How to mend?


I find myself struggling to fix my relationship with my parents and brother even though it's difficult and I may be better off following the advice of many on here and focusing on a "found family."

I don't think the found family advice is very helpful to me as I have trouble forming interpersonal relationships in general and, because I move around a lot, the relationships I do form are usually long-distance. I also have trouble accepting that the only way for me to heal is to get a "found family" - I don't want to give up on repairing my dysfunctional relationship with my abusers. It doesn't feel right. I love them.

Relationship list (in order of easiest to most difficult to "fix")
1. Dad: absent, though I understand that it was because he was working hard to feed our family. But this doesn't negate that I was without a reliable parental figure while I was working through trauma. He's the one who most actively tried to understand his shortcomings and mend the rift in my relationship with my brother by holding him accountable, though belatedly (10 years post-trauma). I'm not NOT resentful of being left alone, even if it was because he trusted my mother to raise us properly. Marriage is a partnership, and my mother isn't very good at emotional processing. He has also said that by making my brother apologize to me and by holding him accountable, I should no longer bring up the incident and hold it against him. But given that he did hold my brother accountable, my feelings towards him are the most positive and it's most probable that if I were to resolve any resentment I had towards my parents, it would start with him.

2. Brother: Putting him second is really weird for me, because he was the initial perpetrator. CSA from 9 - 13, and when my mom finally got him to stop molesting me, he switched over to physical intimidation and violence by turning his attentions to my dogs who he beat and threw around for small infractions. Several times, he tried to be violent towards me both during fights and "pranks" (he tried to put my hand in one of those electric mosquito killers to "wake me up" from a nap and he once poked me relatively hard with a kitchen knife, although it didn't break the skin). In turn, I abused him emotionally and returned fire during violent incidents. Our relationship improved once he went off to college and we spent less time around each other. This simultaneously meant that we were no longer able to be violent towards each other and that I was able to confront him several times about the CSA and how it had affected me. Turning point in our relationship was when I was 19 and a spat with my father over my rebellious phase (I had taken to dyeing my hair vibrant colors in order to try and get a sense of bodily autonomy in college) turned into him "coming to my parents' defense" and trying to slap sense into me. The altercation escalated to him trying to hit me with a chair, at which point my mom intervened (finally *rolls eyes*) and my father sat us all down to talk about my rights as a human and how my brother's violent tendencies were unacceptable. Since then, we've been closer to each other and it seems like our relationship has normalized somewhat, although I still occasionally get flashbacks of CSA and feel uncomfortable touching him. We confide in each other like siblings, so I guess that's something. I don't hate him, mainly because whenever I bring up CSA or violence he doesn't defend himself and accepts that he was in the wrong.

3. Mom: I love her but I hate her and she's emotionally stunted. I don't know why or how it happened and I'm, at this point, not sympathetic enough towards her to care. To be fair, she's the reason I started writing this post and, as emotions are still fresh, I might not be so fair in my portrayal of her but really I don't care to pull my punches anymore. The day after the first CSA incident, she made me go to school. I had to listen to the school announce my brother's birthday over the intercom and had friends ask me why I wasn't happy when it was my brother's birthday. I was nine. NINE. Today, she told me she beat him for it but I had no knowledge of this before then so, for the past 15 years, I only knew that she tried to pray with him the day after I told her and that it didn't stop him from doing it again. Her solution to my brother's behavior was to tell him that I was probably going to kill him when I was older if he didn't stop. Today, she said that I have a victim complex and I had to point out to her that I AM A VICTIM. She asked what she should have done better and asked what she should do now to help me heal in a tone that said, "If you don't tell me what I should do, I won't try to help you." She has told me all throughout my life not to wear shorts around the house in case I tempted my father and my brother (smfgdh) and when I told her in high school that I was cutting, she told me not to. That was it. When my father had an affair, she told me she was scared that he might try sexually assault me (because having an affair obviously means he's sexually perverted and not that he's looking for an escape to a dead relationship). I have been told constantly that I should not talk about my experiences with anyone, including that my dad had an affair, because it would harm my family's reputation. She also told me, during our sit-down when I was 19, that she thought my brother's violent behavior was normal which was why she didn't do anything about it. When I started seeking therapy on my own, and the sessions led to me bringing up my pain with her in an attempt to heal, she said she didn't like that my therapist was turning me against her.

Today, when I was talking to her, she kept sighing with exasperation and starting sentences with, "Why do you...?" Although she bit her tongue on several of them, enough of those phrases made it out that it's clear that she thinks I should be over this by now and that I'm the issue. She said that she's read things online about what she should do as the mother of a victim but that obviously that advice isn't working because I won't stop talking about CSA.

The only reason I'm strong enough to talk about my experiences so candidly is because I am healing and it no longer feels disgusting to talk about what happened. I don't know how else to make her see that, in order to mend our relationship, she needs to be comfortable talking about this and taking responsibility for how damaging her inaction was.

To be honest, all I want is for her to stop being defensive whenever I bring this up. It happened, and she was complicit and she will forever be complicit. It's unfortunate, but it feels like she can't accept it especially since she always responds to any criticism with, "I guess it's my fault," like YES IT IS could you maybe just APOLOGIZE and OWN UP TO IT without acting like I'm holding a knife at your throat?!

I don't know if what I'm doing is right, to be honest, which is why I've brought it up here. No matter how I try to write things with both sides in mind, I know that I'm inclined to write myself in the better light. I feel like I'm being emotionally abusive by constantly holding this over everyone's head whilst also being angry that I have to go through this all on my own. That I've essentially gone through everything on my own since I was 9. I recognized the signs of depression in myself, I took myself to the doctor, I decided to start taking antidepressants, I decided after two years that they weren't doing anything except giving me GERD so I decided to stop, I found myself a therapist and, now, I am the only person in my family trying to talk about the elephant in the room. I just want someone to say that they're proud that I did all of this on my own, that I shouldn't have had to, and that they're sorry for leaving me on my own to figure this all out.

It just... it just feels so feasible because my requests aren't so big are they? Or is it? Is it so impossible for my mother to realise on their own that I've done something truly Herculean? That I shouldn't have had to? For my family to realise that they've almost lost me several times?

It's like I'm looking at a cake in a display and I can smell it and almost touch it, but nobody will help me look for the key to open the case.


Is it so impossible for my mother to realise on their own that I've done something truly Herculean? That I shouldn't have had to?
I have been through this thought process as well. For quite some time actually. I have come to realize that the goal (for me) is to have no need for external validation. Even/Especially from the perps. It would be nice, but honestly, nobody could even imagine what you or I have been through. There are most likely no real words for what you or I have been through.

This is why many people find a 'found family'. I am on the cusp of this right now. But I think the idea is to be able to share with those who understand and have fought through to get to the freedom on the other side. That they have realized that continuing to engage with the perps and the ones that are not looking at their own improvement is damaging. Triggering. Harmful.

I am not attempting to push one way or the other. Family.Found Family. Each I think can have their place. But your engaging with them and expecting them to acknowledge how you feel when they have done limited work on their culpability and their own victim-ship is maybe a bit unrealistic. Been there. Done that. There was no tee-shirt. Just saying.


I'm sorry you have been through that. And I'm sorry your family haven't and still aren't giving you what you need (acceptance, safety, acknowledgement, space, voice).
Sad fact is: we can't change people.

How damaging is it to you to keep trying in a relationship where this is the response you get?
My T keeps saying "find the middle ground". No idea what that is. I hold out for my parents changing and 'seeing/hearing' me. But I know they won't and I have to work out what it is I want from them and how to maintain that without hurting me in the process.

Are there some form of boundaries you can put in?
Is it, have a relationship with them all or none of them, or can you start by just having a relationship with your dad more than anyone else?

Sending you healing vibes.
And I wish they became the family you need them to be.


You got so much in one post. Trying to read it all, I disassociate in my thinking and I can watch it. That’s another way of saying I can’t think about it. It’s all I think about though.


First I really want applaud you that you have come this far and this goodness abd this strong from that background. I am in awe... But I also felt your exhaustion, frustration that you are working hard to sit with your experience and others who were there are not. What is the problem?
This is so complex honestly so layered so vast and so deep only a life time can give the answers you need.

In my life cpa and csa... What helped me was a complete cut off and find my own empathy and validation and then reconnect and sit with them without a single need of their empathy and validation... I felt the madness while sitting with my mother.... And ask many times how is it I did not go complete mad when I was a child and vulnerable? Then I realized I did... And now I am only adult still vulnerable but not 100%helpless and dependent on my mother... So I grieved the loss of smother my childhood and now i feel the pain but I know I am feeling my pain and memory and hold.

The love you have for your family is real and you can have that... It is yours but the struggle seems knowing you give that love and if you do not receive it....but there is also a possibility they do not give love and do not receive from you...

The question is can you give love be open to receive (from them or others) and let your family have that freedom.

It is life time work. But sometimes taking time away just for while also makes that knowledge of giving love and receiving love stronger so when again you reconnect you are not at their mercy for love...

Now it seems you still crying for their love and acceptance and they are unable to give because ultimately no one can meet all our needs and definitely not those that hurt us.... Never! Neutral maybe... But your family can't meet your unmet needs arising from abuse. Trauma goes both ways.. The victim and the perpetrators and the on lookers are all one and each has to heal very differently.

Not sure if this is help or just blah blah.. But you are exploring and challenging and that is good.

All the best to you.