by Christina Enevoldsen
I was talking with a friend who’s planning to set some boundaries with family. I’ve heard the things her parents have said and done to her for years so I’m celebrating this big step with her.
But my friend also shared her plans with someone else. That person wasn’t so supportive. That person’s advice to my friend was that she needed to accept her parents for who they are. After all, “They’re your only parents”. She suggested forgiveness in the name of love and peace.
I got the same kind of response about my family. Before people even knew what happened in my family, they judged me. Whatever the problems, I was supposed to work it out. No matter what they did, it was my job to “make nice”.
Putting “love and peace” above truth leads to anything but love and peace.
by Christina Enevoldsen
Compliance to dysfunctional family rules was survival as a child but it was self-betrayal in adulthood.
One of the most significant sources of pain and damage of my abuse comes from betrayal, especially from my parents.
The man who was charged with the responsibility to protect and care for me violated my innocence and trust again and again. The betrayal continued into adulthood when my father insisted to others that I was a liar and, with my mother, sued me for defamation of character and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
My parents’ disloyalty extended to choosing to defend my ex-husband, a convicted child molester over me and my daughter.
“You weren’t there for me.”
My mom sat across the table from me last year after seven years of no contact. I’d suggested we meet to discuss the way she’d been treating my daughter. But my mother shifted the conversation toward herself and told me how hard things were for her, especially after my dad died.
That’s when she accused me of abandoning her.
Several years after my “divorce” from my parents, I was setting some new boundaries with other family members and they threw it in my face, “Are you going to walk away from us like you walked away from your parents?”
The accusation stung me. I started to shrink inside as though I were guilty.
When I was seven, I started classes in preparation for my First Communion. Communion is an expression of unity with Christ. Girls dress up like brides in white dresses and veils, symbolizing their purity.
While planning for the day, I insisted to my mother that I couldn’t wear white. Normally, compliant and well-behaved, I absolutely refused.
Reluctantly, my mother took me to Sears and we found a beautiful powder blue dress. I didn’t look like the rest of the girls, but at least I wasn’t lying to God by presenting myself as pure and holy. God knew what I was; there was no hiding it from him.
A few years ago, my birthday was coming up and, after going through a very stressful and painful time, I was determined to have a great gift. I like choosing my own presents from my husband since the opportunities and possibilities of the hunt is half the fun.
After recently moving from Los Angeles to Arizona with only a few pieces of furniture, I wanted something to help fill up our home. I love to mix modern with vintage and my favorite place to shop is Craigslist. So the shopping was on!
I found a headboard for my bed (and I’m not even going to describe it because I find that style hideous now!) and it was just the price I was willing to pay. I made an appointment for Don to pick it up so it could be mine. Hooray!
By Carissa Magras
As any little girl, I loved my daddy very much. He was a high school athletic coach. He was funny. Everyone admired him and I was proud to call him dad. We even had our own little secret that no one else knew: From the time I was in Kindergarten up until my senior year, this man who Creation gave to protect and care for me, sexually and emotionally abused me.
Turning 18 brought about a previously unknown confidence and independence. Suddenly, I was determined to protect myself from my dad. I no longer wanted to be a victim, but I still wanted my dad in my life. So for the next 7 years I limited our interactions so that my dad and I were never alone together. I built massive internal walls, and worked hard to keep the abuse at bay. With a level of alertness liken to that of an air traffic controller, I was constantly watching and listening, painfully cautious and on-edge.
One day my husband was talking to a friend on the phone about a recent situation in which my dad lashed out at us for moving away due to a job change. “I’ve never seen him act this way”, Brandon said to his friend. Without a thought I immediately exclaimed, “You have never seen him this way because I haven’t let you.”
I felt incredibly insecure about my healing process in the beginning. Most other survivors I knew, the ones really serious about healing, had hired therapists. I couldn’t afford one. I couldn’t even afford a haircut. I wondered how much I could heal without guidance and support from a professional. Whatever progress I made, would it be considered “legitimate”? I felt like an outsider even within the survivor community.
I was determined to heal. I would find a way. I had some ideas about how I’d start, but I’d have to figure out the rest along the way.
I noticed early in my process that healing required a lot of extra energy. My first clue was that I panicked when my phone rang. It was a threat and invasion and I had to get away from it. Everyone having access to me all the time was taking its toll.
I started writing publicly about my childhood sexual abuse over six years ago. I jumped in with a lot of passion but without much knowledge of what I was jumping into. I only thought about how freeing it was to speak the truth and how much I wanted to validate other survivors.
Writing about my healing process has been a wonderful journey. Through it, my voice has been strengthened and so has my resolve to continue to heal. I don’t regret any of this, but I wish I had been better prepared to face the challenges that have come with this.
Here are a few things to consider before speaking out about abuse:
I knew it wasn’t the wisest decision to meet with my mother after seven years of no contact.
The past seven years have been the happiest of my life—despite being sued by my parents, four months of being homeless, suffering a miscarriage, the death of my father and all while healing from the wounds of my childhood abuse. I’ve fought to rid myself of the toxic beliefs of my dysfunctional family and I’m finally thriving.
Logically, it doesn’t make sense that I would even be willing to talk with my mom or see her again after everything she and my father did to me. But despite all reason, in my heart, I still long for a mom.
I met with my mom recently. I hadn’t seen her in seven years, other than in a court room, where she sat on the opposing side. She was there in support of my ex-husband while he was being sentenced to fifteen years in prison for sexually abusing my daughter, Bethany.
When my parents sued me for publicly exposing my dad for sexually abusing me, we only had contact through our lawyers. Considering the ways my mother has betrayed my daughter and me, I didn’t ever expect to see or speak with her again.
It started when my mom reached out to my adult daughter, Bethany, in an effort to end their estrangement. Bethany has worked hard at healing from her incest and family betrayal and has created a happy and successful life for herself far apart from abusers.