The Deadly Side of Accountability

growing up in dysfunction
Contemplating Freedom

There are several really HOT topics when it comes to recovery. One of them is “accountability” I’m talking about the destructive practice of “self blame” that is disguised as the virtue of accountability. This week I posted the following update on the Emerging from Broken facebook page:

“Recovery started with me. That alone was a hard truth to swallow. I had to face the pain. I had to do the work. It didn’t seem fair ~ none of this was my fault in the first place which was ALSO a hard truth to swallow because for some reason I thought it WAS my fault.  These were the stick points; the road blocks. The bottom line is that I am the only one that can “take my life back”.

When I posted this in EFB facebook, I was thinking the discussion would be about my statement “I am the only one that can take my life back”.

An awesome discussion started which quickly turned into a discussion about accountability.  This happens frequently. I am talking about when people say “although I didn’t know better as a child I certainly knew better as an adult”.  Accountability can be a nice way of saying “it was my own fault”.  This is a topic I seem to be running into a lot this week and it is one that is very close to my heart because that kind of accountability almost killed me. Continued…

Through my work in mental health support and through this blog I have noticed a significant pattern when it comes to this issue of self blame. People can describe an abusive event in their childhoods and sometimes they can agree that it was not their fault. BUT when it comes to making mistakes after a certain age, so many of us believe that we were “old enough” to know better, therefore, accountability fits. In my process of recovery, I learned that “age” has nothing to do with it.

 There were a few key things missing in my growing up process. Where, when and how was I supposed to learn to stand up for myself? I accepted mistreatment as a child because I had no choice.  I had never learned that I deserved any better. I was a powerless child.  The bridge between childhood and adulthood however, was somehow absent. This can happen many ways; it doesn’t mean that my parents were evil failures. (although sometimes that is what it means). I look at it this way; if my parents were, for whatever reason, “unable” to raise me to be a strong individual who knew my true value with an identity that was not dependant on them, then I also had to give myself permission to say that they failed me instead of taking the blame for my own stunted growth. I was able to stop saying “well it wasn’t their fault because they didn’t know any better”. Because the fact is that it doesn’t matter if they knew better or not, I had to find a way to take my life back. I had to stop thinking that I should have grown myself up somewhere between the ages of 13 and twenty something.

Once I viewed this a little differently, THEN I was able to get on with completing the process of growing up that I missed.   

I was so filled with shame about some of the things that happened to me when I was what I considered to be “fighting age”. I was so willing to be accountable because I was told that accountability was freedom. But I missed the truth and tried to jump straight to freedom. I had self blame thoughts that I didn’t even know I had! And one of the biggest deep down beliefs that I had was that I didn’t deserve better and that alone was enough for me to take the blame for the way that I was treated.

My “self talk” went like this:

~ “But I didn’t fight him off. But I didn’t tell. I should have called the cops. But I didn’t say no. I just froze. I shoud have screamed. I knew that he was bad news. I shouldn’t have believed that he would never do it again. I knew I deserved better. If I had not made him angry. If I had just made him understand how much I loved him. But I was old enough to know better.” And because of those thoughts, I took the responsibility for making bad choices, without ever examining why I actually made the choices.

So  when I grew up, I also found a way to accept blame for being abused as a child. It was easy; it was one of the ways that I coped as a child. Blaming the adults was out of the question. I needed them. I thought I could earn love and fair treatment. It was habitual for me to blame myself.

And although that self talk is really loud, I learned to tell those “voices” to shut up when in actuality it was in listening to them that I was able to drill down to where they came from. I was able to see and repair that missing bridge between childhood and adulthood.

I had also come to believe that accountability only applied to me. I had become so used to being mistreated that I didn’t think about the accountability of the person who mistreated me. This is not about blame or about blaming them; it is about undoing self blame. This is a huge stick point in the recovery process. Getting past it was also huge in the process towards freedom.  

This year, be your own Valentine. Treat yourself the way that you dream of being treated by others. Regard yourself the way that you delight in a small child. Think about what you think love is and love yourself.

Darlene Ouimet

related posts ~ Understanding Victim Mentality

I really wasn’t old enough to know better

Self Validation for Emotional Healing from Abuse

Categories : Freedom & Wholeness



Darlene, I too felt the accountability factor. I blamed myself for promiscuity, an abusive marriage, believing others when they lied to me, not protecting my children enough. Everything was my fault. One day in therapy with my child, the counselor asked me, “Who died and made you God?” Her point being that I could not control everyone and everything bad that happened to me. After that day I began to look at my accountability and see where I was missing the tools to make good decisions. I also learned that there are things that others did that I WAS NOT RESPONSUBLE FOR. I started my journey of growing up and learning to be accountable, but until then I wasn’t really old enough to know better either! Thanks for this fantastic, inciteful post. It really helps those of us who took so much of the shame and blame.


Accountability masquerading as freedom. Boy, is that familiar. And somewhere, along the way, even tho I could sometimes stand up for myself and throw off mean words, that was only once in awhile. When you are in a toxic situation, there is never enough hypervigilance and self awareness to protect me from someone else’s poison.


Hi Linda,
Thanks for your comments! It is a strange process isn’t it? We don’t know there are some key things missing! We don’t miss what we never had. I “assumed” that I should know better.. but yet really I didn’t. AND I didn’t know it.. round and round we go..
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Kimberley
Welcome! Yes! this is why it is so important to re-wire all that stuff we believe. But before we do that re-wireing work, there is the discovery process. That is what I am getting at in this article. The process of discovering the “where it got convoluted” part.
Glad you are here!
Hugs, Darlene


this is something i am struggling with at the moment. i am made accountable for all my class members feelings and if i so much as step a toe out of their line they make me feel uncomfortable and unwanted and a host of other neghative things. i got 3 months, just 3 months left to get through so i can leave them behind but the reality of facing them each week is daunting to say the least. the staff are aware as i have said things and though not gone as far as a formal complaint i think it would be upheld in my favour if i did so but why is it always me that is made out to be the bad person, because i speak and say how it is for many children with toxic parents. that is my passion and my strenght as much as it is my weakness, but this battle is making me feeling like i am running in treacle.
great post as ever darlene, makes so much sense to me now i can look back at the start of my journey and understand why i did what i did then and how i have changed, through my hard work. helps to have people like everyone here too


Thankyou Darlene. What leaves me curled in upon myself is the sense that I actively colluded in building up the walls of misinformation that helped me continue to believe that what I experienced was what I really wanted. It wasn’t. But the “I should have known better”, oh so sad… And little parts of me crying so often for so long. When things finally shifted and I started protecting the little me’s, that was when I really accepted that I had fooled myself because I needed to believe, and I have a very very hard time admitting when I am wrong. I walk a different path now…just hoping I stay on it.


I always submitted to what was expected of me. Even if I initially rebelled against what was happening by fighting or struggling, I ended up submitting. I think there are several reasons for this. Being taught total submission in my upbringing, and learning dissociation when fear gripped me, when I felt there was no hope or that I might make matters worse for myself if I continued to struggle. But even in that, the struggle was not because I felt I was worth something that needed to be protected, but only initial fight response in my survival, which then turned to freeze. This is how it seemed to work in violent situations.

As for situations of relationship, I did not see any value in myself and therefore didn’t feel the need to stand up for my own rights, or express my own needs or desires, I was totally submissive, and this was also a combination of upbringing and conditioning through abuse. If things went really wrong, it was always my fault, I didn’t try hard enough to please, or was somehow not submissive enough. I didn’t do it with a smile or the ‘right’ attitude. There was never any thought in my mind as to why I was not given the same consideration, it was just my job to make sure the other was happy with me and the relationship, it was always my job to make it work.

I still struggle with this. I catch myself, but many times not until I am well into repeating the same thoughts and behaviors.


I know EXACTLY where I got the idea it was my fault. He TOLD me it was every time he did it. This was when I was 4, 5, 6 and 7.
He also found a way to accurately convey that, if I told, he’d literally kill me. Since he wasn’t sure if I understood the concept of what killing me meant, he decided to do a demonstration. He found a bunch of ants and put them in a box then lit the contents on fire.
The ants either disappeared or stopped moving-for good. The image came across loud and clear. Dead means never being able to move again-along w/ being mangled.
I didn’t tell anybody until he was dead and, sometimes, I’m afraid his spirit will find out. I can’t help it. Seeing ants set on fire messed me up, and also gave me a picture-perfect idea of what my daughter’s dad was going through while he was literally being burned to death on September 11, 2001.
Why anyone thinks they should be allowed to set another person or living thing on fire totally escapes me.
As far as I’m concerned, they’re jackasses.


Hi Carol
This is such a tough situation. It sounds as though you are being ganged up on. Isn’t it a downer when we try so hard to take our identity back and it is met with disapproval? I think most people are in favor of staying in the fog or the box or whatever you call it. If they were to really listen to you, perhaps they would have to admit that they don’t have the answers. Perhaps they would have to think about other ways of doing things, or have to open their eyes.
Thanks for sharing Carol.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Kimberley
That belief that we built our own walls of misfortune is really what this post is about. Because we were so brainwashed as children, we “think” we had these choices as adults that we never had the emotional maturity to make in the first place. So “I should have known better is the conclusion we come to and we don’t even understand that… it is complicated to undo those deep beliefs. The point for me was not staying on the path but that when I got off the path, I found my way back on to it!
Hugs, Darlene


This is an awesome contribution to this post. Your wording is key. You say you always submitted to what was EXPECTED of you. And each sentence after that is exactly what happens. Age has nothing to do with it. We learned powerless young.
I followed the same process out that you describe here. I caught myself, at first long after the beginning of the situation. But then I started to catch myself almost right away, and now, I catch myself right away except in rare cases. That too is a process.
Thank you for posting this comment!
hugs, Darlene

Hi Vicki
Yes, that happens all too often. How horrific for you, I am so sad to hear that this happened to you. That is how we learn the fear. We learn that we have no choice. That IS survival. But today I know that I am not in danger of death by the abuser. That is the difference. That is what I learned in the recovery process. That is one of the goals in recovery.
Thanks for being here.
Love Darlene


BTW that’s another lovely photo. With the sea bird on a beach. You have a talent for picking the exact right photo: like the kitten in another thread, w/ ‘I’m innocent’ beneath it.
And I love kittens for that reason, although mine found trouble sometimes, as is a cat’s wont. But they’re still so cute.


You guys are so honest. It helps me to read everyones posts so much. I am so STUCK here. I honestly wonder if I was subconciously trained to become confused and foggy at the point of abuse and at the point of entering an abusive situation or scenario. I see myself doing that still. I feel that shame, and that sense of defeat.

I HATE being in the situation of having to trust another person now. After the last few months dealing with 2 people; one professionally, and the other personally and getting burned by both, I am in desparate need of help here. WHAT am I missing?

I do hold another person accountable for taking advantage of me professionally, and I do hold the other person accountable for not being honest with me and for slowly subtly emotionally abusing me.

The thing is: there were clues beforehand; there things I didn’t like or that made me uncomfortable. Did those things necessarily mean those people were being or going to be abusive or take advantage? I don’t know! There are people everywhere who may have some characteristics I am uncomfortable with.They are not all toxic, but I seem to miss alot of clues! As Kimberly said, in a toxic situation, you can’t be hypervigilant enough to protect yourself from someone else’s poison.

Ok. In the personal relationship the man wa a professional therapist, so he knew how to manipulate. He knew what to look for in my emotional make up. He knew I had been through in my life. He knew what buttons to push; and he did. He pushed the ‘you’re not worth my time and trouble’ buttons; he pushed the ‘I don’t care how YOU feel’ buttons, and the ‘I come first; you second ‘ buttons perfectly, subtly and for a long time. It was hard, very hard to see it. I actually thought he was getting the beginnings of dementia or something until his ex said he’d always been that obtuse.

I have a great need to pull way back in again and try to go back to my feelings when this stuff starts – at the beginning. How do I FEEL? What are my thoughts? I let WAY too much go by for way too long.

Because of the kind of abuse I went through, like so many here, its very hard to pinpoint when the ‘gaslighting’ and the ‘off’ comments start and when they do, if the person is just being careless without a meanspirited intent, or is really trying to play games.

My mother, I am learning, was a person with enough narcissistic tendencies to cause alot of problems for her family. Beause she was not ostentatious and was extremely cerebral, not flashy or showy, I had a hard time believing she WAS narcissistic, in my research of the condition. But she was. I seem to wear a sign on my forehead that says: ‘I was raised by people who loved mind games. here I am; come destroy me,’It scares me; I do not want to live in hypervigilance. i did that in my family, in several relationships and also in regards to a weird group of people at church.

Yes THEY are acountable for what they did. They KNEW how to fool, and intimidate me. I did NOT accomodate them knowingly. I did NOT cooperate with them willingly, with knowledge of what they were doing.

In the 12 step group world one is frequently asked, when something bad happens at the hands of someone else: ‘What was YOUR part in it? What did YOU do that caused THEM to misuse or abuse you?’ That is just utter BS.I went along with that for years; it stunted my emotional healing for a long time.

My goal is to become strong, and more intuitive; more savvy and to tell myself the truth: There ARE people who hurt and abuse in this world; and my being NICER to them, or more cooperative with them makes it worse!And what THEY did was not my fault.


Hi Elizabeth!
We are trained by the repetitive behaviour of controlling and abusive people. This training happens over time and remember ~ it has nothing to do with any one type of abuse. And Elizabeth, it takes time to rewire that kind of conditioning. It isn’t easy and as far as I know, it isn’t fast. It took me a long time to pick up the clues in time and set my boundaries accordingly. What I came to realized about the clues from others is that it was a big process to even see them; they were all my normal before. I had all the questions that you have, and in time the answers became more clear. I had this terrible urge to give up, to scold myself for not being quick enough to catch those signs before it was too late and I was being manipulated or hurt again, but the best thing I learned to do in this process was to give myself a break. I gave myself room to grow and learn because really I was unlearning so much stuff before I could relearn the new stuff. There were many beginnings.
You are doing amazing work in your own life. Don’t forget that! I LOVE the last sentences in your comment! YES YES YES!!
Hugs, Darlene


I am having to be able to see how I am similar to something of everyone’s story. That is hard for me. I tried to run away when I was a child.it did not work! The painful reality, noone seemed to notice after my Dad picked me up.I could not wait to leave, but waited till I graduated.Somewhere along the line I forgot what I was running from, feeling betrayed, believing that if I was good enough everything would get better.I was not submissive very often….I just kept leaving different relationshps because in the end they all became the same repay of my Mom’s manipulativeness or malicious teasing..

I have the opportunity now to avoid intimate relationship for awhile.I am working to reclaim my relatiomship with me, and my Mom. I am derious and contemplative. She seems frivolous to me.for a long time, I wanred to make her see. But she can’t. She has appologized for being a bad parent. That is monumental, I now realize.but somehow, in leaving and never going back, I have had to retrace my steps….so I could finally claim the bits of me left behind because I bolted so many times without ever recognizing how to take all of me. The bridge metaphor is apt. I did not know how to go through a process of taking care of me either emotionally or procedurally. And the emotional work of discovery doesn’t always happen in a tidy package. It’s in bits and pieces here and there.

In some ways, my last relationship gave me a gift. I rediscovered my relationship with God who I can trust implicitly, totally. It is in that place of relating to God that I now have the courage to look at me and listen to those negative messages, say to them “No! That is not true! I am strong, loving, creative and compassionate.” I have a child’s naivete because I believe God was always there even when I turned away. Lynda really helped me with that one. It is seeing the goodnees and the strength in something about me other’s tried to convince me was weakness.

Not usuall so long winded, but it was there to say.thankyou Darlene and everyone for this space, this place of infinite grace and safety!


I am having to be able to see how I am similar to something of everyone’s story. That is hard for me. I tried to run away when I was a child.it did not work! The painful reality, noone seemed to notice after my Dad picked me up.I could not wait to leave, but waited till I graduated.Somewhere along the line I forgot what I was running from, feeling betrayed, believing that if I was good enough everything would get better.I was not submissive very often….I just kept leaving different relationshps because in the end they all became the same replay of my Mom’s manipulativeness or malicious teasing..

I have the opportunity now to avoid intimate relationship for awhile.I am working to reclaim my relatiomship with me, and my Mom. I am serious and contemplative. She seems frivolous to me, and for a long time, I wanted to make her see. But she can’t. She has appologized for being a bad parent. That is monumental, I now realize.But somehow, in leaving and never going back, I have nonetheless found myself having to retrace my steps….so I could finally claim the bits of me left behind because I bolted so many times without ever recognizing how to take all of me. The bridge metaphor is apt. I did not know how to go through a process of taking care of me either emotionally or procedurally. And the emotional work of discovery doesn’t always happen in a tidy package. It’s in bits and pieces here and there.

In some ways, my last relationship gave me a gift. I rediscovered my relationship with God who I can trust implicitly, totally. It is in that place of relating to God that I now have the courage to look at me and listen to those negative messages, say to them “No! That is not true! I am strong, loving, creative and compassionate.” I have a child’s naivete because I believe God was always there even when I turned away. Lynda really helped me with that one. It is seeing the goodnees and the strength in something about me that others tried to convince me was weakness.

Not usually so long winded, but it was there to say.Thankyou Darlene and everyone for this space, this place of infinite grace and safety!


[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Susan and Heather McMeekan, Susan. Susan said: The Deadly Side of Accountability :: Emerging From Broken http://ow.ly/3W3NC >How was I supposed to "know better"? […]


Hi Kimberley
I don’t think the emotional work EVER happens in a tidy package! I think it is usually in bits and pieces as you said.
I love what you shared about being strong and loving, and that you realized there was strength in what others tried to tell you was weakness. What a beautiful victory. Thank you for sharing!
hugs, Darlene


it has always been hard for me to stand up for my rights, i didnt say NO to my parents until the day i left the family home. how i behaved as a child was a direct result of the situations the adults placed me in, but it was still my fault. my mother says she returned to my father, who was abusive to her, because us children, that she married my father because she was pregnant and had 2 kids by her 18th birthday, was my fault. well in her eyes. the trouble started when i strated to deny my fault and put the blame back onto her shoulders. ooo that was not allowed, she constantly critised me and my husband and caused many agruements with her inability to see that i was questioning her version not to hurt her but to heal myself. she is incapable od looking at my childhood like i do because she will always see it from her point of view, and there are many people like her in this world. i have a reaction to people who try and treat me like my mother did. whether it professionally or personally. my abuse has left me with the ability to see both sides of an arguement and have demonstrated this skill many times in discussions with my mother as i tried to show her why i could respect her suffering but that she couldnt or wouldnt acept mine cos then she would be responsible for my pain and trauma that has come about since i started to remeber that my life was different, so different that i had to repress huge chucks of it from my memory.
i still struggle with making decisions, especially if it involves someone else, in case it not good enough or wrong somehow. sometimes i wish there was a reset to prior settings button


Hi Carol
I have a reaction to the people who try to treat me like almost ALL of the people in my past. Like I didn’t matter. Like I had no feelings, at least not feelings that mattered to them. But the more that I stick up for myself, (even just TO myself) the more that I realize that I am NOT the one who is wrong on this. Like you, I am all for repairing the damage in those relationships… the problem is that I want it to be equal ~ I want to have an equal say, I want to be equally valued and important.. and in the case of many others, that is just not the way that they see it. Oh well…
I can really relate to your comments here!
Thanks for sharing!
hugs, Darlene


This issue of accountability is huge for me because I’m very big on self-blame. And I’ve been through many therapeutic processes where accountability is everything. But it becomes a club with which I bludgeon myself. I am accountable for the choices I make today that are not good for me. Who else would be accountable for those? But if I never learned how to take care of myself…even the most basic things, how can I be accountable for not doing it properly? It’s like someone told me to drive to California (from Washington, DC), but didn’t give me any directions, GPS, or a map, nor did they teach me how to drive. So I sit in my car, in the driveway, beating myself up, saying truly HATEFUL things, because I’m not in California already!! I should be there by now!

Every time I find some new neurosis that I didn’t know I had or hit some block that has been hindering me for years, I beat myself up for not having cured it…when I didn’t even know it existed!!!

Self-blame and self-excoriation are truly the worst, most ingrained habits I have. But I don’t know how to stop them anymore than I know how to stop any of the rest of my bad habits. I should say, I know how, intellectually, but I don’t know how experientially. KNOWING is not the same as “knowing.”

I know I’m not making much sense right now. But I know that if I don’t stop this spin — it always starts with something good, some insight that I have about myself, about my life, about my past, about my relationships, whatever — and it always ends with me being swallowed up by guilt and self blame — if I don’t stop this spin, it will destroy me. I almost said “if it hasn’t already.” But it hasn’t. Not yet. Because while I still have life, I still have a chance. But I feel trapped by my own insanity.

Thanks for listening to my disjointed reasoning. 😀


hi. I’ve been away from online life for awhile. Your article was right on, as much as I could take in. My head is kind of spinning and it’s been a bit hard to get a good grasp on the concepts shared. What I am going to do is print out the article for another time when i can process it better.

so I guess i’m just checking in to say hi and thank you.


This accountability topic brings up so many thoughts for me. As an adult, after being groomed over a period of 2 years by someone I thought was a trusted and safe friend, he suddenly seduced and took advantage of me, and I froze after my NO was ignored. I was so confused about why I didn’t struggle and scream and fight, and what that meant about me. I remember seeing in the Bible where it says if a girl is raped in a city but she doesn’t scream so someone would hear and come, then she is responsible, but if it happens in the country where no one would hear her scream, then she is presumed innocent and it is assumed that she did scream but no one could hear. I didn’t scream. So I concluded I was accountable and responsible. I thought this for years. That it wasn’t really rape because I could have prevented or stopped it from happening if I had really wanted to enough, if I had at least raised my voice or screamed, and I didn’t even do that much. But something inside me, I was devastated, because I was so betrayed, and it felt like rape… but I concluded that on some level I must have wanted it or was willing to do that in exchange for the friendship.

One day, out of nowhere, God blew that lie away. Without going into a long story, He said to me that He saw what happened to me just like He had seen what happened to Dinah (in Genesis), and He saw me as an innocent, trusting little girl who was lured into a trap and didn’t understand what was happening to her. When I heard this, I was so shocked, I had no idea I could be an adult and yet God see me as an “unaccountable” child! I remember crying and crying I was so relieved. But later I still questioned if God would ever possibly say such a thing. That was several years ago, and now that I realize I have DID, and that I do have parts of me that are still children, it makes even more sense why this was true.

He also told me that part of the reason I fall into traps with people is because I’m judging myself – being my own judge – instead of acknowledging that He is my ONLY judge. I don’t have all the information about my own heart, my own self! Wow. What a revelation. At the time I didn’t know I had DID. I didn’t know what I didn’t know! My faulty judgments of myself have not allowed me to see others clearly either. If I would just let Him be my judge and let Him convict my conscience and correct me, then I would be so much freer! Just be myself and keep going, keep saying, keep being absolutely ME until He steps in and says stop. It is so hard for me to stay in that freedom. I stop before He ever says to! It is so uncomfortable and out of my world to just not care what others think, but even what the judgmental parts of me think.

This accountability thing is also a big problem in a lot of the church world because so many people are being taught you have to be accountable to others and that if you don’t have an accountability partner, you’re almost considered rebellious or something. This is not in the Bible. This is purely man’s idea of how to stay on top of sin. To have someone continually grilling you about your issues and whether you slipped up or how your attitude is… this is just like what I lived with in my abusive family, I don’t need that in church! And it’s perfect for keeping abused people abused. I related to the comment by Carla – how even if you do the right thing, well, then your attitude was wrong – there’s always something wrong with you. Of course there is, but get off it! No one can live under that bondage!


It was easier to blame myself than it was to blame my parents who I depended upon for my very survival. I didn’t know what choices were as a child. I wasn’t allowed to make any. My dictator dad made all of the decisions for the whole family. As a child who was told over and over again to obey all adults and to do what I was told. I didn’t have any power or control in my childhood.

If I honored my mother and my father like the church told me, I couldn’t blame them for anything that happened to me so it must have all been my fault. I couldn’t love my mom or my dad if I blamed them for my abuse. I really, really wanted to love and be loved by my parents, as all children do.

My dad never admitted responsibility for the incest. According to him, it was my mom’s fault for not liking sex and not wanting to have sex with him. That was something that a child of 11 really needed to know, wasn’t it (She said with heavy sarcasm.) I blamed myself for being “the other woman” in their marriage.

Even at age 3, it was easier to blame myself and call myself an adultress than it was to remember who sexually abused me. It was more acceptable to my child’s mind at 3 to take the blame and call myself an adultress than it was to put the blame where it belonged with the adults who were in control of my life.

When the 3rd and 4th person sexually abused me as a naive young adult, I was really ready to admit that something was wrong with me or I wouldn’t keep attracting these men into my life. It had to be my fault. There had to be something bad in me that attracted them to me. It was sometime after I learned to love myself that I finally stopped believing these lies that blamed me for the incest. I did nothing to attract or to deserve being hurt or sexually abused by the men around me. Thanks Darlene for writing about the topics that you write about here.


Hi Lisa,
I like your analogy. That is so much like the spin that went on in my own head for so long. I wasn’t aware of those thoughts until I was in recovery. (and awareness is a good thing) My therapist suggested that I listen to those thoughts, as a means to find the roots of them. Once I found the roots of them I also learned the difference between “processing” for the purpose of going deeper in healing, and plain spinning which was somewhat like worry and self pummelling. One spin got me where I wanted to go. The other one didn’t and I started to ask myself that question at the beginning of each “spin”. “are these thought getting me close to where I want to be, or are they leading me away.” that question helped me a lot!
by the way, you make perfect sense!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi IAmEchad
Welcome back! Feel free to come and share when you do read it. I am so glad that you stopped by to check in!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Amy
thank you for sharing all of this. It is a wonderful contribution to what I am trying to express here. I think that the problem with accountability is not only in the church but in 12 step programs (as someone else mentioned), and in many self help arenas. I also froze when my no was ignored. I was an adult too. I had such a hard time getting over that, but I came to realize that freezing was how I dealt with my fear as a child. Freezing and knowing my NO would never be heard, that I had no right to say no. No value. I don’t think I even owned my no before. (like a boundary that uncertain) I had to relearn that value. I had to learn that I do have rights. And once I learned that, I realized why freezing was my only option.
Thanks so much for sharing. (and I love your God story too. I so often think about my thoughts of a tender and loving God, vs the God that I was taught was stern, mean and as judgemental as the people who taught me about Him… the abusive and manipulative ones.. LOL)
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Patricia
And it is way easier to blame myself. YES and we had NO choice. For me it wasn’t about honouring my parents, it was knowing that if it was them ~ I couldn’t change them. If it was me, then I could try harder. I wanted love too and I think even small children know that if we are cast out into the street, our chances of survival are pretty slim, so we try harder.
Thank you for sharing. There is a lot of helpful information in your comment today. Your father telling you that his horrific act of having sex with you was your mothers fault… it beyond comprehension to most adults, never mind the child that you were at the time.
I had those same beliefs that it must have been something bad about me, (when I was an adult attracting abusers) and I am so glad that I got that LIE straightened out!
Thanks for being here!
hugs, Darlene


Lisa B. I understand what you are saying. The spin after something happens is bad; its confusing; its full of despair and ‘here we go again’, and ‘what’s wrong with me?’ when it happens to me. There is nothing wrong with us. I like what Darlene said about having been trained repetitiously over a long period of time by abusive and controlling people.

I like to think that healing works the same way; by hearing health, love, compassion, and acceptance over and over, and practice practice practice.

It often feels like I am batting tennis balls from every direction back over the net as fast as I can, and I miss SO many of them.

I feel like Mr. Magoo, who wandered around half blind and trusting the wrong people over and over again, dodging major mishaps. I haven’t dodged every mishap but so far I’m still standing, and I am grateful. I’m learning WAY more than I ever have, and some of its scary. I HAVE to have faith at this point because almost everyone in my life was intrustworthy or indifferent, and they are gone now for the most part, now I don’t have anything they want; That’s not as satisfying as them being gone because I ouste them all, and having a new life full of trutworthy kind people around, but it’ll do.

We’ll get there.


Okay… this touched a deep chord inside me. I just talked to someone tonight who told me I couldn’t forgive myself – or stop blaming myself. I have bottled a lot up recently and I don’t know how it really relates to this but I’m gonna let it out anyway.
I started college in Jan. That in itself was a huge step for me. But I have been so busy that I haven’t taken the time to help myself- work on healing for me, my emotions. One of my instructors told me that my school is suffering because of this very thing.
Darlene, you asked what I meant by calling my Biological father the abuser. He abused me emotionally and spiritually and verbally. I may be removed from the situation, but the pain and hurt is sooo deep I haven’t been able to forgive – either him or myself. I even find myself angry at Mom for not standing up for me. Or, as in the current case, a couple of my brothers. I keep hearing through others that my “dad” has changed. Changed? And he is still treating my siblings and I just as hurtfully. He told one of my brothers that he didn’t want to meet his girl-friend. And that is love? That is changing? In the meeting I had with them a few weeks ago to pick up something I needed for school, he stared holes in me, could not smile and had this severely disapproving look on his face. Changed? I don’t think so. And even if he had changed (or would change), I don’t know if I could accept him – not as a father. I’m being told to forgive him, stop letting him control me. How?
Our church had Daddy Date Night last Saturday. I have cried so much because I wanted to go. I wanted to have that experience, but I don’t have a daddy to take me. It is a deep hurt and ache that no one else can fill. Not even my “foster” dad, as wonderful as he is. I’ve been really struggling with the need for someone to put their arms around me and let me cry and tell me it is ok. That I am going to get through this and it is gonna take time. That I am allowed to hurt. Most of the time I have to put up a strong front, and act as though everything is ok, when really I am falling apart inside right now.


My life was never “dramatic”, but when I was between 2 to 3 I “lost” my parents (especially my mum) to a sickly sister. I have never really gotten her back – at least not fully.

For many years (even till now), I blamed myself for feeling depressed and “neglected”. I felt that I should have “known better”. I mean, my baby sister was sick. Of course my mum would have to care for her. Why couldn’t I freaking make sense of it? Why am I making such a big fuss? I was the one who brought upon this depression (and a long list of other diagnoses). I was to blame. Of course I would always have to give in. Of course it’s my responsibility to make everyone else happy – it wasn’t like I was sick nor did I have to care for a sick one. Professionals (some of them my lecturers) tell me that I was too young to comprehend why my parents left me alone most of the time. But I just can’t forgive myself for being “ignorant”.

I, too, wonder why couldn’t I realize that there is only so much that a child’s mind can comprehend. I wonder why is it so convenient to blame ourselves for another’s mistakes. Perhaps, it’s because we won’t risk being screamed at, we won’t risk being rejected by others. It doesn’t matter that we’re rejecting and screaming at ourselves.

In short, we’re our most convenient object of displacement.


My life was never “dramatic”, but when I was between 2 to 3 I “lost” my parents (especially my mum) to a sickly sister. I have never really gotten her back – at least not fully.

For many years (even till now), I blamed myself for feeling depressed and “neglected”. I felt that I should have “known better”. I mean, my baby sister was sick. Of course my mum would have to care for her. Why couldn’t I freaking make sense of it? Why am I making such a big fuss? I was the one who brought upon this depression (and a long list of other diagnoses). I was to blame. Of course I would always have to give in. Of course it’s my responsibility to make everyone else happy – it wasn’t like I was sick nor did I have to care for a sick one. Professionals (some of them my lecturers) tell me that I was too young to comprehend why my parents left me alone most of the time. But I just can’t forgive myself for being “ignorant”.

I, too, wonder why couldn’t I realize that there is only so much that a child’s mind can comprehend. I wonder why is it so convenient to blame ourselves for another’s mistakes. Perhaps, it’s because we won’t risk being screamed at, we won’t risk being rejected by others. It doesn’t matter that we’re rejecting and screaming at ourselves.

In short, we’re our most convenient object of displacement.


Darlene, I have a rather weird question from reading the article. Recently, I told ex that he had to stop blaming his parents and start taking responsibility like an adult. It was the first and only time he was willing to explore his past and came to the conclusion that he was mistreated as a child. I don’t know a lot about his family, but I strongly suspect severe invalidation of children, from what I know.

But if he was never shown any differently, then how can he make that leap from childhood to adulthood? If he is stuck at a developmental phase of childhood, no wonder he is emotionally stunted, like a child. That’s why he is so terribly immature and childish in his interactions and reactions. And he can’t see it because it is ingrained.

Am I simply making excuses for him? How do I integrate what you are saying with the understanding that abusive men will not change until they take responsibility and yet for us who are abused, we should not use accountability as way of increasing self-blame?


Hi Elizabeth:
This whole thing really does take time, and it is SO worth the effort.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Kia
I totally relate to what you are sharing and I totally relate to your questioning that he has “changed”. People say such odd things.. do they even hear themselves? Change is all about action. Change is something that you experience! I agree that none of what you are describing is love. I went through lots of anger at the people that never stood up for me and towards everyone who told me to forgive. I was told that same stuff; stop letting someone control you BUT don’t leave the relationship??? that is really what they are saying. Just don’t let it “get to you”. Just forgive? That is just how he or she is?? None of that was solution.
I longed for a father (and a mother) for most of my life. I don’t have that longing anymore, because I filled that hole for myself and that took a long time, but I can tell you that was a huge part of this process. This is very hard; I am so sorry that you are having such a rough time right now, but please hang in with YOU Kia. The falling apart of me was part of coming out of the fog that I had lived in for so long. Thank you so much for sharing your heart.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Jasmine,
I am going to answer your comment along with the comment from Krissy, because your comment is actually related to what she is saying. There are two separate things going on in recovery. (in my view)

Hi Krissy and Jasmine
Actually Krissy, this isn’t a weird question at all. Both are true, but they are both separate issues. I had to put the responsibility for the way that I was neglected etc. on my parents and other abusers. That was how I came to understand what happened to me and that it wasn’t my fault. BUT then I had to be accountable for any mistreatment of my own children. I did not excuse my abusive behaviour because I had been abused. I excused my behaviour towards myself. I understood my depressions, and placed responsibility for them where they belonged. I had to take the action steps however. It was my responsibility to do the work on me. So it is up to him to do the work on himself. AND that will include the same steps that I took to get where I am.

When my husband went to therapy, I was totally ripped off mad that he had to talk about his parents for months, before he ever had to look at our marriage. But there is an order in the process. He had to see what happened to him, the learned behaviour, the extreme abuse of his own childhood, before he could see himself and what he himself had become. Your question is one of the hardest questions to answer, because they way that I came to see it, there are two separate things that are both vital to full recovery. That we place the responsibility for our difficulties where it belongs, AND that we take responsibility for the change that we have to make in our own lives, that we have to grow up and re parent ourselves. I hope that this makes sense.

Hugs, Darlene


More amazing dialogue as per usual! Wow! Do you think we stay with the self blame partly because fear of change itself is huge,it is easier (I believed) to stay with the familiar, and the unknown is something bad/of the dark that we were threatened with repeatedly. Even now, when someone I care about goes blank or turns away, I instantly start tring to figure out what I did wrong. I also catch myself, but it has been years since I have been in active trauma therapy, and I still have to catch myself!

The amazing thing about letting go of being accountable to abusive people is the incredible exhileration and then peace. And over time, I have discovered the difference between people who act cold or resentful/blaming sometimes, and people who use those tactics of power over/persecution all the time. I can talk with the once in awhile ones, tell them how that behavior affects me, and they genuinely listen and try to work it through with me. These arethe people I keep! ‘,-)


[…] I feel as though I can never go back far enough in order to tell you how I got myself out of the emotional mess that I was in. Today I have been thinking about some of the questions that I began to ask myself in […]


Hi Kimberley
I think part of it is fear of change and staying with familiar is part of our survival belief system, yes. But I also think that unless we “re-wire” that belief system then it is also habitual to accept the unacceptable. It is easy to accept things the way they are, but I think about the price I paid ~ low self esteem, constantly struggling with depressions.. and the spin of the constant self examination instead of just simple seeing that I didn’t do anything wrong.
Thanks for sharing Kimberley!
Hugs, Darlene

Everyone ~

I just published a post about rebuilding my relationship with me including a series of questions designed for self examination. Fog busting questions; questions that I asked myself on the journey to freedom. You can read it here: Rebuilding my Relationship with Me ~ Recovering from Dysfunctional


I also felt it was my fault and that I should of known better. As a child I was not hurt when he abused me he started it when I was real young in diapers and it was like something that happened a lot few times a week or more. It became something I enjoyed and that was a hard one for me to accept that he abused me and I liked it. I never told anyone about it when I got older I saw how it was wrong what he was doing but I did not stop him I was 14 years old knowing what he was doing was not right but I liked it. Hate to say it but it became like a craving like a drug. He awarded me every time the next day we went some where like a carnival or Disneyland the beach fun places. I thought I loved him when I was older about 16 I knew it was wrong but as I said I liked it and was thinking I was in love with him. I was not interested in dating cause I felt he was the one for me. He was not my dad he was a friend of the family. My mom knew it was happening from the very beginning and she saw nothing wrong with it.

So when I got into recovery I had a very hard time cause I blamed myself for it I felt when I became a teen I should of told someone and stopped it. But I did not. now I see it was not my fault at all not even as a teen and I see from recovery that because I enjoyed it I am not a bad person I thought I was a bad dirty person. In recovery I found out that I was not a bad or dirty person. I found out that I was the victim from someone who was sick and should not of done that. Adults who abuse are sick and it is not the child’s fault. I have come to believe that it had nothing to do with me. I was a child and did not know any better. I was raised in a very sick home my mom has sick idea’s about sex I wont get into her idea’s but her ways affected my life and I had to really separate myself form her and the man who abused me because it was such an insane way of living.

Today I know I am not at fault some times i get my old idea’s of thinking if I have a dread of the abuse but I remind myself it is not happening now and I am safe and I am a child of God. when I remind myself of that it helps me because it takes me away form being a child of an abusive person. My mom was abusive mentally very bad she did not take me to doctors she did not want me to go to school she thought for me I did not cross street by myself until I was 14 and that was cause I wanted to she had a fit when she found out. I never learned to drive I tried twice and freaked out I was 18 the first time then 33. I still have a big fear of driving I may learn one day after my get my knees replaced I hope to start thinking about it then learn not so much to drive as it is to help me get higher self asteme sorry for spelling I know some people don’t have that fear of driving. But that is one fear I have not walked through yet. I have walked through a lot of fears but driving is one that I have not been ready to do.

It shows me how some things I am slower then others but that is ok. We are where we are supposed to be and that is what I have to continue to remind myself when I am ready I will. Thank you Darlene for this topic..


Hi Angela,
This is a deep story, I am so sorry that you went through all that; thank you for your courage in posting it and sharing it with me and the readers here. You have come a long way and you are ON the path. That is all that matters ~ that we are even willing to keep going forward. (I don’t struggle with forward motion as much as I used to and that is a good thing too!)
Thanks for being here Angela.
I always get something out of what you share.
Hugs, Darlene


I was older too until I finally said enough to my father and grandfather. Seeing that in print right now is a bit surreal. I was in my early 20s when I was inpatient & staff said I was not allowed to be alone with my parents. When they came for a family session, they pulled me away when staff was looking and my dad gave me a hug and kiss with my mother standing there and right after I had said in our session that I feel sick and so scared when being touched by a man. So, I finally said enough when he did that right after I revealed the incest.

My grandfather too…I was somewhere in my 20s and visiting him in the nsg home when he continued to do the wrong things. I was so ashamed to allow it but I finally hit him and yelled “stop! I’m your granddaughter! not some other woman!” Then I hit him, but not much. That was the last time that I ever saw him and the last words I said to him. I wish I would have really hit him hard. For now, that’s where I’m at.


oops. I meant to say when staff was NOT looking.


Thank you Darlene I really get so much out for your shares..

I Am Echad you are brave to reveal the incest it is not easy and you did it. Your an inspiration..
Sending all Positive thoughts your way.
Hugs to you.


I also did things as an adult that I thought I “allowed” but really I was too scared and shut down and “groomed to comply” to say no. I was so ashamed of the things that happened to me because I really learned that freezing was the best coping method (as a child, and kept doing it as an adult) and then as an adult I blamed myself for them.
It shocked me when I learned how many said NO for the first time when they were adults. I had a friend who told me she finally told her mother that she couldn’t hit her anymore… she was 27! I was not alone! There are hundreds of thousands of others who could not find the strength to say no to abusers even as adults.

this might not fit so well, but I wanted to say it especially for the other readers.. I was 40 something when I told my mother that she couldn’t verbally/emotionally abuse me anymore and looking back on that it is surreal too. She humiliated me in front of others, put me down, offered me to men, all kinds of nasty unloving stuff, and I didn’t say anything. I guess I thought I had to take it. I learned differently!
Love, Darlene


thanks everyone

I’m sitting here thinking that in some ways, it’s ok that others can’t understand how an adult would “allow” someone to abuse him/her. It can be confusing to someone who doesn’t understand the dynamics. It even confuses US sometimes.

So in a way, my feeling shame for another’s reaction is in a judging. Let me see if I can explain. In a doctor’s appt it was relevant for me to share the fact that I had been sexually abused. I was then asked how long it continued. I answered honestly (till my 20s). That doc’s eyes got really big and then again asked “How old?” I felt ashamed and embarrased. Part of that was judging the doctor for what I assumed was the doctor judging me and the response actually might have had nothing to do with that.

Maybe I think too much. lol. but i bet i’m not the only one here too


Your not the only one your not alone I understand your feeling. I was abused from my first husband and when I tell doctors in the past they would look at me and I felt I was being judged. Maybe I was not but I felt like it. When a child is abused it affects our whole life and as an adult we still know, no better unless we get help once we are in recovery. I feel then we start to see and know better but even then many people in recovery find them selves in abusive relationships.

So this tells me that we still will have to deal with this in or out of recovery. It does affect our whole life being abused. I did not get help until I left the abusive relationship I was in, with my first husband. I left him in the middle of the night when he was drunk and sleeping I knew if I stayed I would be dead I should of been dead but God had other plans for me I thank God.

Any way it is not easy for those who been abused and continued to allow it, we have to remember it is not our fault. I was abused as a child from under 5 until I was 17 but I still was friends with him until I was 25 I thought I loved him so it was hard to stop contact. He did not want sexual contact once I was 17 I was to old for him that is how sick he was. It is a journey in recovery we will have so many different feelings as we go through this journey. Your not alone sending you gentle hugs and prayers


I want you to know that this comment touched me deeply. I am really really tired today, just had a bit too much going on lately, and your post reminded me of those deep feelings of rejection that happen when an abuser withdraws. I FELT those feelings tonight, reading this. I felt the memory of that longing for the abuser. Even though the world thinks we should be jumping up and down that they finally don’t want to (do whatever) anymore or that we are finally free… but we do think we are in love. I remember thinking (back then) OH PLEASE just give me a scrap, just al little scap (like “throw me a bone”) it was like a drug, an addiction to have this other person “want me” when they are so sick, and no one understands that, including US! This is what we are trying to overcome. This is SO hard. But it is possible. Freedom and wholeness is SO possible.
Thank you so much for sharing this Angela,
Hugs, Darlene


I hope you are getting some sleep and good rest. It was as a drug for me I thought I could not live with the abuser and I felt that way with men I was involved with later in life. It was really hard. Seems when I am stressed and tired I get the memories from childhood and from abusive relationships I have been in. Even though I am not in them now I get memories. I had to get every man to want me if I did not I fought harder to get them. It was sick. Freedom is possible wholeness is too I have relieved them both but some times I loose it so I guess it is just a process of my growing. I would love to have the freedom and wholeness 24 hours a day every day but I do get it and it lasts longer then it used to so I am thankful for that.
Hugs Angela


When I was 17 I made the decision that I no longer excepted the hand that was dealt to me. It took years for me to figure out how to do it. And sadly at the cost of my own daughter being molested by the same serial pedifile that abused me. I took a gun and went looking for him. My mother got between us and my husband pulled me away. I missed my chance to have saved children and women from being raped by him. I feel that guilt as if it was today. Had I had learned what I know now I would of shoved her out of the way and did what needed to be done.


We were taught to blame ourselves for the abusuve behavior of adults we should have been able to trust. In fact, we were given wrong information to trust people who were untrustworthy and to deny our own emotions and experience that said what happened to us and children after us was wrong. It can never be your fault Renee. You just would have gone to prison probably and then your daughter really would have lost you. I had revenge fantasies for 20 years and mostly they only hurt me…figures huh? ‘,-)


Yup. Not only did I make myself accountable for the behavior of narcissists & psychopaths in my life – I held myself accountable for everything that was FAR out of my control. And a few times, some bad therapists told me (when i was starting to see it wasn’t me) that I was ‘avoiding accountability.’

Of course the abuser exploits this trait in us. Makes their job easier.


“The Deadly Side of Accountability” ~ YES, the misuse and abuse of the accountability issue really can be deadly.

A couple of posts here mentioned the problem with some 12-step groups, over-emphasizing Personal Accountability. That happened to me, I was bullied ~ there is no other word for it ~ by this misguided, judgmental, hurtful, confusing concept, until I was right on the brink of suicide. This happened in a 12-step group where I went for support, to help me not fall back on drinking to self-medicate when I went through my last divorce, in the summer of 2000 through January 2003… it was a long drawn out divorce. I personally knew of 4 people in that group who did commit suicide; 2 of them were trained therapist/social workers. It wasn’t until I moved 2,000 miles away from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and got some truly helpful, validating, insightful, RESPECTFUL therapy, that I understood what was going on in that large AA group… a lot of narcissists, a lot of judgmental, cliquish, control freaks, a lot of men who traded their alcohol addiction to a womanizing addiction, and a lot of abusers looking for vulnerable fresh meat, such as… a hurting attractive woman going through a divorce.

Bottom Line: if you need a group like AA, ok, but DON’T do your dating there, DON’T share too much about your personal life history there, and DON’T hand over total control of your life to a narcisstic control-freak sponsor.


I go to AA and I met so many people like what your explaining. I was very blessed that I found two ladies who were not that way. Now they both passed away but they helped me so much. The people in AA are from so many different worlds and some are very sick we get there sick but some don’t change. I agree with what your saying. It is sad that it is this way. I have been sober over 15 years now I was very involved in AA for the first 5 years of my recovery. Then I started to get more of a life and not so involved like I was. I go to meetings when I feel I want to. It is not my life any more. My life is full of so many things now because I got sober and got into recovery and went to therapy too not just AA. I share this with you because I relate to what you shared. It makes me mad that the people are that way. It is not AA the AA program is different then the people. The 12 steps is the program the meetings and everything else is just the fellowship not the program the program is the 12 steps. I wont go on about that lol But thanks for sharing this. I did meet my husband in AA but believe me I was blessed to meet him he was and is so different then most men I have met in AA. I thank God for my husabnd but it is true that most relationships found in the fellowship does not turn out so well. I dont’ knock AA or any 12 step group down becuase it saved my life. But I do say in any group church or 12 steps group or any kind of fellowship to be careful and really take time to know people rather then just trust that they are there for the same reason as you are. Not everyone goes for the same reasons. Thanks again for sharing this. Hugs Angela


One think I do is not take everything any group tells me completly I dont just agree cause someone says somthing. I was told what was my part in the abuse that happened to me and when I was new to recovery I said my part was that I let it happen but I was blessed with a wonderful sponsor who said stop there no it is not your fault what happened to you was the adults fault not yours it does not matter if you liked it it was not your fault at all. I met many people who say different but it is not our fault it is the adult who is doing it it is there fault..


I agree completely with everything you said there, Angela. I have been sober, thanks to the AA 12-step program, for over 21 years now. The AA groups where I initially found sobriety were in Maine, in Washington County, and those groups and the people who went there were 99% wonderful and healing and genuinely kind and caring.

But when I moved to the heart of Amish country in Pennsylvania… it was a whole different world. THERE, I found the AA groups were actually more harmful than helpful, at least for women… and those groups were full of preditors, especially men, who put on the charm really heavy at first, but LOOK OUT! I’m glad you met a GOOD man in AA. There were plenty of those in the groups I went to in Maine. I guess it really depends on where you go, and what kind of group dynamics have developed in those groups.

Just… Be Careful, is what I’m saying. Thanks, Angela, for striking a healthy balance on this important issue.


I met one of my ex partners in NA. We were together for 9 years and it was during that time that I found out about the DID. He is a good man and we are still friends. Some things about AA/NA and accountability are so damaging. I got a lot from reading Stephanie Covington’s “A Woman’s Way Through the 12 Steps” because she is a therapist in recovery herself and talks about those programs really being written from a male point of view. All women are socialized to be responsible for everyone’s well being in their family. Not only abuse survivors.

I actually brought up the understanding I am developing from being part of this discussion at my Alanon meeting yesterday. Lots of people related. I find that some who were abused become predators but only believe they are victims. Until they recognize their behavior patterns, like some of us here identified, they remain trapped in the dynamic too.

Darlene, it is so inspiring that you and your husband did the work and stayed together. My parents have done that and they inspire me too, as well as still helping me feel a bit crazy sometimes!.

Over 10 years ago I was part of an online support group for multiples and I loved it but it made me fragment more so I had to stop. This experience here is so different. I am co-conscious and aware and my internal and external boundaries are working pretty good. Thankyou all of ypu for your bravery, resourcefulness and creativity! Bless you all!


I have a question. I have very strick boundaries with the girls. My inner child is 4 years old and my self is a teenager, and I am age apporpriate. I keep strict rules and boundaries because when I was in counseling they tried to force the girls to come out. They never had any one like me before. I decided it was best to keep my child safe was to NOT let her come out. I had a real fight on my hands yesturday with the both of them. I cant let the child out because she might get raped, it’s just to dangerous. My self is to easy going and Im afraid she will let her out. My question is: I know they are there they remind me daily so am I doing the right thing by keeping my boundaries? They say im to strict but I cant trust them to behave.When I am working on things my child starts to hurt so bad she wants to go to heaven. My self wants to be skinny so she can attract boys. I keep over weight so that doesn’t happen.Am I right or are they?


Hi Lynda,
Thanks for sharing ~ this can happen anywhere and I have seen it happen in lots of groups. One of the things that your share reminded me of is that victims of any kind of abuse will be attracted to what is familiar. I picked a sponsor that was just like my mother. She gave me heck all the time and judged everything that I did. There was this wonderful old timer lady who called me “delightful” and I stayed the heck away from her! Looking back it is so revealing and telling to me now how I was so untrusting with the truly nice people. When I thought about it, I realized that so often I was “set up” by nice people so what the heck did i know about which kind of nice was real???
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Renee
I try not to give these kinds of direct answers; these kinds of questions depend on so many other things. I don’t view DID or inner child the way that you are expressing either, and it could cause more harm then good for me to give an opinion here. I hope that you understand.
Hugs, Darlene


I can relate to what you said about some 12 step groups.Knowing the addiction is just the symptom of the problem, and not the root of the problem, is very valuable when going into these groups; but for a newcomer who is confused, hurting and desperate, its hard. They tell you to be careful in the group but you have no idea WHO to trust, how to make healthy choices about trusting,sharing,or anything! And if something bad happens the victim is likely to be told they are responsible for placing themselves in the situation! Its really insane!And there is no regulation.

I’m happy for anyone who finds healthy friends and partners in the program, but its a minefield for many, because you are sitting in rooms sharing and getting to feel comfortable with abusers, offenders, narcisists, sociopaths, as well as people who AREN’T these things, and your radar can get very confused.

I have cut WAY back on most meetings and only go to a group where I have long acquaintance with several people. Yet the friendship I just severed, with a man I had been acquainted with in the program off and on for many years, and reconnected with, I cut off because of the dawning awareness that he was a subtle abuser.He’s not drinking, no, but the indifference, then blaming ME for pushing him away, and manipulation made my head spin.

I got very foggy about what was happening, wondered if the problem WAS all me…. but it was doing this kind of work that Darlene talks about, that made me realize I don’t deserve to be anyone’s emotional punching bag, OR ‘cover’ for their dysfunctions.I’m not going to lead a life of pretense or put up with someone else’s shoddy behavior and pretend to the world its all ok.

I feel very alone, but being in that ‘friendship’, relationship; whatever it was, made me feel far more lonely than I feel now. I felt unvalued, and like I was being subtly mocked much of the time. He said I didn’t ‘understand’ his sense of humor.

If I stay with someone or around someone who does not value me, or respect me, and wants ME to take responsibility for their abuse of me, I am right back where I started. No thanks.


I have come to see when it comes to the 12 step programs that you cannot work with someone who was abused as a child the same way as you would work with someone who was not abused. I came in and put myself into situations that I should not of. It was normal to me I did not know better at that time. And when I was told I did it to myself the consiquenses of my actions was my fault, some people told me that. Well thorugh the years I have come to see that people who are in recovery in these kinds of programs that it is not our fault because we are doing what we have been for years and know no better. But what I expereinced was by putting myself into dangerous situations I started to see how I do know better now and I had to change those actions. Once I knew better then that is when my recovery strarted. I got this gut feeling felt so sick doing the actions I was doing then I hit a bottom as I call it in sobriety I felt so bad and ugly worse even then the bottom I had when drinking that I realyl got into digging deep down inside of me in recovery with the steps. One thing I believe is when it comes to childhood abuse in recovery is that I have to let myself feel the feelings and memories not run from them. I hear some people actualy many people in these programs say that you just need to forget it and not think about it. I do not agree with that.

I did that for years, trying to forget what happned. In recovery I learned to talk about it cry about it and get mad about it. I had to inorder to let go. As in the program they say let go and let God. How can I do that if I do not know what I am letting go of? I had to get deep into what happened to me as a child and on into adult hood in order to see the damage that happened to me and inorder to give it to a Higher Power. It is a process for me on going daily process. I give to God the memories I get but before I do that I let myself feel the memory and I share it with someone either on line in groups like this or in person with someone who knows me well and someone I trust. That is the way I know how to deal and accept and let go for what happened to me. I let go but I don’t egnore what happened to me. I have many things still that come up from childhood so I am never finished with this journey of recovery.


Wow, great insights here, Kim, Barbara, Angela, Darlene….

and, Elizabeth…. BEAUTIFULLY SAID. I love that you are taking care of YOU. I know exactly what you mean about the loneliness of being alone, feeling less lonely than trying to be in a “relationship” like the one you describe.

For me, I had to let go completely of the unhealthy relationships, before I could find, and hold on to, a healthy one.



I understand what you were talking about with AA in Lancaster. That’s where I grew up. I’m 1/2 PA Dutch and the culture is very closed with a “pull yourself up by the boot strap” mentality. Discussing MH issues is just “hog wash.”

Like many others here (it sounds like), I’ve been in and out of AA. I’ve found the program/12 Steps has wonderful concepts but what became harmful to me was that the groups in my area harped about us/alcoholics were selfish people. Such a blanket judgement really set me back. My therapist evenutally said “enough.” My whole life people who’ve known me have said that I am such a giving & generous person. I’ve been fighting the self-deprecating talk & had to pull myself out of what was for me an unhealthy enviroment. For those alcoholics who are truly self-centered, I know AA has been lifesaving. But for me, it just wasn’t a good match.



I know when I got into AA I heard that alcoholics are selfish and to a point it is true but people who have been abused or say most people who have been abused would take that saying being selfish as reminder how we were brought up. I know myself and many other abuse victims were told negative things about themselves so being told your selfish is negative. When I came into AA I was giving I gave more to others then to myself. I did not like myself and I was a people pleaser so I can say talking about myself I was giving but I also was selfish because I was to much into makeing people like me and that is selfish in a way because if all I am thinking is to force people to like me and love me and I was what ever I thought you wanted me to be. That is thinking about me all the time so that is selfish. At the same time it was normal for abuse victims. We do not need to be told any negative since we were brought up with so much negativity. We need to be treated with love and understanding. AA is supposed to be about love and understanding but the people are not always that way. AA still helps me when it comes to remembering I am an alcoholic and I will always be and as long as I don’t pick up that drink the disease is like in remission. But I don’t take everything I hear from people to heart I listen and take what I need and leave the rest.

I belive in affirmations saying I love you your beautiful Angela saying positive things like that to myself. Belive it or not I learned it in AA from a dear friend and sponsor of mine who passed away years ago. She introduced me to positive affirmations and self talk that is positive.. I am whole and complete beautiful child of God. Words like taht is what I tell myself.
Hugs Angela


Hi Angela and IAmEchad,
I think that one of the problems with certain types of programs and teachings is that we put the teaching through the grid of understanding that originates in our belief system; a belief system that developed through the ways that we have been defined as less valuable then others and mistreated etc. So some of those teachings (such as in 12 programs) can be very harmful. People don’t go for help when they are just fine. And I personally believe that people don’t become addicted to things when they have had a wonderful normal childhood either. All abuse including emotional and spiritual abuse, causes trauma and false beliefs about ourselves. We have to change the “grid” that we put things through ~ that was such a huge part of my healing, and some of that healing was realizing that the things that the beliefs that I adopted in 12 step had done a lot of damage also. (although I believe that the program itself is not intended to damage at all and that foundationally it is sound but my belief system was a little too damaged.)
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Darlene I do know some people who had a normal childhood who are alcoholics and addicts.It seems most alocohlic or drug addicts are abused in some way. I believe that not everyone is an alcoholic for some reason some of us are. Some people have that addictive personality like they were born with it. I do not know if they were born with it, or when we cross that line from normal drinking to addictive drinking. But I do know from my experience that I was an alcoholic before I started drinking my mind set was like an alcoholic. I abbsessed on everything and wanted more of everything, food, alcohol, drugs, sex, and so on and so on.. More more the better is how I thought. I wanted to run from myself. A lot of the reason I wanted to run was Because of the abuse but I belive honestly that I would of been an acloholic no matter what just speaking for myself. I believe that am an aclohcolic because of my character defects, it had nothing to do with my up bringing. The blame is my own when it comes to drinking and drugging not anyone elses. I I have found out that being a creature of free will I have choices, I chose to drink and use drugs.

As for the 12 step program I think it is wonderful, the 12 steps has saved me. A lot of the people in 12 step programs are not always spiritually fit to direct others. Just because they sas there sober and have worked on themselves and taken the steps, does not mean they have. I feel that actions speak louder then words and I personally do not agree with people who have not been sober and worked the steps for a few years should be directing others in the program. I also believe that if someone has not been abused they should not be directing someone who has been abused. Many people direct people and have no idea how damaging it could be. I can go on and on about this.. As being in the program for a while seeing what some people do it can damage someone and not only damage people but kill them because I had a friend who was abused as a child and ended up killing herself because of what someone said in the program. It is very important before someone tells someone what to do, is to know that person and understand exactly what is going on in their mind and life. I personally do not tell people what to do I share my experience and let them know they can go to therapy as I did if they were abused. I will work with someone who has been abused I have but I am very careful with what I say. I share mys expereince with them becasue I was abused. Sorry for going on and on about this. I feel it is so important cause it is our lives at stake and some people get into their ego so high and they try to sponsor and own that person, and become controlling and that is not right. I have seen it for years going on. It pushes people away and is dangerous. Any way that’s my rant for the day lol Thanks for bring this up.

Hugs Angela


Hi Angela,
I don’t mind you going on!! I think all sharing is good sharing! (unless it is meant to damage or control) I agree that this is life and death and I have nothing against 12 step programs, just that for me they were not what got me where I am today. In fact some of what I learned (misinterpretation especially) delayed me in recovery. But I don’t think the program was intended to ever do that.

I just want to add one thing here ~ I am coming from the standpoint of that I personally used alcohol and drugs as a coping method. They were the escape that I chose back then to deal with my life. Depressions were a similar coping method and I realize that most people don’t view this the way that I do, but I am viewing it in hindsight. So if drugs/alcohol/ addictions were my escape or coping method, then what was I using them to escape from? It is not that I am not accountable for my choice to use them, but what I am saying is that I chose to escape or cope that way for a reason. I believe that I also was pre-conditioned to become an addict or to word it another way, I had an addictive personality. BUT how did that happen?? This is not about blaming anyone for the fact that I became an addict. This is about coping methods. I don’t believe (anymore) that I was born an alcoholic or drug addict. I think that my choices to use came out of the need to escape my life. I can say the same thing for my issues with food and weight.
That is what I meant in my comment.
Thanks for being here and sharing your views and your heart!
Hugs, Darlene
p.s. my husband told me he had a wonderful normal childhood… I think he thought that was the truth. When we were married about 14 years, we ended up in counselling… and it came out that his childhood was the farthest thing from happy or wonderful. (and as far as normal… well… what is the defintion of that these days??? LOL)


Thanks I think it is good for everyone to share exactly how they feel because that is what helps us heal and see who we are or say see where we are at this very moment. One thing I am seeing through the years is I think a certain way until I see it differently or some times somthing comes to me and I see another truth. Being abused I remember it a certain way then months or years later I see it as it really is because I get out of the denile of it. So I can understanding someone thinking they had a normal childhood then later years and years later see that it was not normal. Because we get out of the denile stage.

Thank you for this topic not sure how it started but it helps to see how others feel it is not a right way or a wrong way it is just are expereince and oppinions. I like to hear how others think.
Hugs Angela


Thanks for the validation, Echad. I’m glad you got out of that area and mindset, also.

Great discussion, Angela and Darlene.

Darlene, I agree with what you said: ” I don’t believe (anymore) that I was born an alcoholic or drug addict. I think that my choices to use came out of the need to escape my life. I can say the same thing for my issues with food and weight.”

I believe that AA and other 12-step programs have saved a lot of lives and helped a lot of people, and that is wonderful. I believe they have also hurt a lot of people, and driven some to suicide. For me, after years of regularly attending meetings and being very active in AA, I had to STOP. In fact, my therapist urged me to stop, she said it was hurting me far more than helping, and in my case she was absolutely right. I think that in some ways I was unintentionally, and with mostly good intentions, “brainwashed” by some very harmful beliefs in AA…. one of which is all the emphasis on our “CHARACTER DEFECTS.” I grew up being told day in and day out by my mother that I was nothing but one big defect. I did NOT need to be told that in AA. Did I/do I have “defects”? Certainly, what human being doesn’t? But in my case, most if not all of my “defects” were actually WOUNDS from SEVERE EXTREME ABUSE. Telling an emotionally and physically and sexually abused and battered person, who is already struggling under the stigma of “crazy labels,” that they are full of character defects, is just as ignorant and heartless and HARMFUL as it would be to go up to an accident victim, someone who has just been run over by a truck and is bruised and battered and broken and bleeding and in great pain, and admonishing them that they need to do something about their “CHARACTER DEFECTS.”

I do not mean to insult anyone, after years in AA, I know how passionate many people are about the program that they see as their life-saver. And that is all good and wonderful. But for someone like me, who was literally driven to the very brink of suicide by the way I was treated in the Lancaster, PA, AA groups…. my life was saved when, like Darlene, I began to see myself as EQUALLY WORTHY, not “full of defects.”

I guess it’s like anything else in life, your personal opinion about anything or anyone evolves from your experience with that thing or person. If you had great parents, a great time in school, a wonderful loving marriage, you are going to see parents, school, and marriage through somewhat rose-colored glasses. But if you happened to have horrible abusive parents, if you struggled and were bullied in school, and if you had an abusive marriage to an unfaithful, unloving spouse, your opinon of parenthood, school, and marriage, will be totally different. AND, neither opinion is “wrong” ~ ~ right?!

In Love,


Hi Everyone;

I just want to point something out about what I am saying about organizations such as 12 step programs (and bible studies etc).
~ It is not the 12 step program itself that does the most damage, it is the people within it. It is very often the same misuse of power and control that causes all the damage. It is people that force their understanding of the program on to others. I am not in judgement of 12 step or the way the program itself is laid out at all. Accountability was taught to me in a very dangerous and destructive way and because of my already damaged belief system, and the influences of the “leaders” in the 12 step programs, I bought into the self destructive way that it was taught. (how is that for accountability?) This is a huge topic… (aren’t they all?)
Hugs, Darlene


it is true that there are people in 12 step groups and other groups such as bible study groups, or women’s organizations, or any group that is focused upon helping each other grow and heal as persons, who end up trying to be the great sponsor or mentor, and they aren’t anywhere near ready. Maybe they never will be. I have resisted sponsoring because I still have belief in myself to gain, and I want to be sure I am ready so I do not hurt anyone else.I have a sponsor I chose based upon her strength of spirit, her focus upon the spirit of compassion, and her willingness to acknowledge that what is true for her may not be true for me.and she has an awesome relationship with God.

But this is not my first time through. I entered the program at 21, and it gave me something to live by for years after I left home, got married and tried to figure out how to be an adult.. I left after 8 years of sobriety and have stayed on the edge off and on for years because of the things I saw that hurt me or others, that just felt too rigid to me.

God lives in me and all around me. When I feel compassion I feel closest to God. I get that from AA now, but I get it other places too. I don’t believe I can rely on just one human source for my support. I am actively examining the hardwiring done not only by my family, but by ex-partners, ex-employers, society, etc.I am a writer, and I am rewriting the scripts I live by with the help of all of you who post here, my higher power, my loved ones, and time and gentleness.

I actively try to live now with an open heart and an open hand. I still make mistakes, and have hard days or weeks. Somehow the spirit of optimism has infected me like a happy virus and I want to share it. I am grateful for the wisdom of all of us here. Thankyou so much!


I agree Kimberly not everyone is ready to sponsor or give advise. I personally do not use the word sponsor. The big book they use to take the 12 steps in does not say the word sponsor they do say the word spiritual ad visors. I dont use that word eitehr because for me personally I feel my ego can get in the way. I am equal I am no higher or worse then anyone.

I was blessed when I got sober and got onto the program that the two ladies who helped me acted as a sponsor took me through the steps they did not push character defects they did not tell me what mine were. They let me see for myself I did not think I had any defects when I got sober and these ladies did not tell me I was wrong to think that. They let me find out for myself. They always told me I was a beautiful child of God. I was never told anything negative from them. I found out what my defects were from taking the 12 steps. I was taken through the steps with my friend yes in AA she would be called a sponsor but she called me her friends and told me to please not use the word sponsor so I just did not use that word and I do not to this day. She read wtih me the Big Book and the other book called the 12 and 12 and I shared and did lots of writing. I found out my own defects each of us are different and unique in are own way. So it was a blessing. It is so sad these day how so many people are in these programs they just want to be big shots this is not a judgement this is what I see. Not everyone is that way. But many are. I continue to go to meetings cause I feel for the new people and try to give them love and understanding. I do not push myself on anyone but if someone asks for help I will help if I can. If I cant I find someone who has experienced what they have. I stopped going to AA for about 4 years first I got sick with Lupus and could not get out of bed was home bound and bed bound for a few years. So I did not go. What this experience did for me was got me so depressed about the disease of Lupus that I got sick and tired of how I felt mentally that I started writing. I still kept in contact with my friend who helped me in AA but I did not go to meetings. I started reading Spiritual books and found some that really helped me Emmet Fox was one of the authors who I love and read all his books his books and others helped me get back in contact with the God of my understanding again. I was so angry at the disease of Lupus and angry at myself that I felt God was not here but I Found out God has always been here for me and in everything. God is all God in side of you and me is in every living thing. That is my understanding. But some times I forget and get into the human mind of mine and forget that I am a spiritual being having this human experience. So I am thankful that I was brought up in AA different then what some people are in AA.

I am glad we are able to share what we belive and our oppinions here and not be judged or put down. I know I cannot share this way with everyone specailly those in AA I do and they get upset lol but thats ok this is how I feel and my understanding of God that I have is why I am sober and why I have not killed myself. Now what I belive may not work for others and I do not push my belive on anyone. I share it like I am here but it does not matter if people agree or not. I like to read what relationships others have with there Higher Power. I use the word God more often out of habit but it is a Spirit that I belive a power greater then my humenss a power that I am apart of. I talk to God like I talk to anyone. I get mad at God some times cause some times I feel God is not here. I know that is not true but when I feel it I say it that is the understanding I have and it helps me calm down I meditate and talk to God I was told Prayers is talking and meditations is listening. So I feel if I talk to God I have to shut up and listen for answers.

Any way thanks for letting me share and thank you Darlene and Everyone I dont remember all names but every one who posted has touched my heart and helped me and brought a smile to my face thanks you so much.. Hugs Angela


I just have to say this…. I was treated SO EXTREMELY HORRIBLY in the Lancaster, PA area AA, that even though I now live 2,000 miles away and it’s been 8 years since I was in that group, the memory is still very, very painful. SO painful, that I have decided not to read any more comments on this particular blog post. I’m starting to feel triggered and defensive and hurt all over again… and I’m facing 2 scary medical procedures coming up this week, a colonoscopy on Monday to try to find out why I’ve been bleeding a lot in that area… 13 years ago a large precancerous growth was removed from my colon, so this is scary, not just a routine test. Then on Thursday, just 3 days after the colonoscopy, I am having a uterine biopsy, again because I’m having some scary symptoms in that area, and way back when I was 27, I had carcinoma insitu of my cervix. So, yeah, right now my emotions are rather delicate. I don’t need more things triggering me.

On my family and friends fb account, I have friends who are still true friends that I got to know and love in Maine, in AA, over 20 years ago. And I still have some dear friends from the Lancaster, PA, area AA groups, they weren’t all evil! But a whole huge clique turned on me when I was going through my last divorce, facing turning 50 all alone, and feeling very very vulnerable. I was just waiting for my divorce settlement to come through, so I could divide it among my 3 grown kids, along with a letter telling each of them how much I loved them and how sorry I was for being such a failure… I didn’t want my now-ex and the woman he was living with to get to keep it all…. and then I was going to kill myself, because the way I was being treated, in the program where I went for SUPPORT, was THAT BAD, REALLY!!! And, with my background of abuse from childhood through abusive marriages, I was conditioned to believe that it was ALL MY FAULT that the people in AA were turning on me like a pack of rabid wolves that kill off their weak members.

SO… even though no one here said anything that was out of line in anyway, still, right now I am feeling very sensitive and I just want it known. I love you ALL here, so much, I am thankful beyond words for Darlene and this awesome blog of hers, and I will continue to gratefully and joyfully read all of her other blog posts, and the comments on those. But from now on, when I see in my email box that there is another comment posted on this one, THE DEADLY SIDE OF ACCOUNTABILITY, I will delete it and not read it. I just wanted to let that be known, so if anyone intends to comment on this post for me to read, I will not be reading it, out of self-protection.

I hope you all understand.

Blessings and Love,


@Darlene, I saw this one before but never read it until now because I didn’t understand how accountability could be deadly. I understand what you are saying. There are so many people who do want to place blame on the survivor I think it is important to know the truth. I told you today there is a guy from my high school I don’t know him that well but all of our alumni are on all of each other’s pages. He asked a question is it rape if the woman had an orgasm? I tried to educate him but it looked like he was looking for an excuse to rape somebody or something. So many want to blame the survivor that it is so important not to blame ourselves. I realize you were using the word in a way that it is used against a survivor and not for a survivor. With that in mind in regards to accountability I have had some realizations in the last 2 years.
One thing I have noticed in the last 2 years. I have noticed that people especially men who are not accountable to anyone spin out. In the last 2 years I have made a new rule for lack of a better word that I will not be friends (close to) anyone who refuses to be accountable to others.


Ps- I know that is not the focus of what you were saying I just had a different thought due to that guy looking for excuses to justify rape.


Hi Pinky,
Yes, in this post I am talking about when WE try to be accountable for what was done to us by others. Abusers have to be accountable for what they do ~ as you say, I am not excusing that kind of accountability.
Hugs, Darlene



Again, the worst thing my parents did was to objectify me. I was emotionally disabled by it. I was so manipulated by them and the men who abused and exploited me later that I lost my self-motivation. I pulled my self out of the sexual abuse and drugs by taking responsibility for it all. No one else was going to take responsibility for it. Thirty some years later there is still no culpirt holding themselves accountable. I know though that the same hyper-accountability that saved my life made me a controling mother. Even in that controling state, I was not motivated by self but was still just serving others. I still don’t know who I am apart from my husband, children, and grandchildren. I have grown a lot in the last few years and I am no longer controling (hyper-accountable) but I’m still lost. I don’t know who I am without some other to direct my day.
I’m stuck.


(I am excited, I am not yelling at you!)
I had this same problem.. it inspires many posts in efb. (esp. earlier ones) I thought I needed someone to define me, becasue I had always been defined. I kept searching, looking at the truth and I emerged! Just keep going.
Hugs, Darlene


Pam, I so know what you mean. I’m right with you there. People fail to recognize that THAT is the abuse – the defining. If you remember what Patricia Evans says in her book The Verbally Abusive Man, verbal abuse is anything that defines you. So people can stop name-calling, yelling, being sarcastic, etc. but if they still define you, eg “You think you are…”, “Some of us would rather…”, “I don’t expect anything different from you…” etc. then they are defining you and that is ABUSIVE.

Pam, what you said about not knowing how to move without direction is exactly why it is so hard for abused women to leave. They tell you to use your mind and do what you feel is right. But you only know to do what you are told is the right thing to do! So for many years, people said it was wrong to leave, so I didn’t. Then I found out you could leave. So I started to make plans. Then some said you couldn’t. So I didn’t. Etc. I didn’t know the meaning of “follow your gut” because I didn’t know I had one, or that I was allowed to use it.


The problem is that the damage that is done holds us at that age when it first happened – now I know that it makes the rest of my life make sense. Starting to heal at chronological age of 55, historical age of 6 (or so) I now know I was not old enough to know better. I was too young to understand that my feelings were right. I was too young to understand that my life should not be like that, that I was indeed worth much more, that I deserved to be appropriately nurtured and loved. I was not big enough to fight them off. I was not fast enough to be able to run away. Not loud enough to be heard – even if someone was actually listening. I did not have the life experience to understand that they were to blame, that they were perverted, that they were truly bad/sick.

It really helps to understand my life as being like a time warp – part here and now, part there and then. Integrating those two parts of me is a work in progress.


Hi Libby
Yes, this is so true. The good news is that it goes much faster once we start. Not like having to grow up from age five year by year. I love your comments!
Hugs, Darlene


I didn’t read all the posts above, but your article struck me about loving myself this Valentine’s Day. I went into Shop Rite and looked at the peach colored roses several times and almost bought them. I went in a day or two later and the peach ones were gone. Next time I see them I am going to buy them for myself! They would be healthier and last longer than the marshmallow hearts I did buy and gobble up!
Happy Belated Valentines to all!


Hi Margie!
What a lovely idea! Thanks for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene


Just had another look……
When I think about my abusers – ultimately THEY were accountable to ME.
I was a kid, they were adults, they had responsibility to me/for me. They had a duty of care towards me – so they had a duty to protect me, to keep me safe from harm. And they let me down badly. My parents failed to step up to the plate – they failed to see I was in trouble emotionally and psychologically, they failed to understand the physical symptoms I showed for the truth that they spoke. My parents failed to engage with me as parents, to nurture and love me. They were the only ones responsible for their actions – and they were accountable to ME for their lack of care.
My teachers were similarly in a position of care and duty towards me. They utterly failed to keep their professed vocational duty of care towards me. They actively hurt me, messed up my body, messed up my mind – messed up my life. The individuals who did this could and should have been held to account for what they did, it was against the law. They were not. The school authorities similarly had duties and responsibilities towards me, to safeguard my best interests – and they failed.The school authorities totally ducked the issue and made it My fault, MY problem – and I have spent the last 40 odd years trying to get my head around that one. To date, they have not been made to account (to me, to anyone) for their actions. They colluded with my abusers, actively.
As an adult, I was abused by colleagues – I was not responsible for their behaviour – when I complained I was made to feel at fault. I was blamed – for not screaming, for not running, for not fighting back. But I was a 6yrs old child in those situations. My colleagues were not called to account for their behaviour, I was called to account for mine – and I couldn’t, because my earlier trauma had been suppressed in my memory. And so I was blamed and stigmatised again.
I understand this NOW. I now KNOW in my heart of hearts that I was not responsible, not to blame, not at fault. Even though I have an adults’ body, at those moments, I was a child again.
My child is now beginning to grow up – she is fragile and needs a lot of support, but me, the adult, will not allow her to be treated like that again. Me and my little girl now know clearly who is to blame, who is at fault – who is accountable – for what happened back then. But now – I am in charge of me. I take responsibility for my recovery – for my relationships. Watch out anyone who wants to mess with me – cuz I won’t have it!


This is excellent! I read your comments twice! These are the connections that I made which went SO far in towards setting me free. To understand this is huge! Thank you so much for posting,
I hope everyone reads your comment!!!
Hugs, Darlene


Well said Libby!…You articulate your feelings & thoughts very well. I too feel the same way about my abusers- ex-bosses, co-workers & family. They are the ones to be Accountable. I also know in my heart, not just my mind, that I’m NOT RESPONSIBLE for their behavior. I will protect my inner child by being supportive & kind to her. I deserve better than I had!….I’m coming into my own & i’m not holding back to appease or please nasty, controlling people! I will speak my mind and say, I’m offended, when someone puts me down, whether they are my boss or a family member. I wish I could of called more people out in my past but that was then, this is now! Lets cheer each other to stand up & be counted!…..Sincerely, SMD


Regarding comment 79 – very well said! I’m sorry I didn’t read it earlier (had a lot of things to do today). At 56 I still feel that inner child struggling as well. I thought I was doing good, but now reading the book “Growing Up Again”, I don’t think I worked through it as much as I thought I had. I so easily take guilt and blame; in fact, I joke (possibly discounting myself) that even WWII was my fault, even though I wasn’t born yet when it occurred! I have to review my childhood memories and pick out the healthy vs the unhealthy situations and responses. What a lot of work! So, back to reading and working through my book and to my therapist for additional EMDR to work through things further!


My recovery tells me that I am accountable for my behavior TODAY. This means if I am rebellious because of my past (and I am), I can change that behavior today. I was not accountable back then. This is something I had to understand. I AM accountable, TODAY. The past is over. If there are bad patterns in my own behavior, I need to own them, and stop doing them. Children are NEVER responsible for the bad behavior of their parents. And this includes our own children, as well. We don’t get a free ride to make the same mistakes our parents did.

I found freedom in taking responsibility for my own behavior. I can control that. I can’t control the behavior of others, and I am never accountable for their choices.


Darlene this is so what I needed! I had gotten manipulated into helping a “friend” have an affair. But because I was 18 I always put most of the blame on myself. I should have said no, I should have gotten out of there, I should have realized what was going on. For years I’ve felt like a homewrecker and wore because some guy that was 7 years older than me took advantage of my various weaknesses.


Carla Logan’s comment (#6), word-for-word, could have been my own. As I read of her thoughts, feelings, and observations, I connected with what she wrote on such a deep level that I felt strong enough, for the first time, to leave a comment. I have visited EFB many times, but up until now, have not been emotionally able to comment.

When I think about expressing my thoughts, feelings, and observations about my childhood abuse and accountability issues, my throat actually feels like it is closing and I feel so panicky that I have to quickly stop thinking about doing so. I tell myself that it was all so long ago that talking or writing about it now would serve no purpose. But, that could just be me still following the abuser’s directive that what he did was not wrong, but should always be kept a secret.

When I was a child accountability was only expected of me, not of my various emotional and physical abusers.


When I became a Christian it was customary to have an accountability partner….for me it became a way of focusing on my failings and self-hatred. When, I continued to enter into sexual relationships the action was condemned. My partner said she couldn’t understand why I couldn’t simply choose to be pure….No one really understood, not even me, at the time that I had been sexually abused as a child. Nevertheless, the responses I received weren’t at all helpful. I loved God and I wanted to be a better person….but only He knew, only He really understood why I was doing what I was doing. I wished I could stop, but something was driving me to men that were unavailable to me…basically to other “untouched” Christians, I was rebellious. I should know what the Bible said about immorality and simply not go there…..the Church needs to understand brokenness better: that our hearts and bodies have been invaded without our consent and the results of that are played out in our lives…it is a process a journey toward healing and wholeness. It wasn’t our fault and being told to ‘straighten up, forgive and forget, let it go’ among some of the lame comments out there, doesn’t work.
The pull toward men and trying to be ‘saintly’ was so bad that I think it caused my depression. I became suicidal and my mind was a mess. I was really, really, sick. I don’t think that God has failed me, not for a second. But I do think there are some dangerous holes and a LOT of shame in the church that shouldn’t be there. It needs to be a safe place where we can talk about our brokenness, our pain and our shame without judgement – a place where no one is holier than thou but continue to point UP to the only One who can truly heal us and restore us into who we were truly meant to be.


Hi Brenda
Exactly! No free ride to make the same mistakes. and yes anyone can change.
~One of the things that really helped me as for some of the ‘shameful’ things (like sleeping with men esp) I did as a adult was understanding how my belief system formed because of the childhood abuse and why my self-esteem was so shattered in the first place.
Hugs Darlene


Hi Naomi
This is the kind of thing I am talking about. Thanks for sharing your example!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Christine,
Welcome to Emerging from broken and to commenting!
This site talks a lot about the reasons behind our fears such as the one you shared. I talk a lot about re-wireing my brain by looking at the truth about those fears and the truth about where the originated. That was a huge part of how I found my freedom. I am so happy that you shared and hope you will feel comfortable sharing more. Getting some of this stuff out in a safe environment makes a big difference!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Shelley
Welcome to EFB ~ I am very familiar with the ‘accountability partner’ and how the purpose and concept of having one get so messed up! So many things about ‘spirituality’ for me were used against me and as you say, became another way that I ‘whipped myslef’ with more guilt and shame.
Looking at the roots of the why is what helped me more than anything else and this is not encouraged much in our society. Something else that helped me a lot was in realizing how mis taught the bible is. I studied the teachings of christ and they are extreemly manipulated for the purpose of control and most controllers use guilt and shame as control tactics. I don’t think God ever failed me either! But the church and its people did over and over again.
Hugs, Darlene


Well…I too can relate to almost every word here. I suppose in the end my story is no “better” or “worse” than any other second of abusive pain suffered here or anywhere else for that matter. It just “feels” worse because its mine. It’s the curse of eternal personal less thans, the unremitting fears of life and the ever elusive if onlys.
Ill sum it up this way….mom and dad had 3 boys, mom didn’t want me. Tried to abort me twice. I was born “normal” in spite of attempts. (I was aDaddy’s girl) She hated me, abused me and rejected me. Mom got sick when I was 7, dad was out of town a lot, 4 kids left with sick mom and nanny. Golden boy brother (moms fav) starts molesting me. I had nobody to go to. No accountability for him Blah blah blah….been to numerous therapists, loads of bad choices and not caring about me I finally did some work. Hard work. Then, mom died. I was 28 and the only one there with her. Still continued to work on me. Life goes on….now I’m 50. Dad died this past July. :0( I am so damn angry at my brother I want to tear him apart. Grief is a very difficult thing. It brings out so many emotions. Ones I don’t know how to deal with. I feel like he (my brother) still holds my power and I WANT IT BACK! I want my voice to be heard. I don’t want to be afraid of anyone ever again.
I don’t know how to get unstuck. I just want him to be accountable.
Anyway, thanks for your blog. I know I can always relate.


Why do I keep doing that?


Wow Elizabeth I can sure relate to eturnal personal less thans! Ive always felt that way. Less than. Particularly less than my golden child brother.
I was always held responsible by my abusive parents for several bad choices made as a teenager. I should have known better. How I ask? I was never taught
anything about life. boundries. Keeping safe. Rights.
Personal choice..oh I had none. They decided everything but I was held accountable. To their thinking they were perfect parents and I was just a bad unruly emotionally unstable child. How I got that way was never considered.

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