This is going to be difficult. I wouldn’t write about it, except I think my experience might benefit other people.
If you’ve followed me for a while you might remember me mentioning having problems with my dad before.
Since I keep myself anonymous I feel I can share this without disgracing him to anyone who would recognize it.
The problems between my dad and I were not just misunderstandings, the situation was actually an abusive one.
I wasn’t physically abused more than once or twice, and not severely. I’ve been hit one time, flung out of chairs and rooms a couple times, threatened several times with violence; but I’ve never been beat on, thank goodness.
I was verbally abused more, but even that was not as often as I hear about in other cases. I wan’t yelled insults at very often.
The kind of abuse I was subjected to all the time was Emotional.
My dad is a very manipulative person, he uses guilt to control people. he is able to play the victim to perfection, and to lie, to feign being penitent in order to get you to ease up on him and let things go back to normal.
I don’t need to give a lot of specific examples and drag that out. But if you’ve been manipulated by love before you know the ways it works.
You know how you are always trying to please someone who is determined to be offended and the victim no matter what you do.
How the person will refuse to forgive you for mistakes that were minor, and then not apologize for things they did that were appalling.
The worst of it is the justifying. After threatening or doing something to me, my dad would say he was just so desperate, he had no other way to handle it, because I just made it so difficult for him.
A lot of horse hockey if you ask me. But I fell for it so many times, and so did the rest of my family.
I also got the blame heaped on me for everything that went wrong. I know now that my dad neglected my needs on top of abusing my emotional attachment to him.
Some might be quick to say that people my age make themselves victims over anything now, and that we assign terms to every little thing.
I doubt anyone would say so to me, but because it does happen, I want to clarify that I am not about being the victim.
It took over 9 years of this pattern being open, + the previous 11 of it only being in the background, for me to recognize it was abuse. I thought it could never happen in my family.
Also, I call it abuse because of the impact. Had my dad’s sins only damaged him and made him look foolish, they would be ordinary selfishness and lack of self control. Bad, but not threats to anyone but him.
It was because this cycle sucked the life out of my family, destroyed a lot of my self worth for many years, and gave my siblings major guilt problems and my mom a miserable marriage that I call it abuse.
Abuse in the literal sense, misusing something in a terrible way. Love can be abused also. That is what The Four Loves and Till We Have Faces are about.
I’ve had my needs trampled on and my efforts spit in the face of many times.
I may go into it more some other time. But for now I want to focus on something different.
Not completely. There is plenty to work through. My dad is still a royal mess and he has not yet repented.
but things are never going back to the same cycle.
Because we did something about it.
My family came together, even my grandmother, and agreed my dad should move out.
A thing that is likely obvious to all of you reading this, but when you are in the cycle, that solution seems impossible.
My dad had all of us cowed for so long, and I was the least under his thumb, but because of that I got written off a lot. It was amazing to finally start to get my voice back as I and my siblings explained that we would move out of the house if our dad did not, but that he clearly should, because our mom needed to be free too.
And, after feeling it would never happen, it did.
The whole thing went down in under 2 weeks, actually. It’s now been a little more than a week since he got the last of the major stuff from the house.
Someday maybe I’ll be able to understand how to explain what changed, things happened so fast.
All I can think clearly about is that I knew that something had to break, that I could not stand years and years more of this. I knew that I did not want to see my family live like that.
I knew also that I was strong. Years of isolation made me draw close to God and become very independent. I am already more out of the cycle than the rest of my family is. I knew that even if I stayed trapped in this for more time, I wouldn’t be crushed.
But I knew no such thing of my mom and siblings.
And it made me mad how the lies that my dad told got swallowed by everyone.
Doing this meant burning some bridges. I may have permanently lost any chance of being liked by some of his friends and cut ties with my former church entirely.
Whether my dad will ever forgive me, I do not know. I did nothing wrong, but I do not think he will see it that way for quite a while.
I do not feel as upset about it as I did. There was a sense of guilt for the first few days.
I knew it was the right thing to do, but no one wants to have to do that to their own father. Plus the week he’d put me through was hellish.
I am also sad that it had to come to this. I know I had no choice, we had tried counseling, prayer, communication, and every other thing we could think of. Nothing worked.
What about God?
I wonder too, if you will wonder, how I as a Christian, feel about being abused and having to take action about it. God did not stop it. And God did not stop my dad, who claims to be a christian and hear from him.
That might be better explained in another post, but in brief: I know a lot about my dad’s walk with God, and I know that God did talk to him through people, and to him directly. I know I asked God for help. I know God tried to reach my dad. My dad is a sieve, he recognizes the hand of God briefly, but it passes through him and he forgets it and goes back to the same old ways.
Also he hates me, and never really wanted to change toward me, but wanted me to suffer. And this goes back to problems that started before I was even born.
I have no doubt that God wanted to make this better. I spoke to God about this decision, and He was not silent, as people often say He is during trouble. (I don’t doubt that they are being truthful, it just did not happen to me this time.)
God made it clear to me that He had given it to us to change this. He did not say why, but that he wanted it to be through us. I’m sure He has His own reasons.
From my human perspective, I can see the value in us learning how to help ourselves, while still praying and relying on God’s guidance throughout the process. We used the gifts of Common Sense and discretion that he gave us. I never felt abandoned by God at any point during this whole ordeal.
I hope that answers the basic question.
Christians are not perfect. But I would never say that excuses abusers. That is not a problem you can just say you’ll work on, it must be cut out like a tumor. Gross, yes, but so is abuse.
Some Practical Advice about Ending Abuse:
Action needs to be taken.
Never, ever, expect an abuser to be the first to change. It may happen in rare cases, but if you are not seeing it now, do not wait for it. Do something.
Don’t act alone: We went to multiple people for help, I kept at least two people updated about what changed day by day in case something went wrong, and so I could have clear headed people confirming my decisions.
I set up meetings, asked questions, and planned my actions so that my dad could not stop them.
Be Informed: I made sure we were legally in the clear.
No two situations are exactly the same, so if you know of someone in this situation or you are in it, you’ll have to figure out the best plan. But I’m imploring you, do not do nothing.
Be Cautious: Also, I never confronted my dad personally about it, once it got really bad. My mom did, but she was safer from being physically lashed out at, though she got lots of verbal backlash for her efforts.
I recommend not confronting an abuser alone ever, or with anyone they can attack without serious consequences.
But, do something.
That’s what I’ve learned. Whatever you do, inaction is what kills you faster than any amount of mistakes along the way will.
I regret little of what I’ve done over the years, and more of what I could not do because of age or lack of understanding.
I’m happy God has led me into freedom, even if it took a long time, it was the perfect timing in the realm of what was possible.
I am learning not to complain about how deliverance comes, so long as it comes.
And that is all for now, though you can be sure I’ll be processing this and having more to say about it, until next time–Natasha.