How I Decided To Go No Contact With My Abuser Father

No Contact With My Abuser

By Carissa Magras

As any little girl, I loved my daddy very much. He was a high school athletic coach. He was funny. Everyone admired him and I was proud to call him dad. We even had our own little secret that no one else knew: From the time I was in Kindergarten up until my senior year, this man who Creation gave to protect and care for me, sexually and emotionally abused me.

Turning 18 brought about a previously unknown confidence and independence. Suddenly, I was determined to protect myself from my dad. I no longer wanted to be a victim, but I still wanted my dad in my life. So for the next 7 years I limited our interactions so that my dad and I were never alone together. I built massive internal walls, and worked hard to keep the abuse at bay. With a level of alertness liken to that of an air traffic controller, I was constantly watching and listening, painfully cautious and on-edge.

One day my husband was talking to a friend on the phone about a recent situation in which my dad lashed out at us for moving away due to a job change. “I’ve never seen him act this way”, Brandon said to his friend. Without a thought I immediately exclaimed, “You have never seen him this way because I haven’t let you.”

At that moment I realized the truth of what had been happening over the last seven years. On the outside it appeared as if the abuse had stopped. It appeared as if my dad and I had a great relationship for the first time. In reality, I was carefully manipulating the situation in a way to prevent the “real him” from surfacing. We did not have a healthy, happy relationship. It was a show, and we were the actors.

Shortly after this epiphany, while in therapy, I caught a glimpse from the audience’s view and realized that I was trying to accomplish the impossible. No matter how hard I worked to have a healthy relationship with my dad, it would be futile as long as he refused to change.

I was a work-in-progress, but my dad had no intention of changing. He was unwilling to think of anyone else other than himself. He had zero interest in putting himself in someone else’s shoes, or in considering what is good for them as opposed to his own interests. My dad had no empathy. And without empathy, he could not admit that what he did was wrong, much less work toward change.

I loved my dad, and I wanted him in my life. I wanted us to have a healthy relationship together. I wanted to get together for holidays and birthdays without worrying about every single second. I wanted a dad who would love me with a pure love; someone who would protect me instead of using me for his own purposes. I wanted a dad who was safe instead of dangerous. Was any of this too much to ask as his only child and daughter?

No matter how much I tried to change myself, or the outward appearance of our relationship, as long as he remained the same then our relationship would never be truly healthy nor happy. There was no compromise or middle-ground. I wanted a dad, but I did not want the man who shared my genetics and last name.

I didn’t want to be abused, and I certainly didn’t want to abuse. His presence in my life was the equivalent of drinking poison that slowly and discretely sucked the life from my soul. So I had to make a choice: Do I become a doormat enduring the abuse, or do I cease the relationship? Do I continue drinking the poison, or begin to detox?

A few months later I decided to confront him for the first time about the sexual abuse. It was my desperate attempt to keep him in my life. One last shot to see if a relationship would be possible. If only he would confess to it and say he was sorry, then we could begin to work through this together. We could come out on the other side and have the relationship I always wanted. All he had to do was admit and apologize, refusing to continue in the abuse, and committing to getting help.

Immediately he denied it was him. Within a matter of minutes he began yelling. I fell into a puddle on the floor sobbing after he threatened to beat up my husband. My dad’s wife pulled him toward the door while the shouting continued. They left, and that was the last time I saw him. That was the day my dad died to me.

As is typical with losing a loved one, the following year was the hardest. Most of my conversations in therapy were about whether or not I did the right thing, ceasing contact with my dad. I felt guilty, wrong, and like it was my fault—just like I felt every time he abused me as a child.

Even though my mind was conflicted and confused, full of doubt and question, one thing was abundantly clear: My soul felt peace for the first time in my 25 years of existence. Going no contact with my abuser dad, I finally put down the large boulder that I had been forever carrying around on my back. I felt relief, peace, and freedom. And as a result, I was able to better care for myself, my husband, and my children. I was able to finally live the life I had always dreamed of, but could not as long as I continued to poison myself with his presence.

It’s been six years since that last interaction with my dad, and each year gets easier and easier. I might have lost my dad, but I gained myself. I might have lost someone I loved, but as a result I had more love to give those who needed that love the most: my husband and children.

I learned to finally believe the truth about my abuser father and what he did to me rather than what he conditioned me to believe. My self-worth transformed from a dirty piece of trash to a beautiful, blossoming flower. My guilt melted away with the realization that I did not do anything wrong.

He might be dead to me, but because of his death, I am alive. And there might not be a grave I can visit to tell him how I feel, but he knows. Every day he lives without me and my precious family in his life, is reality to him of the choices he made, and continues to make. There’s no more guilt, fear, or doubt here; just love, peace, and freedom in its place.

Have you gone no contact with your abuser? Or are you considering going no contact? Please share your experience with us below and remember to subscribe to the comments so you don’t miss any of the discussion. You can post anonymously and emails are never shared publicly.

carissa circle profileCarissa Magras is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and the founder of Blue Spoons, a company that exists to give 100% of its profits to fund counseling services and treatment programs for the 1 in 4 females and 1 in 6 males impacted by sexual inappropriateness everywhere. Carissa resides in Pennsylvania with her husband, kids, and Maltipoo. To learn more, visit BlueSpoons.co or follow @blue_spoons on social media. #BlueSpoonie

 

Related Posts:
Confronting My Abuser
Stop Telling Me To Forgive My Abuser
The Lie of “Letting it Go”
Standing Up For Myself: Reclaiming My Self-Worth
Rebuilding My Boundaries After Abuse

How I Decided To Go No Contact With My Abuser Father

27 thoughts on “How I Decided To Go No Contact With My Abuser Father

  • August 7, 2016 at 7:57 am
    Permalink

    Yes, I went no contact about 20 years ago. Everything I just read hit home. I made a choice in 2012 to see him, my niece was getting married and I did not want to miss that. I walked away from my father and lost my whole family. I lost everything at the time. It hurt, I felt broken and unloved for so long. What I know now, I made the best decision I could have made for ME. He was never going to change his dynamic with me. I have learned this again in the last 2 years. I have witnessed through my nieces eyes the ugliness this man carries in his soul. The hurt he is now bringing to my sister and her family. The damage that continues 20 years after I told the truth. One step at a time I continue to heal and help others. This article brought peace to me today. Thank you for writing.

    Reply
    • August 8, 2016 at 11:07 am
      Permalink

      Thank you so much for sharing Ellie! It truly is hard and heartbreaking to make that decision, but the freedom that is gained from it is so worth the loss. I am proud of your courage, and glad I could bring peace. Thank you 🙂

  • August 7, 2016 at 10:25 am
    Permalink

    Mine was my brother. I had lived my entire life with my secret. I also lived with fear and tried to juggle my feelings through every holiday and family gathering when I did my best to avoid him. I told myself I forgave him in order to survive having to deal with him but in reality all I had done was stuff the secret down farther inside me and pretended it didn’t matter. When my mother died he came after me and started stalking and harassing me for money. He knew I was afraid of him so he would show up at my house, in the yard, behind my car, even following me to a friend’s house once. I was in counseling at the time and my counselor helped me go to court and get a restraining order against him. It was the day my life began again. I finally got to tell my story and someone who could help me was listening. That’s been 4 years and I have made some drastic changes in my life in order to deal with my feelings and give myself space to heal. I moved 700 miles away to a beautiful place in the mountains. I don’t have to worry about seeing him in the store or around town anymore. I turn 55 in a week and I feel I am finally starting my life.

    Reply
    • August 8, 2016 at 11:09 am
      Permalink

      Wow Beth, that is beautiful! I am so sorry for what you went through (no one should live in fear like that!), but am so grateful you had a good counselor who listened and helped you gain the freedom, peace, and healing you needed. Thank you for sharing! 🙂

  • Pingback: BLUE SPOONS | Going No Contact With My Abuser Dad

  • August 10, 2016 at 11:21 am
    Permalink

    In 1992, as I began talking to my family about the abuse, my father got Alzheimer’s. I had no chance to confront him because he wasn’t “there.” In the nursing home, he was given injections of deprovera – female hormones – because he was attacking the women residents and staff.

    I went no contact with my father out of fear. It felt more like I went into hiding. I was terrified of my father my whole life. He abused me sexually, physically, spiritually, psychologically – from infancy til I left home at 16.

    I was afraid to take a stand with my family, It’s been hard for me to do so because my younger sister killed herself. The story is complicated – I believed from the age of 3 that my job was to protect her from mom and dad. When she died at the age of 20 (I was 23), I believed I failed her.

    I blamed myself for everything! I was the black sheep of the family. Every move I made toward what fulfilled me brought mockery and criticism.

    My older sister started to go into recovery when I did, then backed out. She went back to taking drugs – eventually getting diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and going in and out of mental hospitals.

    I survived my family by getting married young – I bailed. I knew no other way out. I knew that was the only way my father would stop abusing me. The physical and sexual abuse stopped but the rest went on.

    I left my husband after my sister killed herself. I struggled to make a living, with a baby to take care of, and overwhelmed by grief and shock from my sister’s death – and the fear of my older sister committing suicide, which she attempted several times.

    So I never got around to going no contact with my family. I wanted so badly to save my younger sister. When I couldn’t do that, I tried to save my older one.

    How do I prepare myself to go no contact? Do I announce it to them, or just do it?

    I have occasional contact – an email or phone call, maybe 3-4x/yr.

    I think I felt for a long time that if I kept speaking the truth they would finally crack open. That hasn’t happened and it’s exhausting to emotionally and energetically deal with the backlash. My brother has finally admitted he is in denial – but has made no further comments about it.

    I feel diminished by him.

    My sister says she feels caught in the middle. My brother has become part of her care network. She’s not the black sheep because she took the path of mental illness. Her story is that brain chemistry is the source of her problems – not abuse.

    It makes me doubt myself – because I am the only one who sees the abuse, who names it and lives honestly with reality.

    Going no-contact with them scares me – but it feels like it would be such a relief.

    Both of my parents have died – which has been a blessing. I’ve been able to come to peace with them through a lot of hard work over years.

    Thank you for your article.

    Reply
    • August 12, 2016 at 8:00 am
      Permalink

      I’m so sorry Nancy. I know it is hard when you have siblings who aren’t ready to see what you have faced. I can see how that would make you feel very alone in it all. I appreciate you sharing, and I believe as you evaluate opportunity costs – and what is best for you – then the answers will come. 🙂 As far as “do you announce it?”, I think that is different for every person. For me, I didn’t plan it – it just happened (which was relieving!). I think if that is what is best for you, and that is what you choose to do, then talking with a therapist/counselor could be very beneficial to help you process and plan. 🙂

    • August 12, 2016 at 4:43 pm
      Permalink

      Thank you, Carissa.
      I unfriended my brother on FB yesterday. For now I will leave it at that.
      I cried for 2 days after doing that, yesterday and today.
      Today I’ve had new clarity on topics like:
      it’s not my job to take care of everyone else’s needs
      I am taking time to feel these feelings. I love myself as I feel them.
      My needs are important, and I am the person who can take action to get my needs met. Intellectually I’ve known this – now I feel it in my body in a calm, deep, centered way.

      Deciding to go no contact is already bringing me great benefits.

      I felt read to contact a high school friend who bullied me in a public way in high school. We were friends then – and have become acquaintances again through synchronous experiences. I emailed him to ask if he would be willing to share with me what was going on with him that led him to do what he did. He trained to become a therapist, which helped him develop empathy.

      We have been emailing back and forth. I’ve been crying a lot.

      It is striking – how inconsequential it was to him – in contrast to the impact it had on my life.

      I know I have been given a great gift – to have a conversation with someone who acknowledges his actions with encouragement to explore what was going on for both of us. He said he is “horrified” at how callous and sexist he was.

      This feels like a game changer!

      It means a lot to me that you read my post and commented on it. It is so healing to receive your support.

  • August 11, 2016 at 8:46 am
    Permalink

    My son was 4 the year I cut off contact with my father; 12 years ago. My life was unstable and only got worse after that due to an unhealthy relationship. Really due to an unhealthy me. Fast forward almost a decade of mental health help and learning boundaries and healthy choices and about respect from a fantastic counsellor, and you will find me in a good, healthy, respectful relationship with a wonderful man. We even bought our first house out in the country. Our dream.
    But the grieving does not seem to end. I am used to going through horrible times alone but now that I have finally found happy times that in itself brings it’s own grief as there is no family to share it with. I was petrified but hopeful and with the help of my counsellor I contacted my father via mail this Father’s Day and asked if he would meet with us to help me on my path to recovery. There was no reply. I mean nothing. I am nothing to him. Worth less. Worthless.
    So now I have to relearn how to bury it all again. And walk these roads alone again. I count my blessings: my son, my partner, my animals, my home. Every day I have to count those blessings because the losses weigh heavy and I have to learn how to carry it. Alone.

    Reply
    • August 12, 2016 at 8:08 am
      Permalink

      I am proud of you Danielle for how far you have come, but I also know how hard that loss can be. The absolute hardest thing about losing my dad was the realization that I was not important enough to him for him to work toward change. No matter how old we are as adults, it is hard as daughters to realize our dad does not love us. But let me encourage you: That is a reflection of HIM, not you. It is not a reflection of your worth or your being. And it is his loss, truly. You sound like you are giving your family what you did not get – a parent/spouse who cares and loves them enough to be better for them… to work on yourself for their well-being. Grieve the loss of your dad when it comes up… feel it, let it out, process it… and then focus on the good that you are giving your family (and that they are giving you!). You are important enough to your husband and son. 🙂

  • August 11, 2016 at 1:05 pm
    Permalink

    Reading through all of these posts, including my own, and spending some time with my feelings, I have a new insight.
    This morning, I unfriended my brother on FB. I felt peaceful about it – and I also felt a contraction in my gut. Later I began to weep. I did EFT. I talked with a friend. I wept some more and did more EFT.
    I meditated and brought love to myself.
    What I am starting to see is that, by going no contact with my brother, I am letting go of a cherished illusion – the illusion that I have or will someday have a loving family, if I just hang in there.
    My ego clings to that illusion because of fear of who I will be without the illusion. A woman alone – without family to lean in to, to celebrate with, to care about each other.
    Even though I’m not there yet in my feelings, I can see that by closing the door on that illusion, new possibilities can open for me – to have loving relationships with my chosen family. By letting go of these painful relationships I have more space in my heart for healthy, loving relationships.
    Thank you to all who contributed to this insight by sharing your experiences.
    May all oppressed people be blessed with compassion and kindness.

    Reply
    • August 12, 2016 at 8:11 am
      Permalink

      So true Nancy! It is often the “idea” (or as you perfectly put it, the “illusion”) that we cling to… not the reality. And while it is truly hard to let go of the idea/illusion, you are absolutely right that it will open new doors of healthy, safe relationships (with others and with ourselves). The detox process is hard and painful… but it is necessary to get the poison out and begin healing. 🙂

  • August 25, 2016 at 7:21 pm
    Permalink

    the yelling is something i relate too and how hard that was in my specific situation as i felt even more guilty – when i first had talked about this however people started talkin behind my back and i got more social turmoil then i couldhave imagined as if the guilt i felt and such was represented by my own social surroundings as well as they would beat me up verbally too as much as i seemed to do – which in a way made it very clear this was out of line and not necessary

    in the same wy it did make too that i was scared to open up even more

    it took years to think about this and dig into it and still does

    as in my case therapistS would actually tell me my family was warm and kind and i should not be so difficult and just put up with everything as i was just hard to be around

    few people would see through the illusions

    so i kept goin back to my family as well as i wanted to believe the illusions as well obviously and when i did cut contact i was told to restore it – which i at one point relly did not want bu ti was told it was my birthday and they made an effort right? they had made one yes, and the illusions were there – but it just made the entire process more complicated – til the very end i was told that i had to be grateful that they wanted to be there for me –
    til i finally siad no more of this – i odn t want to be yelled at for two hours regardless of what people say and regardless of what you tell me is norma

    it was the first time i stood my ground and defended myself and reclaimed my worth – slowly i ve been cutting family out one by one in levels first only calls then only texts etc i m not sure what s best yet but asyou wrote i can tell there s more peace i feel more worthy of myself and of existing and more as if i m allowed to live and as if i m welcom e to be here after all

    in a way too i found that fi one of my family members was relieved when i told this person i no longer wanted the help offered and that i was capable to have care in different forms and help from other sources – at fist the person insisted to do this for me and didn t want to let go and kept askin what to do and where to be – til i said i already found someone and it s okay – the relief that cam e over tha t person was so lovely – and to see too that for a first i could see this person shine was lovely as well – and then knowing the love i wanted from this person would nevver be what i needed it to be was a start to begin true mourning over what was NOT there, celebratingthe person for who he was and too letting go of that person as in i no longer need you around me to teach me i m worth it – and the silent smile did soothe the pain

    it s lonely for now

    but peaceful as well – as i can tell this person as well was actually relieved –

    thx for sharing

    Reply
  • October 19, 2016 at 12:48 pm
    Permalink

    My daughter was sexually abused by her half brother, my stepson when she was five and he was nine. she told me about the two incidents and my husband and I where able to put a stop to it. Unfortunately it was only temporary, we moved into a bigger house where my stepson had his own room in the basement. The abuse continued when my daughter was around seven or eight and we found out about it when she was ten. We have had social services come out and have gotten her counseling. my stepson was determined to be able to continue living in our home but ended up moving back to his mothers home at the end of the school year. We originally thought the offenses where only minor showing pornography inappropriate music with extreme sexual content and playing truth or dare games with minor dares. at the end of June we found out that there where some more serious interactions. My daughter was going through a very angry stage and decided to cut off all contact with her half brother. We blocked him and his girlfriend from her Facebook and her phone and I told my husband that his son could no longer come to our house or have any contact with her or our younger son. This has been the hard part, I think for my daughter and me. My husband wants to believe that his son is better and that he has had no long term affects on our daughter and he feels like I am asking him to disown his son. My daughter doesn’t want to hurt her dad. He convinced me to let his son go to family reunion over labor day weekend and he asked me if his son can come home for Christmas or thanks giving and has also asked if he can come on a family trip we are going on. The day before yesterday my daughter was having a particularly rough day, I think because of the anxiety of knowing she might have to see him two more times this year. She was feeling very angry again and disclosed more information that was equally as bad. I told my husband to stop asking me if his son can be around our daughter. It was hard, he is convinced that he can keep our daughter safe but what he doesn’t realize that his son does not have to do anything any more to hurt her all that is needed is for him to be around her and everything that he did in the past comes back to haunt her. I am also not convinced that his son would not try something if given the opportunity. My husband is not on the same page, I love him dearly and do not want to ever loose him but my daughters needs have to come first. My daughter will be 15 in one week and to my knowledge nothing new has happened since she was ten I refuse to leave her alone with him. I’m trying hard to navigate this and would love to convince my husband that this is for the best so that I am not alone but I don’t know how. My stepson has never received discipline for these actions unless you count social services going to his school and puling him out of class to talk with him or nine days of counseling with a counselor who does not specialize in juvenile sexual abuse. He never had his phone taken away for using it a a tool to groom his sister, never was grounded, his dad only ever had a talk with him. Him not being able to see his siblings is the only consequences he has ever had.

    Reply
  • October 21, 2016 at 7:32 pm
    Permalink

    I’m writing here because I badly want to talk to somebody I don’t know. My situation got very complicated a few years ago, but for years I dealt with my adoptive by mentally putting him in boxes. One box held things I wanted from a father, plus the abusive teasing/bullying that everyone could see anyway. The other abuse, I put into a different box that I mostly kept closed, peaking under a corner from time to time to make sure I remembered just enough to stay safe and to keep other girls safe from him. I didn’t know for a number of years that I was disassociating the abuse and maybe that wasn’t a good thing.

    Good thing or not, that box was sitting there waiting for me to open it for 30-ish years.

    A few years ago, my brother frightened me very badly. He turned out to have grown up to be extremely manipulative. I didn’t realize this, so I accepted when he offered me a hand during a time when I had been laid off of work. In the end, I wound up frightened for my life and the life of my gentleman. I don’t really know entirely what happened to my brother to make him this way, but I had to leave him behind three years ago.

    My adoptive father has brought the subject of my brother up quite often over the last three years. I have to forgive him. I have to bring him back into my life. No matter how many times I tried to emphasize how bad my brother was and what he did, I just couldn’t make him understand. I guess it’s because I was trying to tell one of my abusers about the abuse of another one? How messed up is that?

    About a week ago, my parents came for a visit. I’d been looking forward to seeing my Mom. I got one day with her and that was partially ruined by my father’s constant belly-aching about being here, in a place he hates. We took them out to dinner that night, only to have my father suddenly turn the conversation to my brother after we had eaten. My brother had never been such a paragon when we were growing up. I learned that the got great grades without trying (I was the one who graduated with high honors and went on to college). I learned that he had never come home to live with my parents (despite the bedroom they actually demolished some time in his 30s, after he finally married and moved out–now me, I never came home…I was afraid to). I couldn’t take it, so I said something mildly derisive about him and that caused another comment which made my father explode at me.

    He actually told me that everything my brother had done to me–to both my gentleman and me–was justified and that we had been in the wrong.

    I came home, feeling totally shredded. My gentleman, who knows about the abuse by my father though not in detail, and I sat up late, both in shock, and discussed the events and how we needed to handle it for both our sakes.

    Needless to say, I’m dealing with one very open box that I didn’t want opened. Because my mother, who has no idea about what happened when I was little and who always was a sort of hostage to the whole situation, is in the middle, I’ve been alternating between feeling depressed and having anxiety attacks. They called a couple of times and I really couldn’t deal with it. The last time, my mother wanted to me to listen to an apology from him for that evening. I hung up the phone.

    I’m not going to confront him. Twenty three years ago, I had an apology from him for what he did when I was small, but it wasn’t an apology really. I believe he was trying to get my sympathy and use it to force himself on me. He didn’t succeed, but it’s why I don’t count it as an apology really. I don’t think this other apology will be any more sincere.

    I said it was complicated. A lot of people know about what happened last week. Not a lot of people know what happened when I was between 9 and 15. Nearly no one. Heck, a friend met my family once and described them as “Norman Rockwell.” Obviously he didn’t know that I was hiding a secret for fear of losing my mother and pretending I had a father who was normal.

    I do think this is a great time to stop contact, but I really don’t want to lose my mother. I never did. It’s why I never spoke up.

    Reply
    • October 25, 2016 at 7:36 am
      Permalink

      It’s very tricky when we feel sympathy for our mothers or sisters who deny or are genuinely ignorant of the abuse.
      I have been in a similar situation. I saw my mother as a co-victim of my father.
      I now realize I had been trying to protect her and both of my sisters for my whole life. I have chosen not to do that anymore. It is not and never was a child’s job to protect her mother and sisters.
      My mother finally acknowledged the abuse before she died – but only to me. My brother and older sister continue to deny it – and call me delusional.
      Whatever is going on with your mother, you sound like you are strong enough to love yourself, and you have good support.
      I wish you ease of well being, whatever you decide and whatever comes next.
      What I want is to get these people out of my head! I go into long dialogues with them in my head. It is a preoccupation – and an argument that cannot be won.
      This is a double bind. We go along with their denial to keep our sense of belonging – or we stand our ground and lose family membership.
      We need both to feel truly human – our autonomy as human beings and to belong to our tribe. In the situation of family abuse and denial, we have to choose. Either way, we lose something.

      I choose autonomy. It is painful to go no contact. I am grieving. I feel a lot of emotions. But when I smile, suppress and try to get along, I feel sick.

      I choose my health and well being. My emotions will heal. I am finding more and more a sense of true family, of sisterhood and belonging in relationships that support me.

      I wish all the best for you and for all survivors. We are a courageous people and we will overcome.

  • October 24, 2016 at 1:08 pm
    Permalink

    I went no contact with my brother months ago. I was still holding onto the possibility of a real relationship with my sister.
    I went no contact with her last week.
    This morning she called and left a message on my voicemail — which I have not played.

    I am praying and surrendering her needs/her conversations/her whatever — to Source — so that I can get on with my life and what fulfills me.

    I have spent countless hours investing myself in keeping up “good” relationship with my family. NO MORE!

    I will keep repeating as much as it takes: I choose to focus on what fulfills me. My work with clients. My teaching. My writing, my art, dance, movement. My friends. My community. Being a healing presence in the world. Having fun. Enjoying my garden. Loving trees. Reading.

    I choose to drop the rope — I will no longer try to convince them the abuse happened. I no longer expect them to ever change. I surrender hope to Source. Their choices to stay in denial are between them and their karma.

    I take myself out of the equation and turn to look in a new direction – toward a rewarding and fulfilling life, with people in my life who truly nourish me.

    I am grateful to this community for support, safety and sanity — and especially for sharing our experiences. Thank you for reading this.

    Reply
  • October 25, 2016 at 8:05 am
    Permalink

    What I really don’t understand is why they have to make us make this choice. I was born into a situation that was living h3ll and into a family that was so far from functional, it wasn’t funny. Yet the only thing that ever was important to me was family. That’s what I am accused of not valuing. I did everything a person could do, for so long. I finally hit a point where it was just too much.

    And Nancy, thank you. We both deserved better. We all did.

    Reply
    • October 25, 2016 at 10:24 am
      Permalink

      My sister called and left a message on my voicemail, saying “I do accept you.”
      I don’t believe her anymore. I have pinned my hopes on her accepting me – which to me means coming out of denial – denying that I was abused.
      In our last conversation she said, “I believe YOU believe you were abused.”
      I knew intuitively that my brother came up with that line and fed it to her – as he has used it on me with a look of pity and condescension.
      They imply without explicitly saying “you’re delusional” or “you’re lying.”
      My brother joined the False Memory Syndrome foundation – is convinced that therapists planted these ideas in me. In truth, he has never once asked how I began to remember what happened. He has made up a story that bears no resemblance to what actually happened. I feel like I’ve been steamrollered. He has put a lot of energy into “what’s wrong with Nancy?” to the family. He says that God tells him what is best for me. It’s like he’s still 8 years old, trying to control me.

      It has been confusing to me – the contrast between them saying “I love you, I want you to heal – to get over this idea that you were abused….” It sounds loving but feels like I’ve been hit by a truck.
      I trust my body!
      My body does not lie to me about love.

      I went to see the movie Denial yesterday – about a Holocaust denier – to get insight into how to think about my brother and sister’s denial. I want to see it again….

      I could stay “in” the family but it literally makes me sick to do so. They are in denial because they don’t have the courage to go into recovery. In my brother’s case, because he has a lot to hide. In my sister’s case, she started into recovery then backed out when she got scared and started smoking pot again. From there she went onto legal drugs for bipolar disorder. In my opinion, the drugs and the focus on “something being genetically wrong” with her happened instead of going into recovery.

      She does not/cannot meditate. She cannot BE present with herself.

      It’s funny if it weren’t so sad – that she thinks I am the deluded one. If anything, years of meditation and embodiment practice makes me more grounded and connected to what is actually happening then either my brother or sister.

      I am so much more than what happened to me. And so are you.

  • October 26, 2016 at 6:30 am
    Permalink

    The script in my family is “women are mentally ill.”
    Being “good” or acceptable means accepting that women are not trustworthy – we are “too emotional” “not rational” “unrealistic” “too demanding” “needy” “need to be taken care of” and “helpless.”
    My sister plays into that ethos with her mental illness, her dependency on my brother to pay her bills (with her money) for her, her helplessness – which completely disappears in some areas as she is very competent – won awards in her professional career as a nurse; effective as a volunteer in NAMI.
    The pressure to be compliant – the projection onto us as women and especially when we’ve been abused – is insidious.
    I remember a time long ago when my father came to visit me. I could not hammer a nail in his presence. I worked in a picture frame shop where I hammered nails every day. But with him in the room, I could not hammer a nail into the wall. I felt so self-conscious, so watched, so criticized by his gaze.
    Partly as a consequence of being abused, I became hypersensitive to other people’s emotions and their energy. That caused paralysis at times.
    now, that is my calling. I “read” people and guide them through challenges – for a living.
    My therapist at one point told me – you grieve what you lost – and then turn your attention to what you relieved.
    I am finally doing that, more peacefully than ever before. By leaving my family, going no contact, I am truly turning my attention to what fulfills me. Ahhh….this feels good.

    Reply
    • October 26, 2016 at 8:14 am
      Permalink

      Nancy, if I didn’t only have brothers, I’d swear you were my sister. You can’t even hammer a nail…

      My parents came to visit me last year a few times and each time they came to visit, I proudly brought out something I had made for my house. I show off my artwork, whether it’s practical art or not. Anyway, my adoptive father (yes, my abuser–yes, I was still looking for praise from a father from him–yes, I’m slightly embarrassed about that) got huffy about it and said he was angry with my gentleman because I should not be allowed to use power tools. They are, he said, too dangerous for a woman. I was only proud of having made a beautiful cabinet and wooden counter top. I was not expecting that reaction at all. Same, when I had pulled wire under my house for the new connections in the laundry room. I fit in small spaces better, so I did it, but according to him I shouldn’t have. (I am unaware that male anatomy is required to use tools or crawl under houses.)

      I wonder if it’s some kind of a hallmark with abusive men to be over-protective to the point of stifling about anything that doesn’t have to do with their form of abuse. I’ve seen my brother do it to his wife and before to his ex wife. I thought my family was the only one that was weird this way. As an adult, I’ve had to learn from other people or teach myself how to do things that I probably ought to have learned from a proper father.

      Because, as an adult, I’d lived in apartments before and then my gentleman did it for a while, before it was too physically taxing for me, I was 41 years old before I learned to use a lawn mower properly. I probably should have been doing that since I was a pre-teen, but it was another things I was never allowed to do because I wasn’t a boy. These things are life skills and they are not gender specific.

    • October 26, 2016 at 8:17 am
      Permalink

      I hate when I see typos after the fact. I’m not sure I can edit it either. I meant to say before the lawn mowing became too physically taxing for him, not for me.

  • October 26, 2016 at 10:27 am
    Permalink

    Janet, thank you for sharing your experiences! You sound very competent – that feels really good!
    I don’t see my father’s behavior as “over-protective” – in fact he never protected me from harm – besides being abusive and causing harm – he crippled me in the area of being confident I could take care of myself. I see him as controlling.
    The mental part of the abuse was taking away my self-hood – my autonomy, my belief that I could ever take care of myself.
    My father criticized women who were financially independent from men – he called them “lesbians or whores.” Which is what he called me when I left my first husband and I had a baby to support. My father called my ex and told him he was going to make my life as hard as he could – so I would go back to my husband. No concern for my well being or that of my son.
    It was about control – men having control over women.
    I got married to get away from my father – it was the only way out that I could see. The only way he would no longer have access to my body. I was 19.
    That doesn’t make sense to people who don’t understand abuse. When the abuse starts at age 3 or younger – when you grow up with it, you don’t have language for it and you don’t know that it could be different. I knew it felt horrible, terrifying and horrible.
    My father kept charge of the money. He earned the money. My mother got an allowance from him for groceries. She did not learn to write checks until I was in college. My dad came home from work to pay the refrigerator repair man when needed. My mom was “incompetent.”
    Really she was compliant with his need to control, to project superiority. She went along with it so she could be taken care of.
    I have broken through the family system. I proudly wear the gold star of the Black Sheep. The renegade artist healer. And I know I am more than that.
    I feel confident that my soul is healing on a meta scale. Tectonic plate shifts within me on all levels.
    After living the first 5 decades of my life in survival, I am really turning now to what fulfills me, what nourishes and delights me. Ahhhh….

    Reply
    • October 26, 2016 at 11:18 am
      Permalink

      Nancy, anything I have in the way of competance probably comes from my mother. Mom was an artist and she had a paint brush or clay in my hands from my earliest memories. In my earliest beginnings, I knew that with a little practice, I could do whatever was put in front of me and I got a shape/spatial understanding that allowed me to believe I could make whatever I felt like I needed to, with the right tools and materials. Just believing that makes it so. Just believing you can make art makes it so–it means you try and you learn from mistakes rather than sitting off to the side saying, “I can’t.” My mother taught me that I can. As an artist, you have that too and you must know how great that is.

      Mom, herself, was stuck in the position of housewife when I was little. Her “allowance” which was expected to run the house often didn’t meet the household needs, so she ran a small ceramics business on the side. My brother has a lower opinion of her business than I do and claims our biological father paid for everything. Who really knows? I was pretty young. My impression was without it, we wouldn’t have had clothes as we outgrew them.

      My parents fought for pretty much as long as I can remember, then, when I was about 7 years old (my timeline may be sort of mixed up because I have memories of this time in a jumble rather than laid out in order) my father was laid off from work. I’ll skip the whole he said/she said and simply say that things got bad between my parents and when they did, my father became a monster.

      Some of the memories I have of him…I’d like to think most people only see that kind of violence in movies. He literally tried to kill my mother. He worked himself up to it. He beat her, broke chairs…I really have no way of describing some of the things he did to her in front of us, mainly because I don’t really want to.

      It’s really weird being related to that, which I’m sure you can understand, considering what you are related to. I remember being in my mother’s lawyer’s office. Everything was brown, from the building outside to the paneling on the walls. Even the man’s hair and suit were brown. I thought of him as the “brown man” for years–it had nothing to do with race. Think of a brown teddy bear. He was very kind and he asked me what I wanted from my father.

      I said, at seven, “I never want to see Daddy again.”

      They tried to get something from me at that point, but the only thing I could give them was that I’d seem him attack my mother and I just didn’t feel safe around him. That’s really all there was, but it was enough for me. The lawyer seemed doubtful, but for some reason, I got my wish. I wouldn’t see my father for another 35-ish years.

      By the time my Mom remarried, I was already a quiet, withdrawn child and he…was a bully at best. So, I was easy prey, easily scared into silence, and so convinced that my mother could be take from me that I would literally do anything prevent it and to keep her out of it. I was also so traumatized and starved for a want of a father’s approval that I would pretend to be the good daughter of a good father. It literally took their desire for me to make up with my brother–who tried to kill my gentleman and who scared me witless (I probably would be dead had I not made the choice I did)–to make me stop being the good daughter. I’ve said before that Mom was always going to be the price I would have to pay. Good on me for putting it off so long, I guess.

      Over-protective is probably the least of the words I could have used to describe the behavior, you’re right. I visited Mom on a Saturday when I was in college and she was sad that he wasn’t there to help us hook up the VCR so we could watch a movie together. I smiled and said, “I can do it, Mom.” I’d been watching movies and putting everything back into the backward wiring system he’d had going for most of middle and high school. Mom was afraid to mess with the wires in case she did something wrong. It was the same with the computer, until I showed her how to set that up. Now she handles the cables and computer set up at their house and he worries he will do something wrong. I’m glad I helped her turn the tables.

      To this day, I don’t understand why a kitchen knife is ok, but a wood saw is not. But, you’re right. There’s a superiority thing going on there. The implication that the only thing I can do with a power tool is cut my hand off.

      The air is better over here and the feeling is better–as you mentioned–though for me there’s regret, because it’s come just when she needs me most. I wish you had been able to end the abuse sooner and without the consequences you had. For me, I suppose…I aged out of his interest. There were incidents later–that didn’t get him anywhere–but 15-16 was too old, really and at 18, I left. Mom always wanted me to come back when I would wind up in a jam, saying that they would help me. I never would. I never did.

      I have no children. I’ve never been married. Mom blames that on my biological father scaring me. I don’t really know what to say or think of that.

    • October 26, 2016 at 11:18 am
      Permalink

      Nancy, anything I have in the way of competance probably comes from my mother. Mom was an artist and she had a paint brush or clay in my hands from my earliest memories. In my earliest beginnings, I knew that with a little practice, I could do whatever was put in front of me and I got a shape/spatial understanding that allowed me to believe I could make whatever I felt like I needed to, with the right tools and materials. Just believing that makes it so. Just believing you can make art makes it so–it means you try and you learn from mistakes rather than sitting off to the side saying, “I can’t.” My mother taught me that I can. As an artist, you have that too and you must know how great that is.

      Mom, herself, was stuck in the position of housewife when I was little. Her “allowance” which was expected to run the house often didn’t meet the household needs, so she ran a small ceramics business on the side. My brother has a lower opinion of her business than I do and claims our biological father paid for everything. Who really knows? I was pretty young. My impression was without it, we wouldn’t have had clothes as we outgrew them.

      My parents fought for pretty much as long as I can remember, then, when I was about 7 years old (my timeline may be sort of mixed up because I have memories of this time in a jumble rather than laid out in order) my father was laid off from work. I’ll skip the whole he said/she said and simply say that things got bad between my parents and when they did, my father became a monster.

      Some of the memories I have of him…I’d like to think most people only see that kind of violence in movies. He literally tried to kill my mother. He worked himself up to it. He beat her, broke chairs…I really have no way of describing some of the things he did to her in front of us, mainly because I don’t really want to.

      It’s really weird being related to that, which I’m sure you can understand, considering what you are related to. I remember being in my mother’s lawyer’s office. Everything was brown, from the building outside to the paneling on the walls. Even the man’s hair and suit were brown. I thought of him as the “brown man” for years–it had nothing to do with race. Think of a brown teddy bear. He was very kind and he asked me what I wanted from my father.

      I said, at seven, “I never want to see Daddy again.”

      They tried to get something from me at that point, but the only thing I could give them was that I’d seem him attack my mother and I just didn’t feel safe around him. That’s really all there was, but it was enough for me. The lawyer seemed doubtful, but for some reason, I got my wish. I wouldn’t see my father for another 35-ish years.

      By the time my Mom remarried, I was already a quiet, withdrawn child and he…was a bully at best. So, I was easy prey, easily scared into silence, and so convinced that my mother could be take from me that I would literally do anything prevent it and to keep her out of it. I was also so traumatized and starved for a want of a father’s approval that I would pretend to be the good daughter of a good father. It literally took their desire for me to make up with my brother–who tried to kill my gentleman and who scared me witless (I probably would be dead had I not made the choice I did)–to make me stop being the good daughter. I’ve said before that Mom was always going to be the price I would have to pay. Good on me for putting it off so long, I guess.

      Over-protective is probably the least of the words I could have used to describe the behavior, you’re right. I visited Mom on a Saturday when I was in college and she was sad that he wasn’t there to help us hook up the VCR so we could watch a movie together. I smiled and said, “I can do it, Mom.” I’d been watching movies and putting everything back into the backward wiring system he’d had going for most of middle and high school. Mom was afraid to mess with the wires in case she did something wrong. It was the same with the computer, until I showed her how to set that up. Now she handles the cables and computer set up at their house and he worries he will do something wrong. I’m glad I helped her turn the tables.

      To this day, I don’t understand why a kitchen knife is ok, but a wood saw is not. But, you’re right. There’s a superiority thing going on there. The implication that the only thing I can do with a power tool is cut my hand off.

      The air is better over here and the feeling is better–as you mentioned–though for me there’s regret, because it’s come just when she needs me most. I wish you had been able to end the abuse sooner and without the consequences you had. For me, I suppose…I aged out of his interest. There were incidents later–that didn’t get him anywhere–but 15-16 was too old, really and at 18, I left. Mom always wanted me to come back when I would wind up in a jam, saying that they would help me. I never would. I never did.

      I have no children. I’ve never been married. Mom blames that on my biological father scaring me. I don’t really know what to say or think of that.

  • October 26, 2016 at 3:44 pm
    Permalink

    Janet, There are plenty of women who choose never to marry or have children, and are happy, whole and healthy.
    At this point, honestly, I wouldn’t change any of it. I have an amazing life. I have wonderful friendships and deep relationships. I am treated with great respect by people in general. I love my work, which is healing work that I have created.
    I am an incest survivor who has gone through the depths of darkness and emerged grounded, whole, wiser and more compassionate than I would otherwise have been. I am of service in the world. I find it very fulfilling to support other women through their healing.
    We are bringing Light into some very dark places. I’m glad to be a part of bringing forward conversations that have been taboo for so long. As we share our experiences, our hard-won learning and stability — we can bring this issue out in the open and be agents of change.

    Reply
    • October 26, 2016 at 5:42 pm
      Permalink

      Nancy, the problem is age old. If we could change anything, what else would it change that we wouldn’t want to lose? Everything that ever happened to us became a part of us whether it was a happy thing or not, especially by this time in life. My scars aren’t me, but I’m not sure I would be me without my scars.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *