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02/06/2012 12:57 PM

Emotionally abused as child.

Posts: 2
New Member

Hi everyone, not really sure how to start but over the last year or so I've become to realize I have been emotionally abused by my father for most of my life.

I am now 25yrs old and currently living with my mum and my dad (abuser) which upon realizing my childhood/family/relationship with my dad was dysfunctional is pretty tough, especially as it is in the same house where it all happened.

My earliest memories of abuse go back to as far as i can remember and were usually the worst around meal times. We would all sit around the table together (me, mum, dad, older brother) mostly at weekends. I would dread meal times with my dad there as he would find reasons to shout at me over the way i would hold my knife and fork or if i had my elbows on the table, so i didn't feel relaxed as i felt i was being constantly observed and open to criticism. If i didn't clear my plate my dad would shout at me and I specifically remember him saying he would "ram the food down my throat" I felt incredibly under pressure at meal times with his presence.

I was only physically abused once by my dad by being pushed to the ground, and i only witnessed it once when he hit my mum in the leg in the car while she was sitting down in the car while they were arguing and i saw him kick my brother quite hard one time.

Other memories of childhood involving my dad would include scenarios of him getting angry if i couldn't ride my bike properly, if i couldn't find something in the super market like a tin of sweetcorn for example, if i couldn't figure out how to use a tin opener etc He would shout at me over it and i would feel like I was scared of him and would want to cry.

It was a long time ago and a very stressful time at such a young age that i feel like most of my memories have become a blur but as described certain scenarios stick out for me.

I never wanted my dad to be around and i was relieved if he had to work weekends. As soon as i heard him come home from work I would feel tense. I never really remember wanting to show any affection towards him.

By the time I got to about 10/11yrs old I remember crying in my bed at night wishing he would actually die or just not come home and knowing that I did not really love him very much.

Once I ventured into my teens I became extremely anxious about going out or taking part in social events, I hated eating around people and struggled with food. Panic attacks and anxiety took over my life and this was another extremely dark time in my life in which every day was so bleak and restrictive.

By the time i was about 14 I became very angry and depressed, in not sure it was just because i was a teen and my body was changing etc but i was in a very dark place where I would cut myself with blades if my parents said anything to upset me or if there was an argument. By cutting myself it was like a release of sadness, anger and desperation all in one and then i would feel calmer. My parents knew about my cutting in the end and my mum was not really that supportive though this time as she made me feel guilty for feeling the way i did by letting me see how upset it was making her. There were constant arguments between me and my parents where i felt like they hated me, and they would often call me lazy and bone idol. I still didn't feel much love towards my dad and still felt tense from him being around.

When i got to about 17yrs old I left home (and stopped the cutting by then) to live with a boyfriend and lived away from home for about 5 years. I guess this time was my breathing space and looking back i was still quite depressed but felt a bit more at ease. I was very badly off and had no money at all to really support myself.

My relationship got a bit better between me and my parents at this stage as i spoke to them a little bit more (mostly my mum though) and they were obviously worried about me and would help me with food shopping etc.I had pretty much blocked a lot of the past out and kinda forgot about it, although it would crop up in my mind and cause problems once in a while. Then one day out of the blue my mum had a nervous breakdown and tried to leave my dad, she turned up at my house and was in tears and desperate for someone to help her and i didn't really know how to respond. She was upset about the past and how my father acted towards me and my brother and so it brought everything back up for me.

She hasn't really been right since and has had three years of talking therapy. I kind of resent my mum for this time because of how vulnerable she was/is and i always saw her as a strong person that i could rely on. I dont feel that way anymore.

She has resolved the past and her issues as best as she can and is still with my dad. And i think things are better between them.

But very recently i have been very haunted by the memories of childhood, and have found it very very very difficult to eat around my new boyfriends family or eat in general at any social type events where i feel under pressure to perform or act in a certain way. My confidence and self esteem is quite low. This has caused me great stress and upset and i am in therapy to try and overcome all of this.

Living in the house where i grew up can be really horrible and i still feel very uneasy around my dad. He is trying to offer a shoulder to cry on at the moment and is aware of the past but i just feel so uneasy towards him and a lot of the time don't really care if he is in my life or not. There has been a few times where he has slipped and shown his true colors whilst living here. My mum i cant really talk to as she can be quite emotionally unstable and blames herself a lot. Me and my brothers relationship is non exsistant and we don't talk.

So thats my story. Any support or similar experiences especially with the eating thing would be appreiciated. I would also like advice of how people came to accept what happened to them and how they moved on.


02/06/2012 05:34 PM
Posts: 990

Im so sorry about the pain you went through and how it traumatized you.My husband is alot like your Dad.We have to walk on eggshells around here and he is always scrutinizing everything we do at the dinner table.It is so difficult.He has to make comments about how we eat our food,how we are drinking too much drink too soon,etc etc...and then if we want to have family conversation he will tell us to be quiet at the table while we are eating.Talk about tense!

I feel for you and it makes me look at how my kids are having to deal with all of this.

hugs for sharing with us

Post edited by: WandaLynn, at: 02/06/2012 05:35 PM

02/06/2012 06:31 PM
Posts: 4948
Group Leader

I'm sorry that you have had such a rough upbringing. I too grew up in an abusive family and it affects us in ways we can't even imagine at times.

I highly suggest you try to get a copy of Healing Your Emotional Self: A Powerful Program to Help You Raise Your Self-Esteem, Quiet Your Inner Critic, and Overcome Your Shame by Engel Esteem/dp/0471725676 . This is taken from the inside flap of the book:


Parents act as a mirror to show a child who she or he is. Throughout childhood there will be other mirrors, but children inevitably return to the reflection in that original mirror in order to determine their goodness, importance, and self-worth. In Healing Your Emotional Self, Engel offers her highly effective Mirror Therapy program to help you reject the distorted images your parents either intentionally or unintentionally projected onto you. She explores the seven types of emotionally abusive or neglectful parents and the seven most common parental mirrors, providing specific advice and recovery strategies for each one.

Helping you raise your self-esteem and improve your self-image, this innovative step-by-step program provides you with the skills you need to:

Create a positive self-image separate from your abusive parents' distorted picture

Separate emotionally from your parents and provide for yourself what you missed as a child

Discover who you really are—including your likes, dislikes, values, goals, and dreams—by creating a word self-portrait and using other Mirror Therapy techniques

Overcome your tendency toward self-blame, self-hatred, and self-destructiveness

Learn self-nurturing and set effective limits to help you control your tendency to overeat, drink too much, overspend, and/or overwork

Become the person you are meant to be by being more accepting of yourself

Learn to love who you see in the mirror with the breakthrough program found in Healing Your Emotional Self.


I am actually reading this right now and I've found it to be difficult, but also very helpful. It reads a bit like a workbook with various important exercises to help us sort of re-program ourselves with positive messages that we were supposed to get as children. This book explains how our parents' behavior and actions (or lackthereof as the case may be) send strong messages to us as children and shape our "inner critic" in a distorted fashion. More importantly, it guides us through a process that is meant to shatter the "parental mirror", which is distorted, to one that is a more accurate depiction of our true selves.

You can find this book on amazon, but you might also be able to find it in local bookstores/libraries. If money is an issue, try asking your library about inter-library loans.

I find that many of the titles by Engel have been helpful to me as they are geared more towards family emotionaly abuse rather than spousal abuse like other texts. Even so, the spousal-focused ones such as Why Does He Do That by Bancroft can also prove very helpful as abusers are cut from the same cloth. It's really the same motivation and warped value system... just a different setting.

02/29/2012 07:41 PM
Posts: 107

Wow Sao24- I never thought someone went through similar things as I did. I have been nit picked by my family as a child and now avoid them like the plague. They are trying to get back into my life, but my therapist is not too keen with that and I am OK with that Smile However, the past abuse, both emotional and physical has taken a toll on the relationships I am currently in and have ruined the ones in the past.

I do find it hard at times for me to eat in front of some people and by the time I get home I am hungry and eat like crazy! However, I have slowly learned to comfortably eat around men, it just takes time. Sometimes I just sit next to them and share something, which builds up my confidence. It's acutally hard for me to eat in front of women because the abusers in my family were the women, not the men. I also identify with the cutting, it was like a security blanket for me. Everytime I came home from visiting my family, I felt like crap and would run into the bathroom to cut myself so my husband could not see. The medication and talking about the cutting has helped with that issue.

Thanks for sharing your story, you will get stronger each day and you are in charge of your future.

02/29/2012 08:10 PM
Meg1129Posts: 14593
Group Leader

I had the eating thing too all of my life. I still do when I eat around men. I don't know why. My mother was very critical too. She told me several times she thought my inability to eat in front of men was the result of too high an opinion of myself. It was years before I found out it was exactly the opposite. It drives me crazy sometimes. I realize that my hemming and hawwing and pushing food around on my plate brings more attention to myself than if I just ate normally, but I can't stop it. I too go home STARVING too. It was hell when I was dating.

03/01/2012 11:04 AM
Posts: 2697
Senior Member

Sao24, I think it is awesome that you are putting this in writing, I find your moving out at 17 is an awesome proof that you will not tolerate abuse; I move out at 21 and overseas and this has helped me not put up with abusers for most of my life specially in the boyfriend scenario; however, I have fallen in two separate ocassions so I just continue to learn....I grew up in an abusive atmosphere as well...and was made the ugly duckling for standing up to abuse.....I was physically punished by both of my parents and my nanny brother and sister were abusive what I have learned is to realize that this is their problem and not is tuff at times bec they seem to be the majority...and by going to counseling and reading and believing in my inner self, focusing in my inner peace when hiking and other activities, it makes me aware that I am is their problem and not mine!....and I can live without them.....nobody is going to punish me and most everything is under my control.....yes it can be done and I am finding my own way to live a peaceful life and deal with abuse the best way possible....I left my abuser, ex boyfriend after 2.5 years about 8 months ago, and I am between jobs getting part time jobs and applying for new ones too....and I am finding in this business field abusers too that take the brief opportunity to abuse me....and as long as I recognize that it is not I, it is working okay, the blow the hit is not as tuff yet it is a shock....I just plan to find a job where abuse is not tolerated period....and plan my day to day experience to be abuse free...something that at times is impossible....find your own way, one day at a time....the secret is not to sucumb to the abuser vibes where ever you find with them as brief as you can and get out of their is not worth it and you will not change them.....hope this helps you in your journey.....there is hope!.....and today is under your control, so have fun and choose to stay away from all abusers! can do it!

Post edited by: p92868, at: 03/01/2012 11:10 AM


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