Abused All My Life and Still Doubting Myself

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Reader’s Question

I am 40 years old and have a mother who is controlling and verbally abusive. This has gone on my whole life. When I was 9, my sister hung herself due to abuse we both endured. We were both being molested as well, and the abuse went on for years even after my sister’s death. She was 12. We had never told our parents about the molestation because we thought that they would never believe it. My mother told me after my sister died that she wished it was me who died and that I was worthless and never wanted. She had even tried to abort me, but my father would not allow it.

When I was 16, I finally moved out of my abusive home because a guy I met convinced me I would be better off. I wasn’t. He sexually assaulted me several times and beat me several times a day. I eventually moved back home, but things were no better. My mother rubbed my experience with this guy in my face almost daily and put me down constantly.

My mom thinks my oldest daughter is my sister re-incarnated. She also says she has conversations with my deceased father nightly, and he answers her back. I have dreamed of his death nightly since the day he died two years ago on Halloween. (He died from a blown aneurism in his lung, and I took care of him for the 15 hours it took for him to actually pass away.) I had actually taken care of him since the age of 14, and when he died I lost the only person in my family who ever showed me any love.

My mother is now trying to pit my oldest daughter against me by telling her lies about me. My daughter says she doesn’t believe the lies, but she still acts differently toward me. My mother tells me almost daily I killed my father because I didn’t do enough to save him. She also complains about everything I and my other daughter do.

I finally told my mother about being molested when I was younger, but she only laughed about it and told me I was a liar. I offered to take a lie detector test, and she said it would not be correct anyway and that they are not accurate. She goes out of her way to say mean and cruel stuff to us on a daily basis, several times a day, and she laughs when it makes me cry. She plays everyone against everyone. I’ve been seriously thinking of cutting her completely out of my life, but I still struggle with wanting her love, even though I know I will probably never get it.

I’ve been told that if we move away from her it means we don’t love her, and if we stop living in her home we won’t be allowed to be part of her family. Still, I have finally decided I have to move and am moving over 900 miles away in December.

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There are so many more things I haven’t said. My mom has made my youngest child and myself suicidal at times from all the hateful things she’s done and said. I am leaving because I don’t want to live like this anymore. Am I wrong for not wanting anything to do with my family? Am I wrong that my mother’s behavior is abuse? I doubt myself constantly. I am so lost.

Psychologist’s Reply

Victims of abuse (including molestation) often end up questioning their most sincere feelings about matters, especially when they’re not only not believed but ridiculed. Abusers rarely take responsibility for their own actions and typically blame others. They do so with such conviction at times that it makes the real victim wonder if they are in fact the abuser.

When a parent is so toxic that they only bring pain into a relationship, as sad as it is, contact with them must be cut off. Only when such a parent is willing not only to accept responsibility for their behavior but also make a sincere effort to make amends can resumed contact be reconsidered. Trust your gut and your heart. But be on guard. Just being away from a toxic parent is not enough. The scars of abuse often predispose victims to make very poor decisions with respect to relationships. So, get the guidance and counsel you need from an expert who specializes in helping trauma and abuse survivors heal.

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