Confronting Your Abuser

Sent via email: a list of ways in which I identify as being abused from childhood to present is available at  http://emotionalabuseawareness.tumblr.com/

The things which damaged me the most are highlighted in Bold. 

Remember all our correspondences are now being sent to a therapist.

Refusing to acknowledge or respond to this will result in my cutting off all contact with both of you indefinitely.

Manipulation of Guilt Feelings

– having a negative attitude towards the child because they were a product of sexual abuse against the mother

– tell stories of how complicated the pregnancy / birth was, how much the parent had to suffer, or how difficult the child was a baby / toddler – without making it clear to them that it’s not their fault that the mother had to make such an effort

– blame the child for any health problems they have (e.g. asthma [epilepsy]), either directly or indirectly by complaining to them or other people about how much one has to spend on the child

– constant demand for gratitude, because the parent is spending time and money on the child

– act as if one were a martyr for the child and as if the child were responsible for ruining the parent’s life

– generally giving the child the blame for all problems that the parents have, including drug addiction, alcohol addiction (‘You are such a difficult child, that’s why I began to drink.’, etc.),…

– give the child the responsibility for the feelings of parents (’You don’t behave well – you don’t want me to be happy…’)

– exaggerating the consequences of the behaviour of the child (‘If mum gets sick, it will be your fault.’, ‘You’ll be the cause of my death.’,…)

– in situations where the abuse is seen by outsiders, forcing the child to lie and take the blame (forcing you to apologize & take blame for their mistake)

– if the child experiences physical or sexual violence, blame the child either directly or indirectly due to lack of sexual education and opportunities to discuss the topic in order to explain to the child that it’s not its fault

– make/buy/say stuff of which the child has expressly stated that they didn’t want, and then require deep gratitude and manipulating the child into feelings of guilt

– blaming the child for clearly abusive behaviour by the parent (‘I would not yell at / insult / hit you if only you were better.’)

– promising the child rewards, although one knows that the conditions for it can’t be met anyway and/or keep demanding more and more conditions for the reward (for example, if they managed to clean the room, setting an advanced condition, that the child also has to clean the bathroom) – the child is suggested that it’s their fault that they haven’t reached the goal (reward) even though in reality the reward is unattainable

– encourage other people to apply one-sided and negative psychological pressure on the child (e.g. telling the teacher / therapist / pastor etc. about the “bad child“ so that he/she may “encourage“ them ‘to obey its parents better’ independently of the parent’s (abusive) behaviour)

– psychological pressure / fear mongering through religion or similar things (‘If you’re disobedient, you’ll go to hell.’, ‘You’re possessed by the devil!’, ‘God sees if you’re bad and will punish you severely.’, ‘Satan is trying to lead you astray – don’t even think about disobeying us [parents].’

Verbal/Emotional Invalidation

– never admitting one’s own mistakes, instead having to be always right, without exception, and always having to have the last word – even if the explanation is far-fetched or simply plain wrong; never apologizing

– blocking out any discussion if the child points out the abusive behaviour with arguments like‘You are ungrateful!’, ‘How dare you to say something like that!’, possibly followed by an enumeration of all the things that are good in the family (e.g. excursions, holidays, birthday parties, leisure activities, etc.) or prodding to those who have it ‘worse’

– denying the emotional abuse by pointing out that you don’t abuse the child, because you don’t beat them

– mocking or ignoring the feelings (and tears) of the child and/or seeing them as wrong and punishable (a sign of weakness)

-ridicule wishes / dreams / goals of the child (‘Don’t be ridiculous, that’s a really hard job!’ ) – showing no confidence in the child


– ridicule or trivialize/devalue feelings and concerns of the child (‘…you’re just imagining stuff …’, ‘You are exaggerating!’, ‘You have no reason to be sad.’, ‘Don’t make such a fuss!’, ’Don’t get angry’, ’You’re too sensitive!’,…) or angry reaction to it (‘I have my problems too and don’t act like that!’, ‘You’re so selfish, you don’t think about your poor mom who has enough problems of her own!’,…) 

– prohibiting the child from having negative emotions such as anger or sadness because it is viewed as selfish or sinful 

– denying the perception of the child; denying abusive situations (‘You’re lying, I didn’t start the dispute, you did’, ‘We fixed that’,…)

– downplay problematic events in the child’s life (e.g. bullying at school or serious illness) and/or blame the child for them

– dismissive reaction to obvious mental problems (self-harm, suicidal behaviour, eating disorders, etc.) of the child (‘What have we done to deserve such a disturbed child?’, ‘I always knew that you were crazy.’, ’You’re doing it just to get attention,…) 

– consistently impose one’s own opinion on the child without caring about the views and feelings of the child (‘I don’t care what you think!’, ‘” I don’t agree with how you remember things!’,…); teach blind obedience – the child is not allowed to have their own opinion 

– always criticizing the child’s views and opinions while often encouraging them at the same time to speak up – the child is not allowed to express their own opinion (respectively only as long as it’s the same opinion as the parent’s) 

– the child is only allowed to speak when asked / spoken to by the parents

Role Reversal/ Self Satisfaction of the Parents
– expect the child to have sympathy with the “reasons” behind the abusive behaviour (‘I just get too worked up to think about
this.’, ‘Life is just so difficult…’, ‘I had a bad childhood ‘, ‘Don’t be mad at me, you know that I have anger issues and can’t help it…’, ‘It’s because of the borderline personality disorder…‘
,…) while refusing to get (professional) help


– showcasing the child: they’re forced against their will to learn skills like playing an instrument or gaining outstanding competence in a sport or to participate in contests – subsequent praise by outsiders serves the parents self-satisfaction 


– forcing the child to have physical contact, when they don’t want to (e.g.  disguising painful methods of physical control (e.g. “milking your mouse”) as signs of affection even though they have said that they don’t like that; tickle even if they don’t want it: ‘Don’t be a spoilsport!‘) – deny the child control over their own body

– set unattainable goals, unattainable demands; never be satisfied (take top marks at school (and at free time activities) for granted; punish anything that’s “worse” than a straight A)

False Expectations

– not allowing the child to make any mistakes (punishing or mocking them)

– no encouraging, positive words; take everything for granted, especially when the achievements are not necessarily age-compliant 

– prohibition or non-teaching of activities (e.g. cooking, paying taxes, doing homework) and then humiliating the child, because the child can’t do them 

– punishing or mocking the child for mistakes that aren’t yet biologically and developmentally feasible, however the parent sees the behaviour as impudence or disobedience (e.g. the baby who pees on the mother; the toddler who cannot sit quietly for an extended length of time;”

– punish the child for poor school performance without offering solutions (e.g. tutoring) and / or without having created a learning-friendly environment to start with (for example, never caring about school matters and never helping with homework, verbally abusing the child as a form of “teaching” at home, etc.)

Wrong limits: Inappropriate degrees of control

-set no limits: the child gets everything when, where and how they want

– inconsistent limits #1: mood swings: for no apparent reason, or at a minimal offense, the mood of the mother changes from loving to extremely irritated – this includes usually unpredictable / inconsistent behaviour: today something is forbidden and punished, tomorrow the same behaviour is desired and is praised, just depending on the current mood of the mother

– inconsistent limits #2: two faces: behave one way in front of strangers (usually more loving, peaceful, compassionate towards the child) and a completely different way (cold, harsh, mean) when alone with the child

– set too strict limits: controlling the life of the child in a way which is inappropriate for their age

– over-mothering/over-protecting the child, thus giving them no chance to make their own experiences and learn from mistakes (e.g. the daughter is never allowed to help in the kitchen or help with the household or is only allowed to do quiet games, out of fear from the parent that she may hurt herself”

– follow the child everywhere they go, never leaving them alone to control them and out of an unsubstantiated assumption that they will otherwise do “bad things”

– spying on the child

– failing give the child no (age-appropiated) privacy (e.g. for a teen: read their mail, search the bedroom, listen to private phone calls, read private e-mails, give no privacy in the bathroom)


– regulations / restrictions for everyday needs such as going to the toilet, taking a shower, etc.

– severe restriction on the books, that they are allowed to read (e.g. only books “for girls”)

– severe restriction on the music, which they are allowed to hear (e.g. only religious music)

– forcing the child to wear a certain clothing style (e.g. girls may only wear skirts) and not allowing any input from the child, even though the child is of an age where input should be expected (school uniforms or special events/circumstances not withstanding)

– dictating the child’s hair style (bangs, pulled back, braids, long or short etc.), against the wishes of the child even though the child is of an age where they should have some input (school customs or special events/circumstances not withstanding) \

– prohibit or severely restrict the contact with other children (-> isolation)

– prohibit recreational activities – provided that they aren’t questionable and that there are no financial or organizational obstacles

– not giving age-appropriate leeway (e.g. shopping with friends from a certain age on)

Damaging effect on relationships: partner, siblings, others,

– expect understanding and cooperation from the child in dealing with the abusive parent (‘Do this, otherwise your father will get a tantrum again.’, ‘If Mom finds that out, we’ll be in trouble.’, ‘Have understanding for the difficult behaviour of your mother – she did have a bad childhood’,…)

– constant negative comparison with the siblings (‘Your sister can do … better than you. You’re brother scored better on his ACT’s.’)

– set excessive expectations or put under pressure in comparison with the siblings (‘Why can’t you be more like your brother.’, ‘You must be the perfect sister.’ )

– have a favourite child who is allowed to do anything, while the other siblings must stick strictly to the rules and are punished more severely, or vice versa – have a child that is treated worse and allowed less than any of the other siblings

– assign one of the children the role of scapegoat for the failings of the siblings

– speak negatively to one child about the other siblings; play the siblings against each other

– sexist behaviour: prefer the boys in the family and let them have more freedom than the girls

– tolerate emotional / physical / sexual abuse by other persons (including partner/teacher/clergymember) towards the child and compound the problem by not acknowledging the abuse and/or not protecting the child (e.g. not seeking help and not doing everything possible to separate from an abusive partner.)

– hush up problems #1: complain to the partner or other persons behind the child’s back about problems one has with the child, while acting in front of the child as if everything is OK and not address the problems

– hush up problems 2: in case of disease, death, etc. in the family, not giving the child an age-appropriate explanation thereby calming their fears and leaving room for sadness – instead just do as if nothing happened or mourn without talking about the problem to the child

– take out anger toward other persons (e.g. partners, step-mother, boss) on the child

– do rants in which the child is scolded representatively for other persons (e.g.‘That’s what I would like to say to my mother, it’s not addressed at you.‘)

Negative, abstruse world views; personality disorders
– see emotional or physical violence as a normal means of communication
– transfer one’s own bad attitude towards sexuality to the child: create fear of sex; use offensive language; sexualizing innocent actions of the child, (e.g. accusing the child of “touching the dog’s penis” when in fact she is only petting him) etc.
– forcing the child into traditional gender roles (‘You’re a girl, you shouldn’t play with trucks. Go play with dolls!’, ‘As a woman, you should stay in the house, raise children and be a good wife and diligent housewife’, ‘The man is in authority in the house.’, ‘You as a man shouldn’t do a woman’s job. Let your sister clean the table.’,…) 
– confront the child prematurely with world problems (e.g. explaining the death of Princess Diana to a 6 year old) or overwhelm them 

– focus the attention heavily on money and material things, at the expense of teaching interpersonal social skills and empathy

– manipulate by feelings of guilt by not forgetting and forgiving anything – the child is constantly reproached for past mistakes (at least in the subjective perspective of the parents “mistakes”) – and to muzzle the child, especially during arguments (e.g. list all past guilty acts as a ‘proof’ that the child is evil; ‘You lied once, I don’t believe you anymore.’,”

– all-are-against-me worldview: twisting words and actions (even positive ones) of the child (and others) until it looks like a personal attack against the parent (e.g.  the child didn’t say 
‘I sometimes feel ignored’ – the child said ’You are a neglecting, evil mum and I want to have your attention 100% of the time and that you serve me like a slave’, which is “obviously” spoiled, selfish and ungrateful; ) – there’s everywhere a conspiracy against the poor parent, the parent is always a victim

– invent bad stories about the child: invent that they have done a bad thing (e.g. stolen something or taken drugs, or simply been naughty) and must therefore be reprimanded, punished. Sometimes the lie is further told to the partner, the teachers, friends, etc. It can be done for the joy of lowering the child’s self-esteem, or because the parent really is convinced of their own tale, or it can be to direct the fury of the abusive partner away from oneself and towards the child 

– have an irrational distrust, believing that the child is evil and will do wicked things if given the chance (e.g. not giving them the house key because they may steal and demolish things from the house, locking their door at night because the child may “kill them with an axe”) 

– denying past abuse – where the abuser has actually forgotten it or pushed it aside

– disclaiming emotional abuse as a ‘real’ abuse – only physical and sexual violence are bad and wrong. These parents are often really proud that they don’t beat their child – as opposed to perhaps their own parents – and do not consider that they are inflicting emotional abuse on their child 

– excessive greed: despite having financial resources, letting the child walk around with worn out clothes or give them bad food etc. – while the parents either grant themselves everything or equally deprive themselves

– excessive cleanliness, cleaning compulsions, excessive order in the house – with harsh punishments for even minor accidents 

– take out the frustration of one’s own childhood on the child – because the parent himself/herself had a bad childhood, their own child shouldn’t have it better 

– see the child as a possession or as some kind of toy to be entertained by – they shouldn’t express their own needs or any negative, unfunny emotion 

– label normal child/youth behaviour like them wanting to have cool clothes as ‘sinful’ 

– once the child is diagnosed with e.g. depression or bipolar disorder or other mental problems, escape responsibility by using the disease as an excuse/explanation for the child’s feelings and behaviour, deliberately ignoring the fact that the original reason for the break out of the illness and for the feelings was and is often the parent’s (and/or other people’s, e.g. bullying schoolmates’) behaviour. 

– admit that there’s “something wrong” – often after the child/youth has started therapy – but then either “change” ad try to ignore the past, unwilling to see the long-term-effect the abuse had on the child (e.g. stop yelling but keep the psychological abuse and put the child under pressure ‘We have changed, we are not abusive anymore, so stop self-harming and being depressive!’) or “berate” oneself (‘I’m such a bad parent, am I?’) without making long-term changes; not change but play the victim, blaming e.g. the abusive partner or the circumstances, unwilling to admit the consequences of one’s own actions and one’s own damaging role in the whole abusive situation

– gaslighting: is a form of mental abuse in which information is twisted or spun, selectively omitted to favor the abuser, or false information is presented with the intent of making victims doubt their own memory, perception, andsanity.   Instances may range simply from the denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents ever occurred, up to the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim.

Emotionally damaging “disciplinary“ actions

– yell or scream at the child

– have a cold and repellent behaviour towards the child as a punishment

– punish the child with the silent treatment

– give the child the stern look

– totally ignore the child, not reacting if they say something, see through them as if they weren’t there, overlook them – this can last for weeks (or a lifetime)

– have an “I’m angry with you and therefore won’t talk to you” attitude; in extreme cases reduce the verbal exchange with the child to an absolute minimum (e.g. only 
‘Get up.’ & ‘The food is ready.’ & ‘Go to bed.’) for days or even weeks

– threaten to bring the child to a children’s home (while implying that these are scary places and the child will be treated there badly) or a correctional facility (or school)

– threaten to harm the child through physical or sexual violence (‘‘Stop crying or I’ll give you a real reason!’,…) (and then maybe actually do it)

– threaten to injure or kill or give away pets the child loves if they don’t obey (I’m going to take your cat to the river and drown it!); threaten to destroy toys the child loves (e.g. ‘I’m going to take all your stuffed animals and sell them!’) (and then maybe actually do it)

– control and manipulation through sermons which last minutes to hours, even after the slightest offenses – often with religious elements

– lock the child up a in a room as punishment (particularly dark rooms such as cellars or broom closets, but also other rooms)

– social isolation

– hush up problems #3: The child is not told when they make a mistake or that a certain behaviour is expected of them, but they will be punished without any explanation by stern look or by ignoring them or inflicting guilt (e.g. the sad look of the father) or other punishment methods

– punishment/reward systems, artificial “logical” consequences, denying privileges etc. In loving homes these methods aren’t necessarily abusive but rather a suboptimal form of parenting (due to ignorance). When taken to extremes or applied very often – which is often the case in unloving homes – they can become abusive, though. For example, when the child is punished for even the smallest mistakes or suffers a punishment that is extreme/exaggerated compared to the misbehaviour  (e.g. ‘If you don’t clean up your room, you may not find your favourite toy when you want it’ is a natural consequence. ‘If you don’t clean up your room, I’ll put your toys in a box and they’ll be unavailable for one day’ is an artificial consequence. ‘If you don’t clean up your room, I’ll throw your favourite toys away.’ is harsh artificial consequence.) etc.

Emotional neglect

– have little or no positive physical contact with the child (hugging, patting,…) 

– not telling/showing the child that you love them

– having a cold and repellent behaviour towards the child (not as punishment, but in principle) 

– showing affection only after some achievement, never spontaneously 

– repressing feelings with material things (e.g. not offering a grieving child physical contact and the possibility to talk about it, merely giving a consolation gift) 

– only saying nice things about the child in the presence of other people – often as bragging 

– generally not listening to the child 

– ignoring the child (not as punishment but in principle) 

– having no interest in the feelings / concerns / desires / dreams / goals of the child