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An Open Letter to Survivors of Parental Abuse
Did you want this adult life? When you were little, is this what you imagined? You knew life was hard and your parents had their moments, like everyone else’s parents. Were all parents abusive in nature like this? Did you know what abuse was? How could you? It was just your life.
Maybe your mom hit you and your dad was always drunk. Maybe you always did something to deserve the pain. It made sense; you certainly didn’t obey them or just wanted attention, so you acted out. This abusive attention was still attention and it proved that your parents loved you, right?
Abuse isn’t ever deserved or allowed as a learning opportunity. You don’t behave better because you were abused. You live in fear. You hope to make your parents happy so that they show you they love you instead of despising you. You just want to make mommy and daddy proud but somehow you constantly fail.
You instead wonder what you will say or do next to “deserve” the punishment you will be given. You believe that you are learning life’s lessons by way of being hurt and having to rethink your decisions.
Mommy and Daddy are just being parents and this is what learning how to behave looks and feels like. Everyone gets hit, kicked, thrown across the room, slammed into the wall, sworn at, and pushed down the steps, right? But yet when you start asking your friends if those things happen to them, they look at you like you’re from another world. Their parents send them to their room, yell at them or ground them from their favourite things. You must be that bad of a child then. You must have really strict parents that know that this will make you a stronger person and more obedient adult. You still justify why your loving parents harm you. They must love you more than your friend’s parents do. Their parents just don’t care as much.
This is what your parents always remind you as they are telling you how terrible of a person you are and that you are lucky to even be alive. They give you food, water, a place to live and all the love you need. What more can you ask for? You are spoiled if you think that you deserve any better if you continue to make the stupid decisions you make day after day after day. What they don’t realize is that they are the cause of the pain that you will suffer for the rest of your life.
As you get older, you begin to understand that maybe it wasn’t you. Maybe it was them. Maybe there was a chance that you behaved as every other child did. In loving homes, parents talked to their children, taught them right from wrong by taking the time to explain that their choices weren’t the best. They did get grounded or lost privileges but had never endured beatings, verbal insults or broken limbs.
Now you have to figure out why you deserved this life. Why couldn’t you have parents that followed normal parenting skills? That question isn’t as important as how do you focus on yourself to move on from what your parents did to you.
Sometimes the “why” of the abuse isn’t what’s important. How do you love yourself when you realize that your parents didn’t love you or at least couldn’t control themselves to show it? You begin to understand that you have the power and control over your own life. Your parents controlled your emotions for too long. Now it’s your turn to put you first.
Focus on who you are and what positive things you have achieved. Remember what you have lived through and how much stronger you are from it. You figured out how to still push through daily while feeling the fear of what would happen when you went home.
What drives you daily now? What gives you the motivation to reflect on what you’ve learned and how you may do things so very different for your children. Realize that you are in control of yourself and you have a chance at a wonderful life. You can and will get through this because your parents’ mistakes aren’t your mistakes. You endured what no child should, but you did, in fact, endure it.
Take this opportunity to learn more about your own goals and what you want for yourself as a person who has overcome abuse. Reach out to others, professionals or research on your own how to create your own happiness. You do “deserve” that!
Article written by Stacy Ingersoll