"What Happens In This House, Stays In This House."

That was the catchphrase growing up with my parents. As an adult, hearing something like that sends alarm bells ringing.

This is a story of how abuse and neglect nearly ruined me, but hasn't. I am two short years away from being thirty years old, and it's only through writing on this site that concepts I've been struggling with for ten years have come to a head. I have been starting to love myself a lot more over the last few months, and in the last week it's ringing true. Writing as therapy ...

My parents began telling me to "grow up and act reponsible" from the age of four. My family is, like many american families, completely dysfunctional. My mother was abused as a child and it was then ok for her to do it to me. I believe in some respects, in the beginning of my life, my mom was just determined to make me a decent person by being strict .. but it soon deteriorated as my stepdad was on the scene from the time I was two.

When left in my stepdad's care, the curtains were always drawn and the lights were always out. I grew up in the dim and the dark. I was tiny even at five or six and couldn't reach the light switch or the blinds in my room so I played alone with no light. My mom ignored me unless I had done something she considered "wrong" when it became "Wait until your father gets home" .. what father? And I would be beaten with a leather belt. There was constant emotional and mental abuse, as well as physical. Name calling, beatings, silent treatment - they would go a week without speaking to me sometimes.

My parents saw fit to make me a latch-key kid from the age of six. For three hours I was home alone. Granted, I was a "gifted" child but I would in no way leave one of my children home alone at six years old no matter how intelligent they are. I wouldn't let them out of my sight at six. On one occassion I had left my key at home, and had nowhere to go, and I was scared and needed the toilet, so I wet myself. I couldn't hold it. My stepdad came home with his friend and they ridiculed me and called me "pissypants" for the rest of the day. I was SIX YEARS OLD and no one even helped me to clean myself up.

I was fed once, maybe twice, a day, my mom seemed terrified I would get fat and didn't believe in giving me much food. My grandma once found out I lived for two days out of crumbs at the bottom of a pretzel bag. She was appalled, but she did nothing ... I love my grandma but that was the same attitude of fear that allowed my mom to become such a messed up person to start with.

I used to wet the bed from time to time as I was afraid to get up in the night and leave my room to go to the toilet, at seven or eight I can remember getting up, changing the bed, changing myself and reading a book until I could manage to sleep again. They just didn't give a **** about me at all.

When my sister and brother came along, I was a built-in babysitter. When I started high school I got the double whammy of no life at all due to looking after the little ones every evening while my parents went shopping or out to eat, and my stepdad beginning to sexually abuse me, and my mom still beat me. With my stepdad it was mostly verbally, he also tried to get me into bed with him by promising me ice cream [I wasn't stupid, thank the gods - if I had been things would have been so much worse], gave me alcohol disguised in cola until I passed out [I've no idea to this day if anything happened while I was out, but I woke up crying], and had put his hands on me on a few occassions ... If my mom wasn't home he would walk around in shorts with no underpants or shirt on. He would try to bribe me with different things, would waltz into my room and say what he wanted, whenever he wanted.

I started to self-harm and used to lose it and push my stepdad when he came near me. His reaction? When my mom got home from work, cry and tell her I was violent and hit him. So then I'd get a beating from my mom, and a threat of juvenile hall. I had to choose between being molested or being beaten - he was having me done over, as it were, for not letting him touch me. It didn't help that from the age of twelve my mom had taken to calling me a "****" [I never slept with a boy until I was 17, so I felt confused and hurt by this], and reminded me everytime she was angry that was what she thought of me. I was now on my way to believing I was worth very little.

Eventually I told someone about what my stepdad was doing. Apparently, it was illegal and I could have pressed charges. I was at my grandma's when it happened. When my mom found out she tore round with a bag of clothes that didn't fit me. I hid in the basement, so she threw them down the stairs at me, and my grandpa had to hold her back, as her first reaction was to beat me again.

For some reason, I forgave my mom as she begged me to come home and not press charges. She promised me my stepdad wasn't going to drink anymore, and not hurt me and that he was sorry.

We had family counselling. I went once. The first session the counsellor thought my social worker was a probation officer - obviously judging me by my ripped jeans and pearl jam t-shirt, and half-shaved head. I lost faith in the system. That same day I also lost faith in my family, as my stepdad told me my perfume smelled "butch" and was I a lesbian ... nothing had changed.

When I went back home, things were slightly better than they were but never perfect. I was still there as a babysitter and they just found new ways to make me feel like nothing. When I got my first job they would find a way to punish me by taking my paycheck off me. On one occassion, over doing some household chores, my stepdad said I had lied and not done something. I had. So everytime I protested it was another "lie" and every "lie" cost me $50. All of the money I earned in two weeks suddenly belonged to my parents.

I moved out when I was eighteen. My mom cried. I didn't.

I've tried building a relationship with my mom in recent years, now that I'm thousands of miles away from her. I don't care now. The miles between us don't change the fact that I've had to undo a lot of trouble caused by her and her bad choice of husband. She will take his side over anyone's and it's sick. It's since been revealed to me he has had affairs and made obscene phone calls. This is obviously acceptable behaviour in la-la land. Her apologies mean very little to me, as they are selective apologies. She is sorry for beating me until the day I left, but she makes excuses. She never acknowledges the neglect or what her husband did to me. Those things I think would be too painful for her to admit. That a woman who was sexually abused grew up and married someone who is basically a paedophile, and stands by him. If she didn't paper over all the cracks, it would drive her crazy. So I let her live her life and I live mine, and the two need never cross paths again.

It's now, as an adult with my own children, that I realise I deserved none of this. I let it lead me into bad relationships with men, let it turn me into someone who was afraid of a lot of things, confrontation, speaking my mind. Now I let it make me stronger. I am not the little girl who wet the bed or played in the dark on her own. I'm a strong woman who is rising above this life I used to live. I am intelligent, loving and kind, they could never beat or insult that out of me.

I hope for all the best for anyone who was raised by people who should never have had children in the first place, for we are here against the odds, carving out our own lives and being decent members of the human race. For those still finding their way because of being abused, my thoughts are with you and I know anyone can make it through, because none of us deserved what we got as children. It's the abusers who were wrong, and we are all beautiful, wonderful people inside.



littledharmabum littledharmabum
26-30, F
22 Responses Mar 30, 2008

It's an old post, but thank you for sharing. I relate to your struggles quite a bit. I hope you are able to keep on going and that you get the love everyone deserves.

I know the pain you write about. You are very brave to tell your story and to hold your truth. I am over 50 and for so long I have been silent... Now I am starting to tell my story, out loud, with my therapist who is so clearly trustworthy but I continue to struggle with the words. My grief is nearly as deep as my fear. Thank you for sharing.

You have survived like I did. It is the positive thing and you are on the up. Do not let you mom try to control you or tell you what to do either.

I know how you feel when you say you feel like nothing, or that they made you feel like nothing. My dad never wanted kids, he is a physics teacher, and treats me like a student. I have always wanted to be a daddy's little girl or something like that, but I shall forever be the student, starting from age 3. His first reaction to anything was to beat me because he didn't want to deal with a "stupid girl's problems" and my mother is almost never home. I love my mum, but she is too busy dealing with my brother, who I know is their favorite. I have never been molested, or raped or sexually abused, I feel as if I have never even been touched. Sometimes I just want to be held, but there is none there to comfort me, so I'll wrap my own arms around my shoulders and pretend like someone is there, but there never is.

You're an idiot for going back to your mom.

how dare you say something like that to her? you should be ashamed with yourself.

Its called truth and I still stand by those comments. If you wander around expecting lies, you shouldn't read my posts. I only respond truthfully.

im proud of u for being strong not many peope are strong like you i understnad about the stepfather thing

I was abused everyway possible my 2 family members who adopted me. I drank heavily from the age of 4-almost 1 month before I turned 30 yrs old. Ironically I became sober almost 1 month prior to being raped for the last time by the man who who raised me as his daughter. I became pregnant with my daughter due to that rape. That was on my 30th b.day. I forgave him bec the Lord gave me sunshine, when my world was filed with darkness. The woman who adopted me also abused me everyway possible. i have not seen or spoken to her in 3 yrs. The man is a cousin and the woman is my older sister. They didn't tell anyone that they were cousins, so they were able to get married. I stopped drinking,for almost 14 yrs. but for the last few weeks I've been wanting to get drunk to numb my pain. i decided to go back for counseling instead. My ex husband doesn't believe me about what i went through so he lets my kids have contact with the both of them. I tried telling my kids, but have felt so much shame.
I spanked my daughter once when she was 5. That was over her jeans and with my hand. I did i privately. She didn't cry. I felt so guilty that I intentionally broke my wrist.She then cried. I asked why then, She said it upset her top see me hurt myself. That was almost 8 yrs ago. She has hardly misbehaved with me or my ex husband since. i have never and never will spank my son. I believe that if an adult hit another adult the way they would hit a child it would be ASSAULT!!! For a parent who says they are disciplining, punishing, or consider themselves to be good parents are rationalizing violence. When my children misbehave we talk to them, ground them, or take away something they enjoy for a period of time. For parents who spank their kids on the bare it's demeaning, humiliating, and disgusting.!! A parent is supposed to use his/her hands to pat their kid on the back, wipe away tears, hugging. A parent is supposed to be the one to comfort their kids, not cause them to cry. Learning is painful enough , without inflicting physical pain. I just want to say to all those who have been abused" You didn't deserve it!!! God bless. Anyone who wants to message me, please do so.

I'd like to congratulate you for your choice of going to counseling instead of drinking because I know how powerful an old addiction can be.

Thank you so much for your support. I can't message you, but please message me ok. Thanks and God bless. Hug hug

i went thru something like that my dad still tells me not to say how things were at our house to my husband. And i cant believe my sister told me not to say anything to my husband too or he will put me in the same category as them. But for the first time i will be sharing my story on here when i can finishing writing it. Thanks for posting ur story.

Thank you so much for writing this...

Your a survivor! good luck with all that you do in life x

"It's the abusers who were wrong, and we are all beautiful, wonderful people inside."<br />
I wish I could believe that about myself, but I think that describes what I could have been.

You're really a strong woman... I'm glad you make make through it...

You are an inspiration. I cried when I read that and I want to grow up to be as strong a woman as you. Thank you for existing and enduring :)

my experience is similar to yours, other than the step dad. i love your outlook, and glad you can be an inspiration to other people going through this.

I'm proud of women like you who can be strong after that.

Your story brought me to tears. I am so happy that yo found the light I am well on my way this inspred me so much. There is so much to be said. Thank you summes it up. You need to give yourself credit. You sound like a great mom something i am striving to be as I am over coming childhood abuse as well

I think one of the hardest things to realize that you never had a mother. I'm glad you are able to move on.

What happens in this house stays in this house was a rule for me too. I wondering if my self esteem issues now are because of my mom's overbearing controlling nature. I was lucky she was much kinder to girls than her boys. I felt the leather belt too, but my little girl never will. I am glad to can see the sun now.

Your last words brought tears to my eyes!<br />
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It's so refreshing and encouraging to hear such confident statements from someone who's grown up with less than what they deserve, like me. <br />
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Thank you so much for your contribution and I hope you feel better and stronger everyday! :)

Very well written, my first reaction after reading this was to hug you and then shake ur hand and give you a pat on the back.<br />
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Congratulations on deciding not to be a victim. Gosh I agree with so many things you said above, your life and your mom's never need cross again. You don't even sound bitter or judgmental, you just sound like you are in control of your life. You are sound like a really great person God bless you!

The choice is ours when we leave home to run in the same rut or chose a higher road. You have chosen well. Congrats!

Glad you escaped!