What If My Family Rejects Me? Part 2

Aug 30th, 2010 | By | Category: All Posts, Diablog--Multi-Person Blog

by Christina Enevoldsen & Bethany

My daughter, Bethany, and I were both sexually abused by our fathers and were strongly opposed by our family when we dared to seek justice for her abuse. We’re sharing how we came to terms with our grief and how we learned to meet our needs apart from our family.

Christina: I lost my family in stages. There was the time I divorced my abusive husband and my parents took his side. They rejected me for awhile, but when my ex-husband got engaged right away and they saw how happy he was, they forgave me. A few years later, I confronted my mom about her years of lying to me and her defense was that since nobody’s perfect, my standards were too high. She also reminded me that I was commanded by God to honor her. We parted ways then. The last and final time I lost my family was about a year later when Bethany and I reported her father (my ex-husband) for sexual abuse. My parents attacked Bethany and defended her perpetrator-father. Until then, I still had some hope for reconciliation.

Bethany: When I first began the journey of reporting my father, I expected to make some enemies, but little did I know just how many were to be made. After my father’s arrest, the majority of my family rallied against me. They defended an unrepentant and unremorseful child molester. They attacked and persecuted me for finally standing up to my abuser. That came as a shock. Aren’t family members the ones who are supposed to love you unconditionally? Yet their love was based on agreeing with what I did.

The biggest blow was the betrayal from my grandparents (on my mom’s side). They accused me of destroying the family, yet failed to see how much destruction the secret caused in the first place. My grandma told me I was wicked – a term she doesn’t use lightly. And when I thought it couldn’t get any more painful they attempted to bribe me in exchange for me dropping charges. They tried to reduce my pain to something some unmarked bills could fix. I was the one victimized and they were making my abuser and themselves out to be the victims. It was confusing. I did something right, I stood up to my abuser, but my family treated me like I was wrong.

I was never in touch with the fact that my father’s abuse was a statement that said, “You’re unimportant, worthless and unloved,” until the sting of extreme and vocal rejection from my grandparents. Then I became aware of just how badly he rejected me as well. My dad’s pleasure always came before my needs. In this, the rest of the family was doing the same thing.

The amount of pain I felt was overwhelming. I began to see the people I’d known all my life for who they really are and realized that the family I held in such high esteem was just a facade.

Christina: I hadn’t had contact with my parents for nearly a year prior to the reporting incident and I felt so good to be free of them. I hadn’t realized until I broke contact how much oppressive energy I was carrying by having them in my life. It was a relief!

When they attacked Bethany so cruelly, I felt like I really saw them for the first time—my real parents, not the ones I imagined I had. I was outraged. All those years, I assumed my dad was sorry for abusing me, yet his reaction showed who he identified with— an abuser. He wasn’t sorry for what he did to me and it was like he was abusing me all over again.

I was finally angry at my dad for abusing me. I spent many months processing my anger. I expressed it by beating my mattress, yelling into my pillow, talking it out and writing about it. I wrote him a letter and poured out all my feelings on the paper. It was a relief to unload it and let the paper carry the rage. I spent my whole life being overpowered by him, just taking it. It felt good to finally be opposing him.

Bethany: I was always afraid to express my anger and didn’t know how to share it in a healthy way. I was afraid of losing relationships if I showed disappointment or unhappiness in anyway. I was too emotionally dependent on my family to risk that. The first time I remember allowing myself to feel angry was after I reported my dad. I hated that I had to suffer yet again for his issues. I wished that he would have done the right thing and turned himself in instead of dragging me through the court system. It was one more time he was failing me as a father.

A few months later, anger toward my grandparents surfaced. I put my feelings in a letter and sent it to them. I was finally able to confront the people who abused me and I wasn’t afraid of their reactions.

Christina: Facing the truth about my parents brought up memories from my childhood abuse. I wasn’t only grieving the loss of my parents, but I was mourning for what I never had in them. The pain of the current rejection opened the door to the original abandonment and abuse—that very first time I lost my family. The emotions from the past and present were mixing together. Sorting out all my feelings was like untangling a huge knot.

Bethany: When I had bouts of emotion, I stopped to examine why I was feeling that way. Some of the emotions had clearer roots than others, but understanding what triggered them helped me to come to terms with what had happened. I picked apart the reasons why I was experiencing it until I gained clarity.

Christina: On most levels, I accepted that I would likely never have a relationship with my parents, especially my mom. But on another level, it was hard to give up hope that she’d eventually come to her senses. In reality, I could never trust her again. Why would I ever want to settle for a relationship with someone who values me so little? Yet there was this little girl’s voice inside me pleading, “Mommy, please love me!”

But it was a complete fantasy because what I wanted wasn’t possible. I still had a hole in my soul that longed to be nurtured. That’s what I had to work on–nurturing myself so I could finally let go of my fantasies.

I’m re-parenting myself. To do that, I’ve had to address my inner child—the part of me still longing for a family. Taking care of my inner child has been one of the most challenging parts of my restoration. I had conversations with her in an effort to sort out my thoughts and feelings. At first, I’d imagine myself talking with her, but disgust and hatred filled me. I didn’t want to protect her; I only wanted to destroy her. It was surprising to see the intensity of my self-hate.

In my mind, it was her fault that all of this happened. It was her weakness and smallness and vulnerability that caused the abuse. Removing the blame from her and forgiving her allowed me to get closer, but I also realized that my feelings toward her reflected the way my mother felt about me. Once I realized that, I got angry that this little girl was treated so unjustly. I felt compassion for her and wanted to care for her myself.

Now, I pay attention to what she’s afraid of and comfort her. I listen to what is important to her and give her a voice. I give her the gentle treatment she never got. As I’ve taken better care of her, I’ve been able to take better care of myself. As my feelings toward her have become more loving, so have my feelings toward my adult-self. I’ve learned to give myself the love I never had.

Bethany: The separation from my family made me take a closer look at the people left in my life and people I meet now. Do they treat me well? Do they validate my true self? Are they growing toward emotional health? Are they supportive of my healing process?

Where do they fit in my life? I’ve had to learn to set appropriate boundaries for each person. When I make new friends I don’t allow everyone to have a deep place in my heart. I can’t share intimate feelings with everyone. I remind myself that there’s not some grand race to make everyone my best friend. Now, I get to know each person better than I would have before and take time to examine their intentions and qualifications before allowing them to get closer to me.

Christina: When I lost my parents, I was aware that I might have a tendency to fill the void with other people who might not be very healthy. I knew I had to go through the grieving process instead of using other relationships to cover my pain. I made new friends, but I was careful not to put unrealistic expectations on them by putting them in parenting role or any other role that would give me a ‘fix’. The more I healed and learned to meet my own needs, the more I was able to allow my relationships to develop naturally.

Now I’m surrounded by my Family-of-Choice. Most of my friends have been wonderfully supportive, even if they don’t quite understand it all. I communicate my needs to the friends who want to support my healing process. For examples of specific needs, “How To Support A Survivor of Sexual Abuse”.

I’m very aware of the environment I create during this season, especially in my relationships. I choose to stay away from anyone who pressures me to perform for them. I’m discovering the real me for the first time in my life and I can’t be bothered with those who don’t appreciate that. But I’ve also noticed that as I leave one unhealthy friendship behind, I gain a healthier one.

Bethany: I used to feel defeated by my family’s betrayal and wanted to throw in the towel. But the same hurt that kept me down also helped me to realize how much I needed to press on. I couldn’t live in pain like that for the rest of my life. I became determined to live a life without my family’s blinders on and without their constant rejections. I feel more of an individual. I no longer controlled by their beliefs about me or what they say.

Christina: Leaving my family was painful, butI’ve still had to work through my pain, but the pain of leaving was so much easier than the continual pain of remaining with them. This way, the pain is dissipating instead of perpetuating. I wish I would have seen sooner all the damage those unhealthy family relationships were causing, but I’m thankful to see the truth now. I’m proud of the progress I’ve made by finally taking a stand for myself.

Through my parents, I received the gift of life. Only by leaving them did I begin to fully appreciate and develop that gift.

Related Posts:
What If My Family Rejects Me? Part 1
What If My Family Rejects Me? Part 3
My Parents Are Dead (To Me)
Unfriending My Abuser

Christina Enevoldsen is cofounder of Overcoming Sexual Abuse, an online resource for male and female abuse survivors looking for practical answers and tools for healing. Christina’s passions are writing and speaking about her own journey of healing from abuse and inspiring people toward wholeness. She and her husband live in Los Angeles and share three children and four grandchildren.

 

Bethany is cofounder of Overcoming Sexual Abuse, an online resource for male and female abuse survivors looking for practical answers and tools for healing. Besides helping abuse survivors see the beauty within themselves, she enhances the beauty of others as a professional make-up artist and has worked in television, film and print.

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22 comments
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  1. just reject them back. it took me ages to find out the source of my problems, some people don’t believe in repressed memory but my older cousins covered their tracks so well, and made me look the criminal before I even had the chance to defend myself. the dirty things used to have sex in front of us as kids and play evil games and sick in the head crap. they then went around blocking every opportunity they could for me to get help and they even plan for me to be raped. abusers cover up what they do. they make their victims look the bad guys. all you can do is hold your held and be firm, move away if you have to tell your story. and one day they may feel guilty for what they have done to you.

  2. Cathy, rejecting them back and moving away sounds so reasonable and easy to me now, though when I was in it, I didn’t even consider it an option. I’m happy to hear you’ve discovered the source of your problems and aren’t letting them hurt you anymore.
    Hugs, Christina

  3. I was raped, and molested by my Father when I was 12- 15. I told my mom, but she believed him over me. His reason for laying on top off me and doing what he did, He stated, “I am going to teach you things you need to know later in life.” I grew up in foster care till I was 21.

    My mom died of cancer 11 years ago, and the night before she died my dad looked at her and said, “yes I did that to her” ( me). My entire family hated me for 24 years and some still do, Because they believe I DID THEIR DAD WRONG, I RUINED HIS LIFE. The truth came out to some of my family when my mom died. Some overheard the confession.

    I poured my heart out to my mom that night, begging for forgiveness for all I had done. No, I am Sorry for not believing you or protecting you, NOTHING!! I have so much anger towards her and my Dad. He is remarried and doesn’t understand why I will not see him. He ruined my Life and never once said I am Sorry!!!.

    Where I live people walk up to me wher ever I go and Jump me about how my Dad was a good man and I ruined his Life. I have nightmares to this day 24 years later of him on top of me saying I am going to teach you what you need to know later in Life. I am a single mother free from a 5 year abusive Marriage, but I am ALIVE and struggling. I have been thru counseling, church, you name it I’ve done it to try to let go.

    The anger and hatred is taking over my life now to the point it’s caused my seizures to get way out of control. I cry myself to sleep, and all day. The only way I see peace is when my Dad dies, because he sure won’t admit it even though there’s proof. My past will not stay down with it constantly being throwed up. My abuse was used to hurt a family member when they got a divorce. I was not with them. My past had nothing to do with that. Thanks for letting me vent, Christina I hope a topic comes up on ways to address this, because I hope I am the only one with this anger, but I know I am not.

  4. Melissa, I’m so sorry for all you’ve suffered and are still suffering. These are some of the things I did to process my hatred toward my parents.

    Hatred is the opposition to something, so I had to sort out what I was opposed to. Here are a few of the things:

    1. I hated that the people who taught me right from wrong had done some of the most wrong things of anyone I’ve ever known.
    2. I hated that they preached how important family was and then betrayed their own family members.
    3. I hated that so many people still think my parents are soooooo wonderful and that I covered for them for so many years.
    4. I hated that I’m still suffering for the things that they did years ago.
    5. I hated that they didn’t love me.

    There are A LOT more things that I oppose, but identifying them doesn’t always come at once. Once I understood what I hated, it helped me decide what to do about it. I don’t like that my parents didn’t love me, but I can love myself so I don’t feel the sting of that so much anymore. I can also do something about the suffering they caused. The more I’ve healed, the more I feel I’m moving away from my parents and their abuse. Other things like opposing their ideals, I can’t do anything about what they think or do, but I’ve raised my voice trying to make my ideals clear.

    I believe love and hate are related. I started Overcoming Sexual Abuse because I hate what abuse does, but I love seeing survivors embracing a new life. I’m opposing power and control, but I’m standing for personal freedom. I’m against the lies, but I’m for the truth. So I’m keeping some of my hate. I don’t think it’s healthy to be ambivalent about the destruction that we see.

    My expressions of hatred have included learning to love myself, healing from the abuse, helping other survivors, staying away from my parents and all abusers and other things that promote life. I think of those as healthy expressions of hate. There have also been a lot of anger associated with that hate and I’ve learned not to judge myself for it—or for any emotions. I listed some of the ways I’ve expressed my anger in the original post. Once I expressed it in a healthy way, I could see the emotions under it. I was only seeing the anger until I processed it and then the other, more painful emotions came. I think I was using anger as a shield from those others for a time. As long as I was so angry, I wasn’t in touch with how hurt I was that my parents rejected me.

    Like hatred, I don’t think anger is a bad thing either. It’s a motivator to action and that’s what it did for me. Without it, I would have still been in the same abusive situation, a perpetual victim. When I found productive ways to manage my anger and hatred, it stopped consuming me and started doing some real good—for myself and others.

    I hope that helps you. Love and hugs, Christina

  5. Christina and Bethany,
    This is a great post. I am shocked by the emotion that STILL comes up in my when I read things like this. My own pain still rears its ugly head once in a while; the rejection from my own family still hurts. and one thing that I was aware of while reading this post is that sometimes I still want to fight like a wild cat to “prove” the truth to people who dont want to hear it. Even though logically I know that they will never listen, and that they are rejecting the truth even more then they are rejecting me, logic does not sooth the pain on some days. As much as I think that I would like to understand how people think when they protect an abuser, I would never want to relate to that thinking.
    Thanks so much for sharing the depth of your lives on these pages.
    Darlene

  6. Darlene,
    I can VERY MUCH relate to your comment that sometime you “want to fight like a wild cat to ‘prove’ the truth”. It feels like if they realized the truth, somehow things would smooth out. I know in my head that whatever they believe–the truth or lies, right or wrong– it wouldn’t be the magic potion to cure anything. I guess there’s still a piece of me that believes that their response would somehow restore order in my world. Thanks for your comment.
    Big hugs, Christina

  7. So much validation from both articles entitled, “What if My Family Rejects Me?” These are things I have experienced myself with my mother’s NPD – and it is amazing how much I experienced these things without having been sexually abused in any way. Goes to show that all abusers work the same. Even with an NPD mother – she too strived to keep the secret – that if I spoke about anything she did people couldn’t believe me or they’d say that I must have misunderstood her. AS IF! These article were so validating for me in that it assures me I am moving in the right direction as far as recovery goes.

    My father told me that he in no way wants to ‘hear about it and doesn’t want to talk about it.’ Then my sister spoke for herself and our siblings when she said, ‘we don’t want to hear anymore of your crap!’ I was very emotional upon finding out that the family who is supposed to be there for you … well … just isn’t. But that was three months ago and I feel more free than I ever have. Looking back I can see now that I’ve been an outcast family member already for about 10 years. I haven’t felt like a member of my own family for years – but rather more of a family acquaintance. I couldn’t even call myself a family friend because friends have meaningful relationships, and I don’t have those with my father or siblings.

    Awesome posts!!

  8. Paulette,
    I’m glad both of the blogs resonated with you (is that even nice to say since that means that you had to have been rejected by your family?). Yes, you’re right that all types of abuse have similar effects and abusive systems are very much the same. Like you, I found that my physical separation from my family wasn’t when the separation started. I was never a part of them, but it was only in getting away from that sickness that I saw the truth. I’m glad you’re outta there, too! Thanks for commenting! Hugs, Christina

  9. I am so glad that you have addressed the pain that happens after you disclose about sexual abuse. There really is an aftermath–that can be just as devastating as the initial abuse. When I disclosed that my father sexually abused me, and allowed his friends to pass me around for years–I was met with complete denial from my father and disbelief from my mother. I was not taken seriously. My pain was not acknowledged. My father proclaimed that I was trying to ruin his life. He was the victim. He put on a great show and to this day, I have 4 siblings who haven’t talked to me since I disclosed. I have no idea how they took my disclosure. It has been 6 years since I have talked with any of them. I am also finding that people in my hometown have been told about me “going off the deep end” and being malicious and hateful toward my parents. To protect their reputations and standing in the community, it appears that my parents have been engaging in an all-out assault on me–painting me as a crazy, out-of-control, horrible person.

    You know what I am astounded by? Some people believe them. I have lost parents, siblings, friends from high school and neighbors–all because I told the truth. I see their lies and hatred. Why can’t anyone else seem to see through their abuse? I am not in my hometown to defend myself, so I have lost my reputation. Is there ever an end to what these people steal from us?

    I have been estranged from my family for a long time. I have made my own family–with a great husband and three terrific kids. I have broken the cycle. I feel free and happy to have made it out of the toxic wasteland that my family or origin–called a family. It was not a family. It was a prison of secrets, and I was “loved” as long as I held onto those secrets. I know that my siblings are damaged and dealing with their own fear and pain. I do not feel rejected by them. I feel that we have been torn apart and forced to make sick choices, which has left us all on our own painful islands. The truth is, even when I had “relationships” with my siblings–we were all estranged and the relationships were not truly authentic.

    It’s just very hard sometimes to deal with all of this loss. The abuse was bad enough. But then, you must face that you won’t ge an apology. In fact, you’ll get evicerated and torn down–because once you tell the secret, they must work overtime to discredit you. Because now you are a REAL threat. Sometimes I feel as if moving to another country is the only way that real healing can happen. I just can’t get far enough from the wake of damage they leave, and continue to leave behind.

  10. Joanne,
    I can relate to family as a “prison of secrets”. That’s such an accurate way to describe my experience as well. I’m sorry for all that you’ve been through. I agree that what happens after telling can be just as traumatic as the abuse. It IS more abuse. At least as adults, we have more choices. I’m glad you’re away from them and I hope you can get far enough away from them in your heart for you to feel safe.
    Hugs, Christina

  11. Thank you for all of the posts. All good reads and good advice.

    My problem is that my family seems to think it is okay to pick and choose which one of us to invite over for holidays and other special occassions. I have put up with this behavior for 10 years…ever since I told that my father sexually abused me for many years when I was a child.

    Why do my brothers and their families feel it is fair to invite my parents to one occassion, then me to another occassion? I find it hurtful that they had anything to do with them after I told! I thought that would be the end of it and I would never have to hear about them again.

    I was particularly upset when my brother and his wife and son came down on Thanksgiving Day. They flew from Massachusetts to Florida to my other brothers house where they stayed. I had no family to spend Thanksgiving with. The day after Thanksgiving my brother called and said to come over. Then my brother from Massachusetts pops out into the livingroom to surprise me with his family. I was devastated to learn that after 10 years he traveled all the way down here and spent Thanksgiving with my parents!!! They ALL spent Thanksgiving with my abuser!!! Even my brother’s in-laws went!

    The next day they called and wanted me and my husband to come over for dinner. I declined. I had already been devastated and crying for 2 days. Later that day my husband told me that they were having a surprise birthday party for me at my brother’s house. So they know how upset I was that they did not spend Thanksgiving with me, so now they are trying to make it look like they traveled all the way down here to throw me a surprise party! By the way, my birthday was in JULY!!!

    Then my brother texts me from the plane on the day they were returning back to Massachusetts and asks me why I ruined their surprise visit! Are my siblings totally blind to the hurt and emotional harm that they do to me??? Then my sister in law sends me an e-mail yesterday asking me why I was so upset over their surprise visit!!! OMG! They didn’t come here to surprise me! They came here to surprise my parents on Thanksgiving!!! They all left me alone on Thanksgiving. They spent Thanksgiving with the perso who hurt me the most in my entire life…my father. I am not supposed to be hurt?

  12. Susan,
    That’s really hurtful that your family chooses your abuser over you. I’ve experienced the same thing. I wasn’t even aware of my mom choosing my dad (one of my abusers) over me when I was a child, but I remember the first time I ever felt betrayed like you’re talking about. It was before I even addressed most of my abuse issues and I was still in a relationship with my parents. I had just divorced my abusive husband and my parents didn’t agree that I should leave him. My dad thought he was the best I could do. I didn’t realize how much they sided with him until that first Thanksgiving. The divorce wasn’t even final yet and they chose to have Thanksgiving with my ex husband. What kind of parents do that? Since the rest of the family was over there, my kids went too. I was shocked. I spent the holiday with a few friends, but I felt completely alone.

    I don’t know if you read the third part of this series. We just posted it about a week ago. I think it’s the most empowering in this series: http://overcomingsexualabuse.com/2010/11/26/what-if-my-family-rejects-me-part-3/

  13. Yes Christina. I did read the 3rd part of the series. But it still did not confront tthe issue I face with my family. Even though they know what I went through, they continue to have a relationship with my father (the abuser) and my mother (who always knew). This has devasted me for 10 years (ever since I told them). I am treated like this is my own “personal” problem, while they all whoop it up and get on with their lives. I am sure that my brothers would feel much differently if it were one of their own children (instead of their sister, me, who was sexualy abused for many years) and if I were the one picking and choosing whether I should invite them over or their own child’s sexual abuser.

  14. Susan,
    I know that kind of betrayal is hard to accept and it’s incredibly painful. When I realized that my family made their choice and the choice was to keep loving my daughter’s and my abuser, I had to accept that it was their right to make that choice. I didn’t agree that it was the right thing to do, but I had to accept that they weren’t going to change their minds. So then I had to choose what I was going to do. It was hard, but it was freeing too. I finally acknowleged where I stood with them. I wasn’t the priority to them that they were to me. But I never had been a priority to them and there was some comfort in seeing that I was free to build relationships with people who would truly love me instead of what I’d been settling for all those years. It was a change, but it was a good change.
    Hugs, Christina

  15. Susan, I’ve had the same experience. I had a cousin choose to invite the person who abused me to her wedding. He is her uncle, who she had NO relationship with. She and I had a close relationship.
    Here is how I understand this…
    These relatives are not choosing the abuser over me, they are choosing to pretend that the abuse did not happen, because it is horrible and it is in their family. The abuser will go along, he will come to the party (or wedding, or Thanksgiving) and pretend that he never molested a child in their family. Everyone pretends. If I were to “forgive” and pretend it never happened, I could go, too.
    But I don’t. I said it happened, I said it’s wrong and I’m not backing down. I am the face of reality. That’s why they don’t want me there. They don’t want evidence that there is a child rapist in their family. I’m the evidence.

  16. the same thing has happened to me. tho i never went thru court as was far too controlled and afraid of my family.
    the pain is indescribable.
    abuse is bad enough but the pain from your own family turning against you. that just makes it almost unbearable.
    well done getting through this and being so strong.
    i hope i can be as strong as you.

  17. Cassandra,
    That’s such a powerfully true statement, “I am the face of reality. That’s why they don’t want me there.” Thank you for sharing.
    Christina

    Amanda,
    The pain of family rejection is SO bad and as bad as it is, it’s a wound that can be healed. I think you’re stronger and braver than you think you are. You can get through this.
    Christina

  18. I just re-read this post. Earlier today I was talking with myhusband about my step-son – his son. Pror to my memories returning Ihad a close relationship with this young man. He has suffered from an emotionalyl abusive natural mother, he has also experienced bullying and harrassment at work. I (we) have supported him and helped him through those tough times, and helped him to get back on his feet. Since I have been going throuhg my own dark times, he has expressed disgust and he wishes that I would just shut up and get over it. Its not as though this is my only topic of conversation – I am a private person, and I only discuss details in my therapy sessions – so actually he “knows” very little. But he is clearly very threatened by my falling apart.
    I am so sad that he has so little insight and compassion, and I do feel let down by him. I feel that I deserve to be treated better – especially by him. I have nothing to be ashamed of – nothing that I need to hide, nothing to be embarrassed or apologetic for.
    As to the rest of my family – well, really, there aren’t any. I have a family of choice, and they are fabulous

  19. My story is long and complex. From the time that I was born my mother rejected me. My father had flaws, but he loved me and my brother. My mother had an affair with a marrid man, divorced my father and remarried the man, my eventual abuser. During my childhood, I moved alot, but I had my mother’s family that I cherished with Grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles in a city that I visited yearly. My mother and step-father had 3 more sons, who my mother embraced. When I was 9 my step-father started saying inappropriate things to me. When I was 11 he started coming into my room at nights. The abuse was limited to touching, He tried to get into bed with me a couple of times, but I fought him, I did not tell my mother about this abuse at the time.
    I became an adult, married and had children. During my early adult years I continued visiting my mother’s family and loved the large extended family. When I was 40, my husband’s job moved the family across the country to the city where my mother’s family lived. I had a rocky relationship with my mother who lived on the opposite coast, but I tried to maintain a relationship always yearning for the love of a mother.
    My natural brother had children. Once a few years ago, I brought his daughter to visit my mother and half-brother’s family. I had warned my step-father to stay away from her and thought I could keep her safe. However, my half-brother got drunk and mollested her. I did not see him do anything, but I walked into where she was sleeping and found him there in the middle of the night. She told me that he had touched her and at first I tried to cover for him. I told her that he was drunk and confused.
    After this incident, I began having dreams of guilt about the other potential victims that my step-father may have had (he was a teacher and principal). My mother came to visit her family and I decided to tell her about my step-father. She didn’t believe me and rejected me once again. She told my grandmother, who I adore. My grandmother approached me and said if I would apologize for what I said about my step-father, my mother could forgive me. I excused my grandmother, because of her age and vulnerability to my mother’s manipulation.. About 6 months after I told my mother, my niece told my brother. He decided to press charges against my half-brother and I spoke up and agreed to testify to what I knew.
    My mother has been evil in this. She disowned us, cut us out of her substantial will, tried to bribe my brother to drop the charges, had my children followed by private investigators. She believes that somehow I manipulated my niece (11) into lying about my brother as a plot to destroy her for not believing me about my step-father. She again brought my grandmother (matriarch of the family) into the conversation. My brother, niece, and I have been disowned by the family that I had been so excited about being closer too. I feel sad and abused all over again. I also feel guilt about my niece. What my grandmother says goes and all of the members of the family have taken the stance that my half-brother (mollester) is the victim. Should I just resign myself to not being part of this family any more?

  20. Dawn,
    I’m so sorry you were treated that way by your family. What a terrible way to try to manipulate and control you–and at the expense of truth and two innocent little girls (you and your niece). It’s not easy to stand up for truth when you’re threatened with rejection, but good for you for supporting your niece.
    Christina

  21. Libby,
    That’s so invalidating to be told to get over it or to move on, especially when it’s communicated with disgust. That kind of reaction just adds more pain. I’m glad you have other supportive people in your life.
    Christina

  22. I have not been sexually abused, but have been emotionally abused by my mother. SInce I could never get my mother to apologize or admit it, I have,for several years, begun to recollect the role my father played in just allowing the abuse to happen. Upon confronting my father several months ago, he denied his role of responsibility, denied what I said was true, and in addition, called me crazy. I have not been able to get over his denial, and have been suffering with a seething hatred that has caused me to create horrible arguments with my father. I went to my younger sister to ask for a supportive ear, as she always understands my view points and is compassionate. But this time she sided with my Father. I felt betrayed by her. It was the first fight I have ever had with her in my whole life! All of this is happening because my Father refuses to apologize to me. All I am trying to do is resolve the past so that I can move on, but my Father just won’t let it happen. I’ve been journaling everyday to try to figure out ways to heal and move on. My sister’s response was actually more devastating to me than my Father’s, so it jolted me into practicing meditation in order to find peace! What is eye-opening to me, in reading these stories, is how much the invalidation of those we depend on for help can hurt so much and bring back the original pain and make it alive again. I like how Darlene said, “sometime you want to fight like a wild cat to prove the truth”. I fought like hell to prove the truth, but this fighting brought me into hell itself. And that was a wake-up call.

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