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Cant use the word "abuse"

Thread starter #1
I want to claim the word abuse, like maybe it would be freeing somehow. But i cant justify myself using it. I just cant. I feel guilty and wrong, so many people had it so much worse. CPS came and took some of you away because it was obviously bad. But no one came for me, so it couldn't have been that bad, right?

No one hit me. Honestly sometimes I wish she (my mom) just hit me because it would have made more sense to me. I know that's probably a terrible thing to say but it's how I feel.

So then I think, maybe I was just neglected?

But I always had clothes. Most of them came from friends at school as hand me downs, but they existed. Sometimes they weren't clean, at least on one occasion covered in my own piss since I had wet the bed and didnt have any other pants to wear to school. And most days my hair and teeth weren't brushed, but I dont think that warrants CPS or anything.

I always had food. Sometimes I had to make it myself, but lots of latch key kids make their own food. That's not a big deal.

My dad had bi-polar. He was very very delusional, incoherent much of the time. But he never hurt me or anything. I had to babysit him at times, make sure he didnt wander away. The police told me to keep an eye on him, not let him leave the house because he scared people and threatened to jump off bridges. And I know my mom wouldn't keep an eye on him so I had to. So no, he wasnt really a parent to me, but I know he loved me and I wouldn't say he abused me.

My mom... well she yelled. A lot. About everything. All the time. And I was a terrible terrible kid who always did everything wrong, who was disobedient and sinful and ungrateful and spoiled and...
But lots of people's parents yell at them. So what.

But then again, I think to myself, she laughed at me whenever I was in pain. She enjoyed the control over me, demeaning my experiences physical and emotional. When I was at the doctor, at the dentist, had a splinter, had cramps, it didnt matter. After my Dad had a really serious suicide attempt and moved away for treatment (he later committed suicide) she laughed at me, in front of other adults, for crying about missing him at Christmas.

She told me once she didnt care if she never saw me again.

And then I think about when I was in septic shock, and she refused to take me to the ER, even though I had lost conciousness multiple times.
But on the other hand she took me to my childhood appointments growing up. I got all my vaccinations, and I even got the flu shot most years.

I know my mom is a manipulative and unhealthy person. But did she abuse me? Was I neglected? I dont really know. My brother just a few weeks ago said that he felt "neglected" and it was the first time I thought, maybe that is true. Maybe we were neglected. My therapist uses those words, and even called my mom sadistic. But I just cant tell if that's a fair assessment. I dont believe myself.

Maybe I'm just over exaggerating. Maybe I'm just remembering wrong. Some of the time she tried to be nice to me. She made me hot cocoa and bought me presents and paid for me to go to summer camp even though we couldn't afford it. And no one ever hit me. So why am I still in so much pain?

Just to clarify, my A criterion experience was my father's suicide, compounded by a later sexual assault, not the experiences above. But in my mind it's all jumbled up and connected and these memories affect me just as much, if not more.
 
#2
I was in septic shock, and she refused to take me to the ER, even though I had lost conciousness multiple times.
she laughed at me whenever I was in pain.
After my Dad had a really serious suicide attempt and moved away for treatment (he later committed suicide) she laughed at me, in front of other adults, for crying about missing him at Christmas.
She enjoyed the control over me, demeaning my experiences physical and emotional.
She told me once she didnt care if she never saw me again.
Was I neglected?
Yes.
But did she abuse me
And yes.

I speak for myself, and perhaps others here, when I say although emotional, psychological and verbal abuse may not directly inflict physical scars, they can be so much more of a mindf*ck and distressing to come to terms with/ process.

Particularly when interspersed with instances of them being kind:
She made me hot cocoa and bought me presents and paid for me to go to summer camp even though we couldn't afford it.
Or even just behaving as is expected in an healthy form of that type of relationship:
on the other hand she took me to my childhood appointments growing up.
Which, may, give you some insight into the answer to this:
So why am I still in so much pain?
I understand completely these emotions you're experiencing right now.
It's important that you know these things you're feeling are so valid.
It was horrible what you experienced, and you didn't deserve that neglect and abuse.

You're in good company here though-- we understand. You're not alone.
 
#4
CPS came and took some of you away because it was obviously bad. But no one came for me, so it couldn't have been that bad, right?
So... what you’re saying... is that if I kill someone, but I don’t get caught? The person I killed is actually alive, and happy. Because it’s the being caught that determines what the reality is, rather than what actually happened.

Ditto, if I get caught killing someone, but manage to convince the people who catch me they’re wrong... the person I killed is alive and happy all over again... because it’s the belief of an outside party that determines reality, rather than what I did (I killed them), or what the person I killed experienced (ie death). Because someone else believes differently, I didn’t kill them & they’re not dead.

You see the flaw in this logic?
 
#5
You do realize all of what you mentioned is the actual definition of abuse (and severe neglect), right?

You maybe weren't physically beaten.
That's only one of the forms of abuse.

Although I understand the mindf*ck and difficulty to parse this. ;)

So:

Having to get clothes only from friends & not even having clean and appropriate ones - severe neglect definitely, one form abuse for the health risks for the child (not really about fashion and comfort... but infection and cold/warmth exposure and environmental protection and distress leading to immunity issues and what not.)

Severe hygiene issues, definitely abuse. Like there's not even a question or blurred lines about *that* one.

Ditto no hair & dental care.

Unreliable nutrition, abuse. So they didn't even feed you & you had to do it yourself if you wanted to eat. That you mention it as 'some times' tells me it was one time, too many // so darn often. A kid shouldn't go through that. It would be an alarming slip even in normal circumstances, but they did no slip but a pattern.

Just because the food might have been present doesn't mean they fed you or did it well / that sort of treatment can lead to all sorts of issues with food, self image, ability to seek help, ability to meet needs period, trust issues.

Having to take care of your severely mentally ill parent, straight up abuse. Doesn't cancel the love. Abuse is f*cked up like that. We can be very very hurt... by those we love most, or they even love us.

Your mom's verbal & emotional abuse is straight up abuse. The constant yelling, hurting you for everything, hurting you for being hurt, hurting you for being a loving caring kid who misses her Dad, mocking you in front of other relatives. And it's not okay, what she did. You did nothing wrong and nothing to warrant it.

And oh wait.
She put your life directly at risk when you dealt with a life threatening medical condition. (Other critA trauma by the by).

Yeah, I don't really think your Mom gets a free card out of this one for making you cocoa. She did things that could have killed you.

I'm sorry you came through all that, growing up. No one should have had to.
 
#6
It's a hard word to swallow when you grow up "maintained" like we did. I wasn't hungry like my dad grew up but he frequently took his alcoholic rage out on my mom or us kids. It's hard to accept that it wasn't bc I was a bad kid, or did teenage things and deserved it, but that he just beat on us bc he was an angry man. I thought my mom would disappear emotionally bc I was too overwhelming and needy when in fact she was extremely depressed and needed professional help. I was fed, clothed, educated, provided for with abundance, but I didn't have very well grounded parents which left my brother and I trying to navigate adult issues at a young age.
I can only tell you that I have made peace with it bc I look at my kid and realize that I would never want that for him and reflect on how those experiences effected my life. It was abuse... sigh.... my mom is dead and my dad is essentially a washed up drunk and I don't see him. When I do he usually is so crappy I can't wait to get away. Make peace with the word so you can do the work necessary to have peace in your heart. Good luck! I'm sorry you had to endure that from people who were supposed to care for you.
 
#7
Maybe I'm just over exaggerating. Maybe I'm just remembering wrong.
You have no idea how common this is to feel like you are exaggerating, it “wasn’t so bad” etc. I recall my own perception of my past, I know now I was in denial and emotionally down regulated. My long term nightmares were the only outward sign for decades. Read others stories .... you will find if your events happened to someone else...you have a different take away.

It amazed me in support group to listen to others downplay their abuses....it was so obvious but then I did the same when it came to mine.

Do you have a therapist? They help with this big time....mine talked to me for a year while I matter of fact described my childhood and had no emotional connection to it nor could I comprehend the abusiveness. An exercise once...I wrote down everything I could remember from childhood through early teens. I suspected I didn’t have continuous memory which he confirmed. Over time I added to it as things came through ...then I categorized it. Neglect, gas lighting, intimidation, so on and so forth.

It formed a picture I could no longer deny. It was shocking after awhile. Not fun but I needed to see and feel my past in “color” instead of distant black and white. Only then could I start to deal with it. But denial serves a purpose for awhile, it protects and I think waits for the right time to emerge for healing.

Best, Whirlwind
 
Thread starter #8
You see the flaw in this logic?
When you put it that way. But I guess what's missing is that dead and alive are binary categories -you killed em or you didnt. Abuse, and especially neglect, is more of a continuous scale. How many times do you have to forget to pick me up from school, forget to make dinner, forget (refuse) to do the laundry before it becomes neglectful?

I do see the flaw in my logic. I see it there. But even so I cant trust my own opinion. For now, I need to find others who can help me understand.
 
#9
Once is forgetfulness, two times an error, three times a pattern.

Or: If they did it over and over, it's a pattern and qualifies.

If you have a rescue come or not is more luck & timing many a time, than erasing the seriousness of what's going on.

And that laws don't really protect abused kids even though trying for it very hard at places is not on the abused kids, or their issue to right.

You helped you. Well done, that.
 
Thread starter #10
Thank you @Ronin for laying that out for me. It was painfully difficult to read but having someone else say those things does make it clearer to categorize and name.

@Rumors thank you for sharing a bit of your story. It's so frustrating when everything is so unpredictable. Like in some ways they are good and loving and do what parents should, and in other ways they are so far at the other end of the spectrum. But putting it in perspective of your child is helpful. I dont have kids but I do think about my nieces and the way my sister treats them - I do worry about them A LOT. I would never want them to be treated like I was. I try to reassure myself by knowing at least the courts are aware and involved this time around. Sigh.

@Whirlwind I do have a therapist, although I've only seen them 3 times so far. I saw someone else before that, but she was hyper focused on minimizing my symptoms to the point where I was just emotionally numb as a rock. Eventually realized she was hurting me more than helping. So here's to hoping this time is better. I do think joining a support group might be helpful as well.

If you cant tell, I'm just starting this journey. I can tell many of you have been on this path for much longer than me, and I really appreciate your help in jump starting this process.

Also @Whirlwind, I TOTALLY understand about the nightmare thing. I get night terrors and I know for a fact I cant be faking those. They are unpleasant, but I'm kind of thankful for them because it's something I can point to and say, if nothing was wrong, then why is this happening?
 
#11
Hi esz

I share a lot of your feelings.

Abuse is about power and control. With a parental relationship it is unequal, they have a lot of the power. They can use this to help us grow and learn or use it against us. It sounds like they abused their power over you.

Physical and emotional abuse hurt us human beings. An injury of the soul. It doesn't matter how the injury is made the feelings on the inside are the same. I hear a lot and agree that emotional abuse and neglect are harder to live with.

I find that in my head it's a constant battle between calling it abuse and minimising it into nothingness. This a battle every day but as I'm working through therapy I am finding myself not minimising the abuse or its effect on me. I'm owning my pain and the word abuse is becoming easier to bear.

I really feel for you. You've had it so tough.
 
Thread starter #12
It's been months since I posted this, but I still struggle with these thoughts every day. I'm owning the word abuse much more now, but I have so much self doubt and self hatred about these memories.

Constantly running through my head:
What if things didnt happen the way I remember them? What if people think I'm just making all this up? I'm just being an attention whore. I'm being selfish and stupid for struggling with these things that happened literally years ago.

denial serves a purpose for awhile, it protects and I think waits for the right time to emerge for healing.

Best, Whirlwind
This has been really helpful tonight @Whirlwind. Thank you. I've used self doubt and self hatred to hide the reality of my abuse away from myself. It kept me safe from the pain of abandonment for a time. But maybe the reason I'm so overwhelmed by these feelings and emotions now is that it's time for me to finally experience them and heal. It feels like I'm going backwards, but really I'm finding a space for myself to heal that I was never allowed to have before.
 
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