Child Abuse and the Role of Parental Denial
I recently had the opportunity of revisiting a question that I have struggled to find answers to for many years. The question is, why, in the face of a parent sexually, physically or verbally abusing a child, does the other parent remain silent?
This is a phenomenon I have been aware of in countless numbers of cases reported to me by patients who are now adult and clearly recall not only the abuse but the fact that the other parent offered no safety.
The question others have asked me and that I ask myself is, how or why would a parent remain silent in the face of children being abused. Here a few hypotheses.
1. Denial is a powerful and primitive defense mechanism. Someone who is dependent, frightened and themselves the victim of abuse, can remain silent and not even see or hear the abuse in order to maintain the desperately needed relationship with the abuser. In a way, it is a variation of the old saying, "Hear no evil, see no evil." Well, people do hear it and see it and fail to act.
2. Both abuser and spouse can be mentally ill people who collude out of mutually shared sadism. In others words, there are a few people who can get a sense of pleasure out of treating children abusively.
3. Over the years, I have known a few cases in which the wife has such a deep need to avoid sexual relations that they prefer their husband engage in Oedipal relations with a daughter. This is usually unconscious with full denial in operation.
4. Chronic and severe drug and alcohol abuse loosen inhibitions that otherwise sober and sensible people do things that would shock them if they were not under the influence of certain types of drugs.
5. There are parents who, having been raised in strict and abusive environments, then repeat the pattern once they are parents. The vicious cycle of abuse is probably the major cause of domestic violence in the United States.
One of the distressing and utterly frustrating and despairing things that survivors of abuse discover as adults, is that their parents deny that anything ever happened. Patients have reported to me that parents, when confronted by their adult child with the abuse they committed, tell their son or daughter that their memory is wrong.
It is natural to ask why an adult would now confront their parents about abusive acts that happened during childhood? Apparently, the answer is that these survivors are seeking an apology and an affirmative statement admitting their wrong doing. This is what makes the discussion so filled with despair for so many survivors. The despair results not simply by the refusal of an apology, but the complete denial that anything happened. This is further exacerbated by the fact that neighbors and friends of the parents think them very "nice people" who would never do such a despicable thing as abuse a child. When Joan Crawford's daughter published the story of her childhood, a story that depicted Crawford's cruel and outlandish acts of abuse, there was a public outcry that this never could have happened. Later, the outcry vanished when the truth and accuracy of the story emerged for the public to see.
It is the responsibility of neighbors, family, friends, teachers and school officials to report suspected abuse to the authorities who will then conduct an investigation. Do not play the "hear no evil, see no evil" game. Act on what you know or have good reason to suspect.
Your comments, experiences and questions are welcome in relation to this important issue.
Allan N. Schwartz, PhD
relatable - - Feb 26th 2015
My "father" was an abusive creature. He physically & verbally abused my mother in front of me & my brother when we were kids. Luckily, he died when I was around 9 years old. He would physically & verbally abuse me as well. He once even stripped naked in front of us in rage. I was traumatised. I still am, after 2 decades. I also recieved corporal punishments in school & was humiliated by some teachers because I was a slow learner. I would come home with a bruised face and tell my mother about the ordeal, but she never took any action. The abuse continued.
I escaped the country as soon as I grew old enough, but I couldn't escape the recurring horrible flashbacks & nightmares. I skype with my mother almost everyday and tell her about my problem, but she immediately changes the topic or tells me to forget everything. She also pretends as if these things never occured. It's killing me from inside and I don't know what to do. I feel like I'm going crazy. I feel betrayed.
False accusation - Linda - Feb 16th 2015
I think that an article on false accusations is in order. Not all accused are guilty, why do most people assume they are? I did not sexually abuse my child, and yet that child has a memory that I did abuse him 25 years ago when he was 10 years old. (the memory came back to him 10 years ago, he is 35). I never did such a thing, never would. I think more people need to understand how repressed memories are fallible. Not children who accuse their parents of sexual abuse are telling the truth, even though the memory seems real to them.
Shatterd childhood - Maggie - Oct 3rd 2014
I have a very sad story to tell about what my husband had sufferd from birth right up till today, my husband was born with a rare blood disorder so in and out of hospital was the norm for him 8yrs old he had surgery on his head for blood clot 3years ago he had a liver transplant so a very emotional time it was we have been together 12 years living between caravans as we couldn't afford to rent somewhere , anyhow all set for are big wedding day and he drops a bombshell on me that his best man (his brother) who is 5 years older than him and still at home with mum and dad sexually abused him from 8yrs old till he was 13, he told his mum and dad but they seem to brush under carpet act like my husband imagerning it brother won't admit it to parents but has to him , we just had a baby and hadent seen his parents but when they did visit they brought his brother too ????? In denial i think so , I have banned his brother from house but now his parents are reluctant to visit don't know how this will end .
I am a sexual abuse survivor - - Jul 10th 2014
I come from a strict Christian household. Father was abusive. I was molested by him as a child, about 8 years of age. I told my mother he did something to me and I would never forgive him. My mother knew about the abuse but did nothing. There is a childhood picture of me, one day she pointed to that picture and told me that was when I was getting molested. Both parents act like nothing happened.
This was a good article. I can relate.
Experience Some - Dr. Nedry - Nov 2nd 2013
I've been beated in my childhoood up until highschool. Often my parents would just burst out in anger, beat and reaffirm their orders or so-called rules. No explanation of rationale, no discussion of rationale. Most imposed rules were not followed by themselves (i.e. never watch TV, do this/that). Besides being pushed to avoid quarrels with children "a smart child steps back", in family believed only in phisical violence. Toys were an unecessary waste, playing time too (never with them), shouting while playing with others in the garden often subject to reaproaches. In attempt to force me acquire handsome writing style, I've beaten up an entire summer and forced to sit down each and every morning writing and writing. Didn't work. Only way to acquire prizes was gaining good marks at school, yet soon they have grown uninterested to the point to never ask nor to me nor to teachers. While 9-11, mother repatedly used lunches to blame society, church, her husband, or all the men in the world most of all. My grandfather did behave wrongly to me and my sister, trying to abuse us. As a result, I got blamed and being told that as I would grow up I would have been a pervert just like him because it was in my mad blood inherited through dad. At the same time, I was being shut up when I wanted to speak because of television programs going on. As a child, I developed resentment, anger and hate feelings toward them, up until when I said this in front of a friend of mine in my 12 and he told me "your parents punish you because they love you, you're ungrateful".
Those words hurt me, because it is undeniable true that I was a difficult guy, and maybe the problem was really within me from the very start. I was never a bully, but rather one who got beaten up in school. My pants were put down to ashame me, or people would just insult me attempting to provoke a reaction which would come - but only in words. I never could beat anyone, I've been weak. I attempted to look in a different manner my parents, to justificate their own behaviour. At the same time an absent father started to be present by requiring my aid in work in the fields or woods. It felt good, yet he never attempted to build a real relation ship. He would never listen to me, demonstrate interest or ask me how I felt. All interested him was that I did my duty like a good toy soldier, and that I could listen to him complaining of my mother, or preachings on several matters. I did my best to understand him, and at that time it was better than anything I ever had in childhood (nothing), so for a certain amount of time I thought I could love him.
The discover of sexuality has been the linchpin of a deeper change. For over three years I've lived in deep sense of guiltyness, for the bramosy of acts and needs which made me feel exactly as my mother said years before, a monster. I fell in deep depression from 14 to 16. All days and nights would I think of suicide, sometimes as a manner to free myself from hurt feelings, sometimes as a manner to free myself from anger to my parents and vengeance for not being loved for just being. I hated myself for my sexuality, I hated myself for being stupid, for being weak, for being unworthy of love, for being incapable of feeling happiness but only sadness and anger, for beign incapable to appreciate anything and love anyone anymore. I moved away from friends, closed up in my room entire days and nights, only studying. Never had so high marks in my life before, nor after. My parents were well satisfied, and way far from even asking whether or not I had some trouble. My mother opinion on the subject was that psychoanalists were frauds people and that one had to help himself or not at all. My father beated me up when I cried as a child and always minimized sadness or problems as "you need (have to) to sleep".
During that period I was nearly attempting suicide twice or thrice, but have never been capable of doing it. The reason why is that I was dominated by fear, fear of pain, fear of failing and become a cripple who couldn't attempt more. Once I said my mother I wanted to suicide and all her reaction was: "do it and you'll see how I'll beat you up". I not only feared death, but all aspects of life. I was incapable of socializing, rigid.
I also felt jealousy, a great amount of jealousy. In respect to what? Pets. My mother has always been able to grant immense amount of love to pets, being it dogs, birds, tourtles. Pets are better than any men by principle, she says. She would not stand a movie in which a pet is killed, yet fests when men - not just plainly "evil" men, but also church people, soldiers, normal ones - are being killed therein. She would hug her pets repeatedly each and every day, cuddle them.. praising them for no reason at all than just existing. This has always made me mad of anger, because it has been the exact opposite of what she has ever given me in my entire life. In my childhood, she didn't cuddle nor hug me. A praise would sound empty and cold and "due". When growing up I would attempt to hug her, she would just stay there like a wood making me feel like a weight of which she does not know what to do with. For being born as a human being, no, as a man, I have been a monster in her eyes. A dog, for being such, is worthy more than me. For a great amount of time I have been unable to control these feelings, and refused to establish any relation ship with those anymals because I would re-direct my anger toward her into hate toward them. It has been a succes re-direct again my anger against the true source of it, and feel again the capability of empathy toward them. Only it needed 5 years.
Once I understood my life instinct prevented me from dying, I decided that I could well grant me another try. Maybe I could change things in the long run. The only thing I learned in truth has been how to put up a smiling mask and deceive people. My deep sense of guiltiness continuosly lead me near others, because I felt necessary aiding anyone anytime being asked. Those people would mistackengly take me as a friend, but in truth I've never been one. I do not trust anyone. I do not believe in any one's honesty, especially in supposed "good" feelings toward me. As soon as my usefulness would have been depleted, I would just slowly fade away. Nobody ever stopped me, I believe people has good sense to understand to not mess with me. I do my duty, I do my work, I do not do anything else. I still not go out, I still feel nothing at doing anything, I still feel anger and sadness very easily within my heart each morning. I am no longer interested into changing things, though. In my PoV, some day in my child hood around 12, I died. I stopped rebelling against injustice of rules being only one-sided, unfairness of not being loved, started repressing myself to justify my parents in virtue of a redeem thought for them. On such a day I died, and now I am fully dead. If you ask me, I don't even conceive all things normal people do, I do not feel what normal people do in normal circumstances. Nothing out there would grant me satisfaction, or happiness, 'cause nothing is worthy starting from me. I recently attempted the first time to suicide by hang. Wouldn't had the screen cable being torn down by convulsion, then I would have been already dead. I believe this is the right stone that ends my testimony of the world. I don't want to change, because change is denying truth, is denying past, is denying myself what all people denyed me themselves, and I believe I ought myself the truth.
My parents, if queried today, would say that they love me, and have always loved me. Same would repeat anyone anywhere. All parents love children more than themselves, it is known. They would say that they didn't beat me up, then that they didn't beat me up so much, then that they did only when it was necessary for educational purposes. Educational Purposes. While she wouldn't allow not even a light beat on a dog for Educational Purposes, not even to one that barks for an entire hour at 80db when it wants something, she was reckless into granting me punches to make me behave as she liked and then again punches to stop crying. My nose blooded, wooden spoons were broken on my spine repeatedly. How can a human being have such a double moral standard? It will be for ever a mistery to me.
They would also say that what I am now it is not their responsibility at all, that "one person is what he wants to be" and that's it. When confronting with me, they would easily criticize me and point out that I have psychological problems, I am not the "normal one", I am the one irrationale and out of standards 'cause I don't go out, have no friends and no longer linger to live. Yet, they would not recognize any responsibility on their part, they have friends who say same things as them, who approve them, who believe I am the wrong one themselves even though I've never interacted with them. It is amazing how easily people whitewash themselves.
I would not deny that one of my biggest concerns today is that by going through what I've gone through, I've become the perfect reproduction of the worst of both my parents. What I was supposed to be as a child, had been completely tossed out. I'm dead, I'm a machine, and that's it. Yet I have the same - or even worse - destructive potential of my parents. By being constantly haunted by negative/depressive/anger/sour feelings, I can be hardly in touch with my own heart. Also, when I hear some child being shouted by his parents nowadays it requires a bit effort to reckon what the child I've been and the feelings I had.. ..without which my instinct would be to explode in a violent punch in the face just like my parents did with me, because that is what "works". This is just one tiny example of how my mind has been twisted at it deepest levels by such life experience. It is highly difficult to go through an entire day repressing one part ant trying to use the best of my rationality and the memory of a heart I once had and no longer have, to behave correctly in respect to people.
Society creates monsters, unwarily, unwillingly, but it does. I've been forced to become one of such. Though I would still work as a part of the system, I am no longer a human being. Reproduction to me is denied, because it is too high the risk of failing myself with my own children and passing them the same nightmare my parents passed to me. Parenting is difficult and stressful job, I recognize it, and in such conditions I tend to be fairly weak. Relationships and friendships are denied as well, because I can not experience authentic joy or trust, just pretend to have them. Others who will invest on it would just end up hurt for no reason at all. More over, it is a pain for myself, because I need to suppress even more my sorrouful feelings that would otherwise reduce others to ashes. And no, there is no end to it. Maybe it calms down after a burst, but it goes up high over and over and over again. As a tessel of the system I am not so valuable either, I'm good to work, but apparently the system nowadays needs creative, full of interests and social people, otherwise your job interview will fail despite being competent. What's the point? All people can be trained to be competent, but THOSE qualities can be acquired only in the correct family/childhood framework and are invaluable within a company.
I am grateful that what I've gone through has been a unique and irrepetible PoV of the universe which will not repeat again to anyone else. One more guy out there is entitled to a life full of joy by laws of probability. I myself believe it will soon be time to properly coronate my testimony with its logical end and a stronger rope. As much as society (destiny?) can't understand such an act, it can't even deny me the freedom of this choice which is the necessary conclusion of what it imposed to me.
To all people out there: unless you are fairly faithfull and honestly convinced that you would be GOOD parents capable of love and empathy, put your c*cks into your pants and your legs closed. Your fun is not worth a life of pain for yourselves, nor to your children. Thank you.
Abuse - Allan N. Schwartz, PhD - Jun 26th 2013
While it is unfortunate that your dad could not acknowledge the abuse your brother put you through does not mean that dad is untrust-worthy. After all, there was no way he could not mention and introduce your children to your brother.
The primary way to protect your children is never to leave them alone with your brother and not even with your dad.
What do others think?
My husband thinks my dad is a risk - Anon - Jun 23rd 2013
I was abused by my brother when I was 12 (he was 14) and I never told my dad about it. It eventually came out just before I married my husband as we didn't want my brother at the wedding but my dad went mad so we relented and let him come. This ruined the day for my husband.
Then when our children came along, I said to my dad that he was never to introduce our children to my brother. Dad then went mad again saying that it was just children experimenting and that I was making mountains out of molehills. Naturally I was very hurt by his comments and the fact that he did not want to believe what I was saying. I, however, put this down to dad not wanting to believe what his son was capable of. Unfortunately Dad did introduce our daughter to him on one occasion which I dealt with by saying that if Dad wanted to have a relationship with me and with his grand children, this was never to happen again as it expressly went against our wishes as their parents. It has not happened since. I did not tell my husband what had happened as I knew this would be a major problem.
Now my husband and I are divorcing and he is saying that he wants me to cut my dad out of our lives because his morals are in question because he introduced our children to the person who did the damage.
My question is, does he have a point? Am I being blind by my relationship with my dad? Is it normal for a parent to deny what happened and does this mean that they are a risk of becoming an abuser?
Begging - Allan N. Schwartz, PhD - Jun 12th 2013
My suggestion is that you give up trying. Sadly, it is all too common that those parents, grandparents and etc. will not admit to their abusive behaviors while raising their children. Always, my advice to those survivors of abuse is that they give up trying to convince their parents to admit their abuse, deal with their own feelings of having been abused, perhaps in therapy, and move on with their lives. Unfortunately, their is little to be gained by convincing an admission, much less an apology, from those parents.
Begging my mother in law to acknowledge... - - Jun 10th 2013
My partner of 4 years has mentioned to me of the physical abuse he and his younger brother faced as youngsters by both mom and dad. he is now 40 and has tried to talk to his mom about this and she of course says you boys bass it all you were never abused your father and I took great care of you. But the boys now adults have vivid memories of drunken father coming home from long day work and mother crying the blues to him about how terrible the boys were to her all day long (she is still very desperate for attention now) and then drunk father would lay the beats to his 5,7 yeold sons this continued until they both left the house in their early teens. The beatings got worse and father being a golden glove boxer not only spanked but used Tools to aid in his beatings. both boys are now abusive towards their partners. I myself have suffered physical abuse because of this. Now my problem is when I confront my mother I law to this day she will tell you her boys had the occasional spank. That's it that's all. When I tell her facts about abuse and how it is learned behaviour and about power being taken from a child that in turn as adults when desparate feel the need to empower themselves by taking power from someone weaker I have read too many psyc reports for them all to be wrong. Why when still faced by fact this woman refuses to help her boys heal ? All they want is to be told bthereof parents is hey maybe we weren't perfect parents we are sorry for the physical harm we brought upon you as children and young men. It was wrong I was wrong it wasn't right I acknowledge your hurt and pain I am sorry please forgive me I love you. Why is that so freaki g hard for this woman and man to do. These boys now men would have respect for them at least. She wonders why they don't call and why they don't come around why they don't call dad on Father's Day!! Seriously ? I have now given birth to her grandson. And I ask her so do u think its ok for me to abuse your grandson? She says of course not. I say that's right it is never ok to hit spank or physically harm children. She agrees. But I ask why is okay you grandma and grandpa to hit daddy and uncle? I'm only trying to help all I ask her to do is acknowledge the fact they weren't perfect parents. Not many are. Am I fighting a hopeless battle? Should I give up trying to mend this family back together ?am I out of line? I feel maybe I should mind my own. Buisness. she takes offence. I just keep hoping that if I push her enough she will finally admit it and then this family can start to heal... I just don't know if I'm beating a dead horse ... Any input or advice would be appreciated. It's not easy to talk about this with my friends or family. Thanks.
Reply - Sans - Feb 20th 2013
....and that type of woman is a rip roaring Personality Disorder. Any parent that is jealous of a child is mentally ill and unstable. Parents are supposed to support their children's needs and emotions, not COMPETE with them, stiffle them, war with them! That is a dangerous abusive attitude for an ADULT to have towards a child. Lord help the child of such a "parent." The damage they inflict on a vulnerable child is unconscionable. Nothing is more vulnerable, weak, and dependent than a child to it's parent. What could be more evil than an adult exploiting such vulnerability for the sake of their own perverted ego and desires (jealousy being one of them). They are mentally ill or evil.
The Dr. listed that as one of the reasons a parent would deny abuse--because they are personaltiy disordered themselves!
Sad - Deb - Jan 24th 2013
It's been very helpful to realise I am not alone in coping with a family that actively denies everything I suffered at their hands. But I have a terrible time trying to understand how these people can live with themselves every day. They have constructed a different reality to the one I experienced all those years ago. But I told them I will never let them forget. They hate me for it. One sister screams down the phone and the other has just become so cold. My brother sexually attacked me over a period of about a year. He was in a religious cult and there was at least one other person from the cult involved and they'd come into my room. Mother apparently never knew anything about it. Even in the middle of the night when I am sure I was screaming at him to get rid of him did she not hear me. How is that possible? She was physically and emotionally abusive as well. Has been my whole life. When I was a child she would self-harm if I upset her. I was a child! How is that even possible? She created a culture where I was to be mocked and she had a different personality for me. I saw her bad side. My father was rarely around. He worked away. I wish he had been because he was the only normal part of my childhood. Then brother got involved in the cult and sexually assaulted me as an older teen. I was made homeless, ended up in a psychiatric hospital because I couldn't understand. My mother continued to be psychologically and physically abusive during this whole time, but she never knew about my brother. Strange that. Now my sisters hate me. My mother hates me too but she always has. One of my sisters I'm sure was glad to have gotten rid of me out of the house because she was completely jealous of me, especially because I was my father's favourite. When I confronted him at my father's funeral, my brother told me 'it was all in my head'. No it's not. What happened to me was real. I'll prove it. God witnessed it too.
Now they are happy without me. They live their little false lie-filled lives every day. But how do they look at each other? When I told my sisters and mother what my brother had done to me they attacked me! I had also become a Christian and they physically attacked me - all three of them - on more than one occasion.
But it's like what a lot of other people have said, they have very selective memory.
That was about 15 years ago and I've been away from them for a long time but I've decided to go to the police to report him. When I called them for one last chance at reconciliation before the whole police thing kicks off my sister greeted me with some supernatural screaming session. It made me realise they are the crazy ones for sure. But I reacted badly. I screamed back I felt so angry. For years I've tried to be Christian about it. I've held off venting my anger and hatred towards them. I have faith that God will deal with them in time and God has helped me so much. Now I feel I failed because I vented all my anger at them for a change. I screamed back and said some things I would never have believed I would have said. All on the telephone in a public place. But because I am a Christian (they are not and hate God) I feel I let God down because I gave into my anger. But the worst is I don't regret it too much.
Part of me had to get it out. They are liars and deny everything. How can anybody live with that and not be angry? And I do feel better. But I know from now on I'll have to rise above them because when I gave into that anger and said what I said I became no better than them. And I am not like them.
I am still in my thirties and have already made a success of my life in education. I have a PhD now. But despite the fact I overcame homelessness and all the other trauma-related effects of their abusive actions they don't see the person I am now. Their denial means they are unable to accept the successful graduate. If I had ended up a homeless drug addict that would have been better for them because it would have justified everything they tried to brand me with. But as a successful graduate they are a bit lost so they cling to the old me, the hurt me, the vulnerable me. I think even if I sent them a picture of me in my doctoral graduation garb they would not know what to do.
My poor father passed away a few years ago. Now all they have is each other and their fantasy world. They have demonised me for too long. I think I will send them that picture of me in my graduation gown. One day they'll realise who I am and not who they wanted me to be for their own sick reasons and because they are mentally ill.
I do not understand human beings but at least I have God and Jesus and a wonderful future with Him.
Time for updated legislation on abuse. - - Dec 4th 2012
It is so sad.
The judical system needs serious attention.
I see no justice for the victims of abuse in my family.
The waiting game. The defendent who is in denial. The battle of a man in denial, bringing others down and knowing that with this comes the loss of hope.
It is not fair for the anyone who has done nothing wrong except realize they want 'out' of a horrible situation.
Anyone who is innocent, emotionally and financially stressed, and fights for the safety of a child should NOT have to be subject to this long tedious battle.
Let it go. Let them enjoy their lives.
Changes in the system need to made so the innocent can move on.
@KV - Berlin - Germany - Nov 26th 2012
Stumbling across this site tonight has been illuminating, particularly KV's article. I was wondering why, after years of therapy, why I was still feeling so defeated in life. I now realise, thanks to KV, that the pattern of denial in my (still very dysfunctional) family to which I was also subjected when I occasionally had the courage to try and talk matters out with my parents, established a pattern of defeatism in my life. I was used to it and expected it and adopted the attitude, even when successful. I wasn't up to tackling that level of denial until now, so I now realise what my next battle is, and dealing with that will free me up no end. I have won the battle with myself of the importance of being myself and I am now approaching 42 and very pleased to have started on that path, but I needed to rid myself of this debilitating "why bother?" thought. I am also gay and despite what everyone in the family says, they patronise me for it and see me as a lesser human being because of it, despite the fact I am the most intelligent one in the family, at least academically, so now it is time to put that intelligence to good use and see if I can't move on a few more steps. I think forgiveness is something that happens as a by-product, once you have cleared the decks. You choose to do it or not, but it isn't the goal you focus on. To everyone who has written here... thank you and keep going! I get days when I am so defeated by all this I shut myself away to think about it all. Reading all your comments has given me such a major boost this evening!
Behavior Specialist - Abel - Oct 1st 2012
Hi, my 2.5yr old daughter had been claing that there is a scary man at her mommys house, showing lots of feAr! I figured that her mom was probably just bringing her new boyfriend to her house while my daughter was there. Then one evening she begins to cry and say that mommys boyfriend gave her a booboo on her leg. So I started recording recording her when my sister started asking her if her mom had a boyfriend and she continue to say that mommys boyfriend gave her a booboo on her leg. I approached my ex about the video and she turned around filed with the court stating that I am now using our daughter to harass her. She made it seem that I am emotionally abusing my daughter and requested the court to take my visitation away from me cause I am abusing her. The court bought her BS and I can't see my daughter pending court, but yet there might be a potential abuse by her boyfriend yet he's still allowed to be around her! What is wrong with the legal system and what is wrong with this woman! See no evil hear no evil?
Abused by Older Brother - KV - Sep 3rd 2012
I feel like I have met my TRUE family here. These stories ring so true about abusers and our relationships with our parents who are in denial. When I was a kid, I was very jovial and I was gay. In the black community being gay is the absolute worst thing that you can be. My father wanted nothing to do with me and my mother looked at me as "damaged goods." She allowed my older brother to beat the living shit out of me from the age of 8 until 17. They worked in concert, she would holler at me for whatever reason and he would storm up the stairs and all I remember was my head being slammed into walls, being stomped, spit on and taking multiple punches to my face while she did absolutely nothing. Even writing about it makes me incredibly angry to this day.
She was all I had and she failed me miserably. He ruined all holidays and on my 13th birthday he beat me so bad I stopped crying, I had no more emotion left in me and I had surmised that if my own mother, father and brother hated me so much they must be right, I must be worthless. I am going to another therapist tomorrow, this will make my 10th or 11th one in the past 30 years. I'm extemely obese (315 pounds) and I feel completely disconnected from my soul.
When I was 15 I went to the welfare department and begged them to help me. A social worker came by the appartment and told my mother they would put me on welfare (which we were already on) and they would get me an appartment and make sure I finished school. My mother looked at her, then looked at me and said "no" I had to endure two more years of that abuse.
To this day I have decided my older brother is not allowed to ever be in my life. I have a relationship with my mother and she continues to mention my older brother to me saying thing like "Oh, John's coming here for Christmas" as if I give a damn. It makes me angry becuase she is seeking her attonement and she is still being incredibly selfish becuase she is not thinking about my feelings. There is a part of me that hates her and him and another part that feels sorry for both of them because I know they are mentally ill. Then there is a part of me that's extremely angry with them for what they did to me when I was defenseless and needed them most. Nobody saved me and now I am having a hard time coping with myself. I have never had a relationship because I don't feel worthy of being loved and I work for myself but I'm extremely lonely.
I have not seen my mother in 10 years and I have no plans of visiting her. This is all so unfair, people say you should forgive the people who hurt you but what happenes when they KEEP hurting you after you forgive them? I forgave my mother but she is still in denial about my pain and she keeps trying to get me to communicate with my psycopathic brother. All of this makes me want to eat more and more so I can sleep more and more. I'm desperate and I've thought about going to one of those 30 day places becuase I'm so tired of the pain and repeated offenses.
Thank you - Robin - Aug 18th 2012
Thank you for this article. My father is verbally and psychologically abusive to me. While my mother reacts by defending me whenever possible, I have begun to notice a similar behavioral pattern from her. When I brought up to her that my father was verbally abusive, mother told me to suck it up. At first, this was very helpful, but over time I saw that it minimized my feelings on the matter. Now that I'm older, I see that she rarely if ever calls dad verbally abusive. More, she says that it\\\'s just something that happens. For a time, she tried to tell me not to let it affect me and not to cry, because the words shouldn't affect me. She was denying the emotional impact the abuse had on me and I've had to defend my feelings quite a few times. Years and years of hurtful words will always make me cry, and yet my mother describes my reaction as \\
My Story....Please tell me how to feel normal - - Sep 11th 2011
In 1962 an unwanted baby girl was born. I was not the first or the last, but that was not fully revealed yet only partially when a younger sister "found me". Raised as an only child I remember being in my crib, in a high chair, etc....possibly because there was so little interaction might I recall these things that others do not?
My mother had numerous marriages and I recall her living with my grandmother and her constant anger with me especially having to share a bed when I was too old for my crib. One of what I thought was a marriage was an unwanted pregnancy from a married man. I recall her reading a book and telling me there was a baby inside which made me so happy.....unknowing that I would never see this child. I must have been beaten into forgetting since I never mentioned it again.
either before or after this time I remember a marriage. I lived with this woman (my mother) in new apartments and clearly recall being very happy when I was put into a closet so she could go out. My happiness over being left alone was my tiny brain understanding that I would not be yelled at or beaten as long as she was away. I loved that closet and being in it.
I learned later as an adult that this marriage ended in a divorce so terrible that her own father testified against her. This began my belonging to no one. Never knowing my real family. Step families had always been quick to tell me that I was not theirs even though I was forced to call them my father, grandparents, aunts, etc...
Many trips to the ER with deep scars on my face to this day. Vague remembrences of a woman coming to visit at my Grandmothers and all the commotion that ensued upon this visit since it was an extremely rare thing to have a visitor.
I remember years later my mother picking me up to take me to Dog n Suds. (an outdoor drive-in hamburger place) singing songs on the way home and taken back home. These visits were never longer than a rootbeer and a sandwich.
When I was six she married again. Left at my Grandmothers for the first year somehow I was put back to living with my mother, the monster who left these scars. My Birthday came a month later and there was no present. The man told the seven year old "me" that I was not his so he did not have to buy me anything. Going to my room as told. My cage.
During this marriage my room was my cage. It would have felt safe if I was allowed to close my door. Making a sound I was called out to be scolded and beaten. When they were bored or angry I was called out to be beaten and belittled with regularity hearing them laugh as I ran crying to my room when they were finished.
Everything I did was stupid, every idea was stupid, anything I really wanted they made certain to make sure I never got. My mothers new husband was far from poor. The only toys I had were my mothers old dolls and small records from the fifties. They made me feel as if I had done something wrong if school said I needed something new. One time there was a recital and if we didn't dress appropriately we were to get a failing grade. I told some lie to trying to get this outfit without being beaten.....I was anyway.
Never knowing that all of those years my mother was getting child support. She was dressed to the nines at all times. If a family member sent me twenty dollars they would say...."she doesn't need that" and keep it for themselves. All of the small money I recieved I was saving for a bike. Not an expensive one, but I wanted one with curled handlebars so badly. My mother took the money so she could buy herself an outfit and told me I was crazy and that I had never had money in that bank when I asked her where it was. We had been counting it together regularly and I had told her what all about the big girl bicycle I wanted to buy.
When I did get clothing for school she bought me the ugliest things she could fit me into. Yet when they bought her husbands neice and nephew clothing for Xmas or a birthday they got the normal clothes I longed for such as a pair of jeans and a shirt from the Levi's store. My mother was jealous of my hair as well. She had thin hair you could see through that could never grow long. Mine was thick and pretty. She would chop it off until I looked like a fool or a bad cartoon character....she having gone to beauty school! How can you be a beautician and not know how to cut bangs straight and know that they should not be a quarter inch long? It was just another way of torture.
There may have been five or six times I was fool enough to invite someone who would have been a friend to my home. After these girls heard the embarrassing way they treated me and the things they made up I was a laughing stock of my school. This lasted for years.
My mother and stepfather would go to his mothers or sisters and sit there and belittle me to his relatives which never ended into adulthood. The same step grandfather drugged and raped me the first few years of their marriage and they pretended they didn't know. When I finally told they banished me from coming to easter, thanksgiving, and christmas....my parents still went while I was left at home. I still hate holidays.
When I would bring my homework home to do. My mother (who cannot spell and never finished school) would scream at me that it was wrong and to do it over which ultimately ended up wrong either because of her own stupidity or she did not want me to get a good grade so I stopped bringing homework home refusing to do it. Every big test we had I ended up with a grade far surpassing the other students and my parents were called in to ask them "why" ,,,what they told my teachers behind the closed doors is still a mystery. My teachers stopped being nice to me as well. These were not the days when teachers thought that abuse happened in such perfect homes with such beautiful parents. I was made to look like the ugly duckling that I was. Beneath I wasn't ugly at all.
When I became fifteen I got a job. They told me I would pay for my own clothing, book rental, everything needed for school and my own car and insurance if I ever got one.
Entering High School all of the schoolmates that used to say the cruelest things to me were in shock. The boys stopped to watch me walk past. The girls were not happy since I was supposed to remain the same ugly girl who was scared to speak to anyone. I was labeled a slut through high school because the boys they liked wanted to date me. It didn't matter that I never dated a boy in high school. I had been through too much and dated college boys instead. They said for them to want to go out with me I "had to be giving out". I didn't give out a thing until I was married.
During these teenage years the cage still existed. I was still belittled and beaten for sport and added being thrown down stairs to be spit upon. My mother screamed at me for everything....exclaiming that the fifteen pounds she wanted to lose would not have happened if she hadn't had me, so her figure was my fault too. In the morning I would tip toe around trying to be quiet many times ending with her on top of me with her hands around my throat still being sent to school to pretend nothing happened. She hated me. When I would return home from school I would find my most precious things gone.....this happened since I was little. When I was a teen it was my mascara and such....I did not wear much makeup, but she wanted me to feel and be ugly.
Oh a big part I forgot to tell you was about my ellegid sp? father who lived in California. Each year he would come for a visit and low and behold I would get to go see these grandparents that I was kept away from the rest of the year to be told he was just here and have my cousins brag about how they got to sit in his lap and how much they loved them. How could they torture a child this way if they were my real family? How could my father come and not want to see me? Each year I had my heart broken into a million bits. I wrote this man and pleaded for him to save me....nothing. As an adult now and he deceased I am convinced that this is not my family or father at all....for other reasons I will explain later.
I never smoked a cigarette or did a drug. I was a good girl. What would they have done if she had kept the sister that found me who said she was climbing out windows to drop acid?? Sorry, getting ahead of myself.
I was dating the Sherriff's son when I was seventeen who overheard my mother over the phone, told me to pack my things in bags and he was coming to get me. That is how I left this house. My mother never called to see how I was. Funny my stepfather did.
When I had my first child my parents showed up at the hospital and instead of being the mean person they were and keeping them away from my child I made a grave mistake and let them in my sons lives because my step-father did a 180 and adored my children. Remember I did not know of my reallllll grandfather or my own father.
I lived the whole of my life trying to please this woman. Nothing ever worked. Even when I found out I had a sister she did not come down to earth....it only got worse. I would stress each xmas, mothers day, birthday to get everyone especially her something she would like (because she would tell you in no uncertain terms if she didn't) Why I did not become as rude as this is a mystery. I would spend money on her that I would never spend on myself and my family really could not afford. When I was forty I realized that nothing I would ever do, or be would make this woman love me. This and I also found out that I was out of their will and my son (their golden child) who they have also partially brainwashed since he cannot comprehend the extraordinarily loving grandfather he experienced could do such things to his mother. My son is getting everything. After all I sacrificed and let them take from me including sharing my children this is the last form of abuse they have lain upon me.
I now know that the sister that found me is not the only child she gave up. She will go to her dying day with the answers just to keep me from having a family. The couple of girlfriends I had as an adult they outwardly hated because they loved me and told me how smart I was and that I could be anything I wanted.
Then most recently....remember the real father in California , my loving Grandparents and cousin's? I found out that they knew all along about my siblings, even the youngest of cousins had kept these secrets from me. My Grandmother should have won an Oscar for her lies of being so surprised and never knowing a thing about this....calling me and telling me to sit down before she told me!! A total of fifteen plus people just in that family had been lying to me for forty five years!!! This has led me to believe that this man in CA was not my father at all, nor would I want him to be coming from a family of pathological liars. What magic does my mother possess to have so many people decieve me long into adulthood and act as though I am the one who is not good enough??
If anyone can give me insight into how one person can convince so many many people, not just this family to keep lying to a innocent child? A good person, with a huge heart, who never ever lies. I am so alone that I can admit that before I ever began school taking my own life was something I thought of. What three or four year old thinks of this? Not many is my guess. This woman has ruined my life, its far too late to have a sisterly bond with the woman who found me.....she had a mother who loved and spoiled her so is much tougher and thicker skinned than I.
Throughout my life I have been repeatedly taken advantage of my "friends". My husband is sick and when I lose him I am totally alone.
During this last illness our crazy neighbors broke into our home and when I went over to speak with them about it their son who has no education assaulted me grabbing my arms stopping me from leaving. when we took them to court they said I was a liar. No matter what I do I end up being the victim and I am tired of living this way. You can look high and low on the net and there are no stories such as mine and this is an extremely brief synopsis or any page explaining on how to stop being one.
Lies are something I cannot stomach since my whole life has been one big lie to me, thus I never lie. Not saying that I haven't when I was a child, but as an adult....NO. The thing about the commandments and not lying is that in America people do not want to hear the truth. Most people are daily liars and that scares the hell out of me. That Judge allowed me to be victimized a second time and treated me like a criminal even trying to say I could not get a gun. I knew better, since my background is as clean as ivory soap. Since the Judicial system is corrupt no one is going to protect me, but myself. It makes me wonder how many innocent people are in prison right now. My guess is well over 50%. This coming from a woman who has never broken a law in her life. I sincerely fear for mine.
People often tell me how pretty I am and look much younger than my age, but there is always a voice in my head telling me how ugly and stupid I am. People have not shown me otherwise either. It amazes me how its the people with families that do hateful or horrible things always have someone to love them. I having a family to love you no matter what and I have never done anything horrible in life. Why would God allow this? How can I get better?
Completely alone in this world.
ok being me - dawn - Feb 11th 2011
my mother was alway's a very selfish person and i was told that at age 2 she tried to give my riddelin for being hyper but it made me hysterical and hallucinative,and she kicked me when i was about 1and 1/2.any way she never had time for me growing up to talk to me or ask how i was.she hated my father yet i had a brother 4 year's younger than me with same father,and she left him soon after and remmarried.my step father was not so much physically abusive as he was mentally.called me name's chased me down the street with a wire hanger and stuff like that,when i was 14 he came home drunk and tried to the sex thing but i pulled my cover's up over my head and all he got was the feely touchy crap,but my mom is in such denial over everything and it is painful to not have her accept it and stick up for me with my little sister who was born when i was 18,(stepdad passed away when she was 7 mnths old) so my mom has put him on a pedistal and doesnt understand why im angry.and tell's me all the time what an ass my real father was,any way alot of emotion's involved and too much to explain all that happen'd but i am trying to get closure somehow so that i may move on and you know what else,though he had started to colapse in hallway,i just happen'd to be on my way to kitchen, and i caught him, then i yelled for my brother to help and we got him to the room and on the bed the nehbor came and took him to hospital,he had already passed on.so you see i never got to ask why,so i never will get answer's funny how life work's.
It happens to All Kinds! - Unknown asian lady - Dec 2nd 2010
I was sexually abused my father from the age off 5 years.
Then raped by him from the age off 13 years old until I left got married at age of 16.5
My husband and two daughters have been my rock and help off 3 friends who are all older than my own mother who I can trust and speak to about my past/abuse etc..
The articles which I have read today will help me to keep more focused and not to feel sad and upset to get intouch with my mother and siblings.
My mother and father are off bangladeshi orgin and in the 70's this all went on. I am 40 years old next week!
My mother is in denial and she is one I hate most,my father I saw after 18 years last year when I went to visit my mum in hospital from a heart-bypass.She knew I was going to see her,its as if she wanted me to forgive him!
My brother and 3 sisters are always in denial and say I should move on.They know this was wrong but will not speak to me about the abuse,yet will hide it from their friends and future partners to be.They are always juggling stories and making tales to suit them.
This is the first time in 23 years I have not telephoned them or they me for 1 month.Yet I must crave them as I looked up this site,and now can go on furthur.
Good Article and... - Mitch - Sep 5th 2010
In addition, it is important to realize that when a parent covers up the abuse and denies it, there are additional effects that in some ways are comparable to the damage of the abuse itself.
Abusive parents who deny, cover up their abuse expertly and the child grows into a an adult seeing the world that way when confronted with criticism or a problem, those old tapes roll again. For example at work they might experience a coworker does not like them. In the survivors mind they will just give up instead of standing up for themselves. Thus feeling that they will loose the battle anyway, as they once did. Of course these are unrealistic expectations, but powerful and debilitating nonetheless. The individual might just quit their job instead of chancing that old pain again.
and there is yet another reason - - Jul 29th 2010
I have spent many a year trying to understand and break the cycle of denial in my family -my father sexually and physically abused me for years. It has been impossible to break the denial, my mother and siblings constantly "forget" any conversations that have taken place -all difficult memories are wiped from their systems. I have been accused by my brother of not providing enough details -although I have given specific incidents and my sister-in-law can recall this-from my brother's memories it is wiped. Instead they built a fantasy of a wonderful loving father -not the brutal tyrant and womaniser he was - now dead over 35yrs but this 'amnesia' persists taking on it's own life and knocks on into their own present lives with sad consequences...
I have come to understand some things - TJ - Jul 26th 2010
I was also raped by my father, from the age of twelve until about 13 and 1/2. Then I was hurt by my mother who wanted me to tell the authorities that I had "made it up".
For years I was haunted by wanting to understand why it happened. I have found that there is no explanation that would make his abuse "o.k."
I also had difficulty in understanding why my mom would tell me to lie to the authorities. I know now that her parents didn't want her to marry my dad, and she did anyway. If she had gone to her family with this information she was afraid that they would scorn her. (With good reason.)
She and my father did stay married. She needed the financial security he provided.
She died almost 7 years ago. My father is still alive. Though he often tells me he regrets abusing me, he is still emotionally abusive. I simply stay away as much as I can.
I am now 40 and still crave the love and guidance that parents are supposed to provide. I also wish I could "adopt" a couple for this purpose, but do not see that happening anytime soon.
Forgiving them was very difficult as I thought that it meant that what they did was ok. Forgiving them simply meant that I gave up my "right" to hurt them for them having hurt me. It gave me peace of mind. And I believe that I am mentally and physically healthier for it!
Best wishes to all of you going through this!
There is a difference between being a victim and being a survivor. A victim is still subjected to abuse and feels helpless to do anything about it. A survivor may have some exposure to abuse, but can speak up and is able to do something about it.
Wonderful Article - rsg - Mar 29th 2010
Great Article: You should have also mentioned that when people don't turn a blind eye to the abuse it is sometimes very hard to stop the abuse. Many children involved in the weekends stay with the non custodial parent are emotionally and/or physically abused. Child protective services and the courts will often overlook suggestions made by a counsler so the abuser continues to have visitation. Would love suggestions on how to make the abuse stop.
Secular - Texas Truther - Mar 26th 2010
This is secular counseling--- The reasons given for cause are crazy...
Family Denial Does Not Change the Truth - Russ - Mar 18th 2010
As my father's targeted victim I suffered sexual, mental, physical, and emotional abuse until I left his house. My mother was his victim, too. My brother and sisters suffered to a lesser extent. Even though they would unload their miseries in the past, they have now completely denied the whole history. Since I still tell the truth, they have decided to ostracize me. My father's recent death brought much resolve and began the end phase of my healing. For them it pushed them further in denial. They struggle still and now attack me. But the truth remains and with that I shoulder no shame, guilt, nor responsibility for my father's actions. Since they have always avoided me and I grew up without siblings, their denial means nothing. My affirmation has come from others who witnessed my father's abuses in different ways. "The truth shall set you free" has brought me much peace. I hope that my siblings find that someday. To maintain denial they have to lie to themselves everyday. I admit that it is still frustrating, but enough time was spent on the abuse and I have a life to live now.
hurt is like no other - Della - Feb 25th 2010
My mom was disabled and my dad started making advances toward me on and off from 16 to 18. I stopped it by pulling a knife and threatening to kill him. My mom was an verbal and physical abuser and I was considered for years a daddy's girl because she was so mean and evil. Before he died he said to me that he had done alot of things that he was not proud of but hurting me was the one thing that he regreted. It was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. My mom cursed me repeatedly for this because she said what about what he did to her. I tried numerous times to be around her but she continues to munipulate my siblings and cause hurt. Her and my sister wrote me a letter last week that states at the end that they have tried to love me but they can't. When this all happened and I finally told after I got married and my mom left my dad, my sister said that she didn't know why I told, he didn't hurt me. People do not care or understand that when you are betrade by a loved one the hurt is like no other hurt. After telling he started taking her to eat and buying her jewelry and clothes and they stayed together and she blamed me for everything.
comments are very valid - Anon - Feb 12th 2010
All of these comments are very valid and after first hand experience of being raped by my father as a small child I certainly see most of these patterns in my mother. It is quite devasting to realise that it was not that she could not cope but that she saw me a child as a rival to her husband and It makes feel so sick I'm not sure I will truly ever get over it. I have tried and have achieved much in my life but this will forever sicken me, I can forgive it I can never truly understand it at all. It is such an awful thing to be 30 something and realise that I still crave parents. I'm not sure that ever goes away. I am grateful to my partner he is wonderful and a good man. He can not be a parent and I'm too old for anyone to adopt! It would be wonderful if they made adoptions legal for adults, perhaps older folk who are decent and want children could adopt and the world would be slightly better and I would have decent grandparents if I ever have children of my own.
Thank you for stating the facts - Catherine Todd - Feb 3rd 2010
I have wondered and wondered how parents (and other adults) could sit there and not only "turn a blind eye" to what was going on, but deny and actually attack the child in question. And continue to attack the child even when she grows into adulthood.
Your article helps shed some light on this, as well as the all-important comments that suggest that the mother may be in complete denial and manipulative as well, and / or view the daughter as a "threat" and be willing to "make her out to be evil and cast out of the family forever." I know first-hand what this feels like, and I can tell you, no matter how hard one tries, it is a wound that never heals.
I pray every day for the strength to go on, and to give up my hatred for those evil, damaged people who continue to torment me: those that are still living or those past the grave. I hope and pray God sees fit to lift this burden of pain and anger from my heart, and while I don't know much about "forgiveness" or why I should have to "forgive" abusers, I would like to first see justice done. It's much easier to forgive after this fact. For this reason, I watch "Special Victims Unit" every single night. Yes! Finally, at long last... JUSTICE.
so possible for a parent to look the other way - How awful!!! - Jan 19th 2010
I never new how it was so possible for a parent to look the other way knowingly of his or her child being sexually by their spouse until it happen in my family. It has cause the family to distance one another greatly from other family members who are aware of what has happened. It almost seems like these sexually offenders know their other party will not tell. The children are the victims but the abuser is the one protected. How awful.
Denial of the Mother and siblings regarding sexual abuse of one member of family - Laura Bond - Jan 8th 2010
My Husbands niece was abused by her Father from the age of about 6 to 16. She finally told about 2 years ago but was beaten severely for this by her Father at the age of 30. She said it was the first time in her life that he hit her.
The problem is her Mother (my husband's sister) and sister and brother refuse to believe her. Even though they accept that he also abused their Aunt when she was 11 until 16. (my husband's younger sister who is now 45). He admitted to both but then detracted the daughter's allegation. I am preplexed to understand how they can be in such denial, expecially the Mother. Surely the maternal feelings should override everything yet she wants to brand her daughter an evil liar and leave her out on a limb, separated forever from her family. I can't get through to her - she has distanced herself from me after 46 years of friendship. She has become a master manipulator just like him and the lies and devisious actions are there to be seen.
trouble with relationships - Jill - Dec 14th 2009
When I was growing up my parents were gone a lot. My brother took over and used me as an experience of sexual ways. We never had intercourse. It probably had happened from ages 6-8 years of age for me and he was probably 10-12. My parents sat back and ignore it and or passed it off as we were kids jsut experiencing. My Mom even said that it was normal for kids to do this.
I feel it was enough to damage me. Now I have trouble with relationships. In the past, all I thought was pleasing a man. I've been date raped. And, now in a 12 year relationship where a man doesn't even want to touch me (Just the opposite of what I want). He knows nothing about the above, but I feel our lack of is because of other reasons-his depression. Not really sure if I'm over the child hood experiences, but longing for a man in my life to make me feel safe and secure and who wants to be with jsut me. Is there a reason that I'm not meeting the right person in my life???? Is it that my childhood experiences are affecting me and I think it's the other person???
Thanks - - Dec 13th 2009
WoW! I never knew until this exact moment from reading your article that there were other parents who idly sat by listening and watching as their child was being abused. My father listened and allowed my mother to curse berate and destroy me with her tongue every morning before she sent me off to school. She cursed me for breakfast lunch dinner and a midnight snack too. She was brutal. She was cruel. She broke my spirit but anyways I never really knew it. I thought my father was just a weak man. The only weak man. Thx!
Another reason - - Dec 12th 2009
Thank you for a sensitive and thoughtful start to an important topic.
Here's another reason why a parent wouldn't intervene to stop abuse: in the case of a father sexually abusing a daughter, the mother may view the "relationship" between the father and daughter as a threat to her and the daughter as having "stolen" her husband. Thus the mother doesn't see the daughter as a victim, but rather as a rival who is stronger, more powerful and more attractive than she is. The mother may then view HERSELF as the victim in the equation, rather than the child, and thus is motivated to protect herself and not her daughter (often by neglecting or abusing the daughter as punishment for having "stolen her man").