July 12, 2006


The Many Faces of Abuse

I'm writing this post for Marcella's Abyss2Hope Blog Carnival Against Sexual Violence. She wanted to get some articles that involve emotional and verbal abuse.

***Trigger Warning: Be careful and stay safe while reading the following material.***

There was no talking (except for some brief begging from me) during my college rape. But, the abuse that I suffered as a child--sexual, physical and what I call spiritual--cannot be separated from the emotional and verbal abuse that went along with it.

My father could be described as many things, one being a rage addict. He would fly into out-of-control rages that always included verbal abuse toward anyone who happened to be in his way at the time. Some of his favorite terms to use on me were, "idiot," and "stupid moron." I still play these tapes in my mind when I hit a low spot. My work continues for improving my self-esteem and eliminating those terms from my self-talk vocabulary.

When I was growing up, my father was an avid tennis player. He prided himself on being able to easily defeat tennis opponents who were half his age. At one point, he decided that he was going to give his three young children tennis lessons. I remember that we were given these wooden "rackets" to use. I remember them looking homemade--my father may have crafted them himself. They looked like something one would use to play a giant game of ping pong.

I'll never forget my father's lack of patience and annoyance when attempting to teach us tennis. One of his favorite coaching techniques was to come up right behind me and yell in my ear, "What are you, an idiot?!"

He was also verbally abusive during the sexual abuse, of course. I think, however, that my mother's verbal and emotional abuse following sexual assaults was much more damaging to me. The betrayal, abandonment and rejection from my mother is still difficult for me to deal with. On numerous occasions, my mother would clean me up after my father had his way with me. I remember lying on the little bath rug in the middle of the bathroom floor while my mother dabbed and wiped.

The message was clear from her words to me during these clean-up sessions. It was a message of judgment and damnation and it was almost impossible for me to bear. My mother called me a "bad, dirty, evil girl." Then she would lament about how she seriously doubted that even God could forgive such a girl as me. She told me I would have to pray diligently to Jesus to intervene on my behalf. Perhaps, if I asked Jesus into my heart and prayed and prayed for his forgiveness and intervention, I would be able to avoid the fires of hell.

One of my mother's top priorities was to see to it that her children were raised in a strict Christian religious upbringing. I remember a lot of talk about the concept of original sin in these early teachings. Because I believed what I was told about original sin, I was sure that I was just born bad and evil. I was convinced that I deserved everything that both of my parents dished out with their abuse of me. I knew to my core that I deserved what I got and I would most likely never be forgiven for it.

This is the verbal abuse that leads to emotional damage of what I call spiritual abuse. I believe that it suited the interests of both of my parents to break my spirit. They attempted soul murder.

I no longer believe in hell. This spiritual shift has provided enormous relief for me. I now believe in a loving, compassionate and accepting God--not one who condemns tiny children to burn for eternity. The tapes that play "stupid moron" in my head have lost quite a bit of their potency. Yet, my self-esteem is still a work in progress.

Don't forget: The deadline for the second edition of our Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse is Monday, July 17, 2006. You can browse the carnivals in alpha order at www.blogcarnival.com or go directly to the submission form here.

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Thank you for sharing. I mean that sincerely. Also, please take care of yourself. I cannot imagine surviving something like that.
I submitted some articles to the emotional and verbal abuse carnival.

I am so sorry what you went through as a young girl. I do believe in Spiritual abuse. I always said that me ex-abuser just rotted my spirit and crushed my soul. It is funny though, how your mom was a "Christian" and seemed to be strong in her faith, but at the same time, didn't properly protect her daughter's spiritual being.

Religion, religion, religion - I guess it is a matter of opinion, huh?
brewerburns: Thanks for your well-wishes. Actually, I've quite enjoyed many aspects of re-parenting myself and taking care of my inner child--advice well taken.

beachwriter: Yeah, I almost completely gave up on organized religion. I am currently a "friend" at a local church, but I still consider myself now more spiritual than religious.
So, if you dont mind I would love to learn more of this Carnival.

I just thank you so much for sharing your story such as above. You have such heart and are very brave to do so.

Also, thank you for reading my site. I know its not much now, but I am just using it to get through this.
I, too am spiritual. I think that we become spiritual from our life experiences. A lot of people that I speak with tend to be spiritual and find that they had many traumas in their lives.

I read almost every book from M. Scott Peck. Great reads!
Our deepest sympathy for the level of pain and suffering you have endured.
But a thankyou also for the courage to which you share giving us the hope that by writing some things out ourselves we too are helkping others as you help us.
And for the record you are an awesome person, no matter what crud those people told you.
You left a nice comment on my blog, Beautiful Dreamer, inviting me to join the Blog Carnival (which I'd be happy to do!) When I tried to enter the URL for the post I want to submit, it said it was already entered...sorry to write you about it here, but couldn't seem to find an e-mail addy for you!

Anyway, did someone enter it for me, or what? Could you let me know?
JIP: I so appreciate your support...always.

Beautiful Dreamer: I think I have an idea of who may have submitted your post. I'm not sure how long it takes Blog Carnival to forward the submissions on to me, but I have yet to receive yours. I will e-mail you and we'll try to figure out this mystery.
Ooops! Sorry Beachwriter & [Ischelle], I jumped down a couple!

[Ischelle]: I will visit your blog again and provide some details and permalinks you may be able to use re: the carnival.

Beachwriter: Maybe what happens after one has had their soul experience attempted soul murder, one becomes stronger in spirit...more spiritual. A theory.
Dear GOD. What terrible, terrible things. I too actually find, between the two, your mother's actions harder to fathom for some reason. Is that because I am a mother myself now? I don't know. Both are unacceptable, but for her to know what was happening and not to do anything about it while preaching about Christianity. Well, what can anyone say to defend her stance?

In my head, I vaguely remember my mum asking me whether my uncle touched me in strange places. It was our old house in the short period when we stayed there after my parents divorce. I would have been under 10 years. I remember really shame and tracing patterns in the condensation on the windows as I said no.

Years later I asked her about that repeatedly. She says she can't remember it. We are on very good terms now. I can't tell if it was a wish of mine in my head or if it was reality and did happen.

Perhaps it is best not to know.
Thank you for sharing. You did nothing wrong. I know you know that. I just have such a rage in my core. I will be on vacation next week, but will be posting a link on the 19th.
Brian: Thanks for your support. Yes, I'm looking forward to our second carnival edition on the 19th!

Emily: Thanks for your comments. Would you like to participate in the blog carnival? We'd love to have you join us!
I think it is great that you have a disclaimer at the beginning of this post. Helps to make sure no one sets off a trigger or flashback.
Abuse physcial, mental or sexual has long term effects. Thank you for your fight to stop the abuse. I support you 100%. I gald you believe in a loving God! So do I. May He continue to support and up lift you in your fight>
Hi Marj

Thanks for the invite. I would love to. What would you like me to do?

I just wrote about my brush with social workers in the UK. It would be hilarious if it wasn't so tragic!

I've sent an article in. One that reflects the ludicrous "help" I had from social services to overcome the abuse.

Hope it is ok.
Thanks so much for the information.
Maybe I can provide for it sometime.
I have read that self-esteem is instilled in each of us in large measure during our childhood; we can improve our self-image as adults but it is more of a challenge to do so. I think you must be a very strong person to be able to make the progress you report. Good for you. Know that the world is also full of many caring, supportive people who wish you nothing but health and happiness.
Dr. Deb: Yes, I try to remember to put up appropriate "trigger warnings," then readers can decide for themselves whether or not to read on. I, myself, got a bit triggered from this post. I had to use some of my techniques to take care of myself and stay grounded.

Wanda: Your words are so supportive, as usual. I appreciate them so much.
Emily: You did it! I got your submission. It looks great. Sorry I wasn't here to help you--had to go up to the special ed camp where my son will be attending later this summer. I was only gone 24 hours but I missed a lot. Sorry everybody!

[Ischelle]: We'd love to have you join us for the carnival whenever you feel ready. It is turning into a true traveling carnival and will be at a different host blog in August, September and October. But I'll be sure to provide the info so everyone can find it.

Andrew: Thanks for visiting and thank you for your comforting words. They were really quite nice to hear.
I am sorry you were hurt so much, both physcially and verbally. Its amazing the lasting impact words can have. I still remember some of the things my mother has said and its been over half my life time since I talked to her.
Thank you for sharing this. I know that I certainly have become spiritual after my own abuse. I needed a safe place. I turned to the only safe place I could. Jesus.
I responded to this earlier, and all I could think of is the safety in Jesus. Your words though have been in my head all day. I want to add onto what I wrote. I think your words hit me hard today, because spiritual abuse was also used on me. I think I blocked some of your words. I had to reread them today. I am sorry if I sounded Like I did not understand. Spirtual abuse seems to be a common thing for people who are out to sexually abuse someone. What your mother and father did to you not only physically but emotionally makes me so angry. I am still blocking some of what you wrote, because it is hurting my own soul. Know that I am so sorry this happened to you.
Sunnie: It IS amazing the lasting impact words can have. I pray for awareness for us all so that we can lift each other up with words instead of tearing each other down.

Mysti: I hope you don't waste any more time feeling sorry about anything you've shared here. You are one of the MOST understanding people I've had the honor to get to know through blogging!

I just hope that this stuff wasn't too triggering for you. You know, I really struggled with retrieving memories of many of the sexual assaults. But these excrutiating words from my mother have been probably the hardest thing for me so far in my recovery. I guess we can just never underestimate the power of words. Take gentle care.
I'm trying to figure out of I need to do anything else to get my story included in the blog carnival (I think that's what it's called!) You told me that Austin from Sundrip Journals recommended it be included, and when I went to enter it it looked like someone had already done so. Could you tell me if I need to do anything else?

Sorry for writing you here, I couldn't find an e-mail address for you.

Take care
I too had a mother who simply looked the other way, and was very involved in making sure we kids had a "religious upbringing." Because of this, though I still love God, attending church or going through any kind of religious routine is very hard for me. I didn't realize until I was in therapy a few yrs. ago that not all of my parts are Christian.

I've always felt more anger toward my mother, more wounded by her, than toward her husband (my abuser.) I was, after all, her flesh and blood, and she should have protected me.

I like that others are reading my blog and finding some help through my writings. It's like I'm getting my dignity back, and I bet you understand exactly what I mean through the responses to your blog.

Keep up the good work!
Thanks for the kudos and encouragement, BD! Don't worry, I can figure out your carnival entry. I'll e-mail you.
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