The Death of My Molester Father

Jul 28th, 2014 | By | Category: All Posts, Christina's Blog

Fred Schamer with Laundry_NEW

by Christina Enevoldsen

I’d known my dad was getting close to the end. Ever since I’d really been facing my sexual abuse, I’d wondered how I’d deal with his impending death. There’s such a fantasy about deathbed reconciliations. Death makes us consider what’s really important in life—love and the people close to us.

After a six year estrangement, I didn’t follow the advice of well-meaning people to “let bygones be bygones” before it was too late. I couldn’t buy into the “he won’t be around forever” threat. It reminds me of a high-pressure sales pitch, “Hurry! This deal won’t last!!!” But what kind of an offer is that? The advertised version of the last moments with my dad would be bittersweet but fulfilling, but based on my dad’s history, that’s not what I’d really be buying.

Rushing to my dad’s deathbed in hopes of finally getting the love I used to crave would be like buying a product from a company that’s repeatedly cheated me. If he had only been abusive to me during my childhood, maybe I would have had a little more hope for a better outcome. Maybe. But his claims that he loved me while telling others I was lying about his abuse didn’t make me want to trust him. Neither did the fact that he and my mom sued me a few months after I confronted him and gave him one more chance at a relationship with me.

I don’t regret keeping myself at a safe distance. It’s true that it’s too late to reconcile now but what does “too late” mean? Too late to compromise my well being in an attempt to get something that is almost certain to be harmful? Too late to settle for a false love that meant sacrificing myself so someone else could be fulfilled? Too late doesn’t mean much to me.

Too late means it’s out of my control now that my abuser is dead. But it was already out of my control before he died. The lie is that there was something I could have done to make my dad love me. I tried all my life to earn that from him—to convince him I’m worthy of being loved. It was never in my control. Not in the end, not in the beginning, not in the middle. Never.

I could have been with him at the end, but I could have been with him the entire six years of our estrangement if I’d only set aside my emotional health and renounced my boundaries. The separation from my parents has been the most validating time of my life. Why would it suddenly be an improvement to my life to be with my dad as he died?

My choice to protect myself validated myself in a way that he refused to.

But also miss the person I no longer wanted in my life.

He passed away almost nine months ago but I couldn’t bring myself to discuss it publicly for fear of hearing someone say, “Good riddance! One less child molester”. Most of the people in my life knew him only as my childhood sexual abuser and that’s all they knew about him.

Fred Schamer_1

Some people didn’t understand why I was grieving. Why would I mourn someone who had caused me so much pain? Through him, I lost my innocence, my childhood, my sense of safety, belief in my own personal power, trust, and much, much more. Through him, I lost my connection to a dad, to my mom, my brother, and for years I lost connection with myself.

One person commented to me, “At least you don’t have much to miss.” But that’s not true. There were good times mixed with the abuse and a whole lifetime of loss of the loving father I never had.

I found myself missing what might have been. There were so many “what might have beens”. To honor my feelings and to validate my grief, I decided to have my own small memorial service with a few friends who would sit with me in my pain even though I was mourning a child molester.

My Final Goodbye to My Dad

My dad wasn’t born a child molester. Once upon a time, my dad was an innocent child with a desire to be loved and valued. Somewhere, his life took a detour from what it might have been. In childhood, he took on the pain of his family. My dad told the story of the time his father threw him out the window for not making enough money on his paper route. My dad masked the pain of that incident behind a smile as he talked about it. I can still see him shaking his head, as though he was thinking that he should have worked harder at not making his dad so angry.

I grieved for the childhood my dad never had and for the ways his abuse lied to him about his place in the world. I grieved not only for him, but for how his pain caused an avalanche of misery in my own life and the lives of my children.

When my dad was sixteen, his mother got pregnant and married the father, an alcoholic. The new step-father and my dad fought constantly so my dad joined the Marines when he was seventeen to escape the war at home. Eventually, he became a VMO-6 pilot in the Korean War, flying casualties from the front lines to medical facilities. The flights were made at night, under enemy fire, in all types of weather, without adequate instrumentation or a homing device. My dad was shot down twice behind enemy lines and feared for his life regularly. He was a hero to those wounded men.

I grieved that my dad was a hero to wounded soldiers he didn’t know, but he wasn’t a hero to me. He risked his life to rescue others, but he refused to risk his reputation to be reconciled to his only daughter. At my dad’s memorial service (which I didn’t attend but I saw a recording of), many people recounted stories of how much he had helped them in some way. I don’t know how much of his acts of kindness and generosity were motivated by love rather than to protect his image, but I know he could have done a lot of good in this world. I’m sad that so much of his life was wasted with his perverted cravings and in covering them up.

Fred Schamer_umbrellaSome of my most frightening and painful memories come from my dad but some of my favorite childhood memories also come from him. When I was about eight, I insisted that if I could just get high enough, I could fly with an umbrella like Mary Poppins. Being a pilot, he could have explained to me the principles of flight and told me it wasn’t possible. Instead, he went outside with me and threw me up as high as he could. I kept yelling, “Higher, higher!” and he laughed and continued until I was satisfied that I couldn’t fly with an umbrella.

I grieved that though my dad genuinely seemed to enjoy spending time with me, all of my memories with him are tainted. I’ll never know what was motivated by real love and what was grooming me to accept his abuse. The good came with the bad. I learned that love comes at a price and abuse was the price of love.

My dad was an excellent teacher. He was the one who taught me how to drive. I was terrified of having so much power but he eased me into driving slowly until I felt more comfortable. He taught me things I still use today, “Look five cars ahead of you. Whatever that driver is doing will affect you, so be prepared.”

I grieved that with all the many good things my dad taught me, he also taught me a multitude of things about myself that I now know to be lies—things that made me more compliant to his abuse and things that compelled me to carry his shame.

I don’t have any regrets about not saying a final goodbye to my dad. Trading my self-compassion and self-protection for one last time with him would be a price too high to pay. My dad’s death did cause me to think about what’s really important: Life is short, much too short to spend it being abused.

Now that you’ve heard my experience and thoughts, I’d love to hear yours. If you’d like to comment, you don’t have to use your real name. Email addresses are never made public.

The Rescued Soul

If you’re interested in finding out more about how I learned to stand up for myself after abuse, I invite you to read my new book, The Rescued Soul: A Writing Journey for the Healing of Incest and Family Betrayal. In it, I spell out the details of exactly how I’ve healed, using excerpts from my journal, very candid stories and detailed examples. It’s definitely up close and personal! It’s healing guide, workbook and journal all in one. I put a lot of love into all 518 pages!


Christina Enevoldsen

Christina Enevoldsen is cofounder of Overcoming Sexual Abuse, an online resource for male and female abuse survivors looking for hope, inspiration, encouragement and tools for healing. She’s the author of The Rescued Soul: The Writing Journey for the Healing of Incest and Family Betrayal. Christina’s passion is exploring new ways to express her new life and freedom. She’s recently discovered the joy of waterslides and the delightful scented lotion from Bath & Body Works, “Dark Kiss”. She and her husband live in Scottsdale, Arizona and share three children and six grandchildren.


Related Posts:
When An Abuser Dies
My Parents Are Dead (To Me)
Confronting My Abuser

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  1. Thank you for sharing and for being so courageous! I have recently, at 37, been going to counseling to deal with the childhood molestation within my family. Your article helps articulate feelings I can also relate to. And why loving family members can be so complex. It sounds like you did the right thing to preserve yourself while your father was diying. I have 9 family members, some of whom have been molesters and are currently sick. I’m struggling with self preservation, facing them as abusers and just letting God take care of it. It is a struggle sometimes daily. Thank God you have the support of some really good friends. They are truly priceless to those of us who have been abused. They become our “healthy” family. :)

    All the best to you. May God continue to guide and bless you.

  2. Rural Family Secret,
    Yes, I don’t have many family members left, but I have some truly wonderful friends, many of whom have been cheerleaders of my journey since the beginning. I’ve found that dealing with these heavy topics has a way of polarizing people. The people who didn’t belong in my life made a quick escape when I took my stand.

    All the best to you, too!

  3. This articulates really well how I feel about being estranged from my birth family. While they remain in denial the price for reconciliation is just too high because the price is me. My abuser is still living but there is no growth or movement. I firmly believe there will not be any repair in those relationships before death claims someone. Thank you for putting such honest words to an experience that many try to simplify but really involves a lot of messy emotions. I have read your writings many different times over the years and they have helped. Thank you.

  4. Rachel,
    Is does indeed involve a lot of messy emotions. I tend to process best while I’m writing so even though it’s been months since my dad died, I tapped into some deeper emotions while writing this. I think I’m taking this harder now than when he died, which is surprising to me.

    Thanks for your comment. I’m glad to know my writings have helped.

  5. What happens to us who are estranged from family when death comes….is that we are cheated of the normal grieving process.

    When my father died, most did not know what to say to me. Was it good riddance or was I finding I had regrets and was sad.

    I have been estranged from my family for 10 years. My father died almost two years ago. In scanning my body for emotions…there were none left. Not relief and joy and not sadness. I had accepted the loss of who I wanted him to be and accepted him being a pedophile.

    It is good to write and share, for there are those of us out there who feel affirmed for walking the same path.

  6. Beth,
    I agree that we’re cheated out of a normal grieving process. I noticed that people didn’t know what to say to me either. Thankfully, I have very sensitive friends who were willing to hear my feelings. One of the hardest things was knowing that I wasn’t welcome at my dad’s memorial service. I wouldn’t have gone anyway. It was a “let’s prove he’s not a child molester by showing how great he was” event. I felt like I wanted to be with people who understood my sorrow, but also knew my dad wasn’t the saint my family pretends he is. I felt like I didn’t fit in anywhere. That’s why I had my own service, which turned out to be very validating.

    Thanks for sharing your experience. I’m glad to hear you came to a place of acceptance.

  7. Oh my! What familiarity! My dad recently died, seven months ago to be exact. Hard to believe it’s been that long. I struggle with being manipulated by others & not recognizing it. I get abused sometimes or mistreated and don’t recognize that it’s done intentionally. It’s very hard for me to believe the worst about people and that doesn’t make sense at all, since I should be more aware and distrustful of people. I was able to have an absolutely wonderful reconciliation with my father. I constantly talked to him about God for many years. He started walking by faith again. Before he came to a place of salvation, he had taken responsibility for his actions. But there was soooo much healing to work at in his relationships. Eventually, he also came to a place of not blaming everyone else for his actions. I believe my dad wanted truth in his life. Even after he had taken responsibility for his actions, there was an estrangement that we went through. It lasted a couple years, maybe more. But when he called me up and said he wanted to turn around and do a 180 degree turn, I knew what he meant. What surprised me even more was that he meant it. He began, once again, to work on things with me, and we talked things through until they were resolved. My dad eventually became someone that I knew I could love forever…not the perfect dad, but lovable. That’s what I had worried about all through my childhood…how ugly a monster he was and where he would end up in eternity. I had continually worried about his salvation. When he died, I believe he was at peace with God, and that’s all I ever wanted for him. I had to learn that I couldn’t make things all about my own pain, but about that fact that others’ souls were lost. Someone has to pray them in to God’s kingdom. It seemed the burden had been handed to me. I know this is not a typical ending, but it’s the one I had always hoped was possible. God bless you all

  8. You explain the conflicted feelings and complex emotions coming from being a survivor of childhood sexual abuse very well.

    My biological father had schizophrenia, was in and out of hospitals and on and off medications during my early years. My separated from him by the time I entered Kindergarten. My mother was very depressed during this time. My earliest memory is laid out on a couch under a blanket when I was about 4 years old and my little brother in a crib in the bedroom, and the ambulance at the house because my mom had tried to commit suicide.

    In my early years in elementary school, I was a class clown – through I would show signs of good academic progress – behavior issues kept me going to the principal’s office and my mom having to meeting with my teachers. I smashed my front tooth in my mouth a couple years after it came in and had to have a bunch of stitches in my forehead – all from goofing around in the classroom.

    My mom, in an act of love and caring, signed me up for a Big Brother to get me a mentor. Bill – the child molester who would become my step-father – lavished attention on me. He got me into scouting and the outdoors, taught me how to work on cars and use tools, and did fun stuff with me like camping, fishing, hunting, model rockets, etc. He paid attention to me and at some level, did some nurturing that I was desperate for and really needed.

    But he sexually abused me from age 9 to about 12ish. I was in middle school during those years and turned to perfectionism – I got a 4.0 GPA during that period and started on the road to being an Eagle Scout. In my child mind, I had to idealize Bill at some level to deny what happening to me and live in some fantasy world to get through the years. By age 16 I found booze and by age 18 drugs and numbed myself for years in addiction.

    I am the oldest of three brothers, one 3 years younger the other 8 years younger. In my idealized view of Bill – my step-father – it never occurred to me that he would abuse them too. My denial and silence about the molestation, led to my brothers not being protected. I was a child but I can but not help from feeling guilty and shameful.

    Why did I stay silent? I desperately wanted Bill to be my father figure. At some level, I felt my mom couldn’t handle it and was worried she would try to kill herself again. Bill also lifted our family out of poverty and food stamps into a middle class existence. Embarrassingly now, my middle school brain was worried more about my clothes style among my peers than anything else at age 12. Also, my Depression-era grandparents really shamed and scapegoated my mom for both getting divorced and being on public assistance. And there were bits of Bill that were human and decent and loving – and I grasped onto those aspects and ignored the abuse as the cost of getting those morsels of a father.

    In 1997, my youngest brother finally broke the silence. We all went to the police as my bro bravely filed charges and made our own statements. Within six months, as the police were coming to his my then EX step-father’s house, they found him dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

    That was 17 years ago and the abuse was more than 30 years ago. I have made progress but it and all of its effects are still part of my daily struggle.

  9. It took me a little bit to respond to this because you spoke so much that has been in my heart and in my mind. I just cried with every word you wrote. To think about what I do know about my father’s childhood always broke my heart and gave me an excuse to his behavior. There were great times intermixed with the abuse, by the time he died at such a young age my heart was broken. The abuse stopped when I was 16, but the fall out from it lasted a lifetime so far. Even though walking through a journey of healing, there’s still layers that I have to go through.

    I never knew what it’s like to have a Dad as I’m sure most of us know this feeling. I couldn’t understand what it was like to see other little girls sitting on their Dad’s laps or getting any type of fatherly affection that didn’t have the perverted-tainted part attached to it. I longed to have a Dad..someone who has no agenda at all except to love you, love your heart and protects you. My father never protected me from himself. That’s what led me to having hard time believing that the “good and true” love that I have now, protects.

    You explained so well what was grieved in every way. Thank you….My Dad died an honorable man to many many people..there were over a 1000 people at his funeral. None knew my secret. I stuffed my emotions my whole life and begged God to “forgive Daddy” every night something happened as I cried myself to sleep. I loved him so much, but also I stuffed down the entirety of my pain and the destruction of my soul. It wasn’t until his surprising death did my healing begin a major journey. My family still doesn’t know my secret. I did tell my brother, but he’s rejected me ever since. I have told many though and have been through some beautiful counsel that has helped my process. Its amazing how when you keep the secret for so long how YOU feel like the shamed one, the one that should just keep your mouth quiet. When I went through a divorce from a pastor, I shared with my senior pastors wife, who was my close friend, what had happened to me by my father, she too hasn’t spoken to me since, mainly due to her belief of me divorcing a controlling husband was not a godly behavior on my part. But my choice for that divorce was solely based on the counsel that I was having that was strengthening me to see truth of my value. That’s the tough part….our self-value.
    Thank you again….

  10. Esther,
    Thank you for sharing your story. It’s so true that yours isn’t the typical ending, but I’m really happy for you! So many survivors want reconciliation so much and are willing to work hard to have it, but don’t take into consideration if the abuser is also willing to work hard to have it. I’m glad yours was!

  11. Get Up and Fly Away,
    Oh, I really relate to what you wrote:

    And there were bits of Bill that were human and decent and loving – and I grasped onto those aspects and ignored the abuse as the cost of getting those morsels of a father.

    That’s a part of abuse that’s really hard for people to grasp if they haven’t been through it. Even for us who have, it’s one of the many things that carries a lot shame. Was I complicit if I enjoy the “perks”? Does that mean that I really did want it? When my abuse ended (as far as I remember, around age 11) I felt loss. My dad wasn’t giving me much attention anyone, not the amount he had been. I compare that pain to the rejection of a breakup. Sometime in my healing process, I finally admitted that to myself and felt very guilty. As I worked through it, I realized a couple of things. One, that love and affection are truly life and death to a child. Unloved children die so our survival instincts kick in and we find whatever kind of love we can. Chances are, if we have to go looking for it, it won’t be real love that we find. We’re more likely to find people who want to exploit that need, but at least we survive. The second thing I realized is that I never had a choice. There was a huge power difference between my dad and me, so I don’t have an accurate measure of what I would have done if I’d had a choice. Having to endure the situation, I told myself all kinds of lies to try to make sense of it. One of them was that I enjoyed it in an attempt to feel some sort of control. Those things released me from the shame of believing I wanted to be abused.

    Thanks for sharing your story and your progress in healing. I appreciate your insights.

  12. Carita,
    Wow, I can relate to so much of what you wrote. “Butterfly Kisses” is a song that’s commonly used for the Father/Daughter dance at wedding receptions and I can’t relate to it at all. I can only kind of imagine the sweetness of a healthy Father/Daughter relationship. When I hear that song, I feel a mixture of anger and sadness. Sometimes, I even have the urge to warn that little girl to get away from that man.

    Concerning your heart being broken over your dad’s childhood, that’s something that I’ve given a lot of consideration. As you can tell from my post, my heart still aches for all my dad went through growing up. When I started my healing process, that held me back. I had to work through that so I could continue healing. I wrote about it here: “Understanding My Abusive Parents Didn’t Heal Me“.

    I’m so glad you’re finding the truth about your value! Thanks for sharing.

  13. Christina, perhaps the toughest part is when the family continues on as family and like you said to prove he wasn’t a molester. Is that while they set out to keep it all normal, it excludes our truth. It leaves us with nowhere to put our truth, for it isn’t welcomed there.

    And society too expects family to stay together, to forgive to ‘act loving’ and are not equipped yet to know how to handle us estranged. But, I feel there are more and more of us each day. And we can, as you do, teach others how it feels to be estranged from family due to abuse.

    My blog was a place for me to put words that I needed to say. But it is also a place where others can go to relate to someone like me.

    Thanks again, for writing your thoughts/feelings/emotions and truth.
    The more of us doing so, the more society will know the proper etiquette when it comes to us.


  14. Hi Beth,
    I agree that family estrangement, especially parental estrangement, is not a socially acceptable decision. There isn’t a lot of support information about it, which makes a very painful situation difficult to navigate. It’s so great that you created your own blog to support yourself and others. I read the post about not being as committed to health for your body as much as your soul. I can relate to that! That’s what I’m working on now. Thanks for sharing that!

  15. I am so very sorry for your losses; all of them.

  16. Thank you for sharing this
    I fantasize about my father, my abuser’s death.
    Will I be at his death bed? Does he deserve that from me?
    Do I deserve that? Will I make an overly dramatic scene at the funeral?
    No apology or explanation will take back what he’s stolen from me.
    I think in the end I just want to see that he’s buried and that generation ended.

  17. Excellent, Christina. Especially how you articulate the confused feelings of some good and happy memories being mixed in with all the horrifying abuse. I miss the good things about my father, who is still alive at 92, but the overall effect of his behavior on me is monstrous and crazy-making. I’ve come to think of all my immediate family members as something I simply cannot afford in my life, if I ever want to be healthy and happy. They made their choice, conscious or not, to remain in denial after my years of pleading. My choice is to live my authentic life, at whatever the price. So I gave them all up last August. Which means all sorts of painful consequences, like not being able to attend the memorial service for my uncle (an early victim of my bullying, twisted father, who acted like they had been best friends) because I knew my father would be there and it absolutely paralyzed me. And spending Christmas alone. Going back now is unthinkable. But I still have dreams that I’m with my family for Christmas. Ain’t gonna happen again–ever! Last time I spent Christmas with my family was devastating. There was just no love, despite their protestations. Anyway, thank you, Christina.

  18. Your post have helped me realize so many things about my youth. Now it all makes sense, and you are the one that helped me heal. I will be forever grateful for your courage and education to help someone else. God Bless you.

  19. this post brought up a lot of things I am still dealing with and I want to say I really really appreciate it. Since I am not all healed from abuse yet I want to make sure that you don’t think my tone is angry, its not, but I get very emotional.

    I try to be careful of using “its because they were abused, that people abuse people”, we can’t use that as an excuse for bad behaviour because a lot of people who were abused didn’t grow up and abuse people. I was stuck in not telling the truth of what happened to me because of my sympathy for my abuser and I almost died because of that trying to keep the lies going that my family kept saying about he couldn’t help himself, its not his fault, etc. I couldn’t be truthful or angry so I began hating myself. One of the hardest things for me was all the ‘did I ask for it or enjoy it’ and I found from reading online that pedophiles almost always say that to the child, they twist it around in the kids head so they won’t go tell someone, they tie them into guilt and shame to keep them quiet. a guilt ridden child is much less likely to ever tell because they feel complicit themselves. another manipulative lie, and abuse survivors often buy into it because when they have been abused they do feel ‘dirty’ or ‘sinful’. it is never a childs fault.
    I could never get over that part until my therepest one day said to me, ‘if everything that happened to you happened to your 5 yr old grandaughter, would you blame her for any of it? and if she grew up and turned to drugs or alcohol or promiscuity trying to deal with being abused, would you understand why, and would you still love her?’ I said, ‘Of course I would! I love her, even if she did all those things it would be because of all that the world had done to her, it wouldn’t be her fault!’ when I said it outloud, I got it. my therepest said ‘that is how God looks at you’

    I would make a point here, if its ok, about some comments that kind of bothered me from a poster in the comments section, in that it seemed to imply that if I don’t reconcile to my abuser and pray him into the kingdom, he won’t be saved. here is part of the post:

    “I had continually worried about his salvation. When he died, I believe he was at peace with God, and that’s all I ever wanted for him. I had to learn that I couldn’t make things all about my own pain, but about that fact that others’ souls were lost. Someone has to pray them in to God’s kingdom. It seemed the burden had been handed to me. I know this is not a typical ending, but it’s the one I had always hoped was possible. God bless you all”

    That is not scripturally true and it again places a burden on the victim to be responsible for the abuser. Romans 9:10-16 clearly talks about election into the kingdom of God, because of God’s will and efforts, not ours.

    I am pointing it out because the reason I like your coming forward with your story is that there isn’t always a reconciliation, there isn’t always a happy ending and its not our fault as if we could do something different or better to bring someone to repentance. and God doesn’t say things to abused people like ‘its not all about your pain…’ not the God I know. He never has poured salt on my wounds or been the slightest bit uncaring, instead He sends love to me and compassion, realising that I have a very hard time receiving it because of people referring to Him as a Father. He never said that sexual abuse was a burden that He placed on people, that is also unscriptural. everything that happens to people is not Gods burden or His punishment or even something that He would ever think to allow to happen to a child:
    And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my heart. Jer 7:31
    I also wanted to say that sometimes real love is so strong that it brings things to the truth, and into the Light and publicly, because to let things go and cover a persons reputation will not help them at all, it will enable them to stay sick longer. Too many pedophiles have never been confronted, especially public figures or people that have otherwise good reputations. they then fall into the trap of staying in the lies and it just gets deeper and deeper until sadly, a lot of them do commit suicide. If the issue were not covered up by public people so often then perhaps those pedophiles would be able to confront their sin and actually feel like they could talk about it to people that could help them. It is never the abuse victims role to lead a pedophile to repentance, although sometimes it does happen. it too often lets the pedophile manipulate and pretend repentance without any, it lets them go on to another victim.
    thanks again for sharing your story.

  20. Thank you, Leslie.

  21. Brandy,
    I’ve spent at least a few years thinking about my dad’s death and have had such a variety of thoughts and feelings about it. I can relate to your feeling of just wanting to see that generation ended. I felt the relief of that though my relief now is from not having to work to maintain my boundaries with him anymore. I hadn’t realized how much energy that was taking.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  22. Elizabeth,
    That’s great to hear that you’re choosing your authentic life now. I hope you find it less and less painful and more and more fulfilling.

  23. Lakegirl46, that’s wonderful that you’re healing. Thanks for letting me know that I’ve helped you!

  24. Sandy,
    I agree with all of your points and it didn’t come across as angry at all, though I’d understand if it did. Having grown up in church, I’ve heard a lot of those things and I’ve only known them to be invalidating and hindrances to real healing and spiritually abusive.

    I agree that past victimization is no excuse for abuse. There is no excuse for abuse at all. I used to only have compassion for my dad, and it was at my expense. I mentioned this in a previous comment and posted a link to a post I wrote called, “Understanding My Abusive Parents Didn’t Help Me Heal”. I wrote that post after watching the “Joy Luck Club”, which made me very angry because their healing solution was to know their mothers’ pasts and to have compassion for them. Trying to understand my parents was a hindrance to my healing. Finally getting angry with them was full of breakthroughs, though. Through my anger, I was saying to myself, “HEY! You don’t deserve to be treated that way!!!” As I confronted the lies about my value, I came to have compassion for myself. Anyway, I hope that what I wrote in my blog didn’t come across as sympathetic toward abusers. I’m not. I can have compassion for the pain my dad experienced without excusing what he did with it. I hope that makes sense.

    To tell you the truth, I completely missed the statement made by Esther (the commenter you quoted) about “it’s not all about your pain”. I didn’t see that when I read it the first time. But that was Esther’s experience and her way of dealing with her feelings out of her convictions. If she’s content with the outcome, then I’m happy for her.

    In the early days of OSA, there was a woman on the OSA Facebook page who believed that God’s plan for her life was to be abused so that she could help others heal. Therefore, she considered her abuser an instrument of God. That was a version of something my mom used to tell me while I was being abused and it was very triggering to me. I responded in a way that invalidated that woman’s thoughts and feelings out of my own pain and fear. My reaction was an attempt to get that belief far away from me and I really hurt her. I started OSA to have a safe place for survivors so I really didn’t do a very good job of keeping OSA a safe place that day. So the lesson I learned was to state what I believe and how I’ve healed and let others do the same. One of the most empowering things about my healing journey came from figuring out what healing tools to use, how far I wanted to go in my healing, how much I wanted to deal with as issues surfaced, and what I chose to believe. So that’s the position I try to take with others survivors too.

    I think you make some very excellent points and I’m glad you shared them!

  25. Thank you for putting into words, the thoughts of my heart.

  26. this has hit home in many ways. i may not have been sexually abused but she abused me in other ways. i am still struggling every day to shake all those horrible things she use to tell me that i am. i would never get any where how i wouldnt make it out of highschool how i was a screw up and a mistake. even now as i write this i am fighting back so many emotions. its only been a few months since the last time we spoke and ever word she said burns in the back of my skull. i feel like i am getting off drugs. the pain the emotions the sickness. the wanting to call her and try to convince her that i am worth loving that i am just as special as my brother whom of which she treats like a angel. i still remember her telling me how all that i went through was my fault and how i was the one that made everyone miserable and how it was all my fault. each and every day i fight to remember that all she ever told me were lies. that i am a good person that i did do what she always told me i wouldnt. but i am not always so strong and her words consume me until i end up in bed for days. my grandmother whom of which is my mothers mother thinks i need to try to reconcile with her because she is my mother and i should have some relationship. how do i tell my grandmother who has always cared for me all the abuse her daughter put me through? truth is i cant because i dont want her to suffer like i have. i wish i could have a mom that loved me. then maybe i could have my dad and brother back too…. because of her i may never see them again. makes me wonder how life is so worth while to others when all ive been delt is misery.

  27. Kirsten,
    My heart goes out to you. What horrible things your mother told you!! I’m glad that you’re not accepting those things as truth anymore, but I know that changing those beliefs is a painful and long journey. Thank you for sharing that.

  28. I applaud your bravery. I hate that we, as victims, are so torn between distinguishing between the love and the pain that comes with the abuse. Do we feel bad that the abuser is confused, unwell, incapable of understanding how their ‘power’ is torture? Do we figure that this is what everyone’s life is like – until we finally know better? What about the struggle when you finally tell someone and they don’t believe you? Who do you get angry at then? And what happens at that point. My abuser died many, many years ago but because he was a family member I kept a relationship (though not a close one) until their death. It still hurts after so many years.

  29. Gail,
    Yes, there are so many complicated feelings and issues to sort through when you’re abused. I remember that sometime in my healing process, I realized that I could have more than one feeling about the same thing a one time. That was astounding to me because all my life, I’d been emotionally repressed so it was a luxury to have even one feeling. Also, I was trained that the only emotions that were acceptable were “positive” ones. I’d already stopped judging my emotions by then but having more than one feeling still made me feel out of control. I realized that fear came from having to pick the “right” one. At first, I just learned to tolerate the messiness of all my jumbled emotions as I processed them. Now, I’m comfortable with conflicting feelings or with ones that aren’t as socially acceptable. They’re part of my experience. My emotions connect me with myself and the rest of the world, so I appreciate them all. They’re a part of what makes me–me!

    Anyway, thank you for sharing some of those issues we have to wrestle with!

  30. Christina,
    That was a truly beautiful article! Your courage, strength and insight that can only be possible through the very long journey of healing are an inspiration to me. Thank you so much for sharing with us.

  31. Hi Christina! what a beautifully writtne article, it touched me deeply and helped me feel a part of myself that I have abandonded. Denial has protected me most of my life and now as adult it has tried to destroy me. Having the courage and strength to lift the veils of denial and face the truth is what is leading me towards embracing the loving soul that hides beneath.

    I too have wrestled with if I will go to my parents funeral and I have decided that the only justice and honor I can give myself is to not go. The damage they left in me to heal deserves no honor. Some of the things they did were criminal and I helped to cover them up because my security depended on it. My security does not depend on them anymore so my time has come to reveal the truth. I am on a path of self discovery and self love now and that’s all that matters to me.

    Thank you so much for sharing this, it’s exactly what I needed to hear right now. Namaste!

  32. I am crying … for everything you wrote I have or a feeling… he has been gone 15 years all I ever wanted was answers …. at 50 a I am doing very well for how I began… excepting myself has been the hardest for me.. This life has been something else… Thank you for sharing…
    Deana ( Aakii)

  33. Thank you for your honesty!! My experience with the death of my father was very similar. Everyone praising him and boohooing while I sat there (yes I went to the service) knowing the other side of him all too well. There was no making up for what had happened. When I confronted him years before, he had the classic excuses of “I was drinking a lot in those days and don’t remember” and “You were curious so I was just showing you”. A couple of years after his death and cremation my mother was ready to put him in the columbarium and wanted me there for support. To this day my only regret is that I couldn’t be there to support her – I was physically available but my heart couldn’t tolerate it.

  34. For many years I isolated myself from family, particularly my father, but as he aged and developed health problems, I worried about his death. There was a cold, angry side of me that said I wouldn’t care, that if I ever saw him again it would be at his funeral. There was also a vulnerable, anxious part that feared his death because it would end any chance of reconciliation. Even at nearly 50 years old I still craved his approval and affection.
    A few years ago my father had a health scare serious enough that he thought he might be near death. He expressed a desire to see all of his children. By this time I was on antidepressants and had a couple years of group and individual therapy behind me. I decided to go. There was no dramatic scene, no tearful reunion. I had found the only reconciliation I truly needed. I had reconciled myself to the fact that he was not, and never had been, the father I wanted him to be, and that he was unlikely to change in any significant way. Although he could reasonably be considered the source of many of my problems, he would never be the solution. Letting go of the expectation or hope that he would somehow fix what he had broken was very freeing, as was the realization that I had all of the resources I needed, surrounding me and within me, to do it myself.
    I found that I could not move on with my recovery, developing close, intimate relationships, until I let go of the debt I had focused on for so long.I found that you can forgive someone without them asking, or even acknowledging their wrongdoing. Forgiving, for me, does not mean forgetting, and does not mean making yourself vulnerable to further pain. Forgiveness can just mean writing off a bad debt that you have no hope of collecting.

  35. I’m amazed at how you can express so clearly the complexities of losing your father. Thank you for sharing this. I’m sorry for your losses.

  36. wow, just wow…i feel like i am reading something i could have written.thank you so much

  37. I haven’t been to OSA for sometime. I felt sad when I read you feared hearing “Good riddance. One less child molester.” I think what people don’t understand if they haven’t experienced sexual abuse (or any type of abuse) is that mixed in with the abuse are “good times” and kindness shown by the abuser. That’s the thing that made it so confusing for me as a child. My father (who sexually abused me) also could be a kind, gentle, and “good” father if he chose to. Yes, my father sexually abused for years as a child but a relationship with a parent is never that simple. Others seem to want to view my relationship with my father as black and white. “You’ve been estranged from him for almost 20 years. I thought you hated him.” I hate what he did to me. I took a good look at my relationship with my father, good and the bad. The good just didn’t outweigh the bad. It was him or me. I chose me and severed all ties. But that doesn’t mean that all my feelings just disappeared, the good times were forgotten, and it didn’t hurt. I didn’t feel joy and shout “Good riddance. One less child molester.” Done. If only it were that easy.
    Christina, I’m sorry for you loss.

  38. First off, I’m very sorry to hear about the loss of your father. I don’t envy anyone who has to work through all those conflicting emotions of anger and sadness. Not only was it the death of your father, it was also the death of a apology that never came, and a happy family that can never be repaired. Having the death of your father also be the death of your abuser only makes the situation more compex. Not easier. It’s a good thing you have been strengthening yourself and removing yourself from that unhealthy system over the last several years. I’m confident that this grief will propel you to new levels in your healing process.

    The fact that you waited until you were ready to talk about this publicly speaks heaps to how far you have come in your healing journey already. The abuse tends to make victims either under speak or over speak. Underspeaking because of shame and secrecy, or over telling because of the damage the abuse can do to our sence of boundaries. I love that you waited until the time felt right, but then talked about the issue candidly. Well done on tackling another dificult subject.

  39. Wow, while reading this I wondered how you could know me and my story so well. So many similarities. However, I did go to my father’s graveside service. His latest girlfriend’s (80 yrs old) daughter-in-law was extolling the virtues of …my father. I looked at my two wonderful and supportive cousins, and one of them blurted out “who the h-ll is she talking about?” I have not been back to his grave since in the past seven years. My father always professed he would only live on the east side of town, that he would never live on the west side, because that’s where all the “high-falutin” people lived. Guess where he’s buried? Yep, only three blocks from where I live, on the west side of town. At first I was horrified by this, but I soon was able to laugh about it. He was as transparent in death as he was in life…not. I have learned to forgive him for what he did to me, and only recently learned that he himself may have been sexually abused when he was young. So, I speak out about this heinous crime of child abuse. It flourishes in secrecy and silence. I will do my part to break the silence and dump the shame back on the perpetrators. God bless all who have been abused. May they find their Light again. I did.

  40. Christina, l love what you’ve shared here. I think it’s really great that you were able to validate and make space for all of your disparate feelings throughout this loss, without judging or trying to split off from some of them. That is so valuable. I can also really relate to what you said in your response to Sandy. I’ve felt a strong urge to protect myself from ideas that were used to abuse me in the past, but as I’ve gone further along in my healing, I’m much less likely to be triggered by what fellow survivors say about their own healing. Personally, there isn’t a mix of bad and good with my parents, it’s just bad and there was never any relationship, I had to mourn the possibility of a relationship a long time ago, but not one that ever existed. My happy memories from childhood were with people other then my parents. I hate them and know it isn’t wrong for me to feel how I feel today. Thankfully we don’t need to group ourselves together with big generalizations that claim to include everyone but really don’t.

    take care,

  41. I too did not attend my father’s funeral. I have no regrets. I knew when people would tell how “good” he was I would be thinking, “That’s not true, he fooled everyone.” I only remember bad in our relationship. Sexual abuse started early. The only good thing I could say is he did help others (outside the family) and fought for civil rights. I learned not to judge others by color, religion or any other thing. In his older years he worked with young adults tutoring and I worried about that. But now he can hurt anyone anymore. He did not believe in a God or an after life. I believe in God and will leave it to him to choose how to handle him.

  42. I have just begun my healing journey. As I read your story all I could say is wow!!! I can only hope to one day be as strong and self confident as you!!!

  43. I just followed a Facebook link to this post, I’m thankful I did. My Dad passed away last year, I was there for his passing as I felt extremely protective of him, but, I also know there is buried abuse, perhaps even sexual abuse (based on my strange reactions to men.) I also have three older brothers and recall at least one incident of sexual assault/abuse, so that’s the history I have to work with.

    If I had the resources and we had a good hypnotherapist out here in rural land, I’d be on it in an instant!

    My Dad served in WWII and while I am grateful for his service and those many men and women who served, I’ve always been conflicted because of the blanket honor or heroic persona we give them when they weren’t like that at home. I have always had the same feelings toward any persons we deem heroic, maybe my past has made me a natural skeptic but I know there are millions of tiny intricacies in human behavior that do not appear in public.

    By coming here I see I’m not alone, it’s not too much for me to want to be healed and perhaps the feelings I have of being far too broken or damaged can be healed too.

    Thank you for sharing.

  44. Hi Christina,
    I read the article in Womens Weekly, my wife buys the magazine. I cried a little too much today and felt gutted.
    I thank you so much for your sharing. I’m so worried for my family of creation- so hurt by my own trauma and my abuser’s dismissal. Part of me will always be a alien to my family of origin- so my wife and kids can flourish, free of that mad curse- realised today it happened to me for 8 years, that is most of my childhood and youth…I want to swear, realy want to. But, I cried for you instead, I hope you and your daughter are okay…
    For now, I’m fine, ups and downs- I’m not sure what to say in support- think my tears need no words, just anger right now.
    Please take care of yourself andhope all is well

  45. Dear Christina,

    Reading this, I could have written it as a reflection of my own personal story of abuse. The only difference being I have been estranged from my father now since 1988 (26 years ago), am now older than he was when I last saw him, (I am nearly 51) and that he is still alive right now to the best of my knowledge. So much of what you say is a reflection of things that have happened to me too. In the early days, when I first found a voice to speak up and tell people about the abuse, I was cursed by family and friends of my parents. I was called a liar. I was threatened by letters and phone calls. My own grandfather, a psychiatric nurse, told me he would have known if my dad was doing that to me because he worked with abusers and apparently my dad could not possibly be capable of that. My grandfather said life was too short and that as he himself did not have much time left on this earth, he wanted me to apologise to my dad and make things right. He said I should forgive and forget, as whatever had happened was in the past, but like you I could not do this. I gave evidence in a civil court hearing against my father back in 1996. By then it had been 8 years since I had seen my parents, but what had happened in those eight years still haunts me. Not only had my own brother decided I was making it all up, back then, just because my father had never touched him but when his own marriage broke down he had handed over parental responsibility of his two daughters, who were just tiny little girls, to my father and mother. I was sickened when I found out. So besides this my parents had registered as child minders. They had been caring for many pre school children in their own home. As I was estranged from them I didn’t know about any of this until years later, but two of those children, were little boys and they drew pictures of my father abusing them in the bathroom. Finally the authorities, having spoken to my brother and he telling them about my allegations, asked me to be the key witness for them in order to regain the custody of my nieces for my brother. I did this despite the huge emotional cost to myself. The case against my father was proven, my brother got his two girls back and goodness only knows what became of all those children my parents used to child mind. I already know I will not mourn the passing of my father or mother. My mother being the enabler of this monster. The hardest part for me to live with is knowing my eldest niece who lived in their care for 8 years was abused almost identically as I was by my own father, her grandfather. Kelly is 28 now and did not speak up until she was into her early 20’s. This happens a lot. We just can’t find that voice. I fell into a deep depression after discovering that my own suspicions that he would not stop at abusing just me, turned out to be true and my brother could have stopped it or prevented it. It did not need to happen to my niece as it had happened to me and I am angry and cannot forgive.She deserved protection from a monster and did not get it. Like you Christina, there are parts of my childhood, running alongside the abuse that were fun, normal and happy. Holiday memories, parties, outings and just normal things that happened to me as a child. My parents always made Christmas something amazing but parallel to those amazing memories are the dirty and disgusting images of what my father would be doing to me. Sometimes, he was so self assured and I was so groomed, that he would call me to his bedroom whilst visitors were actually downstairs in our house and he would make me perform acts upon him. This warped my mind and life so much for the longest time. I never dared defy him because he could be a violent man too. I took many beatings from him for petty things, that most normal parents would not even contemplate doing to their children. He was controlling and believable as a ‘nice guy’. He was well respected by his peers and he was a pillar in the community. I will not be at his side when he dies. I would not benefit in any way from that and have no reason to contact my mother and father. As far as I know he still has access to children, is left unattended with them and from what my niece experiences, my mother protects and enables his abusive actions and even watches. Sickening. Thank you so much for sharing your story. It has helped me feel less alone. Reading each of the comments here has helped me realise there are so many of us living in the shadow of abuse but we are surviving and rising above what has happened to us. Thank you all for being so candid. I have a Face Book group called Tina’s life after abuse. Be kind to yourself everyone. The decision were not ours back then. We were just children. Love Tina.

  46. Your insight and compassion are inspiring. Of course, you grieve your father, despite all the bad things. Forgiveness does not mean you trust a person or want them in your life, it means you have given up the hope that the past could be different and also the bitterness and even hatred you might have for someone who has hurt you. I was abused by my aunt’s husband. It took many years but eventually I was able to forgive him – it came when I realized he was not a ‘monster’ but inside was a terrified, hurt little boy who needed power and control to feel safe. Sadly he chose to find that by molesting me (and maybe others too).

    The shame and stigma of being a victim of molestation is alive and people like you, sharing your truth with courage and vulnerability are helping raise awareness and compassion. Thank you. Barbara

  47. You are all brave. I have no memories of being sexually abused physically but surely was emotionally. After my brother committed suicide I wondered if he had been gay and suggested same to my father, who reacted with denial and anger. Years later, after my father was also dead, I learned he had sexually molested my brother. You are better people than I for remembering the good things. My father was a controlling, sick man. To the outside world our family looked pretty wonderful but inside our home was dysfunction beyond belief. I don’t care what caused his problem. That he chose to harm my brother and continue to abuse me emotionally for an additional fifteen years makes me realize that while I was fortunate he didn’t touch me ~ at least not that I recall ~ I only wish I had known sooner about what he did to my brother. Perhaps my brother could have been saved and my father would have been banished from my life sooner than the four months before he died. Be kind to yourselves everyone. And be grateful you survived. As Tina says, we were just children.

  48. Thank you, Christina, for sharing your thoughts and feelings about the death of your abusing father. My father died in 2000. The sadness was about his having missed out on so much of being a father. The following month, at age 57, I had my first mammogram. I hadn’t had one before because I figured–I’d been molested and nothing worse could happen so I couldn’t possibly get cancer. I was in the first stage of breast cancer. I had a mastectomy and I’ve been cancer-free since then. I have thanked my father over the years for dying when he did. His death at that time may have saved my life.

  49. My dad died on the 23rd of July. He was a mean, deceitful narcissistic man and I maintained a relationship with him only to stay close to my other family members – a mother who convinced herself it didn’t happen and even if it did, it should be swept under the rug (she said she’d kill herself if I told my brothers or grandmother), 2 brothers who I eventually told; both eventually decided I had exaggerated it, and a much younger sister who doesn’t know and is never to be told – I was given that directive by her husband; I told him to insure someone protected my niece. On his deathbed, he confessed to a number of very bad thing he had done in his life and asked forgiveness. Then he stated unequivocally to my brother that he had never touched me. I heard this second hand, from my other brother’s wife and refused to go to the funeral the next day. I told my family I had to go home (I live 1800 miles away from them, and for good reason) because my disabled daughter was in the hospital, then went to stay with a friend til my scheduled flight left 2 days later. I am numbed by all of this. I am angry at my father, my brothers, my mother who barely spoke to me the last year of her life – and at myself for spending my whole life, at great emotional expense, protecting everyone but myself.

  50. Thank you for sharing. I have a handful of “good or fond” memories of my abusers and that I think made it harder for the little girl me because I so wanted to hold on to them and was so confused about how things could be so good but at the same time be so bad. I remember when some of my abusers died (they were family) and feeling elated which scared me because I thought maybe something was wrong or bad about how I felt; I mean aren’t you supposed to feel sad when someone close to you dies? Because of them the way I dealt with death throughout my life was kind of odd; I’d be numb first then get sad and cry at times I’d laugh; I just didn’t know what or how to feel or how to express it. The affects of abuse are absolutely devastating and leaves us in such turmoil. I am overjoyed however at the many ways that I see us helping each other through so let’s keep telling our stories because they do help someone.

  51. Thankyou for your article. Every thought and feeling I have had regarding my own abuse came to light through you. And I find myself being very greatful cause now I know that my thoughts and feelings are ok.

  52. Christina,

    Thank you for this post it truly touched my heart. It’s a topic I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about, and you deal with it in such a brutally honest and awake, yet somehow gentle and self-loving way.

    I love that you had your own funeral ceremony with people that you can trust and that you didn’t force yourself to dishonor your own boundaries due to other people’s expectations and shoulds. That’s an awesome example that I can definitely learn from.

    There’s so much wisdom in this post I couldn’t possibly touch on all of it, but do know that you’ve given me a lot of material here for my own healing process and that I’m really grateful to you for sharing this when you felt ready.


  53. Christina Evevoldson! I appreciate your insight and willingness to defend my perspective, even though it may not be perfectly clear to you! Much thanks!

    To Sandy and Christina: It really hurt me that you chose to pick my story apart and dissect it, as if the way I dealt with things was so sick, and not to mention, unscriptural. Ouch! I want to address this about a burden…You inferred that the burden I was handed, that I wrote about, was abuse and that God’s hand and will was in it. I don’t feel that way at all. I know that it was the enemy, satan, working in my father’s life that caused abuse. I never thought of it as punishment or the will of God for my life. That is a big inference. But there is nothing at all that was said that clearly indicated that. I only felt that the BURDEN OF PRAYER for my dad was handed to me. I honestly don’t think anyone else cared a lot for him other than his mother. I learned to pray for the lost through this. Once, I felt God spoke to me about the fact that many people get really far off the deep end, mentally, because others aren’t praying for them.
    I wrote that short little message above, the one you commented on, from the perspective of a child who was dealing with things too complicated, in one part. My soul chose to go through a variety of different coping techniques over the years. The things I spoke of spanned from early childhood to middle-age adulthood. It took me many, many years to get to the place where I can see where the sickness had been. I learned to pray, and I also learned that my prayer life had been hindered because of my father, and how I projected onto God. I spent my early childhood full of guilt and shame and for a while, silence. But, when I got older, I quickly learned that I received grace for my mistakes from others because of what had been done to me. It’s funny how the “victim” gets mercy for self destructive and sinful behavior, but the abusers don’t, many times. Many victims come off to me as almost fearful to show any mercy on your abuser, or to simply acknowledge that they had reasons why they were sick, too. Self-pity quickly set in within me when I received pity from others and excuses were made about my self destructive behavior. It was only added to depression that had been there from age 6. I turned to things other than God to help me numb and forget for a while, but quickly learned I was getting no where. I often feel offended that so many are willing to make excuses for those who get deeply involved in sinful behavior because of having been abused, but when the same grace is needed for an abuser, the abusers aren’t offered mercy.
    I did seek to understand my dad for a long time. I came to a conclusion. He had the same base problems as many others: a sinful nature, evil desires, impatience, anger, hatred, a controlling spirit, selfishness, etc. I know the consequences and pain inflicted by abusers is hard to heal, but many things are hard to heal. I’ve just noticed that nothing gets healed when we are focusing on the negative in us, others, or on our pain. I only started getting better when I started being thankful, praying, patient, kind, less selfish, etc. I never became timid. I did eventually find my voice.
    Something broke in me when my dad went to prison. It was like, justice IS served. I had prayed for so long; I didn’t know if God was going to do anything. I don’t know what it was, but something changed in me. My dad going to prison helped my siblings a lot. He was indicted FOR the abuse, and the abuse stopped. But, at that time, none of the victims were liars anymore. So, there was no cover up as you insinuated, Sandy. There was no cover up. The shame he suffered is more than I would’ve wanted to bear. After he came out of jail, it was so bad. Everyone knew…. he was treated likewise. I saw him shunned, utterly, and he had to keep a low profile. It was actually very hard for everyone in my family to endure. My dad’s mom and I visited him in jail every two weeks. It was just humiliating for me to be around my husband’s family, and just for people to know, in general.
    I think my post implied that it’s our responsibility to pray for the lost. That is most sciptural, however, Matthew 5:44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, .
    I think of abuse as spitefully using others, when it’s molesting. So, yes, I did imply that we should pray for the lost. But to say that I implied that others won’t be saved if you don’t? I don’t think I did. And, did I imply that reconciliation SHOULD have happened for others? I don’t think so. Won’t God have us caring about the lost and praying for them? I don’t think that it’s the victim’s responsibility to pray for the abuser only, but EVERYONE who knows them and is a Christian should pray. The bible talks about one who is taken captive by satan and has to be excommunicated from the church because he is unrepentant. It says that we should be deeply grieved over this one person.
    1 Corinthians 5:4-6New King James Version (NKJV)
    4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5 deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.[a]
    6 Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?

    Verse 6 here, is referring to what you are talking about concerning a cover up for the abuser. If sin is hidden, then the leaven (sin) will spread throughout the church. So, sin has to be dealt with openly sometimes for the healing to begin. I don’t think this should be used as an excuse to slander others, which is sinful, and to destroy any hope they (the abusers) have for any good relationships socially. Slander absolutely is destructive, but so is secrecy to the victim. Sometimes, just as much destruction comes from others who help keep the secret, if not more!
    I don’t agree that our salvation is dependent upon anything but the choice we make. I believe that all through scripture it is clear that man has a free will, and is given a choice. Our prayers can and do help that choice, but another’s choice is not our sin to bear. Warning them of their sin is our burden, along with praying for them. That’s what I believe.
    Christina, I have to say, I want to read your article about “Understanding parents didn’t help you heal”, (I know I may not be quoting exactIy ). I will comment on your statement though, since, it was addressed when critiquing my spiritual outlook. Personally, I was angry with my parents for a long time BEFORE I needed to understand them. The anger is actually what I couldn’t deal with. It was in prayer that God showed me that I shouldn’t judge my parents. He told me that they were on their own journeys, and that the challenges and problems in life that they had to deal with were much different than my own. That’s why they didn’t help me…because their own struggles were so much different than mine. I guess, truly, I was simultaneously trying to both understand them WHILE I was angry with them. Understanding this about my parents helped me to stop being angry at them AND it helped me to forgive them more completely.
    Even though my dad’s situation was brought out publicly, I am currently struggling with having a responsibility to do anything about an abuser that I personally know, who is currently abusing. I’m praying for wisdom because, as I wrote above, if I am careless with my words to destroy another’s life, that is being an abuser in another form. It’s tricky. Please pray for me concerning this, as I feel this MUST be dealt with in some form or fashion. Can we not trust God to intervene? That’s what God did in my family. I cried, He moved.
    I also want to address MY statement about, “It’s not all about my pain…” . Once again, I feel that the victims of abuse can get caught up in a whirlwind of self-pity and self-destructive behavior through focusing too much on their pain. That was my case. I feel that God taught me that the cure for “selfishness” & depression is to care about others and to reach out to them and be a help to them. I was focused on the negative in my own life and others’ lives, and therefore behaved negatively. When I learned to stop thinking negative and to stop dwelling on pain, then I started to recover. I believe there is healing in living the Christian life. To have the mind of Christ is freedom. I don’t think God wants me to keep my wounds and never get them healed. Just abiding in His Spirit alone brings wholeness, healing, peace, and joy. In essence, God was all I ever needed. Do I think I’ve had a harder road than others? Yes, but not as hard as some others. It’s taken a long time to bring restorati
    I hope this clears things up for you, ladies. I don’t want to be so misunderstood.

  54. Dear Christina,

    I loved what you wrote here, ” I responded in a way that invalidated that woman’s thoughts and feelings out of my own pain and fear. My reaction was an attempt to get that belief far away from me and I really hurt her.”
    You have articulated well, what I was feeling after reading the statements above. I realize that people who are in a deep healing process are often easily offended. I appreciate your insight.
    Thanks for reading all these and caring so deeply for others with a listening heart so that you can comfort with words of wisdom and encourage others to stay on the path to healing.


  55. Christina, I love your blog! The strange thing is although you write specifically about sexual abuse (which I didn’t experience) it is applicable to all situations of parental abuse. My mother, who I believe has NPD, was consistently physically, verbally and emotionally abusive to us and by the time I escaped at 18 I was completely shattered from living with the trauma of it and had a raging case of PTSD (that took years to be identified as such – I just thought I was going crazy).

    I’m now 39 with children of my own but expended so much energy over the years to make a relationship with that woman “work” and it was completely futile. She would be “nice” long enough to have me back under her power and then the covert abuse would start (she changed tactics as we got older). I could say I have some good memories of her, which I do, but they are ALL tainted. All of them! The memories of her abuses and the fact she would sweep it all under the carpet were just too much. It cast a long and dark shadow. That combined with her NPD behaviours, resulted in me terminating the relationship some months ago. Best thing I ever did!

  56. Thank you for sharing so openly and honestly your experiences of how sexual abuse affect your life, it is inspiring.
    I hope one day I can be as reflective as you about experiences I had with my Father who sexually abused me. For the last 28 years I have had no other memories of him as anything else; just an abuser, not that I think about him but more the pain I have had to deal with that has been left behind. I have forgiven him but have no desire to have any relationship with him in my mind and life he died a long time ago.

    God bless and keep up the good work Christine.

  57. Thanks for sharing this.
    I can really relate to so much of this. I am currently estranged from my family due to psychological and emotional abuse. Nothing sexual, things were never like that. But my inner self was equally destroyed nonetheless.

    I have yet to get rid of the fantasy about reconciliation, my family recognizing toxic behaviors towards me, and hearing my abuser (my mom) say “yes, I did all of that to you”. I still believe (maybe because it still serves me at some level) that someday she will repent and acknowledge the damage. And, at some level, I know that won’t be happening. A narcissistic person is not really capable of recognizing his/her own mistakes. So I am a bit torn in the inside and parallized. They taught me that “family goes first”, that you have to swallow some dirt get along because they are your main support. That there is nobody else that you can count on. In fact, I can’t tell they supported me at all. But saying this is one thing, and healing the emotional wounds is another.

    Thanks a lot for talking this subject. It kind of helps to know that being estranged is, as I felt when I made that decision, the most respectful thing that an abused person can do for his/herself. Specially when you know that the toxic people will only “have you back” if you are untrue to yourself.

  58. Thanks for sharing this story and for your blog! Such a poignant message hits hard but, is helpful to all of those victims who have suffered abuse at the hands of a parent. It is important to share these experiences and help in the healing process for other people. Thanks for your bravery, honesty and openness. Bless you in your own healing process!

  59. My father is 80+ and I have chosen not to be in relationship with him for around 4 years. He was a ramant paedophile and sexually abused me all my childhood. He is unable / unwilling to be accountable and for my own sanity I choose to have no contact with him at all. This has been very hard as I am a kind and loving person to even strangers. And I cannot even treat my own father with the courtesy I would a stranger……………………………
    Very sad and painful. But to continue relationship meant false selves and colluding with my dysfunctional family in living out a lie. The biggest sickest lie. And I cannot do that anymore and be sane.
    He will die sometime soon. In a year or two maybe. And I am torn about that? Continuing to ignore him. Shunning family events and being judged for that. By people I still care for. Him asking after me…………….. and me being upset about that! Guilt , sorrow, pain.
    But boundaries and self care are so very very important to me. I am mentally not able to sustain the lies of my abusive family and my monster of a father. Even if he is old and frail and maybe even sorry ?? But I dont think he is real about any of that as he is a raving narcissist and dissociative and in absolute denial.

    So his life and death are truely on my mind.. I stumble around this fact. And keep thinking I am on the right path but its so damn hard……………………………………………… Truly so damn hard.

  60. Thank you for sharing your story. I can so relate with you.

    My father, my molester, died recently on Sept 11, 2014. For years I’ve told people, including family, that when that day would come I would throw a party instead of attend the funeral. Now I know that was a dream based on my emotions and my level of healing from the incest.

    I had on-again off-again relationship with members of my immediate family .. father, mother, and siblings. The last time I had contact with them was 2 years ago. The night the phone rang on 9/11/2014 and the caller ID was my sister, I knew before I answered the call my father had died. I took the call. I had no emotion. A sense of calm came over me. Then the decision of whether I would attend the funeral in a few days.

    It wasn’t until my son made arrangements to fly in from out of town, that I decided YES I would attend the funeral. With the support of my husband, my son, and my daughter I was able to say my final good bye to my abuser, my father.

    I have cried many times over the years about what he did to me. But nothing compared to the tears I wept on the day of his funeral 9/16/2014. I’ve discovered that it was another piece in my healing that I needed to go through. Before the visitation & service began, our family had a quiet private moment alone. My youngest brother & my sister and I sat in the front pew. One on each side of me. I reached for their hands, squeezed their hand, our eyes met. For once there were no words needed, no words said. The three of us just knew we were each grieving about a man who was our father. I was no longer grieving about a man who molested me.

    I can honestly say I am glad I attended his funeral. It was incredibly healing for me. I wasn’t grieving or crying. The little girl inside me from my childhood was grieving & crying. And we became one on the day we buried my father.

  61. “One person commented to me, “At least you don’t have much to miss.” But that’s not true. There were good times mixed with the abuse and a whole lifetime of loss of the loving father I never had.” – in my experience this statement lies at the heart to why it takes us so very long to deal with the layers of our abuse. Thank you for writing such a powerful, heart felt account of your experience. It’s a crazy thought, now that I know, but I’d never considered how crucial my own self respect was. Thank you.

  62. Such a familiar story. I had a father much like yours, teaching me good things, all the while confusing me with the molestations. Unfortunately I never told and he went on to molest my two children (which I misguidedly thought my mother would have never allowed). I ended up caring for both of my parents for the last four years of his life, and another two with my verbally abusive mother. He’s been dead three years in February. It’s a sad, sad story. My nuclear family is closer since we have all “come out” about the abuse, but my family of origin continues their dysfunction. I’m still getting counseling for all of this and getting healthier every day. My only consolation is that the abuse will not continue in future generations in my kids. Thanks for sharing your story.

  63. I cannot wait until my abusing father dies. He molested and emotionally killed hundreds of children. He thinks to this day he has fooled everyone and now he is so charming no one gets it. He’s 86 and everyone around him can’t wait until he’s dead.

  64. It is my third no family contact Thanksgiving. I am in my sixties. I cannot begin to explain the diametrically opposed emotions I feel about ditching my family. It is truly a love/hate situation and I keep checking to see if it was as bad as I think it was. I keep wanting someone to validate my experiences. Was I hurt enough to just walk away and pretend they all died? I worry I just lost my mind and it is the antidepressants that made me snap. I know I was less alive when I was in relationship. I know I felt that I could not be happy when they were suffering and they have been suffering for a long , long time. I snapped when my dad began to talk about ”others.” I thought I was over all of this and then it exploded. One of my friends said ”I got them back now,” She works in mental health. Surely she would know that I do not want to get anyone back. I just wanted to stop hurting. I wanted to stop being afraid all the time. I developed PTSD and had nightmares every time I visited. I took medication and still had nightmares. I wondered if the nightmares didn’t cause the PTSD and realized I always had it. I was always checked out and the core of me was always afraid even if I hadn’t ever known peace.
    I am healing now. My identity was to be the good daughter who forgave hugely. I still cannot believe I am not that person . It haunts me but I cannot go back.
    Thank you for this blog. It made my Thanksgiving a little more bearable .

  65. Thank you for sharing your story. I didn’t meet my birth father until I was 18 years old. My mother had passed away the previous year and I had lost everything that mattered. When I met him I was still grieving the loss of my mom and home when 2 weeks later he drugged me and raped me. I tried to excape my body but ended up crawling inside myself to a level I didn’t know existed in order to try and protect myself. I never thought he would hurt me. I didn’t know him while I was growing up but mom didn’t speak very highly of him. It took me 6 years and almost losing my life to run from him and start my life over. I did take him to court but he got off. I haven’t seem him since which is a relief.

  66. Thank you, for your post.

    Life IS too short to spend it suffering one bit more abuse from someone who, though you may have shared good moments, also undoubtedly gave you your deepest emotional pain and most bewilderingly confusing emotional challenges to overcome.

    My father was a narcissistic, verbally and physically abusive alcoholic, who once inappropriately made me take a shower with him, when my mom was out, when I was about 8, ostensibly to teach me how to wash my genitalia properly. He did not touch me, more coached me through how to be sure that I got my private parts clean, but I was terrified of my dad, so it was a super yucky experience, which made me very anxious, and I felt violated, in the way of my body privacy. He also had a rule that we were not to, (my younger sister and me,) wear any underwear to bed, under the auspices of better hygiene, and less chance of problems due to tight clothes, left on overnight. I don’t know if my mom was not as clean as he wished, and he was trying to be sure his daughter smelled good, for a future lover/husband. Neither of my other sisters has admitted a similar shower experience, with my dad. My dad died of an accident, when I was 11. (Even though I think his behavior was creepy, so to speak, I do not suspect that he had incestuous plans, for me.)

    In my sick, dysfunctional family, my perpetrator was my brother, 8 years older than me, but somewhat of a father figure. He started on me when I was 9 years-old, before my dad died, but after my oldest brother was killed in Vietnam, (which happened when I was 8.) I adored the molester brother, when I was little, and really had looked up to him, so the molestation was done by seduction and grooming me to be his little long-term sex toy. You know the, “this is ‘our little’ secret,” thing. He started in on my younger sister, when she was only 7 years old. She and I somehow told each other, in our 20’s.

    My sister had not found the courage to stop him, until after following him to Chicago, where he moved, and she moved, for college. So he kept her going from age 7 to about age 22. She has suffered more silently, than I, and will still not “tell.” She has become very overweight, now, and is a hardcore alcoholic, who pretends that nothing ever happened. I am the only one who really knows her story. I finally told him to leave me alone, when I was 21. It horrifies me that I let him keep using me, for all of those years. I figured out that learned helplessness was part of what I was suffering from. I resented him so much, I guess the resentment really set in, when I was about 12, I hated his sexual attention, but he used closeness and intimacy, to control, well and of course his threats of suicide, if I ever told. It was like we were his little possessions. I finally got the courage to tell my brother to leave me alone, after I met the man I planned to marry, the man I spent half of my life with, till we divorced, 25 years later.

    A shrink told me that when one molds a child, from a young age, to comply with the sexual abuse, that the child’s brain is altered, and the fear of confronting the abuse and stopping it, overwhelm the drive to have the abuse stop. My brother gave me more emotional baggage than anyone else, in my life, even though my dad was abusive and damaging, too.

    My mom was a passive person, who allowed her alcoholic husband to verbally and physically abuse their kids. Once my oldest brother died and my dad died, my molester brother was “the man of the house,” so to speak. In disciplining my younger sister and me, if we would fight, it was so sick, when I think back, that he was “in charge,” of mediating his two little victims. He tended to side with my little sister, who was a nightmare, and who would have been tormenting me for weeks, and I would beg my mom and brothers to help get her under control, and out of my face. He used the opportunity to lord it over me, and intimidate me. I was terrified, of him, in those moments, and he relished lording it over me. In retrospect, he probably got off on my sister and me fighting, so that he could play tough guy.

    My dad had kind of set me up as a family scapegoat, when I was little. I probably benefited by my birth coming after a brother, a lost son, before me, I was kind of a healing baby, to my mom, so I was especially close to my mom. Maybe my dad was jealous of the closeness, between my mom and me, I am not sure why he picked me to scapegoat, more than any other of my siblings. Since I was older than my younger sister, I was always “supposed to know better,” if we got caught doing some stupid kid stuff, I would always get punished more severely, or exclusively, when my younger sister and I got in trouble.

    I have a memory of when I was 4, that my dad had served everyone in the family, at the dinner table, there were 8 of us. My dad had forgotten to feed me. The family said grace, and began to eat, with nobody noticing that I had no food. I started to weep, clearly I was already afraid to speak up and was noticed for crying. I said that, “you forgot to feed me, daddy.” Well, I was made to sit in the corner, for 10 minutes, for having cried, for being forgotten. The punishment was small, no beating, no being sent to bed without dinner. But what my young mind learned, that night, is that: no one will challenge my dad – my mom had allowed the punishment, too; if I express sad emotions or complain – I will be punished. I learned that I was BAD and nobody would stick up for me, even for the basics. I was scapegoated for my father’s oversight, and made the wrong one, yes, the 4 year-old. Somehow, to me, that moment sums up how to prime a child to be an easy target for sexual abuse, within the family, make them terrified to speak up for themselves, and make it clear that nobody else will help, and make sure they think they are in the wrong, no matter how innocent.

    My older sister is a mean vicious narcissist, and a third brother, (born before the lost son,) and 6 years my senior is wrapped around the mean sister’s fingers. Over the years of my life, I did become favored, by my mom, but her other favorite was the molester brother. I was always sweetest to my mom, especially compared to my sisters, and she was closer to my son, than any of her other grandkids, partly due to timing and proximity. When my mom passed away, my older sister turned all of the siblings against me, and they screwed me on my inheritance.

    I am the one who challenges the family hierarchy. My older sister almost caused my mom to lose her life a year early, I managed to get her medical intervention, and my mom lived an additional year. I spoke up about the sexual abuse, when my older sister confronted me about my having let my mom help me, financially. Really, my sister was scapegoating me, for how she spent my mom’s money, once she was in control, and to deflect attention from the fact that my sister had gone through so much of my mom’s resources. The stock market crash hurt the situation, too. I do feel that I let my mom help me, a lot, in large part, due to the tremendous difficulty that I’ve had, suffering from panic and anxiety most of my life.

    Older sister 10.5 years my senior, (the narcissist,) lived with my mom for 22 years, until age 59, made a high salary, and had next to no overhead. I moved out at age 23, and never moved back home, unlike all of my other siblings who moved back home, in their 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s. My mom and I were close, and I believe that she felt that she was helping us all, and it was up to her how she wanted to help each kid. Since I was married, and in a rented home that was going to be sold, she bought the house, for me to keep living there. She had loose rental requirements, (like she had at her family house with my siblings,) and when my son was born, she said “pay me when you can.” I accepted her generosity, and allowed my mom to help me for a handful of years. She asked me not to discuss our arrangements with my other siblings. My older sister claimed that I had benefited the most, from my mom’s help, but that sister is a millionaire, now, with 22 years of saving most of her salary, while living at mom’s.

    I have suffered terrible anxiety and depression, my whole life, so much so, that some would feel too disabled, to even function, in a work environment, but.I pushed myself out of the house, to work, from age 13, to get away from the house. Have suffered from a generalized anxiety disorder and panic attacks, since age 9, got really bad around age 12 and worse, as I got older. I could never tell anyone what I was experiencing, or why, because when you come from a highly functional very personality disordered family, and you are suffering ongoing sexual abuse, that is a big giant SECRET, and you have no logical explanation for your nervous disorder, and it is extremely stressful. I believe that my mom was aware of my anxiety disorder, but she never asked me about it.

    In my 30’s, finally figured out where the anxiety and depression came from, and realized that I would kill myself, if I didn’t get some therapy. Was also told I have PTSD. Have spent 4 years, with a couple of excellent therapists, and have healed a lot. I am 54, now, but feel like so much time in my life has been spent overcoming the past, that for the first time ever, I can start focusing forward.

    When my mom died, 2 and a half years ago, my siblings all ganged up on me, behind the evil older sister. They ripped me off a big chunk of an inheritance, and ostracized me. Their jealousy over my mom favoring me, though I was most loving and respectful to her, along with my unwillingness to tow the line, of falling in line and keeping secrets, put them in full fledged scapegoating mode. The oldest siblings protect the molester, and the younger sister is still under his spell, of secrecy. Took a couple of years to get over the re-traumatization, from my siblings. Now the oldest sister, (who by the way, feuded with both my molester brother, and my younger sister, for at least a decade, each,) and my molester brother and younger sister all have holiday dinners together, now. (The other brother lives out of town.) I don’t speak to any of them, and never plan to, again.

    I am not keeping the secret, any longer. It is not my secret. My younger sister and I used to be close, although she has always been difficult, and is a self diagnosed person with a borderline personality disorder. She is actually a therapist who has never done her own work, but she knows her correct diagnosis. She told a huge and terrible lie about me, which I will never forgive her for. People with borderline personality disorder sometimes dissociate, and so they sometimes “remember” things in a way totally differently than how others present, remember events. In spite of the fact that I had observed her dissociation, on the day that she came up with an outrageous lie, and I know she was not in her right mind, I will never have a relationship with her again. Narcissists and borderlines never change, right up until their deathbeds, so why waste another minute with your abuser/s? In a highly dysfunctional family, sexual abuse is just the abuse most hidden. Verbal and physical abuse, smear campaigns, scapegoating and ostracism go on in plain sight, and hurt almost as much. Now that I can logically recognize that these siblings of mine are not people that I would ever choose to know, I am FREE. Free to heal and finally live life away from people who make me miserable and whom I will never trust.

    Good you stayed away from more potential abuse. Grieving, of course, remains a process.

  67. Dear Nomi, thank you so much for your post. There are so very many similarities with my own insane, arrogant, “nice” family. My evil narcissist controller older sister is working on both of my parents to disinherit me. This is because, over 2 yrs. ago, I nervously told her by e-mail that I was apprehensive about an upcoming visit by her. I said nothing unkind at all; I just wanted to talk it over respectfully. But she right away decided I was “hostile” to her and worked things so I would be excluded from then on. My alcoholic, narcissistic mother in Aug. 2013 told me I was not welcome at her house for Christmas 2013 because “Sandy says you’re hostile to her.” My description of how I had actually been nice to everyone and they had been shockingly unkind to me fell on deaf ears. I finally gave up on all of them then, because 60 yrs. of pleading and explaining and appealing to their better nature (which now I realize they don’t even have) had never made them appreciate or respect me. My therapist says they don’t truly appreciate or respect each other either. All they do is compete and try to control each other. Every day I think about them and how they all used and betrayed me. I don’t want to think about them any more. I want to live my own life. But I’m so isolated by chronic illness (lupus, fibromyalgia, PTSD, depression, anxiety, nightmares) that I don’t have a lot of people around me. The worst part is looking in the mirror and thinking how they shamed me for being overweight and ignored all the nice and good things I did and just criticized and fought and controlled and had me blamed and punished for things I didn’t do. I wish my evil older sister had never planted in my mind the evil seed of preoccupation with our inheritances (from both parents, who divorced in 1968). Until she started talking about how much we would get and what the plans were and making sure she was in control of it all, I had never thought of my parents’ money as anything but their money, not mine. I vaguely knew I would probably inherit something when they died, but it was not something I focused on or planned for. Now I know my siblings will probably inherit quite a lot of money and I may not get anything. I worked hard as a translator in Washington, had a very successful career, and made enough money to be ok in my disability and semi-retirement (had to leave my job for health reasons at age 55). My profession is something I love and am very good at, and I work free-lance at home. I never expected anyone, including my ex-husband in our brief marriage, to support me or give me money; in fact I supported and did just about everything for my crazy ex-husband. Any money my parents lent me during graduate school has been paid back decades ago. But now I’m expecting to learn, when my parents finally die (they are 89 and 93), that I’ve been excluded for staying away from their abuse, and it will be like a kick in the gut. The unfairness and shaming and belittling and intimidation and manipulation and lies and smear campaigns, and the physical abuse I endured from my older sister and father, and the sexual creepiness from my sadistic father, are by far the worst of it. But my older sister found another way to torture me, with preoccupation with how being disinherited will make me feel even smaller. I am not for sale, and I am not responding to the taunts from my father that I think are a veiled threat of this very disinheritance. My peace of mind and self-respect are more important to me than anything. But it’s so hard to get this crap out of my mind. Today I feel terribly discouraged. I had awful nightmares about my family. I just want them to go away and stay away and I don’t know how. Learned helplessness is a big part of my problem, and I have a hard time feeding myself properly. People who have not experienced things like this probably have trouble actually believing how bad it is. Some relatives who used to write at Christmas did not this time, and I suspect my older sister is behind that too. Thanks for listening.

  68. I understand what you wrote COMPLETELY, especially the part about having good memories to go with the bad. I’m currently in the position of taking care of my dad and those few, but precious memories of healthy father daughter times is really what pulls me through…I have to tap into that memory bank whenever Im being belittled, cursed at or just made to feel like nothing….I love my Dad….I will never be able to comprehend why he insisted on making such a mess of me….but I love him, and feel sorry for him…. anyway thank you for your aarticle. Bless you

  69. It’s crazy reading this right now. I feel like I should be jumping for joy that the man who raped me for years when I was a young girl has finally died. Why do I feel sad? He was the only father I ever knew but he hurt me. I should hate him and be happy he died, but I’m sad why? I will let no one know how I feel but why?

  70. I was told we are sad because we lose the chance for our abusers to apologize and how as a child we wish we had a good father/mother but when your abuser dies so does our dream of a good daddy. We as an adult no it wasn’t possible but the child inside always wishes for that day.

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