A See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil Frame of Mind

Jan 3rd, 2011 | By | Category: All Posts, Patty's Blog

by Patty Hite

Living in a dysfunctional home, I was taught by example how to deny and ignore the things around me. No one spoke about the fights and arguments that went on and I learned to not speak about them too. My mom did everything to protect us kids from the many women my dad had affairs with. But she couldn’t protect us from the fights and arguments that went on in the middle of the night. I heard my mom tell my dad to lower his voice so he wouldn’t wake us up. But that didn’t stop him from abusing her with his harsh words. There were many nights I would wake up crying and holding my little hands over my ears so I wouldn’t hear the fighting.

I understand the heart of my mother. She wanted to protect her children, but it was confusing to me as I became an adult. My dad got drunk, slept with friends and relatives of my mom’s. She would catch him and then he would abuse her. A child knows. I knew my dad was doing wrong because I could hear the excuses he gave her. She thought she was protecting her children by protecting him. She wanted us kids to respect him and honor him. She sacrificed her self-respect in order for him to be respected. She took last place in the home and it showed as we became adults. Although I know my brothers loved my mother, their time was spent with my dad. It was sickening to me because they made him the martyr. They idolized him and would do anything and everything to stand in the same room with him. They tried to out-do each other to get a word of praise from him, and there were times that I wondered if they asked him for permission to use the restroom. They heard no evil. I did.

Shortly before my mother died we talked about her life. I wanted to know if she was happy with the outcome. I wanted to know if she did everything she wanted to do. Her response to me was, “I should have never left your father.” It floored me. She was eighty years old and still loved this man. But more than that, she thought her life would have been more complete if she would have stayed with him. He molested her daughter, had affairs with her relatives and friends. He abused her verbally and degraded her.

She still spoke highly of my father after all these years and continued to live in a fantasy world with him as her king. I started to remind her of all that he did to her, and she reminded me that he was my father and I shouldn’t judge him by how he treated her. I was really confused because I questioned my loyalty to her and my sister. Why shouldn’t I be angry and upset at the way she was treated? Why should I honor a man who molested my sister? Why shouldn’t his actions have a reflection on my decisions concerning him? She couldn’t and wouldn’t hear me any longer. She spoke no evil. I Do!

I married a man who physically abused me and it was very important for me to protect my kids from seeing and hearing it. I knew I was going to be beaten so I would make my way to the bedroom. I did everything to muffle my cries of pain and caught myself many times, telling him that the kids would hear. He didn’t care what they heard or saw, and made a spectacle of my abuse in front of them. Of course it was to gain fear and control over them and me. It was so traumatic that I found out later that my children dissociated most of those times and only remembered a few of them.

I became a pro at covering up my bruises and started each day in the kitchen, acting like nothing happened the night before. I spoke well of my husband to my children and used words like “Respect your Father” and “Mommy made Daddy mad” and “Daddy loves you so much.” I contradicted everything they heard and saw of the abuse. I know now that I painted a false picture to them. I tried to convince them that they didn’t really see what they thought they saw and that the bruises I tried to cover up weren’t really there. I’m sorry that they saw evil.

When abuse reigns in a home it covers every aspect of that home. The walls are never thick enough to muffle out the yelling and crying and there’s not enough makeup to cover up the scars. I know now that there is no excuse for abuse. It doesn’t matter what I was shown as a child, and it doesn’t matter how much I tried to hide it, abuse should never have been allowed in my mother’s life, my life, nor my children’s lives.

I used to ask myself what I could have done differently to cover it up more—to protect my children better than my mother protected me. The only way I could have done better was to stop it from happening at all. I set my children up for abuse and years of emotional torment, the same way I was set up. It’s taken me many years to come to the realization that I am a product of my mom. My abuse, though more physical than hers, was a copycat by the actions I did to cover it up and protect the abuser. I WAS a product of my mom, but NOW I’m a product of my healing. I see abuse for what it is, I hear and recognize the truth now and I use my voice to expose and resist it.

Related Links:
The Truth About Blame
My Parents Are Dead (To Me)
What About Forgiveness?
Life-Saving Anger

As a survivor of emotional, physical and sexual abuse, Patty Hite has been tenaciously pursuing her healing for over thirty years. She’s a passionate advocate for all survivors and dedicates her life to inspiring emotional wholeness in others. As a former victim of spousal abuse, she’s delighted to find true love with her husband of ­­­­five years. She’s blessed with four children and six grandchildren.

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  1. This is a great article – there were two things which really stood out to me -

    “When abuse reigns in a home it covers every aspect of that home. The walls are never thick enough to muffle out the yelling and crying and there’s not enough makeup to cover up the scars. ”

    “I WAS a product of my mom, but NOW I’m a product of my healing.”

    When I think of the terrible things that went on in the house I grew up in I think of how the entire fabric of that house is tainted by the terror and evil that occurred within it. I think of

    - if you could hear the walls speak, what terrible screams, yells, mocking and cursing you’d hear, even covering your ears would not suffice. You’d have to run from the house to escape it in the end. The sound would ring in your ears for a long time afterwards and would haunt you.

    – if you could see a video running of what the walls saw happen in that house – it would run in an endless loop of misery and horror that you wouldn’t be able to get a rating for – but then I’m very visual and that’s maybe why I could ‘see’ how the abuse covers every aspect of that house.

    - I can’t even call it a ‘home’ as the word ‘home’ conjours up images of a warm welcoming place. That house was never warm and welcoming to me.

    And yes I was a product of my family, of my parents, of my dysfunctional brother, of all my abusers. For so many years I’ve been locked into that and thought there was no way out, that it was my ‘lot’ in life and to live with it. BUT TELLING was the key that opened the door to finding a way out of that.

    Today I am the product of the abuse but I am also the product of telling. Over time I hope to find the “being a product of the abuse” will lessen as I keep on telling, exposing the truth of my childhood and the lies I’ve been locked into and journey on down the path to healing.

    That is my hope anyway!!

  2. Great post Patty! Truly cuts to the heart of it… how we try and cover up what’s happening from the kids and think they don’t know when it is abuse in the marriage. Sigh. It was Lundy Bancroft’s books that exposed some truths for me to finally accept that the kids were affected, and he wouldn’t change when I left almost 3 years ago now. Thanks for your post. <3

  3. Fi,

    How great it is to have the power of “telling.” Like you said, it’s the “key” that opened the door to finding a way out of the past and the dysfunction. All along, we think that keeping the secret and not talking about it, was the right thing, when in fact, it was what destroys us and our children and the generations that follow.

    When given the opportunity to share this with young parents or those that are being abused, it is as much an eye opener to them as it was to me. We just didn’t know and only did what we were shown to do.

    The more we tell, the farther away we get from our abuse, and the dsyfunctions of our past. Thanks for sharing. ((hug))

  4. Thank you Lisa.

    I am glad that my blog “cuts to the heart” for us as well as our children. When I reflect on the things I tried to cover up and the things they dissociated from, it is heart breaking. How silly I was to think that they didn’t know, especially when I lived thru it myself. ((hug))

  5. wow patty,
    i spent almost all ofmy childhood hiding what happened behind our front door. how the neighbours didnt know i’ll never now, but i suppose they did but in those days nothing was said openly was it, mmm. anyways i hated hearing my mother arguin with who ever was living with us after my dad left the family home. he brought his mistress into the house before he found a flat and mother brought her boyfriends home so it was a horrid time because i never knew who was goning to what to cause a row,and there was plenty of those. the feeling of being too much trouble and causing the arguements made my live so miserable that even now hearing the neighbours arguing through the wall at night gives me a tight spot in my stomach. much to her surprise i spoke to the neighbour about it and told her i dont wana be hearing their rows and for them to be think of what it is doing to their 9 yr old child who had to listen to em rowing each night. just by opening up n tellin her has caused the noise level of the rows to diminsh slightly, and they have longer periods where i dont here them, so i hope they are sorting their issues out, but if i do hear them i have made a point of speaking to her about it so she knows n can tell him i know about them too. not had guts to face him about it though. baby steps

  6. Carol,

    Reading this brought back the memories of arguments I heard thru out the neighborhood. But, they were all at night time. You would think by looking at my mom and dad that they were the happiest couple in the world. She always had a smile on her face. I loved that about her, but knowing the truth behind the smiles kind of puts a damper on it. She wore masks and showed me how to wear them, also.

    I’m so proud of you telling your neighbors about what they are showing to their child. I too, since healing have confronted people openly about their behavior around their children. They may get upset, but I’d rather they be upset at me and maybe, just maybe, think about their actions and how it hurts their children.

    Thanks for sharing. ((hugs))

  7. Patty this is just excellent! My family would go to any lengths to ‘whitewash’ what was going on. It didn’t matter WHAT it was, you always knew to NEVER speak of it, NEVER ask for help and ALWAYS deny if someone asked if there was anything wrong. That teaching was one of the things that kept me in an abusive marriage for 7 years. Learning that the teaching was a lie and being close to losing my spirit and my life was what I needed to escape. Years later I’m on a healing journey and facing the old lies, the old pots of whitewash and the dried up paintbrushes. There isn’t a better way to protect our children, and ourselves, than to refuse to be silent, to refuse to give in to the whitewashing.

    I’ve struggled with the family boundaries and came to the conclusion that the only way to protect my son was to make sure he didn’t get hurt by that mindset and that attitude. That may cause a rumble at some point but I’m doing for him what no one did for me, what no one did for my Mom or my Grandma. I’m saying NO. I’m putting the ‘family pride’ where it belongs, and if it is being used for protecting abuse then the dustbin is where it goes.

    Thanks for sharing, for caring and for being a part of OSA. Your words inspire and encourage!

  8. Shanyn,

    I think it’s great that at what ever cost, you are willing to protect your child. “you are doing for him what no one did for you, your mom or your grandmother” Wow. That is empowering, (((hug)))

  9. There was no physical abuse between my parents (my mother was there, my father was gone) and little physical abuse between my mother and us (my siblings and I), but some…Mostly, our abuse was verbal, emotional and spiritual. But the “putting on a happy face” dynamic was very much present. I remember believing – until fairly recently actually – that if I told anyone what was going on in my house, no one would believe me. That I would be marked as crazy. I also thought that I would never be able to describe it accurately, so that someone would actually UNDERSTAND. It was crazy-making. So I went along. And started a lifetime pattern of going along. And I’m quite sure that if I hadn’t “decided” (I realize it was a decision, although I have no conscious memory of making it) to avoid intimate (sexual) relationships altogether, I would have become involved with an abuser (either physical or verbal) and believed I deserved it. The pattern exists even after the “problem” is removed. And I’ve been involved in verbally abusive friendships and not realized they were abusive and I was just “going along” until long after they had ended.

    This community here at OSA and over at EFB have helped me to accept that the things that happened in my life were in fact abuse, and it’s healthy for me to acknowledge that…it’s the only way to move past it. So I’ll continue with my baby steps and hope they lead me to healing.

  10. Lisa,

    I am a firm believer that any size step we take toward healing will change our lives. I too was one who took many years and much abuse to even know it was abuse. It was only by listening to others that I was able to question my life. Everything, even abuse, seemed normal to me. It took me a while to understand how it was abusive and especially how it is passed on from one generation to the next. But, once I did recognize it, then I was able to change it and you will too. (((hug)))

  11. Great post, Patty! In my upbringing we just didn’t talk. At all. About pretty much anything. We just all walked on eggshells and every now and then my father would explode. In hindsight all I remember was a constant state and energy of conflict, anger and an underlying fear. Of course; I grew up and that is how my home and relationships were. There was little interaction and when I did dare to speak up about a need in the family to my husband it typially ended with his exploding and the beatings were usually short but the message was clear: do not dare to have my own thoughts, feelings, needs. Like you, it was in learning and understanding the dynamics of abuse/power and control that I was able to see it in my life and relationships and begin the journey to healing and hope.

  12. :*(

  13. I just figured out how to use the blog after all this time I was kind of thinking all the blogs I was on on FB were all the same one LOL!. I got it now!
    Anyway, I had a life long friend leave my page at FB and my life because they thought my posts on this and other blogs were about them when I had no idea what so ever of their on abuse issues. What I wanted to say is very short but for me a powerful revelation. This is my opinion and in no way provable it is just my personal theory from personal experience but I believe it with all my heart. I believe based on observation that all everyone not just those who were abused or have abuse in their families but everyone is in 2 camps. Either they are deniers or truth tellers. Truth tellers fight against denial and deniers fights against truth. Not just truth about abuse but all forms of truth. Some people fight truth because they want their fantasy world be it a perfect family or whatever it may be. I could write books on what I have observed and what I have observed does not involve abuse. Just truth and lies. Truth tellers find each other and so do deniers. They find people to support them in their denial. But truth tellers do not get as much support!

  14. Pinky,

    Thanks for sharing this. My hope is that the deniers will one day find truth, I spent many years denying my abuse. He didn’t mean it, he loves me……. but there came the time that I couldn’ t deny it any longer. Facing the truth can be hard, but it is so freeing.

    patty

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