2nd January 2022 at 9:20 am #136401
My adult child is visiting and wanted to discuss the abuse she witnessed as a child. She has never discussed it before, my other adult children have. There was financial abuse and she said she would never put herself in a position where she would have children if she couldn’t support them, she also said that I should take some of the responsibility for the arguments she witnessed growing up. Said the house was often toxic. I had a major panic attack and sleepless night. When will it ever end? The arguments were often me standing up for myself or the children, I was always trying to protect us from him. It was just so hard to hear her say how their needs weren’t met as children, that there was never enough food in the house, that I didn’t give them the attention they needed. I was so deeply hurt, mainly because, I had a job, I did all the housework, cooking and cleaning, all the running around and he literally did nothing aside from shout and rant about what a bad job I was doing. He refused to work. This feels like a betrayal, that all the love I gave them and still do accounts for nothing. She told me she loved me, that not all the memories are bad. But here I am thinking what a rubbish mother I am, I had one job to do and failed.
2nd January 2022 at 10:26 am #136402KIP.Participant
Your adults child is also a victim of his abuse and her memories and how she deals with them will not be the same as yours. Abuse is complicated. Has she had counselling? Has she spoken to women’s aid? Read books on domestic abuse. Lundy Bancroft. I’d say something like I’m sorry that you feel I let you down but perhaps If you knew more about they dynamics of domestic abuse you would know that there is one person to blame and that’s the perpetrator. Getting into an argument or even discussion before she has the knowledge to deal with it won’t go well. She may also have inherited his abusive traits and is doing this deliberately to see you hurt. There is never an excuse for domestic abuse and it removes choices from us. We are too busy trying to protect ourselves and our kids that we don’t have the headspace left to work out what is happening to us. Headspin is right enough x
2nd January 2022 at 11:20 am #136406
Thank you Kip, yes I’ll definitely try that line regarding only one person to blame. I completely get that what she witnessed must have been horrendous, but I think what makes me so mad is that he has never taken responsibility or been made to face up to his abuse. It’s only me who gets it in the neck as if I have to carry all his guilt and shame. She said she didn’t want to “Dad bash”. She talked about there being no food in the house, they had no nice clothes, no nice haircuts and I asked if she remembered me scraping my portion of food off my plate so they wouldn’t go hungry but there was always money for his booze. She kept saying I was being hostile towards him and that we were a team. I’m just in shock.
2nd January 2022 at 11:34 am #136409KIP.Participant
Many children of abusive fathers will side with them because they’re scared of his wrath, it’s easier to victim blame than face the truth. She knows it’s safe to blame you and she seems to need to lay blame somewhere. I had it from my son. Pointless arguing with her. Tell her women’s aid do courses to help her understand what you went through to try and keep you all safe but I’d completely avoid discussing it. It sounds less like a discussion and more like she’s offloading on you. When dad hurts mom might be a good recommendation or even Living with the Dominator. So it’s okay for her to “mum bash” but not for you to “dad bash”. He is responsible for his behaviour, not you and not his children x
2nd January 2022 at 2:49 pm #136416Grey RockParticipant
Although she’s an adult now her memories still come through the eyes of her childhood self. On the plus side she’s obviously ready to start some recovery of her own as she wanted to broach the subject. She’s just trying to do it with only some of the facts that are needed for her to fully understand what happened.
I can understand how heartbreaking this must be for you, and hope you can accept where she is at the moment. Perhaps you can make some notes of things you’d like her to know so that you can tell her these things (in person or in writing) once you have had time to recover from this.
Sending love and prayers.
2nd January 2022 at 2:54 pm #136417Grey RockParticipant
PS. It’s only since living through / surviving an abusive relationship myself and then opening up to my mum that she’s opened up to me about my dead stepfather. So many things make more sense to me about those years now, but then I’d lived with a very similar personality. Until you’ve been in that situation it’s hard to fathom why someone tolorates or responds as they do. So many people who haven’t been in that situation think we should just stand up to them or leave or whatever. If only things were that simple.
2nd January 2022 at 4:11 pm #136418ISOPeaceParticipant
I’m so sorry to hear this Headspin, it must feel so horrible. I agree with the other comments.
You often see descriptions in the media of “fights” that are actually domestic abuse. To an uneducated outsider they may look like fights. But everyone on here knows you’re simply fighting for survival and to protect your children. It’s not a fight in the normal sense of the word. Our culture also perpetuates the idea that there are always 2 valid sides, and also that victims are weak and passive. It’s probably very difficult for your daughter to make sense of what happened without understanding how abuse works. Sending hugs xxxx
2nd January 2022 at 9:20 pm #136427
Thank you everyone who replied, it’s so devastating. As soon as I think I’m back on track and coping with anxiety along comes something. I’m just beyond hurt, it’s all so deeply painful. I will try and look at the upside, there she is discussing it and she hasn’t before, I just didn’t expect her to say how much I’d got wrong. How I could have done better and how she wanted me to hold up my hands and take responsibility for the arguing.
I’m so glad I can come on here and be listened to.
2nd January 2022 at 11:22 pm #136432Twisted SisterParticipant
Since abuse began, women/mothers have been blamed for not protecting, missing the vital point that the woman/mother is being abused just as much as the children, or that children are caught in the cross-fire and magically the woman/mother is supposed to be able to control this.
Children blame their mother, for not stopping it, for not getting away, for ‘letting’ it happen!…sadly so do social services, courts, and other services meant to help stop crime and perpetrators.
Seen from a child’s perspective this is often the way, and the mother is often the safer target to blame and challenge. It may be just her first step in starting to try to work through it, but it also could be following the pattern she has seen and learnt from her father, to be abusive.
Its important you stand as firm in this as you did against any other kind of abuse, keeping your boundaries in place and not accepting the blame.
I have not heard of many families going through family counselling from abuse, but this would be an ideal opportunity to do this, however, its likely the adult child needs their own first, but it can be difficult for a counsellor to appropriately advise without seeing the full picture, or known to be very aware of the abuse dynamic so as not to falsely blame.
Also, the feeling that the child has been very let down, is very real, they have been, badly failed, but by him, and its imperative you hang onto this. You were all failed by him, so each child will feel badly failed, and each will need to go through that process with understanding.
Please don’t keep taking the blame any more.
3rd January 2022 at 12:35 am #136435ISOPeaceParticipant
Twisted Sister has made some really good points. It might also be that your daughter is saying “I want to believe that it was just arguing, not abuse, and I want you do play along”. But she may not even realise this is what she’s doing. Acknowledging that her dad, one if the people she should be able to trust to protect her wellbeing, was actually cruel and abusive must be very hard. Xxxx
5th January 2022 at 12:19 pm #136548
Thank you again everyone for your supportive and much needed comments. I called up the GP yesterday because my anxiety was off the scale, I literally couldn’t take a breath without my chest hurting. I got some meds and had a good sleep last night. I heard my husband ring one of our daughters to tell her about the meds, for what reason I don’t know but it just made me more anxious. I sent daughter A a long and heartfelt message about how sorry I am for what she witnessed and she felt so badly let down. She appreciated it and said she loved me and everything is ok. She also brought up some points about daughter B and I messaged daughter B, who just sent me a message saying she doesn’t want to talk about it. For reference daughter B has always been most like her father, she was incredibly supportive about in the beginning when all the abuse came out, I couldn’t have got through without her. However, she’s in therapy now and part of me wonders if the therapist is saying that I am also to blame. I know daughter A and B are talking about the therapy. I am beginning to feel victimised, as always happened throughout my marriage. I am not sure how much more I can take
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