Why People Discount the (Adult) Child and Defend the Abuser

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Poster creation by Judy Baxter
Poster creation by Judy Baxter

“They say “But she is your Mother!” and I respond “Yes, and I am her Daughter”.  Darlene Ouimet

I have found so much freedom in realizing that I don’t have to explain or justify my decision to draw boundaries with my parents or with anyone else, to anyone. I don’t have to help people ‘understand it’. I don’t have to defend myself or prove myself. There is a reason that some people don’t accept my decision to disengage from my parents and family. There is a reason that this offends certain people but the reason may not be what you think it is. It certainly isn’t what I originally thought it was.

Throughout the comments in this website, and on the Emerging from Broken Facebook page, people often share the belief that people who haven’t ‘been there’ or haven’t walked a mile in these shoes don’t understand what we are talking about when it comes to having parents who are unsupportive, disrespectful abusive or dysfunctional. For a long time I agreed but I have come to realize that this conclusion isn’t as accurate as I used to think it was.

I have discovered that people who have or have had loving parents actually do understand what I am talking about; it is the people still stuck in defending their own abusive /discounting parents that fight the hardest against what I am saying. It’s actually makes sense that it is that way too; People who KNOW what love really is don’t think my mother and her actions regarding me were very loving; they don’t think that the way she treated me had any foundation in her love for me. People who had parents who modeled real love, recognize the truth about what love is. And they don’t stand up for neglect, disrespectful actions, discounting actions, corporal punishment, emotional abuse, verbal abuse or any other type of communication from parents that is less than love.

People who know what love really is and experienced that love from their parents, don’t think my father’s neglect and disinterest in me was loving OR normal. They don’t think he did the best he could. The reaction that I get from people who actually WERE loved by their parents is understanding and empathy rather than the judgment and criticism that we so often hear. Statements such as “but they are your parents” or “I’m sure your parents did the best they could” are not flung in my face by people who know what loving parents really are.  Since I have come out of the fog about the whole dysfunctional family system I have met people who have a whole different reaction to my story; I have met people who say things like “OH MY GOSH, No wonder you don’t have a relationship with them anymore”.  People who learned love from being loved say things like “HOW can parents treat their children like that?” and they don’t understand why or how these parents could communicate such rejection towards their own children.

People who know what love is don’t defend people that communicate so much less than love.

The people that have a need to stick up for the dysfunctional family system are the ones that have judged me the hardest. The hate mail I get always leaks the truth about the writers own abusive childhood and the need to defend their own parents. These comments/emails contain statements such as “my parents beat me but I deserved it”. Sometimes I get a huge paragraph describing the offences that they endured at the hands of mean hateful parents and the final sentence is “but I know my parents loved me”. (I want to ask “HOW do you know that they loved you?”)

There are truth leaks in some of that correspondence about what kind of parent the writer is as well. Many parents are afraid that if they see the truth about the way their own parents treated them, then they will have to give up the control they exert over their own children and treat them with equal value. When the adult child has grown up with the belief that the one with the most power wins, and that compliance and obedience ‘proves’ love, they are not so willing to give up power over their own children because they believe that when children ‘jump’ it means that they ‘love’.

There are a lot of parents that really hate that I am suggesting children of all ages have equal value to parents because of their belief in parental rights and entitlement. Many parents believe that they “own’ their children and that their children “owe” them for the fact that they were even born but these beliefs have NOTHING to do with actual LOVE.

My mother used to say to me that no matter how nasty and mean her own mother was, she still ‘loved her’. I say “what does any of that have to do with love?” Her mother didn’t show love. She didn’t act in a loving way. She was not loving. She was mean and nasty and selfish. I never saw one action initiated by my grandmother that was related to love. And I have to conclude that my mother thought she ‘loved her mother’ because she went along with the way her mother treated her and never questioned it.

I have a choice about what I accept and what I don’t accept and what I accept or don’t accept is based on the fact that today I know what love is and I know what love isn’t and it isn’t compliance and obedience to dysfunctional rules. Choosing love meant that I chose to reject anything less than love. When I chose love, I chose life, I chose truth and I chose ME. 

When a parent denies their child a voice, blames the child for any traumatic events they experienced growing up while still denying that there even were any traumatic events, and continues to paint that child as “a problem”, “unforgiving”, or any other negative blaming descriptive phrases, ~ There IS NO real relationship between that child and their parents. There IS no love lost when there was no love in the first place.

So when someone approaches me with judgment for the decisions that I have made or for my work here in Emerging from Broken, I consider where they are coming from. This judgment ultimately is about them, I mean think about it; why would someone argue that abuse from parents is ‘not abuse’ because it is an action delivered by a parent, or that parents have special rights just because they are parents? Why would  people react with anger or judgment towards someone who expresses freedom from walking away from abusive people just because those abusive people were their parents?  What could possibly be the motivation behind sticking up for abuse and abusers? When I understood the truth about the answer to that question, I no longer felt defensive about my actions. I was able to let go of the need to defend my choices when I realized that the way people react to my choices is about them and not about me; people who have had loving parents do not defend abusive parents.

Not everyone is ready to face the truth about their own past. Please share your thoughts about this topic. I look forward to the conversation.  Please accept my apologies if I don’t respond to all the comments. This blog has active conversations on a minimum of 5 posts all the time and generates close to 1000 comments per month. I have been accepting more clients (Yes, I work on the phone and on Skype) and I am unable to spend as much time responding to all those comments the way that I used to. 

Exposing Truth; one snapshot at a time,

Darlene Ouimet

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

1,121 response to "Why People Discount the (Adult) Child and Defend the Abuser"

  1. By: Viktoria Posted: 13th July

    Darlene, first of all I want to thank you! Thank you for connecting the dots. I have been working really hard on putting myself together for a long time. I went through a lot of different therapies (and I am soon going to visit another therapist to help me finalize the break).

    My break up with my mother has been happening for a long time and I grew up emotionally since the beginning. I learned how to defend myself and how to stand up to her. But for a long time this separation wasn’t complete because I maintained a great distance and wasn’t completely honest about my feelings. My mother is the kind that sees any smallest disagreement with her opinion as a direct threat to her authority. So the inevitable break happened through her learning about my intention to write a book about my experiences as a child. And of course all the things you described here about entitled parents, inequality, abuse and aggression… all those things down to every detail describe my mother’s reaction. I don’t know how soon I’ll recover from learning the hard truth (there is no love, and there was never a loving relationship there, only conditional love). But I am planning on doing it in a creative way, by writing a graphic novel and supporting myself with therapy.
    Thank you again for writing this post. I’ve searched for an honest, fare and truthful expression for so long!!!
    If you are interested about my graphic novel process I posted a link to my website (it’s abouf a break up with my mother and my motherland at the same time).
    I hope you are feeling better and your mother no longer upsets you.
    Loving thoughts,
    Viktoria

  2. By: Melinda Posted: 9th June

    @Dani…you seem to be handling your situation very well. You sound like a smart, strong person and you will overcome this.

    I can understand what you are saying. My situation was very similar when I was younger; I’m now in my 30’s.
    I can relate to feeling invalidated and also being judged/talked about.

    I haven’t seen most of my family in a while but they love to gossip about me, my appearance, my past mistakes, my lack of employment, etc. And they also liked to call me “immature” when I was younger. So I know how you feel.
    Another issue is that my stepfather would lie to the rest of my family about me, telling them that I was lazy and dirty and refused to clean the house, and they believed him.

    I don’t know if this will be of much help or comfort to you, but I can tell you this…you know who you really are and they can’t take that away from you.
    Some people will always find ways to steal your joy and talk about you and be unkind to you. I’m sorry you are dealing with this. It sounds like your mother has really hurt you.

  3. By: Melinda Posted: 9th June

    @Debbie Campbell…

    sometimes we have to do what is best for us, no matter what others believe.
    Walking away can be difficult but it is part of setting boundaries and taking back your life.

    And I can relate to the part you said about how certain people react now that you’re trying to empower yourself.
    They will make it seem like YOU are the “bad guy” because you’ve decided to cut toxic people out of your life. I was once accused of lacking compassion because I no longer want certain people around me. You would have thought that I was talking about hurting these people, the way this person acted!

    But no, all I want is peace of mind and the freedom to be myself. It is hard to be ourselves when we are surrounded by negative, oppressive people.
    So please don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for trying to live a happy, healthy, more well-adjusted life.

    I’ve also been given the same labels of “angry” and “defensive” and you know what?
    They are only saying those things to control you and invalidate your feelings because they want to keep you in your place.

    Keep on fighting the good fight and speaking your truth!

  4. By: Debbie Campbell Posted: 8th June

    I am running into push-back for walking away from my family. I had to because I was the family scapegoat. I was isolated and controlled. I learned how to break free and had a place to go recently upon going to seminary. I also had abusive churches and home school groups before going to college. See, I was in a fundamentalist, militant, insular, and isolated family. I am really a sweet, kind, patient, carefree, and understanding individual. At the same time, I have learned strength, perseverance, truth-telling, courage, and bold proclamation of the gospel. I am perfectly suited to be a pastor. But, I had so much danger around me and people wouldn’t let me in to help them and refused to listen to the truth that I put up huge walls for my protection. I made some mistakes because I was young and no one was there but I had to protect myself and my call to be a pastor at all costs. See, I was called to be a pastor in high school, but I didn’t know women could be pastors though I had some sense that they should be and since the people wouldn’t let me in I didn’t know I was a people person even as I had compassion for even my abusers. When I talk to some important people now, I am getting push-back from them. They don’t believe me and think me too harsh and don’t understand that I have walls and that is what they are seeing but the true self is beautiful. They seem to think that all should be niceness and permissiveness. They seem to think that strength and anger are great evils. So, I am getting sidelined in life because I am not communicating with them. They seem to have already made up their minds that I am angry, defensive, anxious, combative, uncaring, and awkward. These are from the walls and from being triggered off from fear of not being supported and from the nasty things my family told me to say about myself and from just having been kicked out of the family and spitting up all my true feelings that had been outlawed before and from not having the chance to grow emotionally and from following bad role models. I don’t know how to communicate this and how to get the family out of my head once and for all.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 11th June

      Hi Debbie
      Welcome to EFB ~ They think strength and anger are evil because it takes away their power over you. The one thing these controllers don’t want is for us to establish any kind of credibility in the world due to their fear of being exposed. They decide we are “angry, defensive, anxious and combative” because it works for them to decide that. It works against us and enables them to stay in control. I think you are communicating just fine!!!
      Thanks for sharing,
      Hugs, Darlene

  5. By: Cil Posted: 6th June

    I am kind of dysfunctional in this too. My divorce from my family WAS NOT TRAUMATIC at all. When I left my parent’s house after my mother tried to kill me because she was obstinate I stole money (which was my younger brother and she was covered it accusing me) I just felt free and safe. I slept in an apartment shared with a friend and I didn’t find it strange. I slept soundly for the first time in months. I felt safe taking control of my life. Never went back despite the pleading, moaning and all that. I got my PhD, which my parents and siblings was dismissed, moved to a new city, made great friends, bought my own car and house. Never got into any sort of relationship because I just can’t understand the whole love mechanics. Men were never interested in me anyway (fortunately, I found one brave enough to slept with me.. ehehehe). I am just happy.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 8th June

      Hi Cil
      That is okay too. Sounds like the relief for you was huge!
      Thanks for sharing,
      Darlene

  6. By: Light Posted: 24th May

    Hi Jan (#1073)

    Sorry there’s been such a delay in getting back to you. Yes, I did feel better about my mother finally giving me the education money as she (they) did for my siblings. It makes me feel somewhat better, however her behaviors are inconsistent. Sometimes she does nice things and sometimes incredibly hurtful things. The inconsistencies are very hard to deal with because I can never really trust her words and actions. While no one is 100% consistent, the ways that she doesn’t support me are enormously damaging.

  7. By: Dani Posted: 21st May

    Hello everyone,

    Please excuse the lenght and bad grammar (English is not my first language), but I would like to share this and I figured out that this was a good place to do so.

    I’m not sure if this has been commented before, but I wanted to add a particular way in which this situation of ‘defending the abuser’ has applied to me (I’m not sure if there is an article that treats this). I’ve realized the situation I’ve been my whole life, and I’ve matured in a way that I honestly didn’t thought possible, translating my learning into actions, however this hasn’t been taken in the best way (of course, so many years with the same behavior, any change was going to generate a big response). They are not major changes, I’m just starting to be more closed about what I’m doing or what I want to do, and I’m getting firm with my decisions -and trust me, they are really minor things)

    So, one of the responses has been talking behind my back, with people that do not know me or speak to me, about my life, my apparent choices (I don’t really talk with my mother about this, as she usually has black and white thinking), what I’m doing, what I should be doing. I know my mother, and I know how she is saying this stuff and what words she’s using, since I’ve also witnessed how she’s done that with my father’s things. So, what bothers me about this, is that I feel I’m, firstly, being watched and judged by a huge amount of people that don’t really know me or what I think (and I’ve noticed I’m getting paranoid, literally thinking or feeling I’m being watched), and secondly, I’m feeling extremely invalidated as a person (though that’s something that I’ve always felt but I thought that was “normal” in a relationship between a mother and a daughter). I think it is disrespectful to do something like that, not only with me, but with the people she has been talking to. So, I wondered if you had been in a similar situation, since everything I feel I’ll get if I talk about this goes in the line of “It’s your mother, she knows best”, “she does that because she cares”, “you’re a child, you’re inmature” (I’m 21 years old, dedicated student, not inmature in any way you are according to the traditional way maturity is validated -not drinking, not partying, not going out, getting good grades in college, being “focused”-, and so on and so forth.
    Thanks for reading and hope the best to all of you.

  8. By: Apple Posted: 9th May

    After failing professional school in a school I should have never started that I let people (including my mother) who don’t know who I am talk me into it I began to get deeper in my reading of the Bible. It was like the whole discovery of my identity and myth of race I had learned in college. First there was a seed of doubt about an ideology and being treated differently in that I did not fit a certain criteria. I knew something was wrong. So I joined a Bible study with people in a similar walk of life with me and around the same age as me. It was amazing. We applied our experiences to what agape love was. In that moment, understood what you wrote about this article. My mother, father, and older sibling did not love me at all. They don’t know what love is. How can you so effortlessly put your hands on a person for what they say? How can you watch your children get abused physically and emotionally get abused by another parent? When I would bring this up to pastors or some friends they all pooped it. Then there was my older sibling who always went out of his way to make friends with my enemies or shall I say those who hurt me. Somehow the friendships I had with people that eventually met the older sibling would blow up. He was sabotaging them. I confided in some people that I didn’t want to be around him anymore and they all said oh wait maybe he will change. I doubted myself again. That doubt spawned the ingredient for me to allow for them to do the worst thing a “family” could do to me in my life. I have one friend, one friend who understood this principle of LOVE. She does have loving parents. Then I remembered some of my childhood friends parents and how they displayed love. It was vastly different than my household. Yet I kept up with the delusions just like my mother taught me. I had to ingrain this lesson in me the hard way after a lot of violence and hate wheeled against me. One thing I know is that I am loved and I have love. I love too. I will overcome the evil they have done to me. My family that I start will be much better. It will be a real and loving family.

  9. By: theresa Posted: 5th May

    Darlene,

    Your insights are the best, the most articulate that I have ever heard, and such an eye-opener! Thank you for devoting your life to speaking out on behalf of the many who were subject to the pain and degradation of child abuse. We owe you.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 5th May

      Hi Theresa
      Thank you and welcome to Emerging from Broken.
      Hugs, Darlene

  10. By: Teresa Rose Posted: 4th May

    Exploring meditation since the age of 15, I’ve been exposed to the concept of “people seeing you as they see themselves” so it was shocking to read this and realize I had neglected to apply it to people who defend my family without ever having met them. Thank you Darlene, for reminding us that we are reflections of each other. I’m re-posting and I hope others will too.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 5th May

      Hi Teresa Rose and Natalie
      Thank you both for sharing and welcome to EFB!!
      Hugs, Darlene

  11. By: Natalie Posted: 4th May

    Thank you so much for your article Darlene. It really resonated with me. I went “no contact” with my family almost 2 years ago. My sister is the one who was defending our parents, but it’s the rest of the family that she has been defending them to. She said things like, “She (meaning me) thinks our parents were abusive. Can you believe that? She believes our parents were alcoholics!” That’s ok. It bothers me less and less every day. What does bother me is that more and more people are buying into the things that my sister has said. I recently found out that there were 2 weddings last year that I wasn’t invited to. So my sister has been very vocal to my family and friends to the point where I can’t even speak to them anymore because they go straight to my sister with what I said. I’m working on making new friends and also trying to get stronger because I feel better when I have no contact with the negativity.

    I love my own children so much that they go celebrate Christmas with the whole family for 2 years now, while I spent my first year alone, and then this last year I took a trip and pampered myself. It felt so good that I think I’ll be doing this every year. I didn’t want to come home. I’m getting stronger and stronger every day and have no intention of seeing my family unless there’s a funeral some time, in which case I will feel like I need to attend. I will be keeping my distance from the hurtful ones. Thank you Darlene for everything you do.

  12. By: Jan Posted: 12th April

    Light, thank you so much for the empathy and the helpful suggestion re obtaining legal advice.

    I finally rang my father this morning and told him how hurt I feel about him condoning my mother’s behaviour. Unfortunately, he wasn’t receptive at all, so I ended up feeling more upset and alone than ever. When I mentioned some of the enormously damaging things my mother said to me when I was a young girl, his response was ‘People say these things’. I’ve ended up feeling that his take is that I had a better childhood than him, so I should stop moaning and get over it. I definitely didn’t have a better childhood than him, but he can’t see it.

    I’d like to be able to rise above all this, but it’d be so much easier if I didn’t have any contact with him and the rest of them.

    I’m glad your mother gave you the money you requested. Did this make you feel better about her?

  13. By: Light Posted: 4th April

    Shellesmalley – I know Darlene responded to you, but sometimes having several people validate can be empowering. They are wrong – no grey area there! And you are worth it!

  14. By: Shellesmalley Posted: 4th April

    I don’t have a family anymore. The last I saw them was Halloween 2015 my dad reverted to his usual violent self and grabbed my throat so hard I couldn’t swallow for 6 weeks without pain. By the end of the evening I was covered In cuts and bruises. I’m 37. He’s been violent and abusive to me my whole life. My mum ignores it and says its in my head. My sister admits it happened but sticks by them. I can’t understand how a mum could do that to her child. I have two daughters and I would never allow my partner to lay one finger on them. Is it her being wrong or am I just not worth it?

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 4th April

      Of course they are wrong – your father should have been charged for that stuff. It is assault! I hope you keep reading here. There is a ton of insight. Thanks for sharing.
      Hugs , Darlene

  15. By: Light Posted: 3rd April

    Hi Jan,

    I read your entry and I went through a range of feelings — I was angry when I read how your father gave your legacy back when your mother (his ex by that time) asked him to do so. The nerve of your mother! And your father went along with it! Of course your other examples sound equally painful in other ways. It can be so infuriating and hard to deal with the parent that went along with the more outwardly abusive other parent. Turning a blind eye, as you say. I am so sorry about your pain.

    Your experiences of being singled out for unfair treatment, your mother not wanting you to have things, being picked apart, and being deeply hurt by disloyalty resonates with me. There may be different players in my family, but the themes are there. I did not receive the financial assistance that my siblings did, and decades later I sent a formal letter to my mother telling her I thought it was unfair, outlining what the expenses were, and asking her to give me the money in today’s dollars. She did. This was after my father passed away – I think he would have put up a lot of resistance. She DID help me with a large much-needed purchase (loaning me the money) that she kept from my father which was very unlike her. My situation is a bit different because my mother could do nice things and at other times be withholding.

    If it were me, I think I would consider talking with an attorney, even seek free legal advice, to find out if I would have any recourse about an inheritance that would go to a half-sibling but not me. I would also consider talking with the sister-in-law if you feel she is a safe person.

  16. By: Jan Posted: 3rd April

    Thank you for the article, Darlene. Unfortunately, I, too, have been on the receiving end of that terribly glib irritant, ‘But, she’s your mother!’

    I am my father’s only child. Normally, I speak to him every day, but I haven’t returned his calls for nearly two weeks now and I feel terribly guilty about it. I feel truly sad hurting him, but I also don’t wish to be hurt any more either.

    When I was ten years old, my father divorced my mother, due to her repeated infidelities.

    My mother was not a loving or caring mother to me – she was cruel and she was never there for me. There was a lot of name-calling and, even when I was a little girl, I was repeatedly told by her how much she had loved me when I was a baby. My looks and abilities were ripped apart, even though I now realise that I was an attractive and able child. My younger half-sister was treated very differently to me and I remember being pointedly informed by my mother how pretty she was and how glad she was that she’d had her.

    I feel that my mother never wanted me to have anything. If her parents, or even my father, were complimentary towards me or gave me a few pounds, I’d be scared because I knew she’d be angry. In fact, when my grandfather died, she asked my father – by then her ex husband – to repay the legacy that was left to me, which he did. I was not informed of this until years later, when I asked him why, unlike the other grandchildren, I’d not received anything. In stark contrast, my half-sister received her legacy and, also, under my mother’s influence, a great deal of financial support from our grandmother over the years. My father’s sister-in-law once warned me that my mother was trying to persuade my father to bequeath his money to my half-sister, and it really wouldn’t surprise me if he did, even though my sister is not his daughter and is very comfortable financially.

    Due to her abusive nature and language, it’s now been nearly ten years since I spoke to my mother. However, although he has a lady friend of his own, my father constantly interacts and socialises with her and her current husband. They even holiday together. Lately, it seems that they’ve been socialising more than ever. This is partly due to the fact that my elder child is now nineteen and at university, so there are lots of family get-togethers during the holidays. The irony is that, when she was a little girl and I was struggling with childcare, my mother never offered any help whatsoever. Not even once.

    I love my father, but I am deeply hurt by what I see as his disloyalty to me. I feel that he’s invalidating my feelings and condoning my mother’s hurtful behaviour.

    The truth is that he’s always turned a blind eye to my pain and that, although, in his own way, he probably does care, he has zero empathy and has never once admitted that my mother was abusive. I wish I could rise above these feelings, but the more contact I have with him, the more I feel that the past is being dredged up and that this is harmful to my emotional wellbeing.

    Although I don’t doubt that the treatment I received damaged my self esteem, when my parents were socialising less, I’d go for weeks on end without ever thinking about my mother.

    I’d welcome any comments, as I feel so horribly torn regarding my father.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 4th April

      Hi Ellie and Jan ~ Welcome to EFB ~ (sorry for the late welcome Ellie, it’s hard for me to keep up with everything on here. 🙂 )

      Thank you both for sharing.

      Hugs, Darlene

  17. By: Ellie Posted: 18th March

    Hi Darlene,

    I’ve just discovered your blog, and I’m finding it pretty insightful, I must say! I think that it’s terribly important for people to get to grips with uncomfortable and normally “taboo” subjects like abuse. The more people speak out about them, and discuss what is happening, the more that society can understand the scale and impact of abuse – as well as the various ways in which it is perpetrated.

    It’s good that you speak out about your own experiences, and give readers the opportunity to speak out about theirs, too. Such discourse and dialogue raises all manner of questions, and may also help provide answers to such questions – in sharing experiences, we may also share solutions.

    Still, I am a little uncertain as to whether you are fully correct in suggesting that people who do not understand, or condone, your decision to cease contact with your abusers do so because of their own experiences of abuse. I do not think that is the case – I, myself, am a victim of familial abuse, and I completely understand your desire to cease contact with your abusers (family members, or not!). I am no-contact myself with both my parents, as a result of things that have happened in the past. I firmly believe that when it becomes intolerable to remain in contact – and when contact is toxic anyway – it makes sense to cease contact. I would not criticise anyone for making this decision. Irrespective of whether I understand what REAL love is (and I doubt that I have ever experienced this from my parents), I know what a damaging relationship is!

    I have personal experience of the fact that people who HAVE grown up in loving and supportive families can be the most critical. You make the case that people who TRULY understand love would not criticise an abuse victim for withdrawing from a damaging relationship. This is, in my experience, untrue. I have met people who just love to show off about their perfect families, and cannot stop boasting about the love and support that their own families give them – all the while knowing that this was not the situation for me. I think that SOME people – though not all – get a sense of superiority out of knowing that their own lives are better, or easier, than other people’s. Additionally, it seems to me that because THEY have grown up in loving, caring families, they simply CANNOT believe that other families are NOT like this.

    Personal experience has shown me that people who have it all can be the most unsympathetic – people whose lives were really easy, and who were given every opportunity available. These people take for granted the fact that their lives are easy, and cannot understand the reality of other people’s lives which are difficult. They appear only to view things from THEIR own perspective – a perspective which is essentially an “Ivory Tower”. As a consequence, they have limited, or no, empathy with people whose lives are difficult.

    I can give an example… My own background was difficult/dysfunctional (mum with mental health problems, verbally and physically aggressive father). Still, I tried hard to do well at school, and later on at University and in work. I was repeatedly bullied at school and at work by people whose lives were much easier than mine (i.e. their backgrounds were nothing like mine). The consistent theme in their bullying was teasing me for having a mentally ill parent. HOW would THEY have liked this, if it had been THEIR mother?

    So, I feel personally that it is people who DO have experience of love and support who can be the least understanding. People who have experienced abuse themselves can empathise more easily. Some people just take their easy lives for granted.

    The other people who will be critical of anyone who takes a stand against abuse, and who do not understand people’s reactions to being abused are people who are probably guilty of BEING ABUSERS themselves. I don’t doubt that some of the individuals who criticised you for ceasing contact with your abusers did so because THEY are abusive in their own relationships. People who identify with the role of the abuser will NOT have sympathy, or empathy, for the victim. Indeed, they WILL be the ones who make comments like “But she’s your mother”, or “But he’s your father”, or “But how can you not want to see your parents/family?”. The reason I think they do this is to justify abuse in their own heads; to re-frame the victim in a bad light. They are basically having an internal dialogue along the lines of … “So, I am an abuser. What if my victim decided never to see me again? I wouldn’t like that! How dare they! I wouldn’t tolerate that!”… When they hear of anyone else doing it, they lash out at that person, because in their minds victims should NOT be able to stand up against abusers.

    THAT is what I think is going on – and it’s only from personal experience. I am not saying you are wrong for certain; there may well be cases where an abuse victim cannot admit that they ARE a victim, and thus lashes out against someone else who is speaking out openly about abuse. However, I believe that these would be few and far-between. It seems more likely to me that people who lash out against those who speak out about abuse are either lacking in empathy, and take their own lives for granted; or else they are abusers in their own right.

  18. By: Kris Posted: 27th February

    Hi Ron,

    Everything that you said resonated with me. Society as a whole doesn’t get how being abused as a child affects us all throughout our adulthood’s and I get why they don’t get it because it wasn’t until I was 46 years old that I began to get it and it is a hard concept to grasp unless you were brainwashed your self to see where we are coming from. How I think now is night and day from where I came from. Just how this vicious cycle works. My neighbor is a therapist and I told her that I have DID and she told me that they didn’t teach about that in college and I thought to my self that explains why it takes an average of 7 years before someone who has DID is properly diagnosed when there is more then adequate testing available to show signs of this disorder. The way things are going now I predict that the demise of our family unit isn’t too far away because I see red flags of child abuse all over the place. To bad society as a whole doesn’t want to see them too!!

    I feel like a sitting duck is the truth. My psychologist is 61 years old and I drive over 2 hours for a 1 hour session. I pray that I heal from this disorder before he retires because my insurance company couldn’t provide me with one name of a doctor who treats DID not to mention that it took over 2 years for me to finally begin to trust him. Not going to get well any time soon that away but what’s another year shot to hell when you already lost 49 of them!! Aye aye aye!!

    No way to describe what it feels like to lose so many years of your life over something that you never did wrong to begin with and then to top it off having society as a whole look at you as the bad guy for sharing a part of your history that you don’t even want!!!

    Hugs and kisses right back at ya from one person who was robbed of the life that she deserved to another!! This whole thing still blows my mind and I am 3 years into it. Now I get why they say you need to embrace the journey but how does one embrace more pain time after time???? It’s not like we are discovering a rose garden here!!!

    Peace,

    Kris

  19. By: Ron Carter Posted: 27th February

    Hi Everyone

    I have been abuse , mistreated and even sexually abuse by my own mother. Very few people believe me. And it’s amazing that even to this day, people have stop talk ‘in to me because I decided to speak out against my parents.
    Unfortunately I am still considered the evil one. Having the power in giving birth to an other human being doesn’t makes parents capable individual in dealing with daily parental task (including Love). This so called standard that parents always right needs to change!. Sadly I will never get to know loving parents and even if they would become loving parents , the damage is already done. never got a loving childhood and never will, it’s down right criminal.
    Hugs n Kisses to everyone out there with the same crappy childhood as mine

  20. By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 5th February

    Hi Everyone!
    The comment issue has been fixed!

    This is a great conversation going on here ~ Carlos, I wanted to be the one to break the cycle in my family too and I did it!

    Hugs, Darlene

  21. By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 5th February

    Hi everyone! We are having some problems with comments not showing up ~ This is a test comment.
    hugs, Darlene

  22. By: Carlos Posted: 5th February

    Whenever I am abused by the “perfect” people of the family, I’d like to think that perhaps they to were abused when they were younger, and that I should just be the “bigger and better” one and excuse them for their malicious behaviour. But what’s rather off putting for me, is when I think of that particular reason (or should I say “justification”), I can’t help but compare the situation to that of a man or a woman who gave in to their sexual desires in spite of selling themselves out as clean to their respective spouses or partners.

    So okay I’ll acknowledge that some of my dysfunctional family members have been abused, but like those men and women who decided to strip off their morals by giving in to the lustful desires of their respective mistresses, why did my abusers give in to the perception that they could never break out of the cycle? I’d like to believe that they once made a vow to themselves that they will never repeat what was done. But instead, they turned out exactly like their predecessors, perhaps just even that tad close of being a lot worse. And then they expect me to join in the bandwagon?

    Uh enough! No more covering that negativity with any more justifications like “I am doing this for your own good” or “You’ll thank me for this one day” or “One day you’ll acknowledge that I was right” Uh can you honestly still say that to those people who have been molested, ridiculed, bruised and basically any other form of malevolence that you have just chosen to walk past by with your “rose-tinted shades” (Can anyone point me to the creator/supplier of these stupid glasses so I can give them a flying roundhouse kick or left-hook punch because I have been seeing nails in comparison to the supposed rose bushes that I am expected to see).

    I want to be different. I want to be the person to break that cycle, to fulfill the promise they made to themselves but failed to do so as a result of unexpectedly plunging into the darkness (And unfortunately loving it at the same time). I believe I can and will, and I don’t care if I am seen as bad and weird or whatever society has chosen to label people like me. I am not going to die like them. I’d like to consider myself as the “apple” who decided to follow the direction that the wind was blowing me towards as I was getting off that tree, (a direction where inner peace was paramount) whereas the other apples just decided to huddle up and tell each other: “Omg, we are
    so much alike, we could be bestfriends!”

    Being different is what I want to be and you cannot take that away from me.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 5th February

      p.s. Carlos,
      you are not being the bigger person when you excuse someone’s abusive behaviour. Think about what silence communicates to them. It communicates that you will put up with the behaviour which is exactly what they want. My mother was abused. What does that have to do with anything? There are a million truth leaks about the fact that these people DO know what they are doing is wrong or they would not hide it and teach us not to talk about it.
      Hugs, Darlene

  23. By: Kay Posted: 21st January

    I love this post. I am the middle of three in a crazy religious family. Both of my parents are lifelong victims, running their lives and health into the ground and blaming everyone else. Rather than helping my older sister with her autism they literally did nothing, made fun of her and let her abuse me.

    They stuck me in a horrible Christian inpatient program at 15 where I lived for ten months. Then four months after I came back I was off to another one because I had a boyfriend and wanted to enjoy my high school years. This was the turning point. I realized they don’t love me and I don’t really love them either.

    I’m 20 now and I’m moving cross country with a little cash but a lot of will. I’m not telling them. I’m not even finishing school first because I’m sick of struggling to fit a mould that isn’t cut out for me. And I don’t care! Life is short and I want to be happy. So goodbye cold family and cold east coast. I’m following my heart and spirit to the sunny California coast!

  24. By: Alina Posted: 18th January

    Dear Darlene,

    Thank you for such a great article. It is just what I need in my life for right now.

    I am 23 years old and only in 2015 realized that I live in a dysfunctional family. Thanks to my ex boyfriend.

    It is really painful to realize that your Dad is Narcisisst and Mom and Dad live in Coodependent relationship.

    There is so much guilt, manipulation, blaming, putting their responsibilities on me…

    What I am going through right now is hell.

    Since I was a baby, my parents never had friends of their own, my mom told me that all man are cheaters and that is ok to cheat, that is just a man’s nature.
    She told me that women can not have real female friends, man and woman cannot be friends because they will definitely hook up eventually. Noone can be trusted. Women should cook and clean, men can come home and do nothing.

    My dad had so many affairs I can not even count. Now he pretends that he is saint. He never helped my mom at home, he is drinking, and saying so many nasty things.

    When my ex proposed me…he said, how can anyone handle you with such a nasty personality.
    When I was crying and felt abandoned because of my break up with fiance…
    I said…”Dad, but I have such a kind heart, why did he break up with me?”

    He said – “I am sorry, what is good about you? I cannot see anything.You will never succeed in anything and you should change your attitude and everything about you.”

    There is all the time guiltripping about, be good, behave well or you won’t get a penny of my money and the houses.

    The funny thing, I don’t need their money. I have a decent job, I study, can support myself, don’t spend money on alchocol and drugs, volunteer…and trying to be the best person in life.

    But my heart is bleeding.
    I saw love and loving parents and my mind was crashed. It felt so warm and loving and just the way LOVE is supposed to be. And I just never had it.
    I never had the full acceptance. Yes, maybe I was given materialistic things and trips as a form of love.

    But I would rather be poor and have a loving family.

    I decided to cut ties with my dad..and most majority of my relatives. They say mean things and HOW CAN I DO IT, IT IS YOUR DAD, HE LOVES YOU, HE GAVE YOU SO MUCH IN LIFE.
    What can I do, that 99.9 % he makes me feel awful about myself.

    My mom manipulates, blames me about my dad…says that soon if I will be like that – everyone is gonna leave me. I am a cold-hearted beast.

    They cannot be changed and they are going to think the worst of me till the end.

    I am just really sad.

    And it is tearing me down. They are my parents and I love them or at least their vision in my head. The best things about them and these lovely times when I was a baby.

    You cannot imagine how painful it is.

  25. By: GoatEscapee Posted: 16th January

    1st of all: Hello. 2ndly, I wanted to thank Eric for Post #977.

    I’ve been a silent lurker reading these very eerie reruns of my lifestory. I am the 59 year old scapegoated daughter of my NarcDaddy and enabling stepmom (my bio mom died when I was 7), who committed the unforgivable crime of requesting boundaries. I spent 1 year writing an “I message,”, assertive, non-blaming, constructive letter to DD Dearest–only to find it explode like an ink, stink bomb in my face.

    I read Toxic Parents, and knew about those other nasty families who did what mine would do to me but I was a romantic idealist convinced of the triumph of good over evil. Love over hate. The Light over the Dark Side. Those things happened in other dysfunctional families. I never knew it could happen to me! But that was 20 years ago. There were many things I didn’t know.

    I didn’t know my 3 younger brothers and their 2 wives hated me and would jump at the chance to attack me and “defend” poor old Pop (while proclaiming their holy neutrality and righteous refusal to take sides). I never told anyone about the letter. Figured it was private, personal and between St. FatherKnowsBest and me. WRONG!

    The Puppetmaster brought all my siblings into it–who initially asked me about the letter then stuck their fingers in their ears, humming loudly when I tried to answer. There was nothing I could say or do. No logic or truth that would overcome their kangaroo court condemnation. I was shocked to hear my beloved brothers accusing me of all sorts of vile wickedness that simply wasn’t me and had never been a part of our personal interactions.

    It was as though the sharks smelled blood and they surrounded me in a frenzy–determined to eliminate me from the pack. I was told I was not welcome to join the family anymore. How it broke their hearts because they loved me so much–but it was for my own good–and they wished me luck–hoping I’d get the therapy I so obviously needed.

    Ah, excuse me, I asked, but has anyone noticed that I am the only member of this group who actually got therapy? YOU GOT THE WRONG THERAPY! They screamed. Hmmmm–I smiled–that’s when I knew I’d gotten it right–so why did it feel so wrong?

    Please excuse my long-winded intro but there was an important reason I stepped out of the shadows to speak. I wanted to THANK ERIC FOR HIS POST #977.

    Why I came out from the shadows to comment on here–was how much laughter and a sense of humour had helped. When I could not see the funny side of anything (even if it was “black” humour) I went straight to hell.

    Tonight as I was berating myself for not evolving quicker and feeling the slings and arrows of some of my dark demons, I was lucky enough to stumble upon Eric’s posts–specifically #977.

    I get what you said about the cons of using such strategy–but I could not stop laughing and it helped me more than even my wordy tongue can tell.

    Eric I agree! “…Neil Degrass Tyson can kiss my butt” TOO! THANK YOU FOR SHARING THIS TECHNIQUE. I keep rereading it and it never fails to give me a deep delicious giggle. THANK YOU!

    Too bad I may never get chance to use it. I think I’ll stay on planet Pluto–as far from my shark pack as possible.

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