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May 24, 2008
Part 1: Therapy, confrontations and strategies...
by: Darlene Barriere - Webmaster

I congratulate you, Pamela, on making the healthy decision to enter into and work in therapy. You are on the path toward healing and recovery; you are to be commended for that. It's very hard work. But it's worth it; YOU are worth it.

With regard to confrontations with abusers, I am not an advocate of them because they are wracked with minimizations, denials, and worst of all, pointing the finger of blame toward the victim. It is clear to me that you have experienced all three.

Your questions could easily fill volumes, volumes that are beyond the scope of this website; but I will try to encapsulate some key points that might help you look at this a little differently. I will also point you to some other pages on this site for more helpful information.

There are always consequences when people mistreat us. And when the mistreatment continues well into adulthood, there are further consequences. First and foremost, you must protect yourself and your mental health.

You mentioned that your therapist wants you to "keep polite and distanced contact with them" (your family) in order that you "do not feel guilty if something happens to them." I would never go against what you and your therapist are working toward. I do suggest, however, that you ask your therapist what s/he means by the term "polite and distanced contact." From my perspective, it means don't get into the personal stuff. Don't allow yourself to be mired through the muck of innuendos and outright denials.

There is no changing the minds of the people who were charged with protecting you and your brother, be it your parents, grandparents, or any other member of your extended family. There is no making them realize that what they did and did not do left you both with festering wounds and very deep scars. There is no making them understand anything. To attempt to "make them" change or realize or understand is futile and crazy-making. There is only one person you can change; you.

Pamela, YOU know what happened. YOU know what was done to you. YOU know that the abuse was wrong. YOU know that you and your brother were betrayed and abandoned by your family. YOU know that none of it was your fault. The fact that YOU know is all that matters. Now you must deal with the emotional residue of that knowledge; you're doing that in therapy. KEEP doing that in therapy.

Part 2 follows.

Darlene Barriere
Violence & Abuse Prevention Educator
Author: On My Own Terms, A Memoir

May 24, 2008
Part 2: I can relate and some pages on this site to view...
by: Darlene Barriere - Webmaster

Years ago, I too had to deal with very similar familial situations when I distanced myself from my mother, and then my father. My first order of business was to understand that my family could not give me what I needed. There would never be an admission of guilt or responsibility taken or an "I'm sorry" or any form of accountability. I was on my own.

Then, I realized how strong I was: strong enough to stand up for myself. After all, I'd survived the worst of it already. I'd survived the countless episodes of abuse.

I had to come to terms with the fact that I could not bring up anything about my past with my family. Confrontations were pointless. Period. End of story. I learned that whenever another family member broached the subject as a way to instill shame, guilt, etc. on me for my lack of a "close" relationship (actually, what amounted to any kind of a relationship) with either of my parents, I was strong enough to politely and firmly reply with: "With all due respect, (Grandma, Auntie, Uncle, etc.) I have my reasons; I won't discuss them" or some such response. I suggest you discuss with your therapist some strategies for you to use whenever you are among your family members.

I've replied to other visitors who have sent submissions that are somewhat related to what you're dealing with, Pamela. Reading their stories and my replies may help you to feel less alone. I've given you a direct link to my comments for the questions, but you'll find them immediately following the original submissions.

Why doesn't my family believe me?
     •  Darlene's comments: Familial Denial

Why do families-mothers-abandon incest victims?
     •  Darlene's comments: Misplaced Loyalties

Part 3 follows.

Darlene Barriere
Violence & Abuse Prevention Educator
Author: On My Own Terms, A Memoir

May 24, 2008
Part 3: Two additional links on this site...
by: Darlene Barriere - Webmaster

I'll point you toward two other pages, Pamela. The first may help you to come to grips with what it is you are looking for from your family and why getting it may not be possible. Although the second deals with targeting one child for abuse, I think you'll find it applies to you and your brother. I recommend you discuss each of them further with your therapist.

What abusers and survivors need to know

Why parents target a specific child for abuse

I'll close by saying, stay strong, stay in therapy, and keep your therapist in the loop. I wish you all the best, Pamela.

Darlene Barriere
Violence & Abuse Prevention Educator
Author: On My Own Terms, A Memoir

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Disclaimer: To the best of my knowledge the child abuse
stories on this site are true. While I cannot guarantee
this, I do try to balance the need for the submitter to be
heard and validated with the needs of my visitors.



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From Victim to Victory
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How I got over the devastating effects of child abuse and moved on with my life

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