To Confront or Not to Confront When Talking Does no Good


Navajo Proverb: You can’t wake a person who is pretending to be asleep.Standing up for yourself, self esteem

In the March Article “The Unheard Invisible Child; Being Seen and Finding my Voice” here in Emerging from Broken, a commenter asked a very popular question.  Here is the query;

“Now that I’ve found my voice, I have this strong desire to voice my anger towards my family. To tell them that they are wrong with how they have mistreated me. However, I don’t want to put myself in a position to be hurt again. Based on past experience, they will not hear me and will deny the truth & blame me for misinterpreting them. It’s been that way since childhood.

I’m an adult now and I deserve equal respect but like you said I have to “give up being heard from the people that silenced me in the first place”… I want to assert myself directly to my mom for something hurtful she recently told me, but what will this accomplish?… I will not be heard. Asserting myself and not being heard is insulting! However, if I don’t assert myself, isn’t that sending them the message that they can say whatever they want to me with no regard for my feelings? Please clarify…”   

Here are my thoughts expanded from my original reply;

I constantly hurt myself by accepting devaluing treatment from other people. I didn’t realize that it had become normal and acceptable to me. For instance take the phrase in the query; “I’m an adult now, and I deserve equal respect.” The false belief in that statement is when we become adults we deserve equal respect but the truth is that we always did deserve equal respect, even as children. Respect and authority are not the same thing. Adults have more authority over children, but in the true definition of love ~ respect and equal value have nothing to do with age or social status. 

When I finally accepted that the fact that they never heard me before was a pretty good indication that they were not going to hear me now, I decided to stick up for me; not so that they MIGHT hear me but because I needed to validate myself. It wasn’t so much about asserting myself. It was more about empowering myself. For the first time in my life I knew that I had a choice in the relationship with them. That brought a new clarity; I realized they had a choice too; they could try to hear me or they would reject me again. They could choose relationship with me which includes mutual respect or no relationship with me which is rejection.

Deep down I was afraid of rejection because I thought rejection would serve as proof of my biggest fear; that they didn’t really care and that I really was “nothing”, just like their actions were pointing to all along.  Accepting abusive and disrespectful treatment without question helped me avoid the actual truth about their actions.  But the truth set me free. The fear was never as bad as the reality.

On this journey to emotional healing and recovery the boundary is drawn in the heart. (which means that when I got it, they got it) When my family and friends knew that I was no longer going to bow down to them, many of them withdrew. They didn’t want me to change; they didn’t want me to regard myself as equally valuable. I realized that in their view there was really no relationship in the first place unless I was beneath them. That truth stung but it also clarified things for me and it spoke clearly; their actions and attitudes highlighted their disregard for me as equally valuable to themselves.

I was unwilling to live defined as beneath anyone anymore.

Not speaking up for me was sending the message that they could treat me how ever they wanted and I decided that those days were over. I made my new self empowering decision and I decided to take a chance on the outcome of standing up for myself so that I could live in freedom from the bondage they had me in. Taking a chance did not depend on them finally hearing me but I did have to decide to accept the outcome either way.

So much of my recovery and overcoming the past has been about looking at things differently. I knew my mother would not value anything I had to say in standing up for myself so I didn’t speak for her to hear me. When I said that I had to give up being heard by the people that silenced me in the first place I meant that I had to believe that being heard by them was the answer. I had to look at what I wanted to accomplish in a new way. I spoke so I would hear me. I had been focused for so many years on the end goal being for “them” to hear me. I think I started to get a glimmer of understanding that even if they heard me, the damage would not be fixed without doing some personal healing work. When I changed my focus on the end goal to healing and emotional recovery for myself, instead of “being heard by them” I was able to speak after all those years on MY behalf.

Not being heard IS insulting. And by looking at the truth of the whole situation I finally had the self respect to understand that I don’t have to accept that treatment anymore.

In the case of my mom I only got to say about three things on my own behalf and because I was still full of fear I kept it pretty mild but it was enough. It was validating. I took a stand. I said I was done with being treated the way she treated me. She asked if we could just forget about all of it and just start over. I said no. She said that in the past we had always been able to sort out our difficulties. I replied that actually in the past I always conceded. I always gave in to her and let her be right. I always backed down but now I told her that those days were over. I told her that I wanted to have a “real relationship” where each of us had mutual respect and equal value.  Much to my surprise, she listened to me. She even suggested that we might try therapy together.  I let myself get excited. I felt a new hope.

At the end of the call she told me to think about what we had talked about and let her know what I decided… My heart kind of sunk.  I had already let her know what I had decided. This was the same old “power play” where she put the ball back in my court and made it all up to me to carry the responsibility for the outcome of the whole mother daughter relationship between us.  I quickly recovered from my shock and reminded her that I had just finished telling her what I had decided and that this time it was up to her to consider if she wanted to work on our relationship WITH ME. A real relationship takes two.

That was the last conversation that I had with my mother. But that is okay. I have grown and flourished since that day. The truth set me free. In the years that followed I have seen the truth about our dysfunctional mother daughter relationship and I have grown stronger in my understanding. My mom had a choice. She chose denial. She chose not to give up her power. She chose to let me go. Perhaps she chose “being right” over being with me, I don’t know, but I have found the sunlight in my own life. I have blossomed into who I was meant to be and I am fulfilled. I have no regrets about standing up for my equal value because now I trust myself with myself. I have no more depression or oppression. I don’t jump when the phone rings. I overcame dissociative identity and multiple personality disorder. I have more confidence and self esteem than I ever thought possible.

Realizing that my own family would rather not bother with me if they had to listen to me or respect me was really hurtful. But the truth that I had to realize is that they had been hurting me for years. The pain was not new; I had been trying to cope with it for over 40 years.  My entire life I had been told that I had misunderstood them. They denied all accountability for any problems in our relationship and insisted that the problem was me.  The difference now is that I stopped believing it.

Please share your thoughts.  Please feel free to use any name you wish in the comment form if privacy is a concern. Only the name you use will be visible to other readers.

There is freedom on the other side!

Darlene Ouimet

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


Related posts: To Confront or Not to Confront; That is the Question

Facebook Parenting for the troubled teen ~ how kids are devalued

Adult victims of Child Abuse still need to be Heard

Conflicting feelings of Rejection when the abuser withdraws


224 response to "To Confront or Not to Confront When Talking Does no Good"

  1. By: Barbara Anne Kelly Posted: 9th February

    I love your website!! I wish I had found it years ago but now that I have you have another huge fan!!

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 10th February

      Hi Barbara!
      Thank you so much! I am so happy that you are here!
      hugs, Darlene

  2. By: Barbara Anne Kelly Posted: 9th February

    P.S. I love your website!! I wish I had found it years ago but now that I have you have another huge fan!!

  3. By: Barbara Anne Kelly Posted: 9th February


    Thank you for your response. I appreciate your feedback!!


  4. By: Barbara Anne Kelly Posted: 9th February

    I need advice ASAP. My 21 year old niece is traveling 2100 miles to come and stay with me for two months. Sadly she is following in her mother’s footsteps and allowing men to use and abuse her. My brother, her father, has always treated her as if she was worthless. She now believes it is true. My brother is an angry, mean, hateful, selfish, dishonest, narcissistic, lazy, drug-addict, alcoholic, abusive, self-centered, and evil person. I had no contact with him for 15 years and unfortunately had no relationship with his two daughters. His first daughter can do no wrong but this second daughter has been treated unfairly since she was born. It does not help that her mother has mental problems (who wouldn’t after being married to my brother) and totally dislikes me and the rest of the family for not being in their lives and helping her. I told her before they had children to leave him but she responded with “you just don’t want me in your family.” I pointed out to her that her illness (depression and suicide attempt) were due to being married to him and her response then was “if getting healthy means losing your brother I would rather stay sick.” I couldn’t reason with that.

    After watching and hearing him verbally abuse her and her son I decided to not be in their life. Now 18 years later my niece ask to come and stay with me for two months because her life in her current home is “shit.” Although her parents are now divorced they are still a part of her life. She lives with her mother and my brother is an hour away. My niece, who barely knows me, is so disgusted with her life she reaches out to an aunt she barely knows. She informed me she has problems with mean boyfriends, addiction, isolation, financial, and hates her going nowhere fast food job.

    My question is my niece wants to know the truth about her dad. I know so much about him that I am sure he has hidden from his family.

    His first marriage was to a sweet young girl that my family loved dearly. I went to visit them once and he got mad, beat her senseless, locked me out of the house, so I sat in my car and listened to her screaming while he beat her. That was in the early 80’s before cell phones. I drove 350 miles home as soon as sunrise. Years later she finally divorced him. She took off while he was at work. All she took was his gun. He never heard from her again but heard from her attorney. He told his daughters that he had been married to her but because she could not have children he left her. The truth is that while she was pregnant he beat her so much she miscarried.

    He also was married to a woman that supposedly cheated on him. He would never be married to someone that did that although he has cheated on every woman he has ever been with including the mother to his children. But this particular women he took to a hotel, under the pretense of fixing their marriage, and they had sex all night. The next day after they had checked out and were in the car he told her he was finished, she was a whore in his eyes. She attempted to jump out of the moving vehicle, was injured, and the police came. She told the police he had held her against her will and raped her all night. He was arrested, went to jail, and started calling me collect begging for me to hire an attorney or he would spend the rest of his life in prison for spousal rape. Three of my family members raised the $17,500 required for bail. He called non-stop from jail sobbing stating he would do whatever it took to pay us back. Two days late, be was released, due to a technicality. He walked out free and never once talked about repaying the money.

    My little sister who died five years ago informed me that he molested her as a child. She told me this when I went with her to her counseling appointment. So I know she went to therapy for this. She also told me she discussed it with my brother and they she did not hate him and was able to have a relationship with him until the day she died. She was, in fact, the only family member that would tolerate him. She told me she felt sorry for him and that is why she would spend time with him when he came to town. He seemed to treat her better and was nicer to her than to others. When she first became ill he flew into town and due to the fact that she had no power of attorney be bullied every medical and family person until he somehow became her spokesperson. He convinced his ex-wife and daughters that I wanted her dead so therefore it was a good thing he came in when he did or she would have died. Non of that was true. She survived the first episode of being on a vent on her on own. She died four months later from the cancer. Her and I were extremely close and she was so worried that if she died that brother would have no family that cared about him. I promised I would try and build a relationship with him and I have kept my word.

    I don’t know what to tell my niece. Do I tell her my sister’s admission of him molesting her? Do I tell her about his nail time and reason? Do I share with her the truth about his first marriage that I personally witnessed the abuse and his wife told me when she left that all she was taking was the gun to protect herself in case he came after her? Do I tell her that after visiting them the last time, 18 years ago, that his meanness towards her stepbrother and mother while he was high on cocaine was the last straw for me? Do I tell her that I reconciled with him after his arrest for spousal rape and I allowed him to come to my home then because he had PTSD that I took him to councillors for?

    She told me she wants to know the truth about her dad. She wants to know why her mother feels as if we deserted them. She wants to know why we were not in their lives when they were growing up. She wants to know why everyone hates her father.

    I am torn between answering all of her questions or telling her to ask her parents. Which I know she has done and all she receives are lies. I am not concerned about my brothers reaction to me telling her the truth but more about hurting her even more. Will the truth be too painful for her young ears? She has told me that she has problems with addiction, her mother, boyfriends abusing her, debt, and self-hatred. I don’t want to add fuel to the fire. Is the truth going to just hurt her more? Is she too young and fragile to handle all of this.? I know she has a lot of anger, hatred, frustration, and confused feelings for her father. I don’t know what to do.

    Sorry about the length. Thank you for reading if in fact you do.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 9th February

      Hi Barbara,
      This is a huge issue and not really easy to answer; only you can decide how much or how little would be best to share.
      Thanks for sharing
      Hugs, Darlene

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