudgel and the sword. I broke my “no contact” rule after more than 20 years to speak to my mother when she was dying of cancer 2.5 years ago. I am still feeling the aftershocks. I have been receiving hate mail ever since, and my mother refused to see me on her deathbed because “my sisters didn’t want me there.”

I have been crying myself to sleep ever since. I made the life-long mistake of believing that “on her deathbed” my mother and I would reconcile, as which mothers don’t do this? What family doesn’t do this?

So my mother got me in her grave, and from beyond. With some families it literally NEVER ENDS. The best thing I have read said some people have gone over to the Dark Side.

That is the family I come from. Especially one who is married to a Methodist preacher, in charge of a flock. I can’t wait to see them all in court and show what it is like for a child who “just tells” and how they torture and victimize that child into adulthood. Now that I finally understand that I am NOT the “black sheep” and a “bad person,” I am just horrified at how I let THEIR ACCUSATIONS BECOME MY BELIEFS.

I am almost 63 years old and I have lived with this false belief ALL MY LIFE. It’s only now that I realize that “no good person would do the things they do.” NO ONE. No normal person, no healthy person, no good or kind person…

NO ONE THAT I KNOW OF IN MY REAL LIFE WOULD EVER ACT THIS WAY. Not one of the people I know today would ever do what my family did to me. If this family’s treatment of me is a “spiritual war” that I have found myself in, then I will go to battle. But the only battle I really have is with My Self, the part of me that wants to believe them because if I were the Bad One, then I am willing to change and I would so then they would love me and we could be “one happy family.”

But it takes two (or more) to resolve things, and I’ve done my best. After a life-time of waiting to resolve things on her death bed – and making attempts prior to that where I THOUGHT things were “getting better,” I find that as usual behind my back everyone is up to the same old tricks. Tricks that damage you, tricks that hurt… tricks that kill your soul as fast as a bullet to the heart.

My family reminds me of that group of high school football players that raped that 16 year old girl recently, and posted a YouTube video about it laughing all the way. That is the family of mine.

They should all go to jail where they belong, every last one of them. That gang of high school rapists too. What is it in the human heart that carries so much evil? Some people truly are just “born bad.”

And the one ray of light in all of this is that looking at my own familial situation, I AM NOT ONE OF THEM. I live in the Light and I will keep it that way.

I am a child of God and I will pray for God to show me The Way to peace, and to that other shore. God does not want us to suffer, and God will lead us home. And I don’t have to belong to any “church” to believe this. I know it’s true.


I have been an obedient and compliant person all my life because I
was brought up to never speak up, never disobey whomever was in
authority over me. Punishment was the norm in our house. Even
when I was married 20 years, I was punished if I stepped out of line in
any way. Because of this crazy entitled controlling behavior, my
father disapproved of how we celebrated Christmas one year and that
was the final straw for us to be cut off and treated like lepers for
9 years. We went to Disney. Friends came to visit Christmas
afternoon. Those were our sins. It ended up being a blessing as that
meant 9 years without their craziness. But I saw it as the final rejection
of me and my little family. I see it for what it was now.
I was always walking on eggshells to not make a mistake, use
the wrong word, or speak my true thoughts or opinion. I
would be judged, corrected, belittled, and always punished.
Thank you for addressing this topic Darlene.


Diane. Your words evoked strong memories and even stronger feelings. I was treated
that way because I was the scapegoat/servant to my mother and
something to control by my N father. I was’t wanted or loved. I
was useful. If I wasnt useful I was nothing. Until last year and EFB I was
still trying to be useful and Im 58. Im not being used anymore.
I wish you well because I feel the same way.

Mama Feeling Helpless
January 5th, 2013 at 2:38 pm

I was a parent helper at my 13 year old son’s church youth group event on a recent Saturday night. When it finished later than we thought it would, my son & I used common sense to decide to spend the night at my house (which was a short drive home) when he had planned on staying at his dad’s. His dad said OK on the phone, but later told me to keep the son for the rest of the weekend. His dad said that he was mad because the son changed the plans and chose to go to my house. He was punishing him by withdrawing and rejecting him. Now, granted, the son didn’t seem to mind at all. His father is a bully.

My 13 year old has always had anxiety and the relationship with his father amplifies it. His father has been very successful in laying the foundation in his son’s heart and soul to never accuse or confront his dad. It’s partly the son’s temperament, but he has always been so compliant. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t care how his dad treats him, it just means he doesn’t let it out. The son’s anger comes out toward his little brother, which demonstrates that his rage is in there and needs to come out in healthier ways.

I have tried to deal with the symptoms of the son’s anxiety, but the main problem is his need to be separated from the source of the abuse in the first place. The way I see it, there are two ways to get to do it. #1, legally, to get sole custody. I am working on it, but it’s not likely and certainly not quick! #2 to strengthen my son enough to choose to separate from his bullying, abusive dad. To convince him that he has a voice that his dad is not showing him loving behavior. That my son deserves to be treated with respect. I think if my sons (there are 2) would say they didn’t want to see their dad, their time with him would be greatly reduced. Children are very adaptive, however, some get used to living I orphanages! I am disturbed to see that my sons are adapting to living with a psychological abuser. Over the past few years, as they have grown into having their own voice, I have seen the manipulation by their dad increase. Now they don’t even seem to have an opinion. Sad that I said in my story at the beginning that the son “didn’t seem to mind”, because he didn’t say that out loud, he just shrugged his shoulders and said “okay”.

I really get frustrated when I read your blog and see all the advice to repair the brokenness, especially when I read the stories of the aftermath of having an abusive parent. I am witnessing my sons being broken and it’s a horrible feeling. I want to know what the advice is to a child, but there aren’t blogs about that. What would your advice be, Darlene (or others who have been in this situation), to yourself at age 13? And to me, if you were my son? If there was a family member who saw the abuse you were enduring and wanted to help you and could help you if you would only admit it out loud, what could you have said? What would you have needed to learn and understand before you could be able to tell someone with the power to remove you from the situation that your parent scared you?

I must say, and thank you, that while I am frustrated by not knowing how to help a child get out from an abusive situation, the information that you give about you as a parent and how you can teach your children is very powerful. I have been realizing something lately through your articles how much my behavior is teaching my son. I am definitely using your information as a mirror into how I can teach my boys how to demand value and respect from their father. Although, I guess that’s the problem, while a vital, excellent lesson, my example doesn’t have the power it does to an adult child. Respect was what I asked of the boy’s father in order to stay married. He said his respect for me was completely conditional on my behavior (i.e. he reserved the right to punish yell scream and accuse me for anything that broke one of his unwritten rules). Obviously, we divorced. So if I were to compare your example to mine, I would demand respect now, then I would continue to be treated horribly and, in turn, would completely separate myself from the harassment. After that, my children would learn from me and hopefully do the same. But they are 11 and 13! And my actions are met with more rage and punishment in response to my demands. In addition, the boys have to live with their dad 1/3 of the time! No incentive to have a voice. UNLESS, they could say what they thought to someone who could help them. It’s not me, unfortunately.

The dad is a bully and there is no fixing the relationship so I just avoid it. I’ve always said the situation can’t be cured, just managed. I think the dad’s diagnosis with Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder was a curse in some ways. The odds of him changing his controlling ways are very small, so I don’t try to rationalize with him anymore. I just gave up answering the harassing e-mails. I kept them thinking I could use them in court. But courts don’t care if someone is being psychologically abused. The court says, “Yeah, all divorced couples fight”. And “Where are the bruises? Where’s the blood?” It’s not the abuse against me I want the courts to stop, but the abuse toward the children. I see his manipulation, the kids don’t. So I have been beside myself each time they have to go with their dad. Another weekend of brainwashing, of instruction in a twisted definition of love, a lovely Sunday afternoon of walking on eggshells.


So relieved the holidays are over. As I mentioned in other posts, my control freak mom withheld my kids’ Xmas presents. It is now a week later & no word. my kids are not heartbroken since they have had very limited contact with their grandparents, however it was still hurtful to have my mom holding the presents by strings…come over & get them was her last message to me. The most hurtful part was her lack of empathy when I spilled my guts about being molested as child and she was concerned about being blamed, said do I live in a fantasy world that I never told her & get over it. All that she said was truth leaks about how I kNew she would not emotionally support me. I also believe I was protecting myself from the fear of being blamed. so, I blamed myself as I was taught to. Told to shut up when I expressed my emotional needs. yes, I was needy from not getting my needs met. puberty came early around the time I was molested, then getting all this unwanted attention from boys because I now had breasts in 7th grade.I felt harassed by all the attention. my mom blamed my anxiety & depression on hormones & says she was told I had a chemical imbalance. it was me with the problem. How confusing all of this was….no wonder I felt sad & anxious every day. controlled & labeled, as I struggled to find myself & differentiate from their control & denial of the real issues & problems. So in terms of punishment, being rejected & used was my punishment. I am a kind person who is to comply with their expectations. being the oldest kept me in the role of being the role model yet also the scapegoat (caring one) who absorbed all the negativity.Mom said I hate her & my father, after I said I loved them & this was after I shared with her I was molested. there was no comfort. It’ s feels like a rejection of me…which is so unfair! I did not ask to be sexualized at young age & then rejected for it for being traumatized. Well today, I see she is rejecting my kids with her witholding my kids’ presents. I spent the extra money to ship out our gifts to grandma & grandpa. No strings attached being no expectations from my mom. I admit I feel anger & sadness over the way the holidays went with my parents. I do not blame myself…they were invited here & sent gifts. I’ ‘ve done all I wanted to do not out of obligation but to have relationship. I even asked for mutual & equal respect with the silent treatment & no gifts for my kids. This bad behavior on their part just solidifies the lengths they will go to be in control & right. It’ s not ok or right! I’ m no longer trying harder or talking to them. I’ ‘ve tried talking to only get shut down. I’ m letting go for my self respect. My foo Don’ t deserve my love, as it is they know I don’ t like them. Mom also said I am mean…that is just not True…Speaking the truth & setting boundaries is not mean…neither is honesty…this year will be about letting go of past pain & negativity.


Addendum to #28, It boils down to the Fear of Rejection from my own family. That is painful, esp as a child when I was dependent on them to take care of my needs. I was expressing my anger to my counselor last week re: the present thing from my mom. I said, Im ready to ut them off (my parents) and was told don’t want to be like them & do t out of anger but from a place of peace/lettng go of the outcome. I believe I believe I’ve done just that, with my gracious intentions & actions in mailing my gifts to them. They will think what they want to think and that does not matter to me anymore!!…I’m not going to continue being used & rejected….It’s all about control on their part. My Truth matters more to me!!!


sorry about the spelling errors…hope it’s legible 🙂


Sonia, I am so sorry that your efforts were rejected! It certainly seems that you have gone the extra mile….and then some…to have relationships with your family. It is so obvious that you were trying hard to connect in a kind way while attempting to be brave and deal with issues that parents should be concerned about with their children…even adult children. And you are seeing this clearly…this is about control and power….and to “punish” you. How disgusting! I can totally understand why you feel angry and hurt and disappointed because they won’t simply give you mutual respect! To not give you comfort when you dared to bring up what had happened to you is disgusting! I am sad that you are sad, but I have to applaud you for sticking up for YOU this time around and realizing that you do deserve to be comforted, and you do deserve equal respect! Hugs and comfort to you!!


Karen, what you endured that Christmas because you decided to do something different and fun that didn’t include your father…so he “punished” you by rejecting you ..that was a terrible thing to do! I am so glad that you are not allowing yourself to be used or abused like that again….that you have taken back YOUR power and control over your own life. I can tell you understand what I went through and how I felt and feel now looking back! It amazes me as I have read your comments over this last year all of the things you endured from your family….and how clear you now sound as you are also looking back over what your family did to you, and as you are understanding more and more about the power and control tactics too. I feel sad that you suffered what you did, but I love your comments about all of your insights now!!


Diane, thanks so much for your hugs & comfort!


Thank you Diane. My healing is due in a very large part to the understanding I have gained from EFB and to all of you posting here. I truly felt my family situation was unique. Discovering the pattern of abuse is so widespread is in itself terrible, but also very liberating. I no longer carry the heavy burden of “badness” and emotional anguish for not being able to cope with my family.

To Mama Feeling Helpless:
I was that child at 13. But my mother pretended everything was OK as she was in denial. She
reinforced the abuse by her denial. I was taught to accept it and never question it so I did to survive. You
see it. You are a POSITIVE example to your boys. You can speak the truth to them. A 13 year old feels so powerless. My Dad isolated us from all family. I was taught to never speak of family matters. (There would be an unspoken punishment) And there was no one I could go to except
my mother and she had been beaten down by 20 years to the point of complete acceptance.
She taught me to endure. I feel for your boys but with you as their Mom they will at least have love and truth to offset the control and dysfunction.


Hi Sab
For me a huge part of this was about realizing WHY I didn’t figure it out; it was because (as I write in this post) I had been groomed as a very young child to associate rejection with ‘death’. Only then was I able to stand up to it was about realizing the depth of disrespect for me and disregard of my feelings and wishes as a parent. I don’t think your comments were ‘sidetracked’ at all! They are right on topic!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Calibans Sister
Yes, exactly!
Hugs, Darlene


Realizing those fears was really huge for me and then it was a ‘time’ thing. It took time to stay aware in each new situation (or go away and see the truth after the fact) in order for me to keep making those ajustments until my reaction and sight of the truth was automatic. That was the ‘process’ for me. But wow, what a journey it is!
Thanks for sharing
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Julie
Yes exactly. That is the cycle of abuse. It was when I realized that They were not going to change that I was free to make my own decisions about change.
Thanks for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Kim
I am not sure Kim about the question of how you got into this position. I rarely meet someone who had a wonderful childhood and then got into an abusive marriage. But the way to overcome and take your life back is the same.
Hope that helps,
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Connie
I can’t tell you it wasn’t difficult, but I can tell you the results of doing this work went way beyond my expectations as far as the freedom, wholeness and quality of life I have now.
As far as your question, (ridding yourself of this inner turmoil) that is what this whole site is about, and that is what most of the discussions are about too and I have written about how I did this all over the place; having said that, it takes time to get through the process. I know how exhausting it is, but that gets better too.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Diane
Thanks Diane, so glad you liked the article! I didn’t realize the fear of consequences at all either and realizing it was a huge click in the whole puzzle of my belief system!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Susan
I am glad you are here; as I have said before, it takes time for the fog to lift and to sort this all out. And life keeps going on as we are in the process. I found looking back that persistence was a big part of the answer for me. I just kept trying to keep going forward.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Lynn
Welcome to Emerging from Broken
Glad you are here!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Elizabeth,
Welcome to EFB
Yes, I grieved for my hopes and dreams of what I wished it could have been too! Well said. With each passing year it gets easier and it gets better! It has been a few years for us now, and it doesn’t bother me much anymore. This was by far the best Christmas!
I am glad you are here,
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Catherine
Yay for breaking the cycle. I found that Things ‘getting better’ had to do with MY clarity, and not about their actions. What I found in the first couple of years of trying to draw boundaries was that ‘they’ changed their tactics. They didn’t actually change. So I had to draw a stronger/bigger boundary in order to HEAL. My hope was in ME and not in them.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Karen
Great comments, very well said. That is exactly how it goes and how they are. When I looked back it was so clear to me that when we didn’t do what Jim’s father expected us to do, we were outcast, punished. I don’t miss that!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Mama Feeling Helpless
This is a great example of exactly what I am talking about.
About your sons rage towards his little brother; that is a good example of the cycle of abuse too. Abusers are trying to have ‘impact’ because in the dysfunctional system, we are taught that ‘power’ over another is proof of love and validation. (of course it isn’t but that is the teaching via these actions). When a parent is a bully, they model ‘bully’ as a way to get what you want. (even if what you want is approval) that is the sick system we are talking about.
Hugs and thanks for sharing!

Did you notice what you said about being the role model? You role modeled being the scapegoat too! This is actually a great realization.
Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene


How is realizing I role modeled being the scapegoat a great realization?…I’m puzzled…


Hi Sonia
Because we can’t change anything until we realize it!


To Mama Feeling Helpless,
I am in the same position as you with an emotionally abusive ex spouse. I wouldn’t normally presume to give you advice, as I am not an expert, but perhaps I can help in some small way by sharing some of my choices. I try to allow my children to express how their dad makes them feel and to explore why the issues. I try to show compassion and empathy without getting too emotional so that they don’t focus on my feelings or feel they need to protect me. For example, if they say Dad says your crazy, I focus on how it would make any child feel to hear their parent based (sad or mad etc) rather than express how much it irritates me to be put down by him. I try to remember what I loved about him and tell them they inherited those good qualities. I never make negative comparisons . When he says mean and hurtful things to them I say That wasn’t nice, That isn’t true, you didn’t deserve that, I’m sorry you were told that. I try to reflect true reality back to them, not the lies he tells them. As they get older I try to teach them the psychological terms for what he is doing(projection, denial, misdirected animosity). They are getting it and are less inclined to internalize his negative messages to them. I have also spoken to them about the abuse their father suffered in his childhood. Not to excuse his behavior but to help them understand that it isn’t because of anything they have done. I talk about generational cycles and express my confidence that they will be able to break the cycle and not repeat his (or my) mistakes with their own children someday.
Gosh, I could go on and on. The biggest thing for me too was getting over my guilt for having made him their father and feeling responsible for what he’s doing to them. I found that sentiment got in the way of focusing on THEM and THEIR REALITY and made them focus on me instead of me the mother focusing on them.
I read good advice in Patricia Evans book on verbal abuse.
It is a continuous process. I wish you well and your children too.


Dawny, that was so well put. I so agree with your sentiments!!


Darlene, I have an experience so like yours but with my father and it is so painful that this post makes me want to cry. When my son was three and we were visiting my parents, my dad took my son with him to run some errands in town and he came back without my son. He had left him with some people he barely, knew to play with another little boy. I was terrified and I made my dad leave immediately, and go get him. My mom and my dad were both so angry and my mom told me that I should trust my dad to do anything with my child that he thought was right. I was called over-protective too. It made me doubt myself. They lived in a small travel trailor, at that time and we had to sleep next door in the church but I felt bad that I’d hurt my mom’s feelings so I allowed my kids to stay in the trailor. My dad punished me by doing something terrible to my son. He wouldn’t talk for five days. Part of it was that he got a fever that night and my mom didn’t give him any tylenol or come get me because she “didn’t want to do anything without my permission”. Or that was the passive-aggressive angle. My son had horrible night mares and would hold his hands like someone praying but he would cry and scream. He didn’t want to say prayers at bedtime anymore either. I took him to the doctor to check for signs of abuse and they could find none. He has terrible feelings about this memory but can’t remember anything concrete. From what I’ve read, he probably would have no cognitive memory except that his dad and I tried to find out what happened and resuced him. My children were never left alone with my kids again and I didn’t see them for five years. Then because I felt sorry for my mother, I let them back into my life. Then I let them move onto my property. They could never hurt my kids again physically, but they did everything they could do verbally, to turn them against their dad and I. I wish I never would have given them another chance.What upsets me the most is that I’d never go near anyone else that did something like that but because they are my parents, society told me I was wrong to cut them off. The truth is they are safe to trust and it was foolish to let them back into my life to hurt me again. They have no remorse for hurting others, ever. They only feel their own hurts, hold grudges, and seek revenge. It’s never good to be in any kind of relationship with such people and being related through blood doesn’t change that. I’ve reached a point where I forgive them but I will never forgive their abusive actions. Child abuse is unforgivable. Remorseful people are forgiveable but always, stay clear of those with no remorse.

This post makes my stomach hurt because it’s about protecting our babies from the same things that happened to us by the very same people. People who think it is wrong to keep them at bay are very, ignorant. It’s important to never bow to ignorance and accept abuse.



Me Again, I want to revise what I just wrote, a little. Remorseful people can receive forgiveness but unremorseful abusers will use forgiveness on the part of the victim, as a cover to gain trust and abuse again.



Karen in #26 wrote: ” I was’t wanted or loved. I
was useful. If I wasnt useful I was nothing. Until last year and EFB I was
still trying to be useful and Im 58. Im not being used anymore.
I wish you well because I feel the same way.”

Karen, I’m 62, almost 63 years old and until EFB I felt the same way. Finally, at long last, I am mentally and emotionally breaking free. I stayed away “no contact” for over 20 years and it was the most peaceful time of my life. I “came back” into contact when my mother was dying of cancer, and a couple of years before, after many repeated attempts on their part. Boy was I wrong. Just like Pam said, some people never change. I paid for plane tickets for my son to go to family reunions, hoping that if I couldn’t have a decent relationship with them, maybe he could. I wanted him to have grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins and all that did was poison him against me. God only knows the things that they all said. I’ve heard the “tip of the iceberg” and I am just horrified at the lies and distortion.

The more I look into addiction, Personality Disorders and Mental Illness, the more I see so many of my family members. Just because many are “high functioning” college-educated professionals, that doesn’t mean that they are much different than the mean-spirited welfare cheating purse stealing hobo scammer out on the street. They are out to steal your soul and they won’t quit until they’ve got it.

However, just like vampires entering into your house, they can’t come in if we don’t invite them. That’s the one thing I’ve learned and the one thing I know to be true. And like Darlene and others have said right here on this site, “Peace is an inside job.”

The more I try to get “understanding” from almost any of my relatives, and ask them what did they mean by this, or why did they say that, the more the out and out attacks escalate. It’s as if they are fighting for their lives by having someone point out that they could be wrong about anything they do or say, and they will “go down fighting” even if it means the end of the relationship. If they couldn’t punish us into silence, they would do and say ANYTHING to gain compliance. My sisters and niece are all in on this.

Now that my mother has passed, and gave instructions that she did not want to see me at her deathbed, it’s been open season and they all bought hunting rifles and plenty of ammunition. And they aren’t afraid to use it! It’s just unbelievable. Two and a half years of this while I try and try to resolve things and make sense of the nonsense they spew in their emails and phone calls. Hate mail and I’m sick of it.

And all I have to do is walk away. I can’t bring myself to do that just yet, because the “it must be all my fault” and “I’m the bad one” is set so deep in my soul, but I can so clearly see that the more I try to to straighten things out the more twisted they become. These people do not want the truth to be known. They only want control, grudges and blame. And if they don’t get exactly what they want, LOOK OUT. “String her up from the highest tree!”

So the more I read here the luckier I get: lucky to know there is a way out. NO CONTACT and NO BLAME because if it was “my fault” I would have surely fixed it by now. And that hasn’t happened no matter how hard I try. So it obviously takes two people to end a war, and if one side wants to keep fighting, and they’ve been fighting all along and the other side keeps saying “Why? Why are you doing this? Can’t you see this isn’t helping anything? Why don’t you stop and just listen to what I am saying?” that too becomes a “judgment” on them and they aren’t going to accept it.

These personality disordered people have to be judge and jury, and they have victims, and I don’t have to be one of them. All I have to do is try my best and when that fails, STAY AWAY. I wouldn’t even KNOW people like this in my “real” life, as NONE OF MY FRIENDS ACT THIS WAY.

NONE. It’s only the family that I was born into, and that is an everlasting regret but perhaps it’s to teach me some great spiritual lesson. If so, I’m ready. Dear God, please show me The Way.


Connie – i have about the same # of years of inner turmoil as you…i am 49 and most of my abuse happened when i was 7 & 8 years old…the lying and emotional and spiritual abuse continued well into my adult years but my mother trying to kill herself and my sister running away from home and me being molested by an older cousin all happened within about six months of each other.

I have suffered from pretty severe depression my whole life…i am slowly coming out of it…to say it has been a long, hard and painful journey would be an understatement…the last several months i have cried an average of an hour to an hour and a half every day…i have been crying for years but in 2012 i cried an average of an hour a day. Prior to that it was more like 15 or 20 minutes…the last 6 weeks or so have been incredibly exhausting because of all the pain…but i persevere and know that somehow God will get me through it and he does have a plan and will use it for good. I was never allowed to just “be” and always had to try and be perfect so my mother would not try to kill herself again and so hopefully my sister would not keep running away from home. I have used this website to share a lot and have managed to piece together a half decent support system through local community resources and a local christian counseling group where i am basically getting free individual counseling and pay for weekly group counseling…the freedom has come little by little for me…many days of crying, screaming, yelling, pounding my fist into a pillow…whatever release i felt worked at the time i would use…the biggest thing for me recently has been the revelation that NONE OF IT WAS MY FAULT and that i could not do anything to change the situation. I also have come to realize that God does truly love me even though i have known it in my head for a long time, because of all the garbage in my heart, his love has never penetrated deep enough for me to really believe it…i have to experience it…not just read or hear about it..that just isnt enough for me…i wish you well on your journey. I have done a lot of journaling and have a lot of posts on this website. Those 2 things have been constant for me in the past year although sometimes more frequently than others…being validated by Darlene and Pam on here has been huge for me…finally someone else understands !! Finally – someone else gets it and can relate to all the garbage and crap i had to put up with from my narcissistic self absorbed mother who systematically ruined our family with all of her drama and unhappiness and blame of everyone for how miserable she was…being validated was also huge for me as it was a human way of God saying “see you are not alone in this. Others are going through it too. – there is freedom and healing on the other side if you work through it and include me in the process” – hope this helps some !

god bless,



Thanks Dave,
Your words do help. You know I have had a great issue with crying in the past. When everything became so bad in my life when my husband left me, I had a complete breakdown. I cried, and cried….not just a normal cry; it was a deep, painful sorrowful cry that was born on very deep rooted unresolved paid and rejection. I spent every waking moment for months in this out of control crying jag that seemed to be totally out of my control. It was brought to an abrupt stop one day when my sister informed me that everyone in the family was fed up with my incessant crying and I would either stop it or lose all connections with my family of origin. I stopped because I thought losing them would surely mean death to me. Everytime I ever cried in my life I was laughed at or told is was unacceptable. I honestly believe crying is going to be a type of therapy I will need. My doctor recently told me about a book on cry therapy. I may have to look it up and see if it could be a useful tool for me.
Here’s an example of something that happened to me just today that makes me think cry therapy might be something I need. I went out to get in my car and it would not start (it needed a jump). I cried so hard because I just felt so helpless. I felt like nothing ever goes right for me. When stress that most people can handle as a minor annoyance hits me hard….hits me really hard. Like I can’t handle it. Any stress at all provokes such great feelings of sadness and hopelessness inside of me. It invokes all of the hurts I’ve stored up inside of me for decades. It looks crazy to others, and I understand this, but I am also understanding until I rid myself of this excess baggage I will never have the ability to function normally in relationships of any kind. May God see fit to guide to and through this path of healing and enlightenment. Amen.


I can so relate to this post on punishment. My ex NMIL once returned the Christmas gift we gave her to the store then mailed us the refund with a thinly veiled hateful letter. She referenced feigned empathy at “how difficult it must have been to find a special and unique gift for her, but she unfortunately does not need it”. She overheard my ex telling his sibs that we bought a different version of the same gift for my mother. I guess that somehow lessened the gift for her. By the way, HER gift to her grandchildren was finishing her basement into a nice living area because the kids played down there and she thought they’d appreciate a nicer space. I thought it would have been nice to just do it, but to call it Their Gift just seemed weird. She didn’t speak to us for nine months after that. Not until she wanted us to come to Thanksgiving dinner so she could continue the illusion that they were a happy family.
The other in laws joked to me “lol. You used to be Golden now you’re checked off the list”. They had already been through her cycle of treating you great At First, until you made her mad.
I just wish my children were no longer related to Her.


I was no contact with my family for nine years. They cut me off. When my abusive Dad died in 2003 my husband and I felt we needed to support my Mom who had had 50 years of hell so we jumped back in to help and support her. I only have my brother (GC) and his son. No other supporting relatives as they were driven away years ago. My contact became her chance to start abusing me again. I never realized until EFB that she was my main abuser. He was a narcissist and totally wrapped up in himself. She on the other hand had neglected, abused and put me aside since I was a young child. Her treatment was so normal to me I never saw how she groomed me to be a victim.
Left to grow up with no adult skills, relationship skills, love or affection. To me a norm.
Becoming a teenager I began to look for love and affection as a doormat with no boundaries of any kind. Abuse was a “normal” to me. I see that she was the one who set me up for emotional
distress and a lifetime of misunderstanding.
I have been “there” for her for the last 9 years. A thoughtful and caring daughter. I have been loving and said it to her. Hugged her and tried to teach her loving behavior by modeling it.
I think she saw it as weakness and an opportunity to use me. In the past 3 years my emotional distress became unbearable. She was at the center of it.
I am NC for a year now. I am better each day. Only 3 of my stressed out incidents of bad coping this year. Thats a wow for me. A personal best!
She is 81 and in failing health. My GC brother is now having to deal with everything.
No matter what happens up north I do not intend to resume contact. They are very bad for me.
I do not care how I am viewed for standing my ground. I’m sure I am being called the bad crazy
Karen again. Whatever. It bothers me less and less and I hope someday I won’t even think about them anymore.


Hi Pam
Wow, this is exactly the kind of thing I am talking about ~ that ‘entitlement’ that these people think that they have. The not only think they have it they BELIEVE they have a right to it. And so much of the outrage from partents when a boundary is set by the adult child (or even hinted at) is because they really believe they have those rights over us and our kids. It is such an “ownership” thing. I totally understood your whole comment, including why you let your kids stay in the trailor, and that your Dad punished you through your son. That is what happenes! And that is the cycle too. I am sorry that you and your kids went through this, but I am glad that you can share this today.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Dawny
When I look back I can see so much of this crap that I didn’t see clearly before. And of the 4 grandparents, they all have different ways of controlling. My father is totally passive. So passive that he IS abusive. Where as my father-in-law is very transparent in his aubsive nature. Looking at different ways that abusers ‘play the game’ has helped me a lot to see the cycle and how it is kept alive and functioning. (and that is what helps me to write about it in a fog busting, truth exposing way!)
Thanks for sharing.
Hugs, Darlene


Dave, I’m happy to read what you’ve written and glad you’ve found some measure of support. I know when you do work through it, your life and how you view yourself will be completely, changed.



Hi Pam, I felt like crying when I read that post! Your heart must have been in your throat when he returned without your little boy! And, coming from the heart, you let your guard down, and tried to forgive, but they still tried to turn your children against you. Typical. It is amazing to me, how many times we let our guard down, and are manipulated into doing so. How coming from the heart, and a higher place of love is aways used against us! We are just trying to do what is right, make peace in the family, though sometimes, there can be no peace with these groups we are blood related to. Darlene is so right, about their sense of entitlement! It is like they see family members as property.
Dawny, I could so relate to your MIL story.
It is amazing how little thought or care they put into a gift for others, but expect to be presented with the Hope diamond, or something, for their birthday and Christmas. And doing the playroom over as a “gift” for the grandkids? come on!
I dont give my mother any personal gifts anymore. I give (or send) a gift for her and my father,and it is always geared towards something my father likes. She is very displeased by this, lol.
Before my little sister crawled back into her hole of denial, she told me that she used to save all of the bargain basement, seconds, sweaters my mother gave her and her family as Christmas gifts, for her big inlaw family reunion. They were a large family on her husbands side, and part of the summer get together was a clothes swap. She took great pleasure in dumping those items into the pile. Me,I would just through them right into the good will box………..
Isnt it funny how MIL got “unmad”right b/f the holidays, so you could show up and be part of the fake holiday scene? Do you still put yourself through them? Or have you created another tradition?
At first, it was upsetting to me, not to go, but now, I feel a sense of peace and control over my own life. In a wierd way, I feel more like a “grown up”, not the motherless child, who will be given the shaft at the fake festivities……….



This does not just happen in families, it happens in churches. My husband is a pastor and was forced out of his last ministry because “not enough white people were joining.” I quote this because this was what they told us. The leadership of the church – deacons, trustees, etc – used “punishment tactics” such as you described here and literally forced us out, going so far as to harass our kids. They walked away without talking to us and told everyone they were “not welcome” even though we’d not had the opportunity to say even one word to them. They launched a horrific gossip campaign, including cyber-bullying, which left us reeling.

Thanks for your writings. Abusers like this need to be exposed.


Hi Tricia
You are absolutly right! Abuse and the misuse of power and control happens everywhere; in churches, the workplace, schools, govenrment, etc. And punishment is one of the tactics for sure!
Thanks for sharing and adding this insight!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Everyone!
I just publishe a new blog post. This one is about that old saying “what goes around comes around” when it is used as an abuse tactic. This woman even uses the bible as PROOF that she is right about her daughter and children in general not having a right to draw a boundry with their parents. Her comment was SO typical that I had to write about and share it with you. It is a fog busting thing!
Here is the link: What goes around comes around used as a FEAR and Compliance Tactic
Looking forward to the conversation!
Hugs, Darlene


Janie, What my parents did to my child was the most hurtful thing they ever did. It was the ultimate betrayal. I know I chose to leave my children in the trailor with them because of the false concept of forgivness that I held, at that time. I thought if I forgave, I had to let all barriers of self-protection down, again. I now understand that as a choice to over-look offenses and let them ride and that isn’t true forgiveness. That kind of forgiveness has no healing power because it isn’t forged from truth. It is willful, blindness that only, opens the door for more abuse. That would never happen, today.

I know my son was very hurt by this and the appology I owe him(and will give to him as many times as he needs to hear it) is in how much regret I have in accepting as true, the blindness of false forgiveness that allowed him to be abused by the same people who abused me. I still feel that fear in my throat and that knife in my heart. I don’t ever want to forget that feeling because it reminds me that evil is very much alive and well and abusers with no remorse aren’t people to be trusted; not even when they are your parents and your child’s grandparents. I don’t want to be part of a family held together by lies and ruled through abuse.

Thanks for seeing my pain and the empathy you demonstrated in your comment. That empathy means a lot to me.



Thanks Darlene for the new post, and to all the commentators here. Changing my life every day. Heading over to “What goes around comes around” right now. Gracias, Amen.


Darlene, Wow what a post, it never ceases to amaze me how you can come up with new insightful posts so often?! No writers block for you…. Anyway, EFB has enlightened me as to my family dysfunction. Since I knew I had problems with my birthmother and birthfather my whole marraige, I got very close to my husbands’ family while raising my kids. I have just recently started seeing us as a couple as the blacksheeps of the family on my side and my husbands’ side also! I had only considered all of those years that my family was the problem. Looking back on it I remember Christmases where we were punished for not bringing the kids 2 both sides of the family on the same night. We were just starting out in life so money was tight, my husband frequently was required to work Christmas Eve, a 2nd shift. I didn’t want to drive by myself with little ones in the car all the way up north. When my FIL saw us the next day he was visibly angry and said “You can go and get those presents yourself I’m not going to help you!” I now see this as his way of punishing us for not coming. My husbands’ little brother is very dysfunctional, divorced with 2 kids and one child has developmental delays because the mother did drugs while pregnant with him. MY MIL and FIL run all over town with these grandkids and basically coparent with my brother in law. This same brother in law did not come to my daughters’ wedding (even though he is her Godfather) or to my son’s Graduation Open House this summer. My husband and I were really hurt by this, but when we said something the FIL got mad at us! So apparently we are held to a high standard of must show up and bear gifts, but the younger brother does not have to. This same brother has never once that I remember showed up for any of our kids birthday parties or given a gift. But this is required of us. My inlaws feel so sorry for those particular grandkids because there was a divorce and the trainwreck life they’ve had due to how their mother is. (Her drugs and alcohol, etc.) These grandparents were constantly at my home most of the years while my kids were growing up, then it stopped when my daughter was in highschool. When my kids said “What happened to our Grandma and Grandpa , they never come around anymore?” My husband asked his mother about it, she said “It’s not your time anymore. And we never came to your house to see you all those years, but only your kids.” My husband was floored, but it has changed the way he thinks of his mother now. I never imagined that we were the Blacksheeps on both sides! But now I see it….We are at the point now that we really think about what we choose to do on this side of the family. It’s shocking to see that my MIL put an expiration date on her grandchildren, mine are too old and she’s busy now with the others. But having said that I’ll try not to do that to my kids, as I just found out my daughter is pregnant with our first grandchild! I’m trying to stay positive and focused on my immediate family and not our birthfamilies at this time…Peace all and thanks again for this site….


Hi Melody
Sometimes I think it is sad that I never run out of things to write about! I watch TV and something reminds me of the dysfunctional belief system and I read comments here and it sparks a memory of something I have not talked about yet ! I am going to start making videos in addition to the writing so I can produce content a bit faster.
Congrats on your daughter being pregnant! That is really exciting!
Hugs, Darlene


Thanks again Darlene for all that you do,
it really is a gift!


Thank you for this site! It has truly shined a light on the abuse I have experienced and finally given me some clarity and understanding of what happened. I have suffered from emotional abuse and rejection from my mother, father and older sister my whole life. After I got married I hoped to have a whole new family with my in laws. That turned out to be even worse. If we didn’t obey, comply or allow them to do what they wanted , even in our own home, we were punished through silence, rejection, threats and aggressive behavior. I so badly wanted a “family” because I never had one that I allowed their abusive bad behavior to go on for years. We have now been kicked out for standing up by giving a polite no and only get silence, while they spread gossip and lies to the other relatives. I have struggled for so long wondering what we did wrong and tried to fix things only getting more abuse in return. I think my lost fantasy of a “family” on both sides was the hardest to cope with. . I feel really alone sometimes like we have no one and wonder if we did the right thing. Knowing others have felt that way too gives me relief that we are truly not alone and we did not do anything wrong. Now I just have fear, fear over what will happen next. We confronted the mil and got excuses but never an apology. there is no remorse, only her desire to pretend nothing ever happened. She is coming to town in March and I don’t want her in my home but feel so much guilt over it like I would be making things worse, not keeping the door open and keeping her grandsons away from her. the grandsons she only calls on their birthdays. my husband says we should just get it over with but I don’t want to keep on going through more pain. Its phony and there is no change in the mil. just don’t know what to do anymore. I pray all the time asking God for guidance and a clear answer, hopefully I will know before March. But Thank you so much for your blog. It and the others comments have brought greater healing and comfort.


Hi Larae
Welcome to efb!!
Great share. Isn’t it wonderful when we realize that we are not alone and that it was not US that was the problem. The fear is normal. I had to examine it often and the root was always in a false belief system. Keep reading; there is lots here about that!
Hugs, Darlene


I recently had a blow-up with my dad because I had asked him for some respect in specific areas on FB and with regards to my family’s schedule, and because I said some things wrong, he picked apart my concerns and disregarded my requests for respect. When my husband contacted him on another issue asking for privacy for our family in a certain area, he responded with an apology for any offense caused, some sugary sayings but no clear desire to change what he was doing without a fight. So I got a third party involved who could talk to my dad directly (we live out of state) and advocate for my family. I did this to avoid my husband getting dragged into a big battle/stalemate, and to protect my family. From my understanding of the what the Bible says and the God I believe in, I believe my responsibility is to my husband and family unit now, and my parents’ desires must come second. My dad then attacked me on email for “having dishonored God” for not getting his “permission” before talking to someone outside of the family about our issues. Thankfully the outside person was totally supportive and didn’t judge me for not having the “correct” attitude, etc. I have had a lot of support from other people who are healthy and Christians, but now my dad is refusing to respond to me- a form of punishment. He wants me to call him and talk on the phone, but having been bullied verbally by him before, I am not about to go through an episode of verbal or spiritual abuse on the phone whilst pregnant. What I find so horrifying is his total lack of empathy or care for my pregnancy or respect for my wishes. I also have had guilt from my mom for not “just forgiving”, and she “shared” things with my brother and sister-in-law about how I have not allowed her as much “rights to her grandchildren” as I allow my friends. This is based on some issues I thought had been resolved, but her jealousy continues because apparently I am meant to keep my son away from anyone but family despite living 1000s of miles away. My parents have been able to visit us as much as and sometimes more than the other side of the family, yet nothing is good enough for them. There are clearly many issues here, but what is so sad is the punishing of ME for my parents problems. I can forgive by my God’s grace, but I don’t want my kids to think that such treatment of others is ever acceptable. The silent treatment is counter-productive, and it will only hurt my dad, just as the guilt-trips will alienate me further from my mom. I’m not saying I get everything right in this relationship, but it is hard when you get blamed for speaking the truth in love according the same Bible you both profess to believe is true. It is doubly hard when you not only want to forgive, you are TOLD to forgive, and you are told to keep things within family, yet family members are turned against you, and forgiveness is clearly withheld from you. I am glad for your site and thankful for your stories- glad to know I am not alone.


Hi Melody, I know you didnt address me, personally but I read it and can’t help but say something because I had so much of this in my family of origin. I know how confusing it can be when you are trying to do what is right and then have people twisting faith into a club to maintain control over you. They used to make me question everything by that tactic because I wanted to trust them and I trust the Bible and God. When I was able to see that it really was a tactic, it took the power out of the tactic. It’s really a disgusting form of abuse and I feel for you. Staying focused on my needs and the family I created also, helped me keep my priorities straight. Hang in there.



hey there- there are two of us Melodys- I got really confused reading the other Melody’s posts because I didn’t remember writing them lol. Nice to know am not the only one with this awesome name. ;0)
Anyhow- Pam, thank you so much for your comment in response to what I said (Melody-comment no. 68).

I have had to get to a point where I don’t get emotionally involved with things my parents communicate to me, because having gone back through everything said, they take anything I say as an accusation, and respond with an accusation, rather than working through issues mutually as equal adults.

It’s normal to have conflict in families, but it isn’t healthy to ignore issues and think that THAT is love. It isn’t- it’s an unequal twisted form of control.

From a Christian point of view, working through forgiveness, I just re-read an article by a guy called Steve Cornell, and it hits the nail on the head about how my Dad responds when I try to express hurt at a specific behavior. I always keep things as specific and clear as I can, but my dad seems himself to live in deep shame and heaps that on anyone he sees as under him when they challenge him as an equal. That to me is a character defect I can have compassion on, but it is also abusive. For what it’s worth, the article that helped me is at


Meloday #70: You wrote:

“they take anything I say as an accusation, and respond with an accusation, rather than working through issues mutually as equal adults.”

That’s it! In a nutshell. That’s what happens with my family and this latest Facebook “friend.” Every single thing I said was taken as another attack, when it wasn’t. When I was speaking just about the effect her words were having on me, and that she didn’t have the right to tell me I was “presenting myself as a victim” when I talked about my childhood.

I just couldn’t believe it. This is exactly how my family taught every single one of my siblings to behave, so no one is ever allowed to say “ouch.” If you do, you are “living in the past, pretending to be a victim, acting like a baby, asking for attention,” etc. etc. etc. It’s just sickening but it allows the abusers to continue on with their cruel and hurtful ways.

I’ve given up trying to work things out with my family members. They are so entrenched in their attitudes and expressions, which – even if they are trying – ALWAYS revert under times of stress. So I will let them go their merry way, and I will go mine.

Reading about everyone’s so similar experiences here has really shown me that NO CONTACT is the right way for me to go. At least until I get some kind of positive self-image and ego-strength to withstand attacks against my Self. Right now I’m not strong enough so I will stay to myself and with true friends and extended family that don’t cause wounds. That do have a heart. And there’s lots of good people like that out there! Once I’m not blind and “inured” to the pain, I recognize abusers a whole lot quicker now and know to give them wide berth.

It’s as easy (and as hard) as that. For now, I finally feel safe. And now, all I have to do is practice it! Dear God, please show me The Way and keep us all safe and sound. Amen.


I am going to reread this article several times.I was verbally abused by my mother my whole life, after the abuse she would turn around and give me money as a repentance. Sadly, I admit that is one of the reasons why I stayed around her for so long. I also had no one else I could turn to as a child. I was taken out of a dysfunctional family only to be adopted into another one. It took me years to get out of it, I even told MY own children they where to love their grandmother no matter what. You can love from afar though, and that is what I should have done. This last month my mother did something that upset me so much I told her I was done, DONE. She has hurt me for the last time,I am 58 years old and she is 93. My self esteem is zero still, I have stayed in another verbally abusive relationship even after I legally divorce him. I ask myself why I do this? Isnt 58 years long enough to be abused by your mother? Isnt 20+ years enough to be abused by your spouse? The sad thing is, in allowing this I have showed my own children that this behavior is ok and acceptable to me.It is NOT! I am in counseling and have been off and on for years and I still can not seem to be able to break completely free of the abuse. A good support group was vital to me in earlier years, but in moving I never found good support where I am now. I have not given up though and I am determined to be health and happy.


Hi NancyLe
Welcome to EFB
Many abusers have a way to bribe the victim with gifts or special treatment ‘after’. This is not an apology however or any kind of aknowledgement about what they did and therefore the victim ends up feeling “paid off’. Don’t feel bad that you stuck around for the gifts, that is all you had! I hope that you will keep reading the articles here; there is so much about how I took my life back and overcame all the dysfunction and habitual thinking that was full of lies.
Hugs, Darlene


[…] are not willing to consider doing, they insist on going down rabbit holes and changing the subject, always turning it back on the child, rather than giving their child a chance to be […]


OH man, this is me. The “threat” of punishment kept me in “compliance.” Even in college. I remember my freshman year, my friends wanted to go out of town for spring break. They wanted ME to drive as I had a car. “Oh no, I can’t do that, my mom wouldn’t like it.” And that caused a lot of fights with me and my boyfriend in college.

My sister didn’t seem to care, she learned early that the threats were meaningless. Too me awhile to realize.


I want to justify my Mom by saying, “oh, my Mom wasn’t as bad as your mom…” but yes, she was. She didn’t “get” me, but instead swept me under the rug so she wouldn’t have to try to “get” me. And now she tells me, “Oh, if you had only told me you would have been treated differently.” No I couldn’t. She wouldn’t listen.


I got hit with whatever was handy to my mum as a child and do not remember the physical pain per se probably because I was numbing it.
Sometimes she picked the broom, sometimes a big cooking spatula, sometimes clothes-hanger. When I was about 11 years, I decided I had enough of this nonsense and resisted it passively. I told her she could beat me as much as she wanted but I was not going to do anything she wanted me to do. Later on, I started to grab the tools in question. It worked and she gave up beating me with them soon.

She also realised I was a grown up now and wouldn’t take her nonsense and so she behaved but she continued the verbal abuse.

I remember the verbal abuse so well, though the manner in which it was delivered has changed. By now she has started using smooth put downs instead of the harsh ones. She tried to convince me that what she spoke about me was the truth. She wanted me to accept that I wasn’t good looking nor intelligent (as if they were the only things that determined a person’s worth).

Now I wonder what was in it for her. I was a very strong, independent child and maybe she did not like that I stood up to her, so she decided to take me down by eroding my value. I also think perhaps my passive-aggressive father had some role to play in it. He is one of those misogynists who believes a woman is made to please a man sexually and is good for nothing else apart from cooking, cleaning etc.

In his mind he already was the one with high value because he was born a man and he derived his esteem by oppressing both my mum and me. I was this bright spark as a child, highly intelligent and a threat to his supremacy. So I wonder if he goaded my mum to launch this psychological abuse. Of course, my mum being an idiot, who places having a husband as the most important thing in her life listened to him.


My husband constantly uses the silent treatment to “punish” me for questioning his behavior or actions toward me.
It causes me a lot of hurt and stress and in the past I would use alcohol to cope, which only made me feel a lot worse. Then I would self harm or worse, “act out” in a rage against the behavior. That would then be proof that I was the problem.

So manipulative, he had it down to a science. Then he would “forgive” me and then the whole episode would repeat a week or two later. Each time I sunk a little lower.

I have been on this site 18 months. I now understand his behavior. He’s a very controlling Narcissist.
He’s passive agressive in his punishment. But it is punishment.
Now every time he acts in a demeaning way to me, I stand up to it. He does not get away with it.

He sees it as being an emotional problem with me whenever I stand up to him.
Further proof of my instability.
I have myself in hand now. No suffering in silence. No more isolation. I have a job surrounding myself with caring people.
I dont use bad coping. But I still suffer inside when he abuses me in this way.
I don’t enjoy his company. I don’t like to be around him and do what I can to avoid him now.

This weekend we went on a planned 8 hr road trip. Within the first 10 miles, he was nasty to me 3X. I did not misunderstand his actions. Yelling “don’t argue with me”, when I questioned something,
Yelling “stop” when I tried to talk about something that I found upsetting. (stop means no further talk or discussion) and then an abusive lecture about an issue with his phone he felt I caused.
All the while I’m like (to myself) “what???, now Im trapped in the car with this A-hole for 8 hrs)

There is only his opinion. My opinion is “nagging” or “whining”.
So I put my headphones on and blocked him out. He’s a Narc so the loss of attention is one
way to get his attention.

The next day he wants to talk. When I explained why I did what I did he said I “misunderstood
him”. He had acceptable (to him) reasons for his outbursts.
Then…this is the clincher

He said he was being NICE to me by not talking to me, answering me, and totally ignoring me in the car. That way he wouldn’t say anything else to further “anger” me.
He turned it all around and made it about me and my response to his abuse.
To him any negative response I have to something he does is “anger”.

I think that’s gaslighting when someone tries to make you question what really happened and your perception of what happened. I know I sat there with my mouth open in disbelief that he
would distort what happened to justify his behavior and make him feel good about mistreating me.

By the way, he has forbidden me to talk about him up here.
I now have my own login on the computer and passwords on my phone.

Every time we have one of these fights he also demands I give up talking to my one friend on the phone. And also that I give up reading.
I only talk to one person by phone once a week (long distance). One.
I like to read in the evenings.

He’s such a Narc and wants my constant attention when he’s home. I can either be a servant or
an adoring toady.
Whats sad is that after 39 years I can expect no change in treatment.
The love I felt for him is just fading away. We just live in the same house now.
He doesn’t understand what has changed or why, just that I avoid him.
But I do feel a lot better about myself when I stand up to the demeaning behavior.


Karen R, good for you for standing up to this manipulative behavior!! I’ve seen this with several different people. They get comfortable with the way things are, especially if things are “their way”. And as soon as they are stood up to, their wonderful world is threatened, so they have to make it seem like the other person is crazy. Yes, I would call it a form of gas lighting.
I’m always suspicious of a person that tries to isolate someone. My stepfather did this with my mother, restricting her friendships, and contact with family. I believe it was because he was afraid others would see through him and that he was taking advantage of her, so his best option was to get rid of the people that might clue her in, and possibly help her to escape. Again, they don’t want their world which is arranged the way they want it to change. So of course they will never admit to being wrong.
I’m so proud of you Karen for standing up to all if this!


Thank you Amber.
I came from a dyfunctional family. We were not allowed contact with my mothers family
at all. No friends or neighbors came to our house. No social events or parties
either. No chance for help. I see the pattern now.
I work at an outreach now full of caring and compassion so
have a safe place to go. No more bad coping that only punishes me.


Hi Everyone!
I just published a NEW article. This one is about anger and how I discovered the roots of why I had difficulty expressing or even feeling anger. It is about how we learn to view emotions and can be applied to any emotion.
Here it is: “Are you having difficulty with Anger?”
Link ~ http://emergingfrombroken.com/are-you-having-difficulty-with-the-emotion-of-anger/
Looking forward to the new conversation!
hugs, Darlene


Happy New Year, everyone!

Darlene, this post, as with your others, is so on point. I think many of us fear/face this type of treatment this time of the year, when family gatherings are plentiful.
I’m familiar with a slight pit in my stomach hoping there aren’t any confrontations, and then worrying what the repercussions might be if I stand up for myself.

I worry less about that now, because it has no end, and what we fear will happen anyway. If we continue to comply with these abusers and their behavior, we move further away from being a whole person, and that’s just not acceptable to me anymore.

I’ve dealt with silent treatment, screaming, slandering, isolation, the lot. It hurts. It devastates. It also is so wrong. Mature adults do not behave in this way. I hate that it has taken this long for me to realize it, but thank God, I finally have.


My husband still uses this tactic daily. He tortures with silence, but it should never be held against him because he always has some fault of mine to justify it. It was strongly used when I was a child. I would have to say that someone was always being punished by my father. It was daily. I grew up in fear of his rage, physical bodily violence, which I witnessed weekly, guns, cruel sarcasm, name calling, screaming, scary driving, withholding, and necessary gratitude. We walked on eggshells and lived in fear. I have never had any “normal” loving person in my life. I accepted this as normal. I even had dysfunctional friends who were abused in their homes. So I married at 20 someone I knew 2 months. He is not a violent person but he is emotionally absent and psychologically abusive. My normal. I remember thinking how very well matched we were. The hardest part is now understanding it, knowing what I missed for forty years, knowing, bottom line that all of it was a factor in our son’s suicide. It is truly generational.


I can totally identify with this tactic. It was used all the time to keep me in line. I have heard the threats of, “…You will be cast out, if you misbehave or don’t do as your told, no one will support much less help you, you will be written out the will, you will be left alone….” I too had name calling, I was made to carry ALL of the blame, and if I refused to carry or gave it back, I was shut down. Funny thing is, all those years of compliance, and then the realization that these people were ALWAYS lying. The fear of nothing, came true. In reality, when they were trying to threaten me with alienation, they were never even there to begin with. I have felt stupid in kissing their ass, fawning, to keep the peace. Bending over backwards, biting my tongue and it all resulted in being abandoned and kicked to the curb. The thing that still hurts is my siblings, they are ‘in’ with the family, and they try to rub my face in it all the time. Now, when people ask me about my family, I tell them I am an Orphan. It’s not as if I am lying…


Raven. I understand. I was kicked to the curb many times and didnt accept how rejecting it was because it was so normal. I was so brainwashed to try harder. Its hard to forgive myself for that. I was setup to accept abusive relationships. I fight back now or just walk away. I can still be fooled but atleast I see now that its not me and instead of trying harder I break contact.


Is it possible to be able to break away and not feel ambivalent about fear of the unknown?



I think it’s possible, but it’s not easy. I’ve estranged from my family twice, and I still second-guess myself every now and then. On the other hand, I feel so much freer being away from them, and know that there can never be any reconciliation between us. If I go back a third time, they’ll just hurt me again, and I’ll be foolish to do that. I hope one day I can reach a point when I no longer doubt my choices.


The fear of goodbye if you don’t comply…..Are you kidding….That would be a blessing…bring it on…


I love you girl, you are the biggest help in my crazy life!!!!!! Thank you!

Leave a Comment