You Reap What You Sow ~ What about Child Abuse

Darlene Ouimet

Yesterday I suddenly thought about how abusive this statement is when I think about it through the eyes of myself as a child! You reap what you sow, you get what you deserve. I was raised with this expression. I was raised to believe that whatever was in my life or NOT in my life was my fault. That if I had problems in my relationships with people then it was because I cultivated incorrectly and I had sown bad seed.  I was willing to take that responsibility because I had been taught that it was all up to me in the first place.  I believed that I deserved to be picked on because I thought I was dislikeable. I believed that if I could be likeable, that people would treat me differently. I thought that my mother would be happier if I was more what she wanted as a daughter. I thought my father would pay attention to me, that he would SEE me if I was different. I thought that I was doing something wrong. I thought that I would be loved when I figured out what others wanted. I thought it was all up to me and the seeds that I had sown.

When I was in my early twenties seeking some sort of life for myself I was never really happy, and it seemed like relationships were such a struggle, I believed that it was because “you reap what you sow” and once again I believed that it was me. I accepted that all relationship success was up to me. I accepted that all relationship failure was my fault. I believed as I had always believed as a child, that I had to try harder. If there was a problem, then it was within me.

And as a child I seemed to attract a lot of abuse. I had accepted that as my fault then too.

I don’t think that children have much choice in what they sow.  Did I sow the seeds of deserving abuse? Did I do something to bring that on myself? Was I sexually abused because I had “sown bad seed?” Was I neglected because I had not sown the right seeds? I believed that I deserved the strap that I endured many times; I was told that I deserved it. I was literally brainwashed to accept that I had brought all abuse on myself. And I certainly believed that I did.  You reap what you sow.

Because of this type of conditioning I received as a child as adult, I took this statement out of the context that it was intended to be said in.

One of my boyfriends was violent.  I believed that I was provoking him somehow.  I tried to be sweet and compliant so that he would not get mad at me, but when I look back my mistake was in taking the blame and responsibility for his temper. I thought that I reap what I sow… so I must have sown the seeds that triggered his temper. Just like I believed that I had sown the seeds that caused my mother to have such a temper. 

When I was 17, I had a boyfriend with a serious drinking problem; I thought that I should be able to fill whatever void was in him so that he didn’t “need to drink”.  I felt that his drinking problem reflected my failure. He got violent too and although I was deathly afraid of him, I was sure that I could help him by loving him. That if only I could sow the seeds of love, he would calm down. I left him out of fear but I still felt that the failure of our relationship was my fault.  

Several married men hit on me before I was 20 years old. I honestly believed that I had done something to attract that. I was willing to accept the blame for their behaviour. I must have done “something” to reap what was sown.

In my early twenties I had a boyfriend who cheated on me with other women.  I was devastated to realize that this was going on, but I was way more disappointed in myself then I was in him.  I believed that I had done something wrong for him to feel the “need” to have sex with other women.  I believed that I could to learn to love and accept him enough that he wouldn’t “have” to do that anymore.

People were very happy to let me take all this responsibility. Abusers will always blame someone else for their actions.  And my mother would use this expression “you reap what you sow” to remind me that whatever was wrong in my life, must have been caused from some seed I had sown in the first place.

This was a way of life for me. I constantly searched for the seed I had sown. I constantly looked for what I had done wrong to CAUSE someone to treat me with disrespect and disregard.  My definition of love was very wrong but I had never been taught anything different. I had been taught to be accountable for things that were not my fault. The saying “you reap what you sow” was like confirmation to me that it really was something I had done to deserve the grief and mistreatment in my life.

There is a bridge between childhood and adulthood that many survivors never cross. We go from being abused to being held accountable for all our results in life. In this case I abused myself with the statement “you reap what you sow” more than others abused me with it. Accepting the blame for my results as a child paved the way for others to come along and inflict more pain on me and get me to take the blame for it too.   

The first time I connected that “it was my own fault” was when my mother’s boyfriend came into my room in the night when I was just a young teenager and he molested me. He was trying to get into bed with me when he was caught and stopped by my aunt who was visiting us and sleeping in the next room. My mother denied that it happened. She tried to convince me that I had misunderstood his intentions. She said he was drunk; he didn’t realize what he was doing. 

But it was her final statements that did the most damage. She said “well Darlene, you do have a crush on him” in other words “You reap what you sow”

Please add your voice to these thoughts of mine. Were you conditioned to believe that you reap what you sow, in a negative way such as this?

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

For related articles visit the blue links in bold print throughout this post.

This expression “you reap what you sow: comes from the bible verse Galatians 6:7 take note: It says “a man” not “a child”. Taken out of context, this verse is used to abuse.  

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90 response to "You Reap What You Sow ~ What about Child Abuse"

  1. By: Beth Posted: 19th September

    That hits the spot for me and many of us. “Blame and shame are the name of the game for abusers.”
    My mom recently died and I was with her to the very end. I spent the last 7 hours alone with my dying mother. She is the one that always told me that everything was ‘my fault’. I spent my time with her lavishing her with my love and compassion. I could only be kind to her in her great suffering.
    My sorrow now is mostly for the relationship that we could of had but were never able to have. The gulf between us that was created by abuse was too wide for me to cross. But, I tried to the very end to reach across and give her the love from me that she was never able to receive.
    Now, I struggle to find peace in my heart. How I wish that it could have been different!

  2. By: Karen R Posted: 14th September

    In my family any mis-steps, mistakes, anything bad that happened to me was my fault. It was the proof that I was “bad”. I started out bad, made bad choices and this was bad.
    But I wasn’t. And I couldn’t prove it to my family no matter what I did or how good I was, or how hard I tried. My badness was the “seed” to all my issues and problems.
    They were not accountable for anything, after all they had fed and clothed me. We lived a middle class life in a middle class house. They paid for my schooling. What did I do? I paid them back
    by making bad choices.
    According to my Narc, dysfunctional, violent, abusive, non loving family it was all me.
    I turned out bad and worthless. I sowed the seeds to my problems completely because of my
    Hmmm, the actual facts show otherwise. But that doesnt matter. Only what they judge matters,
    to them any way.
    I know now it was all a lie. I am no contact and the happier for it because of this blog.
    I send my hopes, prayers and support to all who are suffering as I did. Thank you again Darlene.

  3. By: sandra Posted: 14th September


    Oh yeah!
    and also:”you know how bad your memory is”!!!!

    I might not have a super great memory (ppl with any kind of trauma learn how to erase memories which unfortunatelly doesn’t do us ay favor in the long run apparently, because once you forget you can get fooled again)
    but if I do remember something, hey, don’t tell me it did not take place.
    Also, another good one:
    “I did not mean that”
    “It came out wrong”
    “You got me wrong”
    “YOu misinterpreting my words”

  4. By: sandra Posted: 14th September

    There is no way in hell than women like us who are broken, will be able to form normal relationships without putting the pieces back together….
    This is liek an Eureka moment
    All my life I have been like a magnet for people who wanted to “help me” but they also wanted to have me entirely for themselves, my needs were not important.
    Why would I fall:
    1. Someone is there for me 24/7
    2. Someone si telling me how much they love me, and I am so great and they would do ANYTHING for me
    3. They hate it when I succeed. If they see I am about to succeed, they will do anything to stop me. Because than…gasp! I might not need them

    God… it so hard to get somewhere in terms of career when you are “broken” yourself and you have no emotional support from at least 1 mentally healthy person.

  5. By: sandra Posted: 14th September


    I know! I would never dare to call someone selfish, unless there is a good reason for that. It is a very strong word
    Yes I am soo selfish because I do not to be with someone who wants to be with me. Isn’t that selfish?
    It was always like that….I know it is hard to believe that someone can force you into a relationship.
    I got fooled by the same person for the 3rd time I think
    So I guess that makes me a fool doesn’t it?
    I knew how it was going to end up, i knew I was just anxious before going abroad, and he saw that! Those God damn vampires, they see your fear, you are lost
    I am sick to my stomach
    When does it end
    Ok all the vampires are finally out for good from my life
    So maybe now?
    Job, please!

  6. By: Amber Posted: 14th September

    Sandra, the “selfish” thing rung a bell with me. My mother would call me selfish when I was doing something that was good for me that wasn’t beneficial to her. I am a person in my own right; I didn’t exist to serve her. So I am suspicious when a person uses the word “selfish” and automatically wonder if they have an ulterior motive. To me, my mother using that word was manipulative, and the person was trying to stop me fom doing something because it didn’t benefit them. So who really was the selfish one?

    I’ve also found that when people throw a negative label on you, they are trying to undermine and manipulate you.(re: your message number 78 Sandra ). I’m seeing red flags all over the place.

  7. By: DXS Posted: 14th September

    flying fingers. I meant to say, “What a way to pass the blame and discount what *really* happened…..”

  8. By: DXS Posted: 14th September

    Sandra, you forgot… “You’re dwelling in the past….” or “you are imagining things.” Those are what I get. Oh no, I’m not allowed to be angry just because the other person never apologized for their behavior toward me……..

    I get called a “psycho” by guys for getting angry… Apparently I’m supposed to be thrilled to death that a guy even likes me, therefore, I’m not allowed to get angry at him or any of his crap. Gee, sounds familiar…. OH YEAH, that’s how it is with my mom!

    I was thinking of parents….. how they set up “expectations” for a child, and if you don’t “fit” those expectations, you aren’t loved. And yet I’m not “allowed” to have “expectations” for myself.

    Darlene, I’m shocked at the “after all, you DO have a crush on him….” What a way to pass the blame and discount what *rea

  9. By: sandra Posted: 14th September

    sorry I should not post here….totally different topic.
    Sorry for that guys
    Darlene we thank you for another excellent text!

  10. By: sandra Posted: 14th September

    Sorry I didn’t read before I posted 🙂

    That someone is my ex now aka “friend”-not a friend anymore. I was whining here yesterday how I should have taken the job I was offered 3 months ago. Somehow he convinced me that because his situation was so great I could keep on looking for a more satisfying and better paid job for “As long as I wanted”. My intuition was telling me: he screwed you over so many time with money, just wait and see, if you stay he will say “sorry I did not know it would take that long, I’m out of money”. As always he is my “summer boy”. Somehow we always end up together in the summer. This time I was supposed to be smarter. There we go. After one abusive relathionship I had to fall into another. D. has never been abusive to me verbally, always complimenting, sweet and charming, great sense of humor.NO ONE has ever been so nice to me. I mean oter guys I wad dating sure yes they were, but he seemed to be relly interested in me and caring. But every time I let him to my life he damages it in some way in terms of my career or money. HE always talks me in or out of something. Than apologizes and says “he meant well” and it is not his fault and it was some time ago etc He meant well?? This is my lfie we are talking about IS he mentally retarded or is it me? Than he gets angry that I dare to be angry and there we go…calls me “Selfish” Oh yeah I always think only about myself You know what I did? Once I got out of the super damaging relationship with HFA, I thought to myself…D was not THAT bad….AT least he was not this and that. None of them was better….they were both equally bad. what is it? Why do jeopardize my own future because subconsciously I just need someone to hug me, love me etc? He was the first one who gave me love, hugging etc Why do I need to burn myself so bad to remember? God I am trying to get that job back, wish me luck This is bad bad bad
    I sometimes think life is one huge test, you keep getting the same lesson until we learn, sometimes the “participants” will be the same, sometimes different. Until we learn…

  11. By: sandra Posted: 14th September

    I now officially have no one in my life except for my older friend/mentor and a few friendly acquaintances

  12. By: sandra Posted: 14th September

    He keeps telling me that he soemtimes thinks I have a plit personality because I keep coming back to me and than leaving
    wow….I wonder why
    God I just ruined another part fo my life for an idiot I have experience with
    I did not want to go into the relationship with him, I knew how it was going to end up, it was supposed to be a friendship until I leave
    why did I let him convince me knowing I was heading for disaster?

  13. By: sandra Posted: 14th September

    I just got called “selfish ” on a phone and someone hung up on me

    How nice

    That someone is my ex now aka “friend”-not a friend anymore

    I was whining here yesterday how I should have taken the job I was offered 3 months ago. Somehow he convinced that because his situation is so great now I can keep looking for a more satisfying and better paid jon for “As long as I wasnt”.
    My intuition was telling you: he screwed you over so many time with money, just wait and see, if youstay he will soon say “sorry I did not know it would take that long, I’m out of money”.
    As always he is my “summer boy”. Somehow we always end up toegther on summer.
    This time I was supposed to be smarter.
    There we go.
    After one abusive relathionship I had to fall into another.
    D. has never been abusive to me verbally, always complimenting, sween and charming, great sense of humor. But every time I let him to my life he damages in some way in terms of my career or money. HE always talks me in or out of something. Than apologizes say “he meant well” and it is not his fault and it was ong time ago etc
    He mant well?? This is my lfie we are talking about
    IS he mentally retarded or is it me?
    Than he gets angry that I dare to be angry and there we go…calls me “Selfish”
    Oh yeah I always think only about myself

    You know what I did? Once I got out of the super damaging relationship with HFA, I thought to myself…D was not THAT bad….AT least he was not this and that. None of them was better….they were both equally bad.
    what is it? Why do jeopardize my own future because subconsciously I just need someone to hug me, love me etc?
    He was the first one who gave me loving, hugging etc
    Why do I need to burn myself so bad to remember?
    God I am trying to get that job back, wish me luck
    This is bad bad bad

    God please help me

  14. By: Lora Posted: 13th September

    Hi Darlene! This is an incredible mirror for me and it awakens a lot of memories.

    What I have come to realize and what makes life so much simpler for me is there are really only two powers at work on this planet. Love and fear. Fear is all about destroying and/or devouring another person for it’s own personal power and glory and love is all about nourishing a soul until it blooms into it’s fullest potential.

    I’ve come to realize that I was raised by people who’s belief systems were deeply rooted in fear. Anything in this world can be used with fear or love. A toaster’s purpose is for toasting bread, so if a person uses that toaster to bash someone in the head with, should we now ban using toasters because they can be used as a weapon? Personally I feel the bible has been used in the same way. Fear based people use the bible as another form of control and manipulation to get people to do what “they” want them to do so “they” will be the only ones to benefit from it.

    Personally I’ve never felt drawn to the bible because the messages are not clearly written in a way that connects with my own inner truth. It’s just another resource for people to tap into like the many other books out there. Personal experience holds more truth for me than anything else. My biggest mistakes in life came from believing in others value systems instead of my own. When I was a child I was at the mercy of my parents and care givers beliefs until I was old enough to create my own. Unfortunately I got so messed up it’s taken me a long time to figure out what my own beliefs really were or are.

    I gain more insights from listening to all of your stories of healing and growing than what any other religion ever could give me and believe me I explored some churches but never felt I was given what I really needed. This world is full of resources and I personally believe in free will to choose what feels right for each individual.

    Isn’t that what life is really all about…exploring, experiencing and learning who we really are and enjoying all the pleasures life has to offer? Well this is what I believe now, it’s none of my business anymore what the “world” thinks is best for me, the “world” has failed me on so many levels to the point that I just wanted to check out completely.

    It’s only until recently that I have finally experienced a freedom I never felt before, the freedom to create a life that is personally designed for and by me. I now get to choose who and what I want in my life. I feel like a completely new person with all the healing work I have received and a huge thank you goes out to you Darlene for sharing your insights. They have been like little seeds that are blossoming into flowers in my soul’s garden.

    All those old fearful messages that were passed down from generation to generation are drifting away because I choose not to engage with them anymore. I finally know who I really am and I now realize it’s my responsibility to keep fear as far away from me as possible. I have all the tools and skills I need now to take loving care of myself.

    Thank you all so much for sharing, you make this world worth living in. Namaste!

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 14th September

      Hi Lora!
      Thanks for all your encouragement. I really appreciate it 🙂
      And as always I love your comments and insights; thank you for sharing them here with us!
      Hugs, Darlene

  15. By: Emmy Posted: 13th September

    yes, big time

  16. By: Dave Posted: 3rd December

    D – i took it one step further and instead of it being “what i did was wrong” it was that I WAS BAD…not what i did but my whole being was BAD…therefore because i am bad i do bad things or bad things happen to me…i learned that i was BAD very early on and nothing ever changed my belief. No amount of support or love or memorizing positive thoughts changed how i felt about myself. I was bad to the core and thats how i have lived my whole life. Even tho the bible says that everything God created was good i thought he must have made a mistake with me. When i heard over and over again “whats wrong with you, why cant you do anything right.” or “you’re a bloody fool” or “you’re so stupid”…or “you will never amount to anything.”…those were the messages i heard constantly…they totally drowned out the “i love you” messages because it was always – “i love you BUT”….fill in the blank…i felt so much shame and guilt especially after i was molested…i dissociated because i could not bear the pain. Plus i had to keep my mother alive and meet all her needs…it was all consuming for me…what a life ! Thanks for sharing !


    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 3rd December

      Hi Dave
      Ya, you are not alone on this one! That is the conclusion most survivors of abuse come to. The good news is that by finding the roots of all this, it can be overcome!
      Hugs, Darlene

  17. By: Celine Posted: 20th November

    Your post made me realize what I have been trying to understand for YEARS!!!! I’ve been saying that I feel disconnected within myself. I didn’t know how to explain it because I felt it but had no clue as to why or the reason for it. I just had a light bulb moment. I am a child and an adult at the same time. The two of me cannot connect with each other or one doesn’t want to let the other one in. I’m scared to death to accept this abused child into my adult life. I’m an adult now, I should know better. After all, that’s the message I heard over and over growing up. You’re 7 years old that’s the age of reason, you should know better. Hearing that made me think, OMG!!!! That means I’m different, I’m not getting whatever everybody my age is. Every time I went up a grade at school, I heard, “you know, next year is serious now. No more playing around”. As if I played around all the time. I stayed back many times. That of course made me the oldest one in the class. Therefore I was the teachers perfect target. “You’re such and such age? You’re repeating this grade and you STILL don’t get it? What is it gonna take Celine? Me writing on your fingers so you can remember the next time?” All that while the kids booed and made fun of this old freak of nature tha I was. My parents told me that I deserved it. I didn’t work hard enough, I was lazy. I learned to reject myself because everything that was happening to me was MY FAULT. I was compared to my brother and sisters who did good at school. I was a good tennis player but it didn’t count. No one ever came to see me play. I had to take the city bus to practice. My mother’s way to get out of it? “You’re old enough to take care if yourself. Besides, if you really love tennis you’ll find a way to get to your lessons on your own”.
    Funny how I was left to basically raise myself based on my maturity level. At 2 and a half years old I must’ve been “old enough” to care for myself and expected to handle various situations on my own. After all, I could walk, eat and go potty ALL BY MYSELF.

  18. By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 15th May

    Hi Vivian
    When I changed my belief system about myself by facing all this stuff I got so strong on the inside that people seemed to be able to see it. My inlaws and my family backed off and stopped treating me like that. (well they backed all the way off and stopped even seeing me, but I didn’t have to put up with their abuse anymore so it was good) I sometimes think that they go so scared of being confronted for what they had done that they RAN like heck to get away!
    In the end I realize that it was actually harder to take the blame when it didn’t belong on me because it messed me up so much!
    It wasn’t my fault. I didn’t deserve it and the truth about that set me free!
    Thanks for sharing Viv, great to see you!
    Hugs, Darlene

    Hi Kim,
    I find the cycle very interesting to understand also. I was not discounting that at all.
    I understand completly what you are saying and I agree! Thanks for sharing again!
    Hugs, Darlene

  19. By: Kim M. Posted: 14th May

    Darlene: I do find it helpful to know how they came to say and do these things & it helped me realize that they are not going to change. It helped me realize that there is a tape going on in that head and it is not a thinking head. It helped me separate from my mom and realize that I do not have to think that way and I can be my own person. I don’t want to wallow in the past hurt; I do want to have a defense for the future, and now that I know they were force fed junk into their heads and these are rules and views that do not really reflect me, I can see that the past was just a by-product of that and so will what comes out of her mouth next. I have found it very helpful to understand how this atrocity of humanity was made and it helps to discredit my parents and now my perspective about them is much better, therefore my perspective is also better about other people. I don’t put people on pedestals anymore — I did that because I was always lacking in love from my parents and I idealized everyone. Now I know that people are just people subjected to their upbringings and they bring that into every relationship. I can see much clearer now. It’s up to them to examine themselves and get a clearer head; it’s up to them to treat me well. It’s not my problem anymore. It’s only my problem if I accept bad treatment. And now I recognize bad treatment too. I hope this clarifies my position.

  20. By: Vivian Palmer Harvey Posted: 14th May

    Your article is right on target; these are things where I still find myself entangled.
    In fact.. the one excuse I use sometimes still is this; it is MUCH easier to just accept the blame and say defuse the situation. I am still doing this. It IS my fault…
    I’ve heard those statements about reaping and sowing from way young.
    It’s pretty appalling.. but to stand up for me is damn hard. I’ve been attacked by my in-laws when just a young married gal,living with them..But before that it was what happened within my family all of the time.. blaming, mockery, “teasing”, counter attack..I’ve gotten to a place where it seems much easier to just let go and let the blame fall..trouble is.. I have retreated inside; so far inside I don’t mingle well with anyone. Relationships are mostly a non-entity.. way too threatening.
    It is either retreat, or tremble with rage which scares me.But this is definitely a description of what really went on at home… wherever that was.

  21. By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 14th May

    Hi Kim M.
    I have read most of Alice Millers work this past year or two and I have great respect for it.
    I have written quite a bit about the roots of all this and that my parents had the same crap delevered into their belief systems too. (my parents are not german) My work is also about the history except that I find it most helpful to focus on the damage and not the way it gets past down.(I don’t think it is helpful to remember that most parents were fed this crap too until our own damage has been validated and faced is what I am trying to say) There is very little solution in understanding where it all comes from.
    Thanks for sharing!
    Hugs, Darlene

  22. By: Kim M. Posted: 14th May

    It might be helpful to remember that our parents were fed this hardline bullcrap as well. One thing about Alice Miller’s work is that you can see history and how the bad discipline was carried through. I was made from Germans and these phrases were just what was drilled into my mother’s head and her mother’s head. My mother has poor self-esteem and judges herself ridiculously at times and thus that’s the box I am supposed to fit into as well. It’s not an excuse for them, but that is their map. Another problem is, their mapping just does not fit into today’s world; they rely on that, instead of re-evaluating who you are in today’s world and expectations. I’m not making excuses for them because they could have given more thought to their words and actions, but this code of life is a carry-over from what was done two hundred years ago. Their brains were misshapen, like they mis-shaped us. I think the kids who ignored their parents early on, had it right. My mistake was believing my parents really had some wisdom instead of German mind warping.

  23. By: Dendera Posted: 6th January

    Thank you all for the kind words. Makes my ground sweeter.

  24. By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 5th January

    Hi Dendera
    Welcome to emerging from broken,
    Wow. Thank you for sharing here. You are not alone. This site is about how I overcame all the belief system that went with all of it. I rarely have those haunting dreams anymore either.
    I am so glad that you have released your tormentors to the infinite.
    Please share as often as you like,
    Hugs, Darlene

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