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3 Bumps

Blaming the Victim for Child Abuse

I'm not a troll. I'm a regular who doesn't want to use my screen name for a sensitive question.
I'm estranged from my parents and siblings. There are many reasons, but one of the chief ones is their ongoing refusal to acknowledge the physical, emotional, and sexual abuse I suffered in our family home at the hands of my mother, and the fact that my father either didn't know about it and should have, or knew about it and did nothing, depending on the version of the story he happens to be telling when the subject comes up. I'm generally okay with that and have taken responsibility for my own recovery and my own quest for happiness.

But I suffered a setback yesterday. My dad and I crossed paths at a family event, and he remarked on how big my daughter was getting. He hadn't seen her in months. I said she was growing up fast, trying to find a neutral answer when what I wanted to say was that he was missing out on his granddaughter and he would never get her childhood back or really get to know her if he didn't make an effort to resolve our issues. Then he said that he hoped that as a parent, I'd finally learned that every child is different, and the approach that worked for one wasn't the same as what would be best for another. He said a lot of people had criticized the way he and my mom brought me up, but that since I' turned out well, they must have done it right.

I was horrified. So beating on me, kicking me, throwing me around, screaming at me and calling me names from the days of my earliest memories was the approach that they felt would work best on me, but not on their other kids? Then it was all intentional? Because of the way I was? And justified by the way I was?

Trying to maintain a discussion, I said that I strongly disagreed with the methods my mom used on me, but it was true that I turned out to be a strong, independent person. I said that with my daughter, I was going for a gentler, more positive approach that built her up and let her know she could come and talk to me about anything. He said that was great, if it worked for me and my daughter, but that parenting wasn't black and white and that I'd been an extremely stubborn, hard-headed, difficult child from the beginning. So it was all on me again.

I'm having trouble even knowing how to deal with this. I'm sure I should just blow it off and consider the source, but it's really dragging me down. In my world, there's no way a child could ever do anything to warrant being abused, ever. It's like blaming a rape victim, only somehow worse because a child is absolutely innocent, defenseless, and innately trusting of her parents. But the idea that my own parents believe there was something wrong with me, something bad enough that the acts of abuse were justified, and that those acts fixed whatever the problem was so that I became a competent, productive adult is hugely depressing. My SO says to consider the source and blow it off, but I'm really struggling. My child is beautiful and close enough to perfect for me, falts and all, and although it is my job to guide her toward a civilized adulthood, if beating her and breaking her spirit with verbal and emotional abuse was the only way I thought I could do it, I'd give her to someone else to raise who could do it more humanely.

Then too, I'm not sure I want my child around my parents at all, ever, if they believe acts of child abuse are in any way at any time justifiable.

So am I overthinking this? How can I let it go? I'll never get apologies or even admissions of what happened from my parents, but my dad was the one who brought it all up yesterday, and basically blaming me for the abuse seems to have taken the pain to a whole new level for me. I was hoping maybe someone had been through it and could relate, since my SO doesn't have a clue. He seems to think having sex tonight will make me feel better, and he's been coming on all day. He really is trying to help, but it's like trying to fix a shattered vase with spit and bubble gum.

 
Anonymous

Asked by Anonymous at 5:07 PM on Jun. 30, 2013 in Relationships

This question is closed.
Answers (14)
  • It's a choice you have to make. You can choose to ignore it and thus rise above, or you can choose to let it eat at you like a cancer. I'd choose to ignore it. What good does it do to dwell on it? Does it make you better?

    By choosing to dwell on it, you're letting them beat you all over again. And you don't have to allow it.

    You succeeded in SPITE of your parents, not because of them. You can file that away in your brain as a standard response to your dad whenever you see him. "I made something of myself DESPITE you. Not because of you. The ONLY thing you contributed to me was GENETIC MATERIAL."

    Indeed, I'd stop thinking of them as "dad" and "mom." Because they are NOT. You are self created; your own mother and father.
    gdiamante

    Answer by gdiamante at 5:16 PM on Jun. 30, 2013

  • "You succeeded in SPITE of your parents, not because of them. You can file that away in your brain as a standard response to your dad whenever you see him. "I made something of myself DESPITE you. Not because of you. The ONLY thing you contributed to me was GENETIC MATERIAL."

    --This. Most people deal with trauma and go on to be OK. That doesn't mean the abusers get credit for the victim surviving it.
    SWasson

    Answer by SWasson at 6:49 PM on Jun. 30, 2013

  • It's VERY hard to "get over" shit like that. The fact that he STILL thinks nothing was wrong with how they raised you tells me he knew then and did nothing to stop your mother abusing you. For that alone, he is just a guilty as she is.

    If it were me, I'd write him a letter. Put ALL your heartache, anger, fear, spite, etc. into the letter. Then, when you've got everything out of you, burn it. Make it a healing and a cleansing for YOU. Your family will NEVER understand what you've gone through because they don't want to make the effort.

    Forgive them their blind spot. Forgive that they are a group of insensitive, emotionally lacking individuals. That does NOT mean let them off the hook for the assholery that they've done, and are still doing to you. That just means stop letting them have power over you. You are a strong, independent, loving, caring individual. Don't let them affect your life any more.
    Rosehawk

    Answer by Rosehawk at 7:40 PM on Jun. 30, 2013

  • I can see how any interactions with your parents would dredge up painful memories, therefore the healthiest way to deal with them is to NOT deal with them. I suspect they are well aware that the way you were treated was wrong, but instead of asking for your forgiveness, they chose to justify the abuse. Don't let the actions of others destroy YOUR inner peace. Mean people suck, avoid them like the plague!
    Mummzie120

    Answer by Mummzie120 at 11:11 PM on Jun. 30, 2013

  • I am so sorry, it angered me to read what you had to go through. I can't understand how people can be that way.......

    " If it were me, I'd write him a letter. Put ALL your heartache, anger, fear, spite, etc. into the letter. Then, when you've got everything out of you, burn it. Make it a healing and a cleansing for YOU. "

    It is hard when we have things like this from our past which will never be justified. It is an emotional pain that is one of our "dark passengers" as we travel through life. I guess the best thing is to just keep embracing any good we can find . Learning to live in "this moment" is the greatest coping skill we have....

    Hugs !!
    LeJane

    Answer by LeJane at 10:38 PM on Jun. 30, 2013

  • I'm sickened on your behalf. I'm a survivor of sexual abuse, but I've always had a very supportive family who took blame even when it didn't belong to them. I can't imagine having a family who placed any of the blame on me. So sorry!

    If possible, I'd try to let it go. You sound as though you've really been able to move on from your childhood, and dwelling on what he said is just giving him/them power over you.. Don't give them any more thoughts than absolutely necessary - they don't deserve it.
    DusterMommy

    Answer by DusterMommy at 12:59 AM on Jul. 1, 2013

  • Your father was aware of the abuse you suffered and did nothing about it. That makes him every little bit just as bad as your mother. Every time you see one of them you're going to be reminded of your past. So cut them out of your life. Make it a positive decision - you will be doing it to set yourself free for the rest of your life. Do it with a symbolic action that is meaningful to you - burn all of their photos, for instance. Then, go sign up for counselling. Yoiu may not be able to get past this on your own (and your SO clearly doesn't really grasp your pain - I'm sure he means well but he just doesn't get it) and a therapist could make all the difference.

    Finally, I wouldn't let my daughter near these people again.
    goldpandora

    Answer by goldpandora at 4:20 AM on Jul. 1, 2013

  • Yeah, I like the idea of writing down your thoughts. Journaling can be cathartic. Avoiding them as much as possible is another positive step. Focusing on the positives in your life, like your child & your so, who wants you, btw! Sex releases all kinds of endorphins & I highly recommend you let your SO help you out there! :)

    mrsmom110

    Answer by mrsmom110 at 10:20 AM on Jul. 1, 2013

  • I think it's bullshit that my answer was deleted here... I didn't say anything wrong in any way.
    In fact I didn't even read past "I'm not a troll. I'm a regular who doesn't want to use my screen name..."
    Yet you were NOT anon at the time. WTF!!
    Crafty26

    Answer by Crafty26 at 7:08 PM on Jun. 30, 2013

  • Honestly, I would not have even had that conversation with him at all. There is no reason for you to try to be civil. I would want nothing to do with him. You will never change people like that, who do horrible things and think it's ok for any reason. To try to justify it to you is just sickening. And I agree with the other reply about not thinking of them as mom and dad. If I have to refer to my father, I say Dickbag, and my husband knows who I am talking about. I don't want his name in my house. I really wish I didn't think about them at all.
    JulieJacobKyle

    Answer by JulieJacobKyle at 8:38 PM on Jun. 30, 2013

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