Feeling Guilty For Leaving My Abusive Parents

Guilty for Leaving My Parents

by Christina Enevoldsen

“You weren’t there for me.”

My mom sat across the table from me last year after seven years of no contact. I’d suggested we meet to discuss the way she’d been treating my daughter. But my mother shifted the conversation toward herself and told me how hard things were for her, especially after my dad died.

That’s when she accused me of abandoning her.

More Accusations

Several years after my “divorce” from my parents, I was setting some new boundaries with other family members and they threw it in my face, “Are you going to walk away from us like you walked away from your parents?”

The accusation stung me. I started to shrink inside as though I were guilty.

“I leave relationships when it gets tough.”
“I’m unforgiving and hold a grudge.”
“I expect too much.”
“I can never be trusted again because I rejected my own parents.”

All my life, I’d served and obeyed them. Who was I to change our arrangement?

Then it hit me: I didn’t walk away from my parents; they walked away from me. I just stopped chasing after their love, trying to perform, twisting myself to please them. I’d been focused on running after their love and approval for so long that I hadn’t considered which direction they were going: Away!

I thought the guilt was evidence that I was doing the wrong thing. If I felt bad, didn’t that mean I was doing something bad?

I didn’t know it then, but it was false guilt that I experienced. False guilt kept me running after my parents’ priorities and responsibilities. It pulled me apart. It dictated all the “shoulds” and “should nots”. I never did enough and was never good enough.

Healthy guilt points me back to a right, loving and healthy connection with my true self and leads to my highest good. False guilt sends me running after the unattainable.

With false guilt, there was no peace after I did whatever I was “supposed to do”. There was a moment of relief but then always more and more and more to do.

False guilt is powered by the expectations and standards that I’d accepted out of fear of disapproval. I took on responsibilities that didn’t belong to me. I overcommitted my time, energy, and resources to serve my parents while I neglected myself.

My Mom Was Right

My mom was right: I wasn’t there for her. It had likely been the toughest time in her life and I wasn’t there.

But what does her difficulty have to do with me?

After all she’d done in the years of our estrangement to make it clear that I wasn’t a part of the family, she still believed I had some sort of duty toward her. But that’s the way she’d always thought our relationship should be. I protected her; she didn’t protect me. I was loyal to her; she wasn’t loyal to me.

Just because my mother believes I owe her something doesn’t mean I do. My mom’s expectations don’t dictate my decisions anymore. Let her use her manipulative guilt on someone else.

Doing the Right Thing

There were things that told me I was doing the right thing in spite of how guilty I felt.

When I stopped placating my parents and just after things blew up, my dad called me. He told me that I’d better apologize or my mom wouldn’t be making the visit to see me that we’d planned. Both of us were shocked by my response: “You know, I don’t think I want to see her.”

And it felt so good! I was dancing inside. This standing up for myself was liberating. If I were truly guilty of doing something wrong, why did I feel so good?

leaving my abusive familyA huge boulder was off my back. How heavy their control had been! Supposedly, “they knew best” and I believed my life would fall apart if I didn’t listen to their superior wisdom, but my life got better without my parents.

I just kept reminding myself that even though it didn’t feel like the right thing, it actually was the right thing not to have a relationship with my parents.

Going no contact with my parents eight years ago was a turning point for me. Over that time, the feelings of guilt have come and gone lots of times. But what has stayed consistent is my experience of freedom, joy and peace without a relationship with them.

Have you separated from an abusive family member? Or are you considering it? Please comment below and contribute to the conversation. Remember to subscribe to the comments so you don’t miss any of the discussion. You can post anonymously and email addresses are always kept private.


I’m Christina Enevoldsen and I’m the cofounder of Overcoming Sexual Abuse and the author of The Rescued Soul: The Writing Journey for the Healing of Incest and Family Betrayal. I’m a Strategic Interventionist and Certified Professional Life Coach with a specialty Life Story Certification.  As a survivor of incest, sex trafficking and a 21-year long abusive marriage (now remarried to an emotionally healthy, loving and supportive man), I bring personal experience, empathy, and insight as well as professional training to help childhood sexual abuse survivors thrive.

Related Posts:
How I Decided to Go No Contact With My Abuser Father
Stop Telling Me to Forgive My Abuser
Confronting My Abuser

Feeling Guilty For Leaving My Abusive Parents

33 thoughts on “Feeling Guilty For Leaving My Abusive Parents

  • August 28, 2016 at 6:11 am

    It will be two years on October 1 when I walked away from my parents. Best decision ever. And whenever folks would try to guilt trip me over not seeing them, I just remind them of what they said to me that was the proverbial last straw.

    • August 28, 2016 at 7:45 am


      Yes! They never want to look at what they’ve done, only at how you somehow let them down. It’s all about them and their needs. Yay for seeing the truth!


  • August 28, 2016 at 6:12 am

    I cut myself off from my abusive father/neglectful mother 5 years ago. I still believe that was the right thing to do, but I do feel guilty from time to time. Since then, my mother passed away, and that has worsened those guilty feelings. However, I do feel less crazy since I left them, and I know I have protected my child from them.

    • August 28, 2016 at 7:43 am


      I can relate to the less crazy part! I couldn’t see clearly when I was under that abusive influence.

      What’s amazing to me, and the thing I don’t hear talked about, is that we can know we’re doing the right thing and still feeling guilt about it. Those leftover beliefs and social pressure got me for a long time. I’m glad you’re doing what’s best for you and your child. Thanks for sharing!


  • August 28, 2016 at 7:47 am

    I’m coming up on two years since going ‘no contact’ with my mom. She insists on shaming me for being born. The saddest part is, she has convinced my oldest daughter that I’m the meanest by refusing to be abused any longer, so I’ve lost my daughter in the process.
    I recently flew 3,000 miles to attend my aunt’s funeral. I knew I’d likely see mom. She grabbed my head and try to push me down outside the chapel. Other family got in the middle and rescued me. I still can’t believe she wasn’t happy to see me. I hope to never be so consumed with bitterness that I don’t value my own kids or other family members.

    • December 21, 2016 at 2:23 pm

      I can so relate to your pain in losing your daughter; the evil pervades and insists it is good..they are experts in deceit and deceiving. It is very painful to experience this in our own lives and even more so when it goes on to our own children..

  • August 28, 2016 at 8:03 am

    I’ve been no contact with my abusive family for 10 years now and I just wish I’d done it sooner. There are times when living in “exile” and missing out on family involvement is bitterly painful but I can’t say that guilt complicates the picture; maybe it’s because I’ve been so damaged by their abusive treatment but I honestly think it’s because I know that separating from them was the only was to keep myself alive and well and if they’d wanted me in their lives, they could have tried anything and everything to keep me there. They didn’t try a thing.

    • August 31, 2016 at 4:21 pm

      Same with my family. When I went missing for two years they didn’t even bother trying to find me.

  • August 28, 2016 at 8:25 am

    I had to rely on my NM for financial support for a couple of years during which she put me thru h.e.ll both emotionally and psychologically and she relished every sadistic moment of it. Once i got back on my feet I finally had to tell her that I needed a break from her cause I couldn’t take the stress she was putting me through. She screamed at me that legally I had to take care of her. She is elderly. I immediately went to my attorney and found out I didn’t have any legal obligation to her. Two weeks later I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. I’ve no doubt that the stress she had been putting me under for years as well as stress from elsewhere were the major contributors to my body reacting and causing my illness.

    • August 28, 2016 at 10:31 pm

      Same here,Deb.I have my own home now,but my NM still supports me financially,and i pay a huge emotional price for it.Us victims,when we finally escape,we are traumatised.We need a lifetime of healing,recovery and self care.But life doesn’t allow us to re-wire our brain,heart and mind.We have to pay the bills and the food.The harsh reality pushes us to get a job when we are not mentally and emotionally ready to handle the responsability of having a job.When i left my narc parents,my plan was very simple:i’d get a job and go no contact.But things were totally different than i had expected.I have anxiety.I went to a job interview and my face started sweating abundantly.The employer was staring at me in shock while i wiped my face continuously with a napkin,in utter embarrasment.My face was scarlet red.Needless to say,i didn’t get the job.We abuse survivors shouldn’t work at all.If only the society didn’t force us.We need a well-deserved rest that lasts all our life,given the fact that the abuse extended long into adulthood.Unfortunately,as soon as we escape,we are made to enter the work field.We are expected to function normally,as if nothing had happened,as if there was no trauma.

  • August 28, 2016 at 9:39 am

    Today again my feelings of guilt hitting me straight into my face. My sister came over to see me and again she remained me how ungrateful daughter I’m. I have no contact with my mother for 2 years now. My children don’t see her to. They don’t want to. It’s not my influence.
    But today I’ve been told it’s my fault. I should be ashamed of myself. I’m bad person. I own my mother.
    I feel shame, guilt but I don’t own this person nothing.
    Or do I?

  • August 28, 2016 at 10:43 am

    It’s painful, yet like childbirth no escaping the reality of life. I was a slave child and into my adulthood not much changed. I knew she was difficult, the woman named mother. I turned the other cheek and let her hit that one too. And she did. Her old age was a dark night of distain. She attempted to hold over my being her will, her power and control. I did not pay much attention as I learned to let go. Finally she died and honestly set me free. And unexpectedly became my best teacher, even more than before. Its personal. A story of how the frozen and unknowing mother woke up her adult daughter even more. I don’t talk about what I am about to write. It’s personal and painful. She took my fair share of inheritance and set aside a new trust given to one of my two brothers to manage over me. Kind of like here is your 1/3 of the pie. You only get to eat when your brother says so. Many southern women are taught to value the male as superior. Elevate their ego. I thought well of my brothers. My inner insight knew they would see. And my daughter would also see and defend her mother. No it did not become the reality of my life, that my 2 brothers and one daughter now appointed as my beneficiary could stand up and say this is wrong. No one stood up and said this woman can have her share of the pie. The injustice of this situation almost drove me into a dark tunnel in a lost of twisting turns looking for the Light with clean fresh air. Luckily, I had a therapist who walked along side of me with good advice also. I let go of my brothers. I haven’t seen them since court, when the judge upheld what they did. The inheritance finally went to a public guardian. The gifts are many. Finally in my life I saw the toxic and walked on bye. The best book ever for me is The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. What other people say and do is not about you. Very few people will ever really see one for who you truly are. My mother never saw me. My brother’s did not see much to my surprise. My daughter is a victim of the fall-out. I hope that she will awaken and see the truth some day. I made and continue to make a new family. My best friend is within me. Grateful for my life now. This hardship woke me up, to find the Light. That Light is me.

    • March 9, 2018 at 3:01 pm

      Thank you for sharing. Since the passing of my dear Dad, I am no contact from my mean abusive mother and siblings for 3 years – now. My Dad was my protector from mom and siblings. My mother and siblings demanded me to retire to take care of her. I refused because of my childhood slavery and I believed that all of us should take care her – split the tasks. My siblings mentioned that they had to take care of their family and I was the only person available to take of her; besides Dad would want you to take care of her. Yet again, I refuse. My mother told me if I moved, she would cut me from the will. My entire family is madd at me for not retiring to take care of mean and narcissistic mother. I have often thought about what if my mother passed and would I return to see if she left me anything. From reading your experience, I will NOT return. She always kept drama between my siblings and I. It’s like she lived and enjoyed the outcome from what she did….it empowered her to create more drama. I know God loves me and will take care of me. Thanks again for sharing

  • August 28, 2016 at 12:23 pm

    My mother had pulled yet another stunt during Christmas, 1983. Later in a phone conversation, she asked if she could have a chance to explain her behaviour. I heard myself say, “I’ll let you know if I am ever interested.” Last time I spoke to her. Yes, there were times the guilt almost had me try to reconnect. Thankfully, my husband always asked the right questions and I never did. Then four years ago, I learned of her death from a letter I received from a lawyer with an application from the executor of her estate (my youngest sister) to probate her will. In it, I learned that I was to receive nothing as a “legacy would not benefit me, rather it would be detrimental”, my younger sister was to receive $10 to spend as she saw fit and my youngest sister and two universities were to each receive half. Because of where I live, I was able to contest the will and I have succeeded. In the meantime, I have learned a lot about all the damage that her neglect and abuse has done to me and finally feel that life is mine to make what I want.

    • August 28, 2016 at 12:33 pm

      That’s exactly what I’m expecting…a vengeful Will; it exactly reflects their true nature. It’s so good to read that you now feel free and unfettered.

  • August 28, 2016 at 3:25 pm

    20+ years ago, I stopped participating in family vacations – though I didn’t go no contact. They still invited and included me.

    It was confusing. I felt so guilty about rejecting them. Then I would think “but they rejected me first” – by mocking, criticizing and belittling my values and who I am.

    I felt like I disappeared around them – like I didn’t exist.

    Until I fully felt the pain of them rejecting me, I could not come to peace with setting healthy boundaries with them.

    Though I haven’t gone no contact, my boundaries are strong and clear. If I do interact with them, I make sure that the wise woman within me is handling the situation – and reassure my little girl she doesn’t have to. I keep the contact limited – a short phone conversation or meet in a public place where I feel safe and can leave when I want to.

    I don’t give them any information about my personal life, my kids or grandchildren.

    By having strong boundaries with my sister, I’ve come to feel safe interacting with her. It feels very good to stand up to her – she is treating me with greater respect and taking responsibility for her words and actions.

    With my brother, I still go into high alarm. He is deeper in denial and aggressive about it.

    I have given up the idea that I can change him.

    I hired a trust litigator to help me “convince” my brother to cede trusteeship of my portion of the family trust to me.

    Once I quit trying to accomplish this on my own – between him and me – and hired a high powered attorney, my brother ceded his position of power over me.

    That felt and feels amazing!!!!

    Now, any contact is voluntary. No guilt involved and no power plays.

    I own 1/3 of some mineral rights with my brother and sister. I thought a long time about selling my share, just to get out of having to deal with my brother.

    After deep thought and prayer, for now I’ve decided to keep my share. And use the $3-500 a year to fund clients who want to work with me and can’t afford to.

    That has been very rewarding – I’m spending the money supporting my work helping people heal and recover from abusive childhoods.

  • August 28, 2016 at 5:25 pm

    guilt is still very hard – to thi s day my family as a whole says i m a bad daughter for not talking to my mother, in my last psychiatric stay too the therapist focused on how hard my mothe r must have it after her break up and for sure i was takn care of her – which i was not – but it was so hard on her – well it was and i could not be ther efor her at all – not after all these years of trauma that never ended – but for a short time in which sh epretended to be kind-

    it s been real hard to have heard ofver the years how people would tell me that i had to make a bigger effort- only now i realise inbetween all the therapists i ve seen – one of them did talk to my mom an d did take me seriously – and all he had to say was – my god what kind of a person is THAT – and too that he did not want to see my aunt K as he d seen enough of this family of mine by seeing just one member of the bunch besides me –

    thinking back about the past ten years of health care and hel p this was one of the very few responses i had been given that it was actually okay to keep my distance

    but my aunt kept pressuring me to make up even tho she did not want to know why i did not want to see her – she just insisted that it was m y mom – period and be done wiht – she d for instance invite me and then my mom without telling me just to pressure me to sit there and talk – even when this would end in an endless shouting match of my mother at one point fi she still thought this was a great idea and way to go on –

    one of the therapists, before the current one btw- did say for a first very firm i was allowed to let go of my mom and not engage in any way so even if she wanted to have lunch i coudl say no thank you – which i did and for a first she did no longer show up at my doorstep – a few texts and a facebook request which i ignored and blocked –

    however my sister as well insists my mom has changed and that i should try – both my aunt and sister have kept this up – til recently – to talk about anything they like on text on email etc and then they add my mom in out of the blue – my sister would say this is a pic of me and then add mom took it she s quite ill she needs help fi or well things that insinuate to come back to how things were – fi a card that would state how lovely our hometown was or my aunt would fi in her last visit wear my mother s clothes and insist how lovely they are and how kind she is etc – and how hard it is for my momt not to see her daughter –

    it s really hard to let go of tha tguilt cause for a long time i kept the family togehter as a system i might add, due to the abuse i no longer functtion as someone who identifies as one person – i identify as one person in a system with others – which i sreferred to as DID

    i made sure to spent as little as poss on groceries, tidy up and clean when possible, cook and fetch food – i d make sure my sister was safe from the abuse and tried to reach out to my dad who just turned the other way

    to this point i m told my parents are nice and due to our illness they should just take care of us and we shoudl be grateful and not act out by refusing this – even tho neither of them offer anyting i might add- but it seems easier to say ‘we’ are a ‘bad’ daughter –

    it s hard to let go of the picture others paint of us – how they call us insane without looking into why we are a system and not a singleton – how they say it s abou tbeing possessed and how about the dad even did exorcisms when we were hospitalised – how they keep ignorign the trauma that s been part of our lives for so long – always brushed aside – we just want attention and we are just so weak and we just have to suck everyone dry – without ever getting the acknowledgment we truely hurt – at one point one aunt even said – my god you re really sad- of course we are – really sad- what we feel IS real –

    it s really hurtful to see how we ve been treated and are treated still by what s supposed to be family – that our father did nothing to prevent or stop the abuse of the mother is really hard but that he fed the abuse as well in his own way by drowning us into religion and all the expectations is easily unsees – even by us as it seemed a gentler form of absue and we started to believe that was all that was out there for us – abuse and gentler forms of abuse

    by now we re reclaiming our true worth which means to just out ourselves as how we are who we are and how we function – and trust that not everyone will think of us as a freak or as someone possessed by demons etc but that there are people out there that can see that extreme trauma and infections left untreated can create this situation we re in and we re actually doing so great with the limited options we had in the past and with allthe possibilities opeing right now

    it was a huge step this week fi – to take the cards of the wall – my sister aunt and dad have written us a lot of cards bu tmost of them had hidden undertones of expectations regarding to return to how things were before as in stepping back in the scapegoat story regardless –
    fi our dad would write to us as if we were still 17, religuous making comics and lookin for a hubby, when in truth we re looking into moving with all it s challenges for we are vey ill and into treatment options and how good we are doing with for now fi thetahealing amongst other things –

    but he does not refer to any of this – just to the comics we once made for HIS religion at age 17 – my sister just wrote about our hometown and our aunt about coming to see her and about giving us a present which as btw once again a manipulated gift as she had clearly bought it with my mother instead of as she claimed found i tin her drawer –

    these cards have been up for months btw- it took me til this week to finally NOT answer to their manipulative texts and to remove them and throw them in the bin which was really hard – i spent a lot of time pondering and thinking over this FEELING GUILTY – it was a nice card, it was nice of them to think of me – to realise – I CAN HAVE kind people thinking of me AS WELL and nice cards AS WELL without hidden messages and agenda –

    really hard to realise this – a few cards are stil on my table as this seems to take its own time –

    guilt is really hard and even harder when you ve been told so often even by health carers to be grateful for whatever they still managed to do and that you should put up with the at tha tpoint verbal abuse as it was kind enough of them to show up –

    but it was not kind, they just wanted and still want things the way they were and blame us for the change – but we are not guilty – we are innocent and have always been – we re taking care of ourselves which is hard especially when others claimed they knew more about our selfcare then we did – to redefine that what we think is reality and that what we feel is real regardless – has been and still is a work in process

    i hope you do not mind being so open and frank

    i felt touched by your kind email so i opened up it seems

    much love


  • August 29, 2016 at 3:31 am

    Hi. I got sober a few years back and worst thing i did was invite my family back in to my life. I self destructed heavily and my mother is toxic in my life. I was sexually abused by my father til 15 and was sucidial and thown out at 17 by my mother as she didnt want ‘that’ in front of my little brother. My father was convicted and put in prison at 15. Even writing this on here makes it seem so real. My mother always say aren’t you over that yet! There wasn’t much love from my mum. I self destructed last year- because of the family shame. My brother said ‘you’re the one who needs to be rehabilitated bak into society rebecca’. I drank for a year on al this crap. My mum never visited me once. No one gave me any care around what had happened. I now have no contact with her. Why would I? I got compensation money for the abuse i suffered and she asked if she was getting any then my brother asked if she was getting her share. What the hell. I felt i didnt deserve that money after all. I tried to kill myself with drink i didnt care anymore if i got hurt drinking maybe thats all i was worth and maybe I am fat and ugly. i had a nose job in turkey and it went slightly wrong. Now I feel worse than ever but have finally lost the weight again. Wish to hell that Id stayed sober the first time – i looked great and happy and healthy! Then they came back int my life i got fat like really quite fat again and self destructed. Felt worthless. Now i lost the weight again and feel grateful but wish i hadnt picked upas look bit more weathered than last time. 🙁 what a sad life. i cant forgive my mother but i try. I cant forgive her for the damage she does now when i try to heal. she sabotages me. She cares only about herself. I see that. And my brothers hate me. Because it is all about my mother.

    • August 31, 2016 at 4:17 pm

      Hi Rebecca, God you poor thing. I understand as much as I can how you feel. I have a similar story. You have been chosen to be the “black sheep” in your family. You are the scapegoat. While they are busy blaming you for everything wrong they don’t have to look at their bad behaviour. This is the real truth of what is going on. They are using you to avoid their own issues.

      I can only wish you all the very best. I would suggest you stay as far away from them as you can. Please go back to AA. AA is wonderful and you can go to any number of 12 steps programs for so many different things. I have been to N.A. A.A. O.A. E.A. and Al Anon. AA was the hardest. They are all hard. But worth it. AL-Anon if you haven’t heard of it is for adult children of alcoholics.

      God Bless you. Unfortunately for us the sexual abuse victims of this world the journey is a lonely one. Aren’t we lucky to have found Christina’s site. We are not so isolated when we can talk to each other.

      Take care. You are worth it.

  • August 31, 2016 at 4:10 pm

    My mother and father have both passed away. I am over them both at last. But now my sister is the issue. She has never been a sister to me. She shunned me years ago and made it perfectly clear she didn’t want me in her life. But I am alone. Mainly because of so many bad decisions I have made. I used to love her and like her but when I realised she never liked nor loved me I walked away. I haven’t had anything to do with her for about ten years. I saw her at my mother’s funeral but didn’t approach her nor she me. I decided to phone her recently but as usual I ended up feeling bad because she always groans with disapproval at me. And rolls her eyes. This haunts me. And the problem is I am still thinking about it and the phone call was well over a month ago. The problem is I WASN”T ABLE TO RESPOND TO HER CRAP. That is her groaning disapproval of me. So since I couldn’t say anything it is still rolling round in my head. Now I don’t know whether to phone her and try and have it out with her or not. I know when ever I see my sister I always come off second best. She is highly successful and I am not. I feel she has had everything in life and I’ve had nothing except pain and suffering trying to recover myself from profound childhood trauma. I can’t get her crap out out my head. I failed again to stand up to her and speak up for myself. Is it always going to be this Way. ?

  • September 16, 2016 at 2:48 pm

    I stopped going to family holidays a long time ago. At the age of 28, I told my mom that my brother had incested me when we were growing up. I wanted to be sure I had her support as I wanted to confront my brother. I was tired of being the only person that knew. She told me she believed me and to ‘let him have it.’ So a few months later I asked him to meet me at my parents house. I had it all written out and read it to him. I knew that he more than likely would deny it, which he did. What I wasn’t prepared for was my mother’s response, which was ‘I believe you both.’ I was flabbergasted, angry and told her there’s no way she could believe us both as we were saying opposite things. Now, the reason I had told her ahead of time to be sure she would support me was because growing up she hadn’t protected me from a terrorizing uncle, she wasn’t affectionate or loving. I didn’t hear the words ‘I love you’ until I left for college! Since that day (when I confronted my brother), I have not had much contact with my family. That day was the worst day and the best day of my life. The best day because the ‘secret’ was out and the worst because it solidified the fact that my mother is incapable of protecting and supporting me. For many years now, I didn’t attend holidays with family. I can’t ‘pretend’ to want to be ‘happy’ to be with them when I’m not. I will not sacrifice myself for them like I did for decades. My Dad never did say anything to me about it and he passed away last October. I didn’t cry when he died and didn’t see him or talk to him for 3 years b/4 he died. No regrets. My mom is a piece of work. I have repeatedly asked her to get therapy and she won’t. She goes hiking with my brother and interestingly enough, my brother’s daughter married a convicted sex offender! My mom has no problem being around him. Speaks VOLUMES, doesn’t it? I was raised in a conservative Christian home, which is part of the reason the incest even happened. There’s ‘grooming’ that takes place and the home environment created by my parents (especially my mother) was perfect for this to happen. She doesn’t see that. About 3 years ago, I spoke at a conference on this topic and I had wanted to tell the rest of my family (aunts, uncles, cousins), so I figured the conference was a good excuse as they may hear that I spoke somehow. So I sent a letter to everyone telling them what happened. I received all kinds of support via letters, phone calls, etc. Not long after my Dad passed away, my mom asked me via text if I didn’t think I should send the letter to my brother? I thought about that for a day or so and then I said I don’t owe him anything. He has never admitted that he did this to me, nor has he apologized. Once again, she feels sorry for him, because she thinks the relatives are treating him differently. Who the fuck cares? Why should I care if they are treating him differently? Once again, she is looking out for him. Amazing. She tells me she loves me, however, her actions say otherwise. I don’t have a whole lot of contact with her and I think I could walk away completely and have no regrets….just like I did with my Dad.

    • September 16, 2016 at 3:30 pm

      Your story is very similar to mine and I just wanted to thank you for sharing your story – it helps immeasurably to know others are fighting the same battles and especially, staying strong and holding the line with unsupportive, weak, disloyal and downright shoddy so-called family members.

    • October 20, 2016 at 5:44 am

      Your story’s similar to mine. My abuser was my foster parent…and my senior pastor too. The respect I have for him rose to heaven but when he confessed that he loved me…I knew I had to get away from the family I’m in. I tried telling my adoptive mother, but at the end she concluded that it was I who is in love with his husband and that I made up all the things I said. I received a lot of hurtful messages from her and because of this I couldn’t focus on my job. I was assigned by my foster father as the youth pastor of our church. And because of this, I Was also banned from standing from the pulpit by mother. I was devastated. Broken and bruised, i couldn’t serve the youth who were under me knowing that I am also broken to bits by what is happening.

      At the end of my confrontation with my mother, my dad denied it till the end. I said my goodbyes now from the family that adopted me into their household for 7 years. The same goodbyes I had to say to the church that led me to Christ…. I am in the process of healing.

  • September 16, 2016 at 3:22 pm

    No one can wake another up to the truth. Its difficult to see and experience. Why do mother’s protect or appear to protect one child over another? I can only think that some how its their own blindness. However, we are not responsible for another, just ourselves. We can break the chain. That’s the gift and its huge.

    • September 16, 2016 at 3:31 pm

      Thank you Donnna….you are absolutely right!

  • September 17, 2016 at 12:37 pm

    I ve felt lonely a lot – but when I read you Pauline Anderson writing ‘God Bless you. Unfortunately for us the sexual abuse victims of this world the journey is a lonely one. Aren’t we lucky to have found Christina’s site. We are not so isolated when we can talk to each other.
    Take care. You are worth it.”

    I figured if there are victimS we can t be alone for real…. at least I hope so – done feeling lonely – tho that s diff from alone maybe I dunno

    guilt can be bad – it s weird how much i was til recently – til now maybe even – attached to what they told me to be true-

    I didn t realisehow much I still wanted them to treat me right – when cleaning out a closet i came across a few items (okay five to six plastic bags by now that are pilin up)

    that sitll reflected what they thought i was worhty off- a pot that sister once gave with flowers and to which she added to NEVEr give IT away cause it was EXPENSIVe – to this day it s there even tho i t s really inconvenient and i was never able to use it again in the past years – but i didn t dare to let go off it due the things she said AND due to how my mother always said i should never ever ever clean anything up unless she allowed me too which lead to realy ridiculous situation s – the amount of control was just …

    so today when stuffing things inthe bags, including old paper of my dad s photography days that i used to make cards off once, including old postcards my SISTEr once recieved bu thad neglected to keep herself, including so many writings of my moms from the time she would write me cause she felt i was a hard daughter to deal with so only in wirtten word sh e could address me even tho i lived at home still then and even tho those letters were about her past trauma s and not about me at all –
    even tho it were books of my aunt once that she said – it s a ugly book really so here you go cause you once said you liked this author but this is a badbook

    even tho – i often hesitated tossing them in the bag and eded up taking some stuff out – til I realised that i was actually still scared they would coming runing in to yell and become abusive in any way you want to imagine for trying to get rid of their things – i had to take a deep breath and reassure myself this was safe to do-

    when washing dirty glasses I was splashing the water which i loved as a child really – it made me laugh – and all of a sudden i became terrified even tho nothing had happened – and regarding cleaning i suddenly recalled being six and helping out in the house – when my mom threw a huge huge huge tantrum for i had not cleaned things her way and she had to do it again and never ever would i be allowed to clean again even tho in my teens, even tho i still treid to help out she would complain to friends that we never helped her and that she just had rotten kids-
    (mind you i did clean up after her still, just avoided water most times as it seemed to set things off)

    it s then i realised that i felt guilty over cleaning because of her – she said i made it harder on her and i couldn t clean – i couldn t make a place good – and as i was tossing those toughts out i was scared that i was not grateful enough for having lived in a place and for the way she provided –

    to this day – that by splashing the water and smiling without fear – i would betray her still – that if i m not scared i m not good enough even tho accoridng to her measured i d never be good enough anyways –

    by now so many bags have packe dwith garbage – of which i once thougt treasures – it actually made me cry – and then feel guilty again –


  • October 30, 2016 at 10:22 pm

    Thank you for this. I, too, am just truly realizing all of this. It became really apparent to my GP (who treats my whole family & watched for years & tried to help me) and me when I returned to my home city after a few years away (in very abusive relations – breaking down & needing to come home). I am now in a program to help me & I always was the observer of all that went on and took on what was not mine, by them blaming me & pushing it on me. I was in therapy for years to deal with it & them…one drinks, the other eats and the sibling of me has all of them & his father’s rage issues besides the shitty disrespect to females. This article describes my mother to a T…as the program group leader yelled at me, she is an emotionally unstable controlling narcissistic women with a substance abuse problem. Thanks bud, ummm I lived it & live it..I should know!
    Thank you for sharing your personal vulnerable story for others who wish they had the strength to write their own to help others heal. <3

  • December 17, 2016 at 7:18 am

    I am a sexual abuse survivor, but my family is still what’s keeping me locked in this nightmare. I was abused by my stepfather for 5 years starting when I was 11 up until I was almost 16. . The only reason I believe it ever ended is because my aunt asked me if my stepfather was touching me. I do not know, nor will I probably ever really know if my mom knew what was going on. I am now 46 and my Mom has been married to my perpetrator ever since. Even though my aunt exposed the problem, since my mom and sisters grew up abused too, it is like what happened to me needs to go away in order to fix everything and make things normal for my Mom. I have tried doing what they wanted for many years. In doing so, I married another abuser. Reinforcing my low self worth and ultimately now my own children seem to have learned that I do not deserve any respect. My now ex-husband has manipulated them to believe that I am an abuser and messed up. It saddens me so deeply that I am reaching out to strangers maybe enduring this same horrible existence. I just want to be at peace and free of all of this. I feel like I am in a no win situation. I have tried multiple times to cut my mom and my ex out of my life. Although I feel better without the toxic people, the betrayal and loss of a mother pulls me back in. I feel like the perpetrators won. I have more of a need to realize my moms abuse as a child and have compassion for her. I know she is not mentally healthy but she is my Mom. In 2014, I hit rock bottom. My Mom blamed me for the umpteenth time for not letting things go. I should except presents from her and my childhood abuser and invite them over to spend time with my children and give them presents. I refused! She cut me out of her life yet again. My ex husband continued to torture me by controlling the money he gave for support and alienating my kids by filling their heads with anything to doubt me. He even told me I was “Cybal” and then rented the movie to watch with them on his visitation. My boyfriend whom I chose to let my guard down with and try to trust did not understand the power of my past and did not understand. Although he felt sorry, he could not relate. My Father died 12/19/14. It knocked me over the edge. I sought out my OBGYN to prescribe me an anti depressant. Something I had refused to succumb to through many years of therapy. I ended up in the ER. My doctor drove me there. I now felt all of my abusers had succeeded. They got what they wanted. They broke me. I was so depressed I didn’t want to be here suffering this horrible existence anymore. My own mom, chose an abuser over her child. The most confusing part of all of this is that I feel I understand the reasons for all of what has happened. My mom was 1 of 14 children. My Grandfather abused all of them. Sexually, physically, and emotionally. My mom was motherless at age 11. The two oldest sisters kept the family together ever since, but they are very toxic to each other. Now the oldest sister suffered a stroke and is not the same. My mom resents her because she blames her for not allowing her to be a child. Instead she made her take care of her children, husband and home. I even think my mom suffered sexual abuse at the hands of her sisters husband. now that my aunt needs her family, they do go visit her and monitor her care. The problem, this particular aunt was my savior. She is the one who exposed my abuse. Now that she is ill, I feel compelled to be there for her. No one has the connection I have with her. She stopped my abuse. I can never repay her. My Mom doesn’t seem to like this. I bought a small Christmas tree and instead of saying my aunt would like it, she asked for me to wait to give it to her and that she already had a tree in her room. I am saying this, because now my Mom seems to have been triggered and is not nice to me and giving me guilt again. I feel exhausted of all of this. I want peace. I do not want to live the remainder of my life this way. It is just too painful. My oldest daughter has chosen to cut me out of her life too. All I feel I do, is try to make everything right for everyone else but myself. I’m tired of doing that. I don’t have a mean bone in my body. I would give away my last dollar to a stranger, if they needed help. Why do I see myself as a good person, but those that say they love me see someone else? Is it even possible to find peace with a mom who probably will never be able to be any different? Without her, I am saddened. With her, I am saddened. The whole family follows her lead. I feel abandoned and I’m not a child anymore. I wish I could let this all go. It just doesn’t seem possible.

  • December 17, 2016 at 11:32 pm

    I still live with my mother and can’t physically get away right now. It is hard to set boundaries and emotionally healthy when you are still with someone who has been so neglectful towards you. I love her still, which makes it confusing how desperately I want to get away. She is manipulative and downright cruel sometimes. Everyone that interacts with her seems to turn against me. At least I can recognize it now instead of placing the blame on myself.

  • January 7, 2017 at 2:36 pm

    I am so happy to have found this article – its so easy to believe that you are the only one. Amazing to find so many others in the same – or similar – position.

    My mother’s husband (I refuse to call him my father, and he isnt’t my biological father any way… my mother refused to tell me who my real father is) sexually abused me from as young as I can remember. It was violent and hellish and involved beatings, cutting and burning as well. I even have his initials carved into my inner thigh. My mother knew about this from when I was a little girl but never did a thing to rescue me. The abuse finally ended nine years ago when he died in a road accident.

    I finally confronted my mother after his death and she told me I was lying. She spread the word amongst my family that I was a horrible liar and defaming my father, who was always so kind and generous towards me. As a result, I have no contact with any family whatsoever.

    It’s hard. Despite everything I still miss my mother. I still love her. Despite the hateful messages I receive from time to time. Despite her sending me piles of bank statements and demanding that I pay her back for the costs of raising me, since she doesn’t have a daughter.

    It feels like I have committed a terrible sin and have been punished by being cut off from my loved ones, but I know trying to have a relationship will just break my heart.

    I find it hard to relate to others, although I have wonderful friends. I just can’t share much with them, as it is so far from their lived experience.

    To all the other “exiled” children – I hope you have found family in good friendships and that you will find peace in your hearts.

  • January 30, 2017 at 7:42 am

    Thank you so much for this article, it really helped me stay focused on what’s best for me after years of trying to please my family. A couple of months ago I decided to break all contact with my entire abusive family and it’s really tough coping with the feelings of guilt that you feel towards them even though I feel better than ever, getting rid of the enormous burden of chasing after the acceptance. So once again thank you so much for sharing this, what you wrote is exactly how I feel and it was nice to be reminded that I’m not alone.

  • June 25, 2017 at 3:00 pm

    Christina, reading this is like my own thoughts coming from someone else. I am only 19 and grew up in the care system. I have a constant internal battle on whether to maintain contact with my mum, but the only conflict is for her best interests. Mine is to walk away. I have protected her secret from the relevant authorities for years and almost completed suicide countless times due to the way she treats me, I know our relationship is toxic for me and one day will most likely kill me. But yet, I constantly try and justify her actions, she was only 16 when she had me, with no real support from her own family and the system failed her, which lead to her running into the arms of a monster because she needed someone, anyone. He manipulated her into sexually abusing her own daughter, and even now she still justifies it. But at the same time, I can’t help but wonder if it’s because it’s her only tool of survival. And sometimes I also think she doesn’t do or say things to deliberately hurt me, just sometimes she doesn’t think about me. Plus, I have seen her at her most broken and her most vulnerable, something almost nobody has seen, I think I am closer than ever to finally cutting off contact, like something’s just clicked on my head that things can’t go on like this, Yet I still cry myself to sleep everynight thinking back to the broken woman I used to have to hold while she cried herself to sleep after abusing me with him. I feel so torn and lonely, like how can I expect anyone to know what to do or say if I don’t even know myself.
    Are these feelings normal?

  • February 5, 2018 at 8:34 pm

    I underwent a Parentectomy at age 27 and stayed away for eighteen years. I changed my phone number and moved to another state. Didn’t tell anyone anything.

    At age 45, I came back, because my grandmother told me my father was dying of cancer and asking for me. Returning to the family started a whole new round of abuse coming from my mother and brother.

    Now, at age 57, I am about to cut my mother and brother off yet again. Like Popeye said, “That’s all I can stands, I can’t stands no more.”


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