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Question Physically/emotionally abused by father entire life...dealing with effects - March 5th 2014, 07:32 AM

So, from the time I was born, my father severely abused my mother, beatingher, choking her, breaking her belongings, criticizing her,and separating her from other people. I can remember seeing all of this happening from a very, very young age, which has left me with anxiety, nightmares, and distrust towards men. He also abused me, ignoring me completely for long periods of time, then screaming at me and beating me for things that weren't my fault. He is also sexist, and from a young age, he would tell me that I was a worthless girl that would never be able to do much, and he would vehemently criticize and verbally condemn any female authority figures on the television, or in my life, calling them terrible names. For most of my life, I was homeschooled by my mother, and told never to tell anyone what happened in our house, because "it's something perfectly normal that happens in every home, but people just don't like to talk about...it's no one else's business anyways". When I was finally allowed back into public school (middle school), I began to realize how fucked up my family was, and how much I had been lied to, and I began to rebel against my parents. My father, of course, just increased his abuse, and my mother just told me to shut up and be respectful. The abuse, combined with pressure from school, and the way my mother completely ignored it led me to become depressed and suicidal. No one I knew realized how far gone I was except for one friend, who singlehandedly prevented my suicide. After having his support, life became a little more livable, and I was actually kind of happy for a while. My mother finally came to her senses last year, and moved herself and me to a different part of the United States, isolating me from the friends that supported me, and becoming so paranoid that she forbade me even to contact them. I've since made new friends, however, I can't get close to them. I just don't know how anymore. I talk with them, laugh with them, hang out with them at school, but somehow it never really moves past the "classmate acquaintance relationship". Sometimes I feel completely apathetic to everything, like, my mother can be angry at me, criticizing me for something, and I just won't even care; I won't feel anything. I'm in a really great relationship with a wonderful guy who is, honestly, everything that a girl like me could ask for: fun, kind, sweet, daring, smart, supportive, compassionate, adoring, open, hardworking....I genuinely care for, and love him, and yet, I never feel like I'm as open with him as he is with me when it comes to emotions. I can never exactly communicate what I feel, and I hate it, because I want so much to be everything for him that he is for me. Recently, I've begun my own research into the effects of child abuse, and I found a website that outlines the signs exhibited by victims at every stage of life, and at each stage I matched the list of signs almost exactly. Perfectionism, an intense fear of failure. Escapism tendencies. A tendency towards depression. Physical sickness from stress and anxiety. Apathy, and in some cases, aggression. Passivity, to the point where others take advantage of me. Trouble relating to others. Low self esteem. PTSD. Fear of attachments. I've experienced all of these throughout my life, and some I'm still experiencing. Looking through that list, I began to wonder! am I doomed to all of the other signs that occur in later stages? such as the continuance of abuse on others, or the acceptance of abuse, a,poor marriage or relationship, and a negative lifestyle due to bad choices. Am I, in fact, nothing more than what he made me through his abuse? It's so hard, because sometimes it's like people treat him like the victim. My mom always tells me that I need to talk to him on the phone, try to form a good relationship with him, because "he's sick, and he needs our love." All my life, she fed me that crap, brainwashing me into thinking that his abuse towards me was justified. That I wasn't good enough, loving enough, accommodating enough. I gave up on hobbies that he would criticize me for, like piano, and soccer, hoping that it would make him happier, but it never did. It just made him push me even further. In fact, he used the money no longer going towards piano lessons to stock up on beer, cocaine, and computer parts for all his toys. My two older half brothers, from my mother's previous marriage, which was also abusive, constantly condemn me for hating my father. They tell me that it's a sin to disrespect one's mother and father. But I honestly don't care. I'm not religious, and I refuse to respect someone who doesn't deserve my respect. But I still wonder...am I in the wrong for trying to distance myself from my father, for not being able to find it in myself to forgive him?
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Re: Physically/emotionally abused by father entire life...dealing with effects - March 5th 2014, 09:43 PM

Hello, and welcome to TeenHelp! =) I'm so glad you decided to reach out to us.

It's common for teens/young adults to look at their parents and think, "am I going to make the same mistakes they did and end up like them?" I know I've had those thoughts with both of my parents. One thing that helped me was to identify the mistakes my parents made, and what led up to them making those mistakes. For example, my mother doesn't have many friends. I'm an introvert, so I know it's harder for me to make friends. I worried that I would end up "alone" as an adult. My solution was to force myself to socialize at least once per week, and I would go with my fiancé so the social events would be less intimidating/stressful. There are still plenty of times when I don't want to go out on Wednesday nights (a weekly commitment I've made), but after the social events end, I'm always glad I decided to go.

Acknowledging the family cycle/pattern of abusive and neglectful behavior is an important step in the healing process. Now that you are aware of how your parents' behavior has influenced your life, you can resolve to break the cycle/pattern of abuse and neglect. Throughout your life, you're going to encounter situations where you'll have multiple choices. You can choose to imitate your parents, or you can choose to do something different. It may help to think of a positive role model, either someone you know in "real life" or someone you've heard about (e.g., a female actor/writer/etc.) How would they react to a situation? Would they yell/hit/manipulate, or would they be calm/respectful/attentive? Of course, no one is perfect, but by letting positive role models occupy your mind, you can begin to counter the false messages that your parents have given you (e.g., "you're not worthy of love," "you'll never amount to anything," "you can't do anything right").

Dave Pelzer has written a series of books focusing on his recovery from childhood abuse. "A Child Called 'It'" is the first book of three, and it's pretty graphic in nature, so if you're worried about being "triggered" by the descriptions of abuse, you can skip it. The second book ("The Lost Boy") focuses on his troubled adolescence, and the third book ("A Man Named Dave") focuses on what he did as an adult in order to counter the abuse he experienced. I highly encourage you to find those books at your local library, if one is available to you. I know those books have helped me with putting my own experiences into perspective, and they're very inspirational! Healing IS possible.

As for distancing yourself from your father, I don't think you're in the wrong at all. If someone is being abusive toward you, then they should be avoided. Subjecting yourself to that abusive behavior is, in a way, a form of self-hatred and punishment... and you don't deserve that kind of treatment from your father or from yourself, no matter what other people have told you in the past. I moved out of my mother's house the moment I turned 18. I only contacted her to let her know I was with my father, and to wish her a happy birthday/Christmas/etc. It took me a few years before I could spend time with her and feel "safe." I'm glad I gave myself that time and space, because it gave us the opportunity to focus on the abusive behavior. My mother is far from perfect, and she still attempts to manipulate me from time to time, but I know that things would be FAR worse if I hadn't broken ties with her for a period of time. You have to do what's right for you.

Good luck, and feel free to keep us updated on your situation! =)

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abused, child abuse, confusion, effects, entire, family, father, father daughter, forgiveness, lifedealing, physically or emotionally, psychological, scars

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