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Venting About Abusers


silentknight
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While many of us have posted our personal ex-timonies here, I thought it might be helpful to have a more "general" thread for venting about the people that "ruined" some of our lives. I'll begin.

 

In my ex-timony I mentioned my step-father. However, I didn't go into much detail, as he's deceased now, and I've mostly moved on. However, I still deal with the trauma on occassion, and I find it helpful to talk about it. I'm going to tell the full story (or at least, more complete version) of my life with this monster... But that requires starting at the beginning. (Warning, some graphic content)

 

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When I was a young child my father took his life. I barely remember him. Just a vague picture of his face... I'm not even sure if it's a real memory or just an image my brain took from photos of him. Even so, I never felt particularly bad about not having a father. For me it was normal. Unlike some kids whose father's left, I didn't have to wonder about where my father went or why. I never felt abandoned. My brother on the other hand was 10 when my father died. He had a lot more trouble dealing with it as we grew up.

 

My brother started having anger issues. He'd often take them out on me. It became his "game" to do cruel things to me. He'd wrestle me (unfair as he was 6 years older) or throw me around (one time accidently slammed my head into a table leg) another time he put a spoon on the stove and then set that spoon on the ground... i then stepped on it.. had a nice big blister. The point of all this is that I was "used to" abuse. Most of my life was spent in the power of those stronger than me, and those people used their power.

 

When I was in elementary school my mother remarried to a man that was several years older than her. This man wasn't much of a problem to me personally. He wasn't abusive in any way, but he also didn't really care all that much about me. He and my mom had a daughter, thus giving me a half sister. Several years later they broke up and divorced. I don't know all the details, and I wasn't particularly upset by it. A few years later, my first step father took his life... He left a note blaming my mom.

 

The next few years were relatively uneventful. My brother went to college, and I moved on to middle school. My mom started getting into some religious revivals, and soon met the man who's be by next step father. He was very nice at first, but also very religious. He loved to talk, and would spend hours talking about "the lord" to anyone who would listen. At the time I didn't feel any animosity towards him, but also found the uber religious thing rather hokey.

 

It wasn't long before they married. Probably only about 6 months. Before I knew it we were moving to his house... my life started to fall apart at this time. Not only was I being moved to a whole new town at the end of 7th grade, but my new step father had room mates at his house, and there wasn't a room for me. All my stuff was put in storage, and I slept on the couch. I had no where to go for privacy or comfort.

 

It was while living here that my step father changed. He became an angry man. He'd fly into fits of rage at the slightest provocation. He wasn't physically violent (most of the time) but he would shout at and berate us over the smallest things. For instance, being a teenager, I once got annoyed at something and said "this sucks". That set him off, he started shouting at me that saying "sucks" is demeaning to women, and my mother. I didn't like being shouted at, being an introvert I reacted the way i do... I shut down, I hid my face in the couch and waited for him to go away. Well... that angered him even more. He grabbed me and yanked me off the couch, throwing me on the ground. So I could look at him as he screamed at me.

 

Eventually, his room mates moved out to make room for my step father's new family... and then things got worse. I finally had a room, thankfully, but the religious issues started getting more extreme. Now that he had the house completely under his control the craziness started creaping in more. When my stuff came back in I noticed a lot of it was missing. I found out later that he went through everything and threw out anything he thought was "satanic". He's also search my room randomly while I was at school. I'd come home and find him waiting with a novel, or a video game he'd found. He'd then spend hours lecturing me on why it was evil. "Dragons are of the devil" or "magic is a tool of satan". I learned to become adept at hiding anything that he could even consider to be "evil".

 

When I became good at avoiding the kinds of things that I learned set him off, he'd start manufacturing things. For instance, I'm a cartoonist, and even then I'd spend a lot of time just doodling for fun. One day he approached me with a stack of drawings he'd found in my room. Harmless characters I made up. He gave me a long lecture about how the eyes of my cartoon characters were "soul less" and that I needed to stop drawing them. any talking back would end in him going off in a wild rage.. so I had learned to nod and agree while secretly cursing inside, because I knew if I didn't his rage would be worse. I had yet another thing to hide.

 

Later, he found a doodle I'd done of a scantily clad female... well... this set of a shit storm. He turned my natural curiosity about the female body into a dirty dark thing. He called it pornography, and told me stories about himself as a youth looking at pornography. He told me stories about how it "tore his heart in pieces" each time he looked at a new woman. He then proceeded to tell me (a lad of 15) about my father being sexually abusive to my mother (he claimed because my dad liked porn). He went into graphic detail of him sticking his entire hand inside her and tearing her.... suffice it to say.. I was horrified. He seemed to take pleasure in telling me this. Not that he was smiling smuggly, but rather he seemed to think he was doing gods work, reminding me of the sin of my father so i could try to prevent repeating it.

 

All the while as I was growing up, he'd drag us to new churches. Finally he found one he "liked". It was a non-denominational that called itself an "Apostolic" church. The leader of the church considered himself some kind of prophet or apostle. They only encouraged my step father's insanity. Over the next few years I spent as much time as I could hiding in my room, because every time I was out amongst my family I had to deal with preaching and sometimes yelling from my step father.

 

I eventually got really good at not getting in trouble. I hid everything I did very well, and while in his presence pretended to agree with every word he said. I think this bothered him. I think he felt that I MUST be doing something wrong, but he couldn't put his finger on it. Eventually, he called me out of my room for a talk. And he told me that he'd had a dream... a vivid dream.. in color! (apparently he always dreamed in black and white). And in this dream the whore of babylon had me in her clutches, and led me astray. Because of this dream, he sent me to talk with the pastor of the church. And even the crazy pastor of that church told me my stepfather was off his rocker. He told me to just hang in there until I went to college.

 

As college grew nearer, I managed to buy a computer with money I'd saved. I started spending a lot of time online, as hiding in my room could grow lonely. I eventually met my future wife in a chat room. She gave me comfort when my life got miserable, and we soon became very close. When I went to college, she moved down there with me. We lived seperately, but withing walking distance, as we were both still christian then and thought living together would be "wrong" (though it wasn't long before the two of us down there unsupervised ended up having sex, rationalizing that we were already planning to get married... hormones will drive ya crazy)

 

Once I moved out I went through a short period of depression as my mind and emotions worked through all the trauma I'd been through. I had nightmares, and paranoia of being taken "back". My future wife took care of me and helped heal me emotionally.

 

Eventually, my step father had a heart attack in one of his fits of rage. After that he hung on to life for a year, and eventually died. The relief I felt after that was palpable.. it was like someone had just removed shackles from my soul...

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I've been here only a month or so, but one of my big surprises is that I don't hear more stories like yours.

 

Religion and physical/mental abuse are so linked in my mind and my experience that I'm actually startled to hear that so many people had reasonably happy Christian childhoods.

 

I ache for what you had to go through, silentknight.

 

It's amazing and sad how alike abusers and abusive situations are. My dad (the chief abuser in our house) wasn't genuinely religious; he just used the bible and religion as props for his authority. It was okay to beat me and berate me because "god" said this & that. Dad would have been a beast, anyhow. But without god as an excuse he might have had to question his conscience now and then. As is, the bible justified his rage, his Victorian prudery, his "right" to command the entire household, and his crazed bouts of violence.

 

And yes ... the rages over certain books, the need to walk on eggshells to avoid triggering his rage (which, of course, never worked because he was going to rage at somebody eventually, no matter how anybody actually behaved). All painfully familiar, and such old stories that you wonder whether abusers are all following the same instruction manual.

 

Even the graphic bit about your biological father being sexually barbaric toward your mother is part of the too-familiar abuse story. I know evil step-parents like to use the tactic of making you feel crappy about yourself by talking about the evil people who produced you. (I didn't have step parents, so I got only the standard "You're just like your mother" or, from the other side, "You're just like your father.") What I don't hear mentioned much, but in my experience is true, is that abusers also try to make you feel guilty or otherwise manipulate you via wildly inappropriate sexual revelations. In particular, they seem to like to make you feel bad about being a member of your own sex.

 

I remember my dad waking me up one night when I was about 13 and telling me that my mother was "frigid" and that she "didn't keep herself clean 'down there.'" When I was around that same age, he would also make comments about how I was "sticking [my] tits out" or wearing makeup like a "Las Vegas whore." Comments which, considering that I was a bookish kid with glasses, now seem as strange as they were grossly inappropriate. Such remarks certainly said much more about him than about me. But they were designed to make me hate myself by hating both my mother and the very concept of female-ness.

 

I think people like you and I will bear the scars from this early treatment forever. But then ... scars make us tough.

 

As an adult I often wondered why, if there's supposed to be a loving god and he wants us to believe in him, god stood by while I learned that religion was all about pain, punishment, humiliation, and control, and never, in all those years, saw to it that I got a more favorable impression of his "goodness" and "mercy." ... Which of couse is just one more bit on the evidence heap that led to my unbelief.

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I think people like you and I will bear the scars from this early treatment forever. But then ... scars make us tough.

 

Agreed.

 

It takes a lot these days to anger or upset me. I attribute that to having perspective. I know how horrible some people can be. Some idiot cuts me off in traffic, or doesn't hold the door when my hands are full? So what, it's not a big deal. It doesn't make my life that difficult. But some people will rage about it and complain for a good 15 minutes. I just shrug.

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I think people like you and I will bear the scars from this early treatment forever. But then ... scars make us tough.

 

Agreed.

 

It takes a lot these days to anger or upset me. I attribute that to having perspective. I know how horrible some people can be. Some idiot cuts me off in traffic, or doesn't hold the door when my hands are full? So what, it's not a big deal. It doesn't make my life that difficult. But some people will rage about it and complain for a good 15 minutes. I just shrug.

 

Good for you. Too bad you had to have so much early practice at keeping calm in the face of provocation.

 

I was somewhat the opposite. I inherited my father's temperament and had to spend my early adult life working not to be like him. I'm grateful that I have learned how to live well (it's true; living well is the best revenge). But it took many years to create a better, calmer, happier, less anxiety-ridden, less resentful me.

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What an awful experience silentknight. I noticed immediately the lack of privacy with you having to sleep on the couch, even if it was only for a while. I think those of us who have been abused had our boundaries crossed too many times..& then we begin to think it is normal, or just "accept" it.

 

I have more to say but I'm on a time crunch, but I'll say I am so glad for you that you were able to keep it together & eventually escape from that abusive environment. I am so glad that you found a loving person to be your life partner. Take Care & thanks for sharing!!!

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Abuse manifests itself in many forms, doesn't it? Shameful people like to shame others. It is such an intensely confusing time when you are a child. I used to wonder how god expected people to believe in him when they were put under authority abusers.

 

I am sorry you had to endure all that. If there is a hell, I like to imagine it's reserved for those who are aware of their power over the weak or innocent and choose to use that power for evil.

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I'm so sorry for your misfortune growing up with that. My mother committed suicide three years ago. When I got the news, I felt that huge inward sigh of relief that my abuser was dead and never going to hurt me again. I wasn't particularly upset.

 

I do feel grief for the situation. I lost out on something precious that other people have with their moms. But I don't mourn the loss of my mother...Just the idea of her.

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It was while living here that my step father changed. He became an angry man. He'd fly into fits of rage at the slightest provocation. He wasn't physically violent (most of the time) but he would shout at and berate us over the smallest things. For instance, being a teenager, I once got annoyed at something and said "this sucks". That set him off, he started shouting at me that saying "sucks" is demeaning to women, and my mother. I didn't like being shouted at, being an introvert I reacted the way i do... I shut down, I hid my face in the couch and waited for him to go away. Well... that angered him even more. He grabbed me and yanked me off the couch, throwing me on the ground. So I could look at him as he screamed at me.

I got/get this a lot. My dad was a drunk though, so I always thought that was the reason he would yell at us for random and unimportant things. He stopped drinking as much a few years back after a heat attack, but it didn't stop. It turns out he is just an angry person.

 

I definintly have some daddy issues to work through. I don't usually tell people about it, so no one outside the immediate family knows. I don't know, it just makes me feel like I'm just being an attention whore or something, even though I know talking about it helps.

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The abuse i went through was purely mental, i was taught to base my belief on emotion and well, im not exactly the most emotional people. I Lived my life in constant pain and fear thinking God refused to love me, that i wasnt saved, that i was doomed to hell because i couldnt "feel" God.

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When I got the news, I felt that huge inward sigh of relief that my abuser was dead and never going to hurt me again. I wasn't particularly upset.

 

I do feel grief for the situation. I lost out on something precious that other people have with their moms. But I don't mourn the loss of my mother...Just the idea of her.

 

I understand not being upset by the death of an abusive parent. My dad was dead for several years before I heard about it. I felt very much as you did -- no grief, no nothing, really. Just numbness -- and a vague sense of relief that something evil had left the world.

 

But even people who had bad relationships with their parents must feel something, right? I have an acquaintance who could barely stand her father, but who plunged into more than a year of mourning when he died (expectedly, at a very old age). After such a complex relationship with my father, I figured some sort of powerful reaction would sneak up on me and whack me in the head. In a few hours or days or weeks or months, it would hit me and I'd go through some huge range of emotions.

 

That was 15 years ago. I've never felt a thing about him since. Just relief. He's gone. The world is a slightly better place.

 

(Oh yeah. And I hope the Mormons are wrong. Because if there's an afterlife and the first people I meet are my family, I'll know I did something very, very, very wrong ...)

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I'm so sorry for your misfortune growing up with that. My mother committed suicide three years ago. When I got the news, I felt that huge inward sigh of relief that my abuser was dead and never going to hurt me again. I wasn't particularly upset.

 

Yeah, when my step dad died it was as if an oppressive regime finally crumbled. No grief for me.

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Wow silentknight and Merry, reading your posts really made me hurt for you. My abuse was mostly psychological, with the odd physical outburst, and again lots of weird scare tactics around sex and sexuality. Maybe it’s a theme for the disturbed! :/

 

My father passed away when I was 9 and was incapacitated by illness for about 2 years before that. My memories of him are pretty hazy, I got upset recently when I realised I don’t have any good memories of him, but so be it. I have plenty of bad. I remember him hitting me across the face at the dinner table because he thought I swore, I must have been about 5. I went crashing to the floor and banged my head. A year or so on, he was imprisoning me and my mum in the house on a Sunday as he forbade her to attend (crazy ass) church. Still heavily indoctrinated, I began singing some Bible chorus around him, again he cracked me one across the face and I went flying. I distinctly remember my mum telling me that I’d asked for it.

Zip forward a few years, and with my dad gone, religious mania had really taken hold of my mum. While I have half siblings (my father’s kids) they did not live with us, and it was just me and her in a small house. I was also denied privacy in that I could only use my bedroom for sleeping. At all other times I had to be with her. After my dad died, she insisted I sleep in bed with her, where I slept, shamefully, until I left home at 18. Whenever I tried to make a break to my own room, she would scream, cry or throw things. I wasn’t allowed to play out on the street with other kids, no reasons were ever given but I knew it was a no-no, so again I was confined to the house even more.

Mum also went through my things looking for items she considered sinful and satanic. I had my first read of a sugary teen mag at school and managed to harvest a few pence to buy some of my own. I knew well enough to hide them, but they were all eventually found, and I was made to rip them up and bin them under close supervision. Same for makeup, nail polish and certain toys. Mum went as far as to bin birthday presents that she didn’t find suitable. She even tried to bin an mp3 player she found in my pocket, despite it belonging to a friend. I adapted to all this madness by subterfuge and pathological lying. As I got older I was able to store forbidden items at bemused friends houses so they didn’t get destroyed.

I believe my mum must have experienced some kind of sexual abuse or assault in her past as from an early age she warned me about the evils of men and importance of modesty. One time after church she got very angry with me, saying I was sitting in a sexually provocative way. I must have been about 10 and was wearing an outfit that wouldn’t have looked out of place in the 1800s. She told me I was inviting the old bloke who sat across from us for sex by sitting with my legs open. I was ashamed and embarrassed. Another time, my half brother was staying over and I went to knock on his bedroom door to wake him up. After he’d left mum loomed up to me in rage claiming he’d told her I’d being trying to look at his penis. Again I was mortified and cried for hours over it while she screeched at me. As soon as I approached puberty she refused to discuss it or any sort of sex education, but endless ranted about how men were constantly undressing me with their eyes and would try to rape me any chance they got, such talks did not help my awkwardness around the opposite sex. When I became able to buy my own underwear she went ballistic again, saying that wearing padded bras was lying and deceitful. They would make men want to rape me even more, enrage them when they discovered my rack wasn’t so plentiful, then rape me anyway. She also told me tops that had “love” written on them were a written invite to rape me. If she ever saw a slight gap between my trousers and top she would pinch it hard and start spitting about rape again.

Apart from the occasion I detailed in my extimony, she grabbed my hair and legs and dragged me around my mum hasn’t really physically abused me. The psychological and emotional stuff has been pretty heavy duty though.

As I got older (prior to leaving home) she would go crazy for ages over stuff I never did. For example some guests would come over and I’d make polite conversation. Later she’d say I told them I hated her/couldn’t wait to leave and rant and rave and cry while I cowered in fear of her striking me.

Now, I live away and she knows I’m doing “wrong” things, but can’t put her finger on it. Thanks to pathological lying, selective deafness, half truths and stony silences I manage to keep all the “bad” things I do away from her, which means having to heavily censor myself when I go to see her. Sometimes she tries to get information out of me about my “filth and sins” by launching vicious verbal assaults on my character, and making wild accusations in the hope I’ll crack. I never give in and let it all wash over me, but it doesn’t make it any more pleasant.

In addition to all this I am still, if it comes to it, literally dragged to church services when I go to visit. Because of the years of emotion abuse I crack easily when she shouts, screams etc and because of the few occasions of physical abuse I still worry she’ll lash out at me. Yes, aged almost 25 and still terrified of my mother, sad and pathetic I know!

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Ugh ... that sounds horrible Habiba. I know what you mean by easily caving. Due to constantly being yelled at when I was younger I cant handle it very well when someone raises their voice at me. I go into shutdown. Just kind of check out.

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I married an abusive man. Well, he was very nice until we were engaged, then he turned nasty because he was stressed about the wedding and fearful I wouldn't go through with it. Of course, I reassured him I would never leave him. I thought he'd go back to normal once the wedding was out of the way, but he got worse.

 

It wasn't entirely his fault. He had serious mental health problems. He was diagnosed bipolar, but that never really seemed to fit, but he definitely did have severe problems. What was his fault was that he refused to get any help.

 

There's too much to go into, but he blamed all his behaviour on me, convinced me I was severely mentally ill and that stress and worrying about me was the cause of all his problems. I believed him that I was doing all the crazy things he said I was, lost all confidence in myself and my own perception.

 

We divorced in 2007 and I haven't even heard from him for just over 1 year now, which has been nice!

 

I also shut down when being shouted at, which is something that did not happen before this.

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I married an abusive man. Well, he was very nice until we were engaged, then he turned nasty because he was stressed about the wedding and fearful I wouldn't go through with it. Of course, I reassured him I would never leave him. I thought he'd go back to normal once the wedding was out of the way, but he got worse.

 

It wasn't entirely his fault. He had serious mental health problems. He was diagnosed bipolar, but that never really seemed to fit, but he definitely did have severe problems. What was his fault was that he refused to get any help.

 

There's too much to go into, but he blamed all his behaviour on me, convinced me I was severely mentally ill and that stress and worrying about me was the cause of all his problems. I believed him that I was doing all the crazy things he said I was, lost all confidence in myself and my own perception.

 

We divorced in 2007 and I haven't even heard from him for just over 1 year now, which has been nice!

 

I also shut down when being shouted at, which is something that did not happen before this.

 

 

I'm sorry, mentally unstable that can't see they are mentally unstable are the worst.

 

As for "shutting down", it seems to be quite common among people that suffered mental or verbal abuse.

 

No matter how much I build my confidence, I still find it all come crashing down if someone gets "in my face".

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I think it's so hard to break because it started out as a coping mechanism in itself. When someone unreasonable/unstable is yelling at you the safest thing to do is shut it out, switch off, agree with everything. It becomes so ingrained that you become "frozen" when a situation reminds you of the abuse and you can't act differently.

 

I think it's so much harder to undo the damage when the abuse happened in childhood when the brain is still developing. At least I had witnessed my parents' marriage, and knew that mine was the one that was abnormal. That meant I could find the strength to leave so much earlier than I might have. It is scary though, the amount I was brainwashed into believing I was doing things I wasn't, even as an adult.

 

I do hope I will be able to trust again one day, as I would like to be loved again. A bit scary when living 3 happy years with someone isn't enough to be sure though!

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This is a common thread, and one I'd be interested in finding out more about. I think the rigidity of the world of the fundies makes for a situation where abuse of women, children or whoever happens to be at hand is the rule, not the exception. The insistence on authoritative heads of the home and the silencing of dissent.. it's all in there. And all it takes sometimes is a few episodes for someone to establish control and keep it no matter what.

 

I'll bet anyone in those worlds are bound by terrible fear of both their 'God' and their 'god' (the head of the fundy household). I heard it referred to once as the 'unholy trinity' of anger, hatred and fear. I'd add a fourth- ignorance.

 

I've also been in situations where being screamed at makes me shut down too. It's a protective measure, and it seems that the best things we can do is to walk away if we can or just let it pass if we can't. Unfortunately our love for even those who hurt us like that makes it hurt that much more.

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Yes, aged almost 25 and still terrified of my mother, sad and pathetic I know!

 

Yes it's sad, but no, it isn't pathetic. I hope you find healing. I am surprised you visit. I found it helpful to not visit certain people for a while. You are in control.

 

tip: forgiveness does not mean pretending something didn't happen or that it wasn't wrong. You don't ever have to trust somebody just because you forgive them. Trust is earned and should never be given to those who betray. Real forgiveness is recognizing that something happened, it was wrong, and you are not going to let it bother you anymore. It is simply moving forward in life. I found the Christian "pretend it didn't happen" micharacterization of forgiveness to be a horrible sham. But to actually let go and move forward is refreshing and fulfilling.

 

I wish you the best.

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What... what kind of mindset is it that justifies thinking that a woman's body is there for your own use and pleasure, regardless of her wishes? I've struggled to understand this for a long time, now, and... and I can't.

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What... what kind of mindset is it that justifies thinking that a woman's body is there for your own use and pleasure, regardless of her wishes? I've struggled to understand this for a long time, now, and... and I can't.

 

I think for some men, being told that they're meant to be in charge and get what they want all the time is too tempting to resist. To me it's disgusting.

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Slightly tangential, but... I keep thinking I'm getting back to normal, whatever the fuck that is, and then it all comes rushing back to me and I end up feeling small and weak and scared and helpless again. Has anyone else experienced this?

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WMD- YOU'RE NOT WEAK. I can't emphasize that enough. It sounds almost like you've got a form of PTSD or something that will bring it up again in some different situations. In any case, "normal" is kind of arbitrary. But it does NOT make you weak.

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Wow I totally relate and will maybe write more later but in short my mother in her good catholic girl delusion thought she was marrying some father figure or something when she married a psycho and then of course had to stay married to him. Today he would be diagnosed as Borderline Personality Disorder though back in the day that diagnosis did not even exist. I'm sure people around us knew what was going on as they could hear him raging and beating us but even the cops could do nothing back in the 70's. I was glad when he died, too, and I have no guilt about that. A person who abuses small children is the lowest of the low. Did a good job of effectively destroying my brother, too, and the rest of us did not escape without significant emotional (and often physical) trauma.

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WMD- YOU'RE NOT WEAK. I can't emphasize that enough. It sounds almost like you've got a form of PTSD or something that will bring it up again in some different situations. In any case, "normal" is kind of arbitrary. But it does NOT make you weak.

 

I do have PTSD. Um... sometimes it's a specific event or whatever that triggers it. Sometimes it's just out of the blue. At least the nightmares are... fewer and further between, these days.

 

I may be strong... I must be, I escaped, I survived, that takes strength... but I don't feel strong. I'm even reacting badly to my own family members, at times. I mean, Dad gets kinda verbal when he's upset, and I know it's not directed at me, but I still end up flinching away and trying to escape because OMG, ANGRY MAN. And then I feel bad about it because it's DAD, and I KNOW he'd never... you know?

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I do have PTSD. Um... sometimes it's a specific event or whatever that triggers it. Sometimes it's just out of the blue. At least the nightmares are... fewer and further between, these days.

 

I may be strong... I must be, I escaped, I survived, that takes strength... but I don't feel strong. I'm even reacting badly to my own family members, at times. I mean, Dad gets kinda verbal when he's upset, and I know it's not directed at me, but I still end up flinching away and trying to escape because OMG, ANGRY MAN. And then I feel bad about it because it's DAD, and I KNOW he'd never... you know?

 

I've never been diagnosed with anything, (but I never visited a doctor to get a diagnosis). I don't think I have PTSD, maybe I had a mild case after i first left home. I've gotten a lot stronger in the past few years. It used to be if someone started yelling at me I'd just break down. Now, I still get very uncomfortable from any raised voice directed at me, but I can fight back a little better, even if my insides are in turmoil. Still - too much of it and I'll shut down.

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