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Rape and Abuse If you or someone you know is being abused in any way and you need support or advice, don't hesitate to reach out to us here.

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rosepetal Offline
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Was this abuse ? - April 6th 2019, 09:49 AM

I've wondered for a long time if things my dad did when I was a child/teen 'counted' as emotional(?) abuse/neglect. It's complicated and I struggle to explain it fully, but these days I feel very strongly towards him - anger, hate, disgust, sadness.

I have this extremely vague memory of a story of my dad hitting my head on the porch as a child, it was too vague and confusing so I've never told/asked anyone about it.

But my older sibling just told me the story, told me he was angry with me crying as a ~5yo, carried me outside, she saw him drop me from waist height and says my head hit the porch and he did nothing and walked away. She says the family talked about this behavior as just being 'rough' and as a 'non issue'. That she expressed concern to my mum and even threatened to call child protection services to him (a big surprise/shock to me to imagine that), but that nothing happened and she thinks everyone just saw it as me having a tantrum.
I'm finding it difficult to know what to make of this I guess??? Does this mean he did physically abuse me ?(I've always said no when I've been asked).
She also reminded me how he used to throw pens at us 'hard' when we were being too loud and he was on the phone (I think).

I can't stop thinking about him in the back of my mind.
   
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Re: Was this abuse ? - April 6th 2019, 12:57 PM

Hi rosepetal,

It is understandable to be thinking about your father a lot. Those feelings of him must be difficult for you to carry. Many people do not outright dislike their parents, which means there is definitely a reason (something to remember if you ever doubt yourself) to feel that way.

Being angry at a young child, and then dropping them and doing absolutely nothing when they hit their head can be abuse and neglect. Do you think he dropped you on purpose? Like forcefully? He may not have done anything when you hit your head because he dropped you in the first place -- and dropping a child from whatever height carries the risk of being hurt.

I can see how he would have wanted you to be quiet while he was on the phone but throwing pens was not the answer to that. As the adult, he should have went into another room, went outside, or gently reminded you to be a bit quieter until he was done with his conversation.

You mentioned emotional abuse, too. Some parents will emotionally abuse and neglect. The emotional abuse is outright, like an insult, while the neglect is the absence of something, like support, or witholding hugs, for instance.

Maybe you can write down how youʻre feeling or talk to someone you feel comfortable with so you donʻt have to keep your feelings inside. Even doing something as simple as that can do a world of good.


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Celyn Offline
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Re: Was this abuse ? - April 6th 2019, 10:34 PM

Hey there,

I agree with the above. It can be difficult looking back at what happened and question whether it was abusive or not. It makes sense that you would feel many strong emotions towards your dad because of this.

Dropping a child, and allowing them to hit their head on something, while walking away afterwards (not comforting or checking to see if the child is hurt) can be seen as abusive and neglectful. While some parents may accidentally be a bit rough with their children without realising it, at the same time, it's easy to dismiss/minimise abuse as being just a bit 'rough'. The fact that your older sibling remembers the event and how she threatened to call child protection is also suggestive of abuse. The same goes for throwing pens at you when you were younger. Your dad was the adult and should've reacted accordingly. Throwing pens is at best, immature, and at worst abusive, more so if you could've been injured.

If there are similar patterns in behaviour, your story can be corroborated with others and you feel negatively (it's good to trust or at least listen to your feelings), then it's possible that it could've been abuse. What matters most is how you feel and how this is affecting you. You might benefit from talking to someone that you trust or writing down your feelings.


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rosepetal Offline
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Re: Was this abuse ? - April 7th 2019, 12:12 AM

Thanks to both of you for your words. Your responses were useful and really validating to read.

Yeah, I don't know how forceful it was, but it definitely seemed to be on purpose.

He's definitely always withheld things like hugs, never shows affection, never does basic things like ask how you are or show any proper interest in you/your hobbies/life, disregards your feelings, basically a cold, sort of emotionless person. He does a lot of small subtle things that are difficult for me to be specific about.

He'd also wind us up, my sister described it as him picking on her (and me), that he'd do subtle small things (like not listening/ignoring what you've said, just repeating himself, not allowing any emotion in the argument, inappropriately timed humour/laughing when someone's upset, sometimes mocking) until she/I was really upset and angry, then he'd see any expression of emotion as a bad thing. He'd just keep yelling and escalate it a lot, sometimes I'd try to stop the 'argument' or leave but it didn't work, he wouldn't let me. Things like this left me feeling really upset, angry, just completely squashed down and powerless (and no one would check if I was ok). It was always him starting the 'arguments' and they were always over something small/something that other people would only get slightly angry about.

I think that's exactly what happened, it being dismissed/minimised as being "rough". My sister said it was talked about as me having a tantrum and his behaviours in general as being 'rough'. My mum saw it as not an issue. In my sister's opinion he did physically violent things that were exactly on a line where you couldn't call it out.

He's also (undiagnosed but clear to many people) got aspergers, which explains some things, but I think it's more than that, and it hurts to think of that as excusing everything. (plus I know some really kind people with autism!!)

I'll definitely talk to my therapist about this, we were talking about him the other day, which led me to talking to my sister because I've been struggling for a long time to properly explain why I feel this way and what it is that he specifically does/did to my therapist. I'm planning to read/show her the messages from my sister, which will be difficult. I know I'll manage, it's just hard with it being a weekend and not being able to contact her or see her til Friday, when this is really affecting me, my concentration and sleep. I've talked to a friend too.
   
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Re: Was this abuse ? - April 7th 2019, 04:29 PM

If your dad does indeed have undiagnosed Asperger's (and we can't say for sure as we aren't professionals) then it may be part of why he is the way that he is, but it does not excuse his abusive behaviour. And as you know, many people with autism are not abusive!

Some of the things that you described can be seen as characteristics of Aspergers (for example, no hugs can be seen as emotional neglect but it may be that someone with aspergers finds hugs to be difficult sensory wise). That said, they could also be a result of other things such as past abuse/bullying/trauma and never having received help and repeating the cycle or not having good parental role models to learn how to parent properly or they could just be characteristics of your dad. While none of these things excuse your dad's behaviour, it can help to explain it.

While it is possible for some people, regardless of whether they are autistic or not, to acknowledge their behaviour and make changes, unfortunately, not everyone does or is able to. This is where focusing on having your feelings validated can help as it can be difficult to distinguish whether something was abusive, and it may be that your dad will be unwilling/unable to see his behaviour as hurtful towards you.

It's good that you will talk to your therapist about this and that you've already spoken with your sister. I understand it would've been very difficult for you to explain these things when you don't know if they are abusive or not or whether they can be attributed to something else. I'm really glad you talked to a friend too. It's good that you have a therapist but I understand it's hard when you can't contact her when you need to. It's can be valuable to build up a support network of people outside of therapy that are understanding of your feelings and experiences, more so when you find yourself feeling angry, upset and powerless (all valid feelings by the way!). And TeenHelp is always here for you too


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