About This Site
I’ve noticed that there’s ignorance when it comes to supporting adult survivors of parental emotional abuse. The attitude tends to be get over it, you’re being too sensitive, and it’s not a big deal. Maybe that’s why people don’t really want to go into it, leading to less available resources for parental emotional abuse survivors than for survivors of domestic emotional abuse or other forms of abuse. The experience of childhood emotional abuse from the adult perspective needs to be taken more seriously because the destructive legacy of parental emotional abuse can lead to very serious consequences in adulthood.
Why write about parental emotional abuse
When I first realized in 2008 that what had happened in my family was abuse, I went looking in bookstores and on the Internet for help. The first thing I noticed was that emotional abuse is more often discussed in the context of domestic abuse.
Research in the field of psychology, however, has proven that the effects of emotional abuse in childhood are very real. In fact, the emotional effects of childhood physical abuse and sexual abuse are being recognized as equally damaging, if not more so, than the physical part of these types of abuse, something many abuse survivors know already. This includes social effects like substance abuse, crime, and the continuation of the abuse cycle in families. There are also personal effects from emotional abuse, such as the difficulty in leading a fulfilling life, sustaining healthy relationships, and hurting those around you.
Domestic emotional abuse resources, while helpful, don’t touch upon many of the special problems that parental emotional abuse causes. Consider the following:
- The relationship between parent and child is one of dependence by the child on the parent. The relationship between partners is not.
- Children are taught many lessons about themselves and about life from their parents. That makes the effect of a parent on a child very strong. Research even shows a child’s brain development is altered because of emotional abuse. While partners in a relationship certainly have a strong influence on each other, it’s not quite as crucial to a person’s development as the parent-child relationship.
- A partner is usually able, from a practical point of view at least, to leave an abusive relationship (i.e., they can get a job, sign rental agreements, etc.). A child is not, and this changes the dynamics of the parent-child relationship even when the child has become an adult.
- Domestic relationships are relationships of choice while family relationships are not. There’s a social obligation to put up with the problems in family relationships that isn’t present in domestic relationships, including marriage.
This site focuses specifically on emotional abuse from family members, most often parents, from the point of view of the adult survivor because there are a lot of us out there, and I feel that there isn’t enough information for us.
Validation is the first step
When you first realize that something is wrong in your family, you search for validation. Society has so far let us down by not recognizing emotional abuse unless it’s very in-your-face, not taking emotional abuse seriously, and sometimes even making us feel like it’s all in our imagination or our bad feelings are our fault. So we struggle to find proof that what we feel is real.
Reading about other survivors’ experiences can help at this stage, and that’s why I’ve included some on the Resources page, including my personal blog. Other people’s experiences, however, can only bring you to the beginning of your healing path. You eventually have to make your way down that path yourself in order to deal with what you’re actually experiencing. It’s tough work. It gets ugly. But there is no other way.
In my time researching emotional abuse and connecting with other survivors, I’ve run across four questions that people tend to ask:
- What is emotional abuse?
- How can I tell if I’m being or have been emotionally abused?
- How serious is emotional abuse?
- What can I do about emotional abuse?
This site attempts to answer these questions.
There’s a lot of negative information on this site. I talk openly about the ugliness of emotional abuse, why it happens, and its serious destructive effects. That’s because one of the major goals of this site is to validate parental emotional abuse, and that means seeing it for what it is. My ultimate goal, however, is to give you enough information to move beyond simply validating your experiences so that you can begin your healing journey. Before we can know the light, we must know the darkness.