The Grooming Process of Discrediting Children and the Cycle of Abuse


carla's hawaii 117Dear Mom;

If you read my blog as the daughter YOU were, instead of as the mother you ARE, can you honestly tell me that you would not completely relate to what I am saying? If I wasn’t YOUR daughter, (if I was your next door neighbor), I know you would be a fan. 

My mother always said a lot of things that indicated that I was the problem ~ her problem. Those types of things that she said were a big part of the grooming process in the cycle of abuse. Grooming a child to believe that the child is the problem and communicating that publically serves several purposes one of which is that it discredits the child to other family members and friends of the family way before the child ever tries to stand up to abusive treatment which serves to insure that the abuser will never be questioned by other people. It is important for the controlling or abusive person to discredit the child in case the child ever tells or exposes the truth about the dysfunction in the family. Another purpose for grooming the child to believe he or she is the problem is that it also causes the child to spend more time questioning themselves than they ever would spend questioning the treatment that they have been groomed to accept as ‘normal’ treatment. In other words this type of grooming insures that all eyes are always on the child and never on the parent or adult involved.

The truth is that my mother comes from a dysfunctional family herself and she comes from an abusive family as well so she herself went through this same grooming process. She learned to discount me from the same grooming process that she learned her own value from. I don’t mention that to excuse her, but to show the cycle of abuse. The only way to stop the cycle is to expose it and to stand up to it. I stood up to it and I have been successful in stopping it in my own life and within my own family.  

And some would say there is a price I have paid. I have no family. I have nieces and nephews that I will never meet. I will always be referred to as the crazy one in the family and I suppose that if I didn’t have this website, if I didn’t get hundreds of thank you notes every month, if my writing wasn’t shared by hundreds of thousands of people and studied by universities all over the world, I might still question that old belief that I was the crazy one… but I don’t believe that lie anymore because I understand that it was part of the grooming process all along. The ‘price’ for my freedom from the abusive cycle, however expensive, was well worth it.

I understand that in order for my mother to give herself credit, she had to discredit me and she still ‘has’ to discredit me. But that doesn’t make her right. I understand that in order to deny the truth about the cycle of abuse that she comes from she had to say that it wasn’t actually abuse so that when she repeated the same abusive treatment that beat her down in childhood, she could justify it. But that doesn’t make it acceptable. It is important to recognize that this message communicated in this dysfunctional family system ~ that children are worth less than adults or worth less than their parents ~ is achieved by discounting and dismissing children in order to ‘teach’ children to learn their ‘place’.

But here is what I learned about ‘my place’;

“My Place” was nowhere. “My place” was in first knowing and then accepting that I was not actually as valid as a human being as ‘they’ were. Respect, according to this false system, is worshiping parents no matter what the sick desire or motive of those parents is. The false definition of respect is to accept anything they dish out and be happy about it. Respect in the dysfunctional family world is acceptance of any type of treatment, without question. Respect in abusive relationships means NEVER asking to be respected in return. ‘My place’ was no place.

The confusion happens because of the mixed messages children get in a dysfunctional family system; it is very confusing when we experience that we don’t get that same ‘privilege’ as they get; we are taught how to prove our love for them, but we are not loved in the definition of love that they have taught us proves our love for them. It is puzzling when we are ‘taught’ how to love but we are not loved back in the way we are taught to love. It is baffling to a child when we don’t get this respect (that proves love) back!  And in order to adjust and to cope with it, we discount ourselves even more and consequently we are stuck in the spin of proving our worth in the dysfunctional ways that we are taught to prove it!

 And that is the cycle of abuse and dysfunctional family.

Coming out of the fog and Emerging from Broken is a process of seeing the lies that were set so deeply in place that these lies are believed to be true and overturning them. It is a process of seeing the lies for the lies that they are and changing them back to the truth.

Perhaps I didn’t see this consciously when I was in the fog, but it is evident that I believed that I didn’t deserve the other side of respect and that respect wasn’t ‘mutual’. I believed that the way I was taught to prove my love for them was not the way that they should prove their love for me. In order to believe and accept that lie, I had to believe that I was ‘less valuable’ than they were ~ which is exactly what their actions taught me in the first place. I had to believe in the dysfunctional pecking order system where I was less and they were more and I would never be as valuable as they were in order to survive in it. My parents and other adults communicated to me by their actions that I was ‘worth less’ than they were. As a child, I had no choice but to accept that I was worthless and try to survive by compliance and obedience to their actions and messages about me.

This ‘grooming process’ is the same for all abuse and all abuse has its foundation in psychological abuse. The grooming process is the same for domestic violence as it is for sexual abuse only the details are different. The “worth less” message is communicated in the work place by bully bosses or bullying coworkers, the same as it is communicated in dysfunctional family systems. If someone can get you to believe you are worth less than they are, they can make you look at yourself instead of at them. As long as I was looking at what was wrong with me, (which is survival and there isn’t a better way to try to cope when we are children) I was trying harder to make them like and accept me.

Everything changed when I finally took a look at the truth. Everything changed when I realized that I was being controlled by the fear of the consequences of standing up to them. Everything changed when I realized that I was no longer that child and that I had become an adult with real choices. Everything changed when I realized that my biggest fear was that they would reject me and that truth was that they already had. It had already happened when they didn’t see me as having equal worth as an individual and when they invalidated and disregarded me by their actions or inactions.

When I stood up to that dysfunctional family system and declared my own value, I got dumped. When I insisted that I deserved the same respect that was demanded of me, everyone was shocked. I was rejected because I asked for something unheard of in a dysfunctional and abusive family system; I asked to be regarded as having equal value. When I asked for respect and simply asked to be treated the way I was expected to treat her, I was rejected.  My mother never experienced that with her mother because she never stood up to her mother but I am certain if my mother read this blog as the daughter she was instead of the mother she is, she would totally relate to it.

Please share your thoughts about this angle of dysfunctional family relationships, the grooming process in the cycle of abuse or about the pain of being rejected for requesting equal value.

P.S. My mother doesn’t speak to me. (She would likely tell you that it is ME who doesn’t speak to her, but that would not be exactly the truth.)

There is freedom on the other side of broken;

Darlene Ouimet

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

Related Posts ~ See highlighted sentence fragments in bold

Also see – Why People discount the Child and Defend the Abuser 

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645 response to "The Grooming Process of Discrediting Children and the Cycle of Abuse"

  1. By: Summer Thompson Posted: 14th August

    Im really glad I found this site. I am turning 60 next year and still in the process of understanding and putting closure or peace with this.

    My family of 4 including me was very similar to what I am reading here with of course my own circumstances.
    My father had rages and my mother used biblical content out of context in order to control information. She did not want people to know what was going on in the home. She told me this happens in every family they just don’t talk about it. I also remember her saying God said to ‘turn the other cheek’. I was the youngest and a female. While my father did focus on my brother moreso this caused a division in the family whereby my brother did hurt me and it was my mother and brother who used this discrediting in order to keep me quiet or discredit me with others. Apparently they had said ‘i had an over active imagination as well as I imagine these things in my head”

    My brother templated this and soon I had another abuser in the family who was supported by my mother.
    My brother at an early age of 13 or 14 when my parents were away tried different tactics to try to get me to undress in front of him. He indicated how beautiful I was and any boy would love to see you. I had enough in me to understand something was wrong with this, but while I had this knowledge I was assaulted in the presence and laughter of my brother by a male friend of his, no less.

    I grew up hard and when I felt threatened I put furniture against my bedroom door at night whenever I sensed a problem. I ran away from home at least 5 times in high school only to be returned. One time I ran 5 miles away barefoot but was still found.

    No matter what I said to my family I was dismissed. Now after reading this I know why. If this was admitted to they would be guilty. It is a relation that my mother and brother could lie at a drop of a hat and be calm over this.

    Because my father had MS my mother had full control in the family. It was perceived my brother was not treated fairly so apparently now I was going to be treated differently. I had to stay living with my parents until I was 26. I was made to feel guilty because I had handed my check over to my mother. While in hindsight this sounds ridiculous. The control over what I owed them and how this was business as usual but only for me …I actually accepted this.

    When I left I mostly left for good with short periods of interaction only to be disappointed again. I went to a lot of counseling in my adult world. When my parents were old I went to them and told them I forgave them and told them what they did to me. Of course I was called a liar and met with full fury, but I did keep myself in peace through this whole thing. Later when my father became ill I went to help them out. This turned into a longer engagement then in the beginning.

    My brother, Gary who had damaged his life so badly was living with my parents at the same time. He apparently evoked revenge on them and whatever they did to him they received it back in spades. My mother went to the hospital with a broken nose. In helping them at their residence, I once again relived putting furniture up against the door
    In short my father died and my mother ended up living with us until she died. I would NOT recommend this to everyone. This was truly a faith test and I was challenged emotionally thru the entire ordeal. The thing I got from it was peace and an ability to see especially my mother in different terms. I now have snapshots of happy innocent memories of which I did not have earlier. My mother and I learned to become friends.

    Now my brother is in this space. He has terminal cancer. He discredited me with many family members and neighbors in the past and caused division. And no surprise to y’all I do not have these people in my life. Kinda what the first article mentioned. How weird is this??????

    Had he changed his life and treated me differently especially after I gave him the monetary help and located resources for him I would be more open to be getting involved. Now I see this pattern repeat itself. Behind my back I hear he is lying. I cannot speak to him alone or even on the phone. I am now dealing with a person giving me advice about him and I feel like I am choking and back in my old life cornered on how I should be forgiving or do something for him. Will this ever end???

    A part of me wants to tell everyone what he did to me and or once again distant myself from family members because none of these people are clueful. In my past if I did tell them it would be met with disapproval.

    This is unbelievable. Its ok for me to stuff it down again but him not be accountable to life.

    How is it they don’t get this?

  2. By: Kat Posted: 29th January

    Hy! Beautiful Article and Very Articulate!
    The Sme thing is Happening to me. I ve been NContact with the Crazies for 5 years. IT HAS BEEN AMAZING !!!
    I Recently had Financial Trouble and HAD to go back to the Crazy town.
    The Bullying REstarted even though Im an Adult!!

    Its Amazing!! They SEE all my Accomplishments and Aknowledge None!!
    My Father is PEDOPHILE FREAK who had Incest with his Own Narc Mother
    My Bio Mother is OVERT CRAZY BPD. Histrionic Narc who hated me and wants to Murder me since Birth!! XD


    My Hope in the Storm… I ve met Beautiful people among Severe Devils. Ive been in ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP with a Sadist NARC Texbook Psychopath. Go Figure

    Exactly Familiar Treatment……

    Goood. I Gotta Get out of here. Im a Student Psychology It comes Natural from so many CRAZIES I deal with.

    Im being Attacked on a Daily Basis!!
    And You are RIGHT THEY ARE COWARDS!!!!



    PRAY FOR ME x Good Luck. Everyone

    Great Article!

  3. By: Asia Posted: 18th September

    what about sexists in a family? I’ve been told to stay quiet when my brothers mistreat me, “you should be nice to them all the time or they’ll beat you up when they grow up, they will be stronger cause they are men, so better treat them well”, but no one protected me when they treated me badly for no reason. they would just start insulting me, they’d treat me badly the same way my parents did. parents forbid me to say anyone about abuse cause “people will think that you are crazy if you talk about stuff like this, then no 1 will want to be your friend if they find out from what kind of family you are coming from”. i developed BPD, bipolar disorder, and tons of mental problems, and couldn’t take care of me until i was 27, they were screaming at me cause i can’t function, but they didn’t let me go to a psychologist “people will think that you are crazy if you visit a psychologist, better be quiet”. so i stayed alone in my room that was so negative cause of my dark depression. i gained strength after reading a lot of articles, and decided to tell everything to my cousin so i can feel better, but my cousin didn’t believe me, my mom told her that i misunderstood everything, that i’m so ungreateful, that i’m spoiled, etc. so now im alone again at 30, i never had a boyfriend, i wasn’t capable, im still not capable to function, i feel shame, i feel pain, i cry everyday, idk how to save me. i don’t have money to escape, i have to live with 4 monsters…. that insult me cause i cant earn money. i feel shame cause i’m writting this. it took me so many years to heal from BPD by myself. that was tooo painful. i dont have money for a psychologyst, for anything, i depend on them, but they buy food once in a while, i have anorexia. i look horrible, my mom was always telling me that i’ll never find a boyfriend, that no one would want me… i have inferiority complex. im scared of all people. my brothers tell me all the time that im ugly, mom told me “why would i be nice when i’ll die anyway?” my dad ignores me. they told me i deserved all of this, that i don’t deserve what i want. they abused me so much. when i start crying in front of her, she starts laughing, she would scream at me, if i start crying, she would either just laugh, or laugh and say “you are just sensitive, haha”, she wouldn’t take responsibility for her actions, it was always my fault, i didn’t deserve the beatings. i didn’t deserve to not eat food, to starve, to be unhealthy now. god doesn’t exist.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 21st September

      Hi Asia
      Thank you for sharing, I hope you will keep reading this site ~ there is a lot of insight here and you may find some answers to the questions you have.
      Hugs, Darlene

      • By: Jen Blodgett Posted: 10th June

        Hi Darlene. I love the article about grooming. I believe this happened to me. What I’m trying to figure out is whether my mother did this intentionally. To begin, she was 26 when she had me. My father was 62. He died in a drunk driving accident in 1970. I was 13 months old. She did tell me once that she didn’t want children. He did. She told me he was a kind man. He was an alcoholic though…. The friendly kind, not violent. She remarried and had my brother in 1972. He is a nice man, a family man, but my mother is a bitch, so he divorced her, and took my brother with him. They moved to Milwaukee, and we moved to Orlando. I spent summers and holidays with them in Milwaukee, which I loved, because it got me away from her and all her strange bedfellows. It was the 70s and early 80s, so there was always some new cult or nudist camp to frequent. These kinds of places are a predator’s heaven and haven. Of course, all these weird mothers and/or families brought their children with them. How dare they!! Why can’t children just be children?? So there I was, butt -ass naked in front of EVERYONE. I might as well of had a target painted on me. So next, bring on Eckankar, a spiritualist CULT whose members are, in my opinion, the strangest people alive. They don’t worship a higher power. They worship a man. A man who has soared through the ranks of the CULT, all the way to the top. There we met Bob. He was in his 50s. He was a 5th level master. He was charismatic and charming. She fell for him instantly. He moved in with us in ’78 or ’79. He started grooming me right away. I was CONSTANTLY left alone with him. He did my nails. He gave me rides to my friend’s house. He took me to movies. The one I remember was “Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask”, a Woody Allen movie, of course. He paid more attention to me then to her. Then one time I awoke in the morning to my mother screaming in her bedroom, which was right next to mine. I was so afraid. I didn’t know what was wrong. I got up, butt naked. We were nudists in the house too. I went to her door, which was cracked. Why? Why wasn’t it locked? I have learned recently that parents being loud during sex when there are children in the house is sexual abuse by-proxy. So I walked in. I suppose he, maybe they, wanted me to. They were having sex. Her back was to me, but he saw me, and didn’t say a word. He just stared at me and smiled. I got all the way around the other side of the bed before she saw me. She jumped up and yelled at me to get out of there. I ran back into my bedroom. A few minutes later, she came in there and said she was sorry for yelling, and that it was okay. They were just making love. So I asked her a few things, and she handed me two books. “The Joy of Sex” and “The Kama Sutra.” I was 8 years old. I have since stumbled across an old photo of myself from that apartment. I had forgotten about it. I was sitting at my desk in the nude. I’m not sure who took it, but I’m pretty sure it was her. She always had a Cannon camera around her neck in those days. I even have pictures of her with that damn camera on. The next year, we moved into a house on the other side of Orlando. He moved with us. While we were there, he got closer a closer to me. He told me he loved me. He treated me like a daughter. I was STARVING for father-like attention, and he knew it. One week, my mother had a seminar in Tampa, I think. It was a week-long seminar, and she left me with him. She denies that to this day. The first time he touched me, I was 9 years old. He came into my bedroom in the morning, while she was out of town. I woke up and he was licking my vagina. He was naked. I just froze. I guess I should have fought him, but no one ever told me what to do in that situation. It just wasn’t talked about very much still in those days I guess. My mother certainly never warned me of such a thing. She told me of many other atrocities, such as slavery and the holocaust. She is an extremely intelligent woman, once a Mensa. She always had an administrative job, wearing nice clothes and such. I wonder if her co-workers knew about her secret lifestyle. She finally bought a house in another part of town. He moved with us again. He continued to molest me orally and digitally for three years. He would say things like, “I want to make love to you but I don’t want to hurt you”, “I love you, Jenny”, “You’re just like that cat out there. You say no but you mean yes”, or “Have you told your mother about us?” US! Not him. US! As if we were having an affair or something and I was a willing participant. Son of a bitch! When my shy reply was, “No”, his response was “Good!” He used an intimidating voice. I was a shy person. I was CONSTANTLY bullied in school, I guess because I was so strange. Therefore, I had no confidence, and I always felt worthless. I had no friends in school, because everyone hated me. The teachers saw the bullying and did NOTHING. I was completely unimportant to everyone but Bob. I hated being at school and I hated being at home. I hated existing. I had one friend, the daughter of another weird mother. She was a friend of my mother, of course. Birds of a feather, right? So finally, when I was 12, I told my friend about Bob. She was 11, but already smart beyond her years. She told me one time her uncle touched her breasts. She told her mother, and it never happened again. She said I HAD to tell my mother. So I did, and Bob was arrested. However, I was so shy that apparently, the State Attorney didn’t feel like I could handle court. So he spent the night in jail, and was given a trespassing warrant to stay away from us, and that was it! He was never punished, which only adds to my anger. Once again I was completely unimportant. He even constantly broke the warrant, and showed up at the house and just sat outside, intimidating me. My mother was at work. When I hid in her bedroom, locked the door, and called her, she called the neighbor to come run him off. She never left work to come home and see how I was. He did it over and over, and I just had to take it. He was never able to get his hands on me again though. Thank you Jesus! So, I guess I was in my 20s when she suddenly came out to the family that SHE had been molested by her father. My aunts both deny that he did that. I’m not sure though, but her story is an exact replica of mine. So was that her way of alleviating some guilt, or did something like that happen? I’m just not sure. I know my grandpa never laid a hand on me, in any way. When I was younger, we spent a lot of time with my grandparents. But if it did in fact happen, wouldn’t she have shielded me from the same fate? And why didn’t she? After my abuse stopped, she HATED me and has hated me ever since. She continues to bring up all my past transgressions and my past drug problems. I’ve been bipolar since I was 14. I used to take prescriptions for depression and anxiety. I stopped. I take herbal supplements now. I think that’s why I see things more clearly now.

  4. By: Syan Posted: 12th March

    Thank you SO much for this post. It’s like you’ve been sitting on the sofa with my family’s 300 lb ‘invisible’ gorilla. My abuser transitioned recently, and I was contacted by a family member to; ‘end whatever is going on with you and your mother because she won’t be alive forever.’ Something inside me fully woke up after that suggestion. She’s still playing the ‘poor me’ card, and ‘I don’t know what I’ve said or done that she won’t call me’.

    Today I declare: I am enough, I am a person of high value and I have much to contribute. Thank you for the confirmation I am not the only one who has experienced this and that I am quite SANE. Blessings to you and the work you do.

  5. By: Lyndsay Posted: 4th May

    Hi Christa,
    I’m 30 and have been on this site for a few years. It’s a hard journey to even figure out what I want to do to fix myself, let alone actually implementing it! I’ve found for me I sometimes just have to let myself feel awful for a bit…I write in my diary all the time, even if it hurts, without self-censoring. I feel like I fail at what I want to achieve literally every day, but I’m trying to remind myself that failure is never the end we all think it is-it’s just learning how to not do something. I ask people for advice and suggestions, but sometimes it’s enough just to feel like I’m not alone. You are not alone.

  6. By: Christa Posted: 3rd May

    I was 23 years old when I seeked out a therapist for my constant fear and self doubt and I’m trying to get better. Because my mother was single mother who left an emotionally abusive and formerly abused husband, she in turn became emotionally abusive towards me. I have stood up for myself, and she forced a family therapy session to proof to me and my sister that I am indeed still the ‘problem’ child. She convinced the therapist too also agree with what she believed about me, where I was told that my mom is right and I act irrationally, I am overly sensitive about mean things said to me and it is my fault that we had problems. Unfortunately my sister who has a good relationship with my mother believes this too. I am 24 years old and I can’t tell how deep these wounds my mother inflicted on me go. I never think I am good enough, I don’t believe people when they compliment me or say that I am beautiful. I felt so worthless as a child and completely disregarded as an adullt. I don’t want to harbour this anger resentment around so I thought it would be easier to forgive. But I don’t think it has helped me. I don’t want to be alone with family, I don’t know what to do. Most of the comments are from older people. What can you advise from a younger woman?

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 3rd May

      Hi Christa
      Welcome to efb. I have worked with people of all ages and the healing process is the same – it’s all about seeing the damage and validating that damage in order to realize how that damage falsely defined you. You might be surprised to know that there are comments here ( in this website) from all age groups and from all over the world. I don’t advise anything different – I hope you will keep sharing and keep reading.
      Hugs Darlene

  7. By: Conti lin Posted: 27th April

    This article was so helpful to me. I never recognized till I read this that, yeah, I’m less of a human than those older than I. I wanted to thank you for this article several weeks ago when I saw it. I emailed it to my best friend and told her “this is me. This is why I need so much validation.” She was shocked.
    And to be honest, my rulers were for the most part, benign and gracious.
    But now my mom has 2 months to live and she goes downhill every day. I stayed with her a whole week and people at her assisted living place saw the truth about me and began to like me.
    Then my mom told me my older brother had said when I was laid off last October, that I had a sickness (which was when I was expected to take disability to take care of her). My older brother bluntly denied it.
    And I told him and my sister it’s evident now how sick I was then. The sickness was outside my body.
    It makes me sick to my stomach but I actually hugged my enemy while I was there. I’m surprised there was no knife inserted in my back. I’d told him we want him to be part of our family. My mom yearned and mourned and carried on about him because the older two don’t like him. Now I know I have to keep myself safe.
    I only came back home because I got the flu from her. I’m amazed at how soon an abuse victim, at least I, would return to the abuse. And my mom wants me there because the others aren’t on the same wavelength.
    I called her late and talked for two hours about how I felt. And she denied any part of treating me badly.
    But she would because I think her dementia started after my dad died.
    And slowly I think I’m uncovering how much control my younger brother had in my life, being ostracized by friends and moving away and easily making friends, being victimized and seeing coworkers fired. My marriage may or may not have been controlled till the end. And finally moving back into a web of stalking, lies, trouble wherever I go, so I have no permanent job, no family until this past week, one friend, and no neighbors who talk to me. Things in my apartment are missing despit a combination lock, deadbolt, and alarm system.
    I question his daughter’s suicide because I don’t think she wrote psychotic journal entries. And he figured her death would change our relationship. When? And why did it need to change, unless he didn’t like my refusals to be controlled by him. And he was furious I didn’t go to her funeral.
    He likes guns, he shot a bird once and left a pellet gun in my mom’s house the night before the sale closed.
    A counselor once said he’s a sociopath. I won’t divulge my deepest fears except that I’m not gonna have a life in my hometown if he’s here. I’ve got to go somewhere but where? no place else is home. My mom agreed that I cannot have anything to do with him.
    Reasons? He’s been jealous for quite awhile. He has no support from a wife and does anything that gets done while his wife plays tennis.
    Not to mention he’s addicted to money. He doesn’t see my mom unless he wants some. Then nobody knows she gave him any.
    For all his saying I’m insane, he’s gonna die alone with no wife, family, no kids, no friends. Nobody really likes him.

  8. By: Tara Posted: 24th April

    ““My Place” was nowhere. “My place” was in first knowing and then accepting that I was not actually as valid as a human being as ‘they’ were. Respect, according to this false system, is worshiping parents no matter what the sick desire or motive of those parents is. The false definition of respect is to accept anything they dish out and be happy about it. Respect in the dysfunctional family world is acceptance of any type of treatment, without question. Respect in abusive relationships means NEVER asking to be respected in return. ‘My place’ was no place.”

    This is my story too. It is VERY powerful to see it in writing.

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