Comments for Why Parents Target a Specific Child for Abuse

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May 02, 2008
Being different
by: Catherine

This post helped me alot. Thankyou

I couldn't see why I was different to my sister and two brothers. Now I'm beginning to understand that it wasn't me who was different all along.

May 03, 2008
To Catherine:
by: Darlene Barriere - Webmaster

I'm delighted you found this article so helpful. Helping targeted children (even adult children) understand that what happened to them wasn't their fault is the reason I made the decision to remove this article from one of the back issues of my e-zine in favour of posting it directly onto my site.

Thank you for sharing how you've now come to realize that it wasn't you that was different. I hope this new realization will be a stepping stone toward healing and recovery, Catherine. You didn't deserve the maltreatment you received when you were a child. As an adult, you deserve the healing that understanding can bring.

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

Jul 12, 2008
Thank you.
by: Anonymous

The universe has decided to give me some understanding and answers, years too late. But it is nice to have. I was singled out for abuse. The semi-kicker is the other parent knew and did nothing . . . in my entire life. The extended just treats me like I am crazy and keeps trying to continue the @#$#@ that I do not accept in my life anymore. It seems everyone knew. Maybe not to what extent, but they knew. And shock, as an associate stated, I don't think anyone has ever corrected her. You are the only one that is not taking her $#%*$%.

Enough of the story. Thank you.

Aug 08, 2008
The Middle child
by: Mark

I think my mom singled me out for abuse because I was the middle child and she did not see me as special as my two brothers. My older brother was special because he was her first child and my younger brother was the baby of the family. Whenever he misbehaved my mom thought it was cute. I was just stuck in the middle and got blamed and punished for everything. I think because my mother treated my brothers as special that is why I do not get along or fell close to my brothers.

Aug 08, 2008
To Mark:
by: Darlene Barriere - Webmaster

I agree with you, Mark. Being the middle child in a family can indeed put that child at risk for targeting; but I also believe there is likely a multitude of added "explanations" (not excuses, of course) for singling out a middle child. Yes, for some parents, the middle child does not meet expectations as compared to the often highly regarded first-born, and then eventually the always-adorable last-born baby of the family. Or, as I identified in the article, the the child is viewed as "difficult" or "won't listen" or "different," again, as compared to the children born before or after this particular child. What's important to understand for you, Mark, is that you were absolutely, without question PERFECT and ADORABLE as you were. Your mother was—and may still BE—too blind to realize that for herself; but you Mark, if you haven't already, must believe that for yourself.

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

Aug 31, 2008
Thank You!
by: deb.

I think my Mom wanted to start over with my Stepfather and half-sister and I was always in the way, unless I could be her built in babysitter. I think she raged at me because she saw my Father and she was in labor with me for over 30 hours, my sister was a scheduled C-section.

I remain stunned and shocked by the need to continue to stay away in my 40's. On the one hand she can't do any real harm to me physically. But, she has not changed and if I were frail would still attack.

I wish I could change that. But, it's good to wake up and know that I'm not going to let someone elses limitations hold me back or effect my view of self. It's taken a long time. These abusers must come to terms with the trail of violence they left behind when they thought they could get away with it. They must do it now, I think, or answer to a higher power and explain themselves.

It doesn't disappear when we become adults. I wish it did.

Aug 31, 2008
To Deb:
by: Darlene Barriere - Webmaster

Thank YOU for being one of the courageous people who bring to light that as an adult you are still affected by the abuse you endured as a child. You were strong as a child to have endured the abuse; and you remain strong today for transcending that abuse. I am blessed by you—and other visitors—who continue to offer posts on this site that help and support other survivors. No matter where you are, you are exactly where you need to be along the path toward healing and recovery.

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

Oct 02, 2008
her only way to vent
by: Anonymous

I remember once while vacationing at a beach with my aunt and her boyfriend.on a day we were supposed to go the beach my Aunt told me to stay behind.I thouht this was weird because she did not seem like her self.I soon relized that she was I spent most of the time in my room.Soon she called my out the kithen.But i do not remember what I did.But I rember i paid for it as I lay flat on the floor at 12.I was not sure if she hit me with her fist or an object.You see my aunt usally only calls me names to vent.
But you see it still has an effect on my today that she hit me and I am in my late teens.She has hit me other times before.I seem to be the object she vents on.she does not have kids or a nepphew and I am her only nieece.But I do not understand.Why me?Isnt this emotional abuse calling me names?And the physical hitting me?

Oct 12, 2008
no sense
by: Anonymous

i don't think any of it makes sense.there is absolutly no reason for anyone to be degraded by their parents or anyone boss recently hit my arm while he was on the phone ,because i threw some recipts away in the garbage. i lost it and freaked on him. i lost my job because some f-ing a-hole, thought it would be okay to hit me for a slight mistake.where is the fairness in this f-ing world. i remember locking myself in a bathroom because i didn't want to eat my supper and my dad broke down the door and beat me so badly he left marks on me. i showed them to my mother and she said that there was no way that he did it and i must have fell or something. then when i was older my mother came after me with a wooden broom handle. she pushed me down onto the bed and i kicked her off of me. that happened when i was around fifteen or so and she brings it up now ( i am 24 now) and says that i just kicked her for no reason. i asked my sister if she was ever hit by our parents and she said no, but they did have a belt in the closet that they would threaten us with but she said that was as far as it went. there was abuse all through my childhood. she refused to believe me that they hit me at any time. i asked her again tonight if she was ever hit and she said no. i told her i was and she asked when they hit me i told her of the times that stood out to me and she said that it couldn't have happened. she also thinks that i never got punished for anything that i did while we were growing up. believe me, i feel completly opposite. who the f*** do i talk to about this? no one believes me and i feel that i am insane (alot of other things are going on that are not good in my life and i am on alot of medications) i read through the artical above and so much of it relates to me and my parents that i sat down and sounds so bad but i am relived taht i am not going crazy and that it was possible that they didn't do anything to my sister. i am wondering though if it was possible for her not to see or remember any of it. my heart breaks for the people who also wrote about this article and for those who didn't and i pray that they are not suffering. it's getting to the point now where i can't handle anymore of my life and i have absolutly no one to turn to. i hope you all have lives taht are better than my life and that no one has to endure this abuse no more, and hopefully i will be able to find my peace soon.please pray for me

Oct 15, 2008
Comment on No Sense posted on 12 October
by: Alexis

You are suffering from something that has a name - Invalidation. Google it along with "emotional abuse" and read just how much what you have gone through is recognised by professionals. You sound suicidal to me but don't you dare do anything about that - you might feel differently when you realise how (unfortunately) commonplace this is. You are being made to feel that you are mad but those things weren't in your imagination. Your mum won't admit that she did anything wrong so STOP trying to get her to admit it as you will just feel more pain because it is like beating your head against a wall. She is in denial and therefore cannot be reasoned with. I have had so many absurd discussions with people in denial that I have come to accept what a powerful force it is. You know inside what you really experienced. Your doctor will not know anything about invalidation, their knowledge is too basic for that, but maybe one of the websites you find can provide you with a helpline. The emotional pain from severe invalidation can often lead to self-harm, so maybe you can find help if you find a counsellor who deals with self-harmers. I read that it is likely to be the more sensitive child that suffers most from the effects of Invalidation. You see more pain than most but you probably also see more beauty. Best wishes to you.

Dec 01, 2008
comment on no sense posted oct 12th
by: touched2mysoul

I know of what you feel... validation of what you experienced... I come to this site to find validation of what i feel because of what was done to me... validation from my mother will never come... though i secretly wish it would. I know that she not capable of validating as ive tried that years ago and she basically called me a liar.. and said she did the best she could as a parent. She is right she did do the best she could but her best is now my worst nightmares...
I understand of your need and wish you the best

Dec 08, 2008
On being different
by: Anonymous

My mother singled me out earlier on and beat me repeatedly, called me names, etc. My sister - she stopped beating when she turned 11-12. This child could do no wrong in her eyes. Me, she particularly dislikes. She was castrating, controlling, went through my things, even my underware, prohibited me from talking to boys and the list goes on and on and on....By the time I was 18 mother pointed a gun at me for not doing dishes. I haven't lived in that house since then. My sister is now 36 and remains at home with mother. Now, Although she stopped hitting me, she always calls me names, manipulates me, etc. HOnestly, I think she was always jealous of my independence and pissed off because I didn't seem to need her, didn't want could I ? But this is Latin America and here parents get away with a LOT. BUt I did feel singled out... and by my father, who had long talks with my already derranged mother about how "rebellious, stubborn and arro gant I was...." as if mother needed further encouragement to beat me senseless....oh well!

Note from Darlene: Thank you for sharing, Anonymous. If you want to share more of your story, my Child Abuse Stories page is the place to submit one.

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

Dec 19, 2008
by: Francine

Strangely enough, Darlene, my parents treat my brother better than me, too. Let me tell you (and especially your visitors) one thing: I am autistic, which means that my autism is much easier for my parents to hurt me. This article is very helpful and I appreciate it with all my heart. Thanks you so much, Darlene.

Note from Darlene: I'm glad you found the article helpful, Francine. Merry Christmas to you, and may 2009 prove to be the year that your family discovers the specialness about you.

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

Feb 05, 2009
Makes more sense to me
by: Anni

I am the oldest of 4 children. My mom and dad had me very young. I was born premature and required more attention as a baby, than most. All growing up I was physically, verbally, and mentally abused by both parents and my parents encouraged my brother 2 years younger than me to paticipate in the abuse. My mom had children spaced out in years, so when each of my other siblings were born taking care of them and the house was passed to me. My mom has expressed openly and laughed at how she has abused me, such as bragging about knocking me across the room as a baby when I bit her while she tried to breast feed. She has never abused or neglected the other 3 kids, but that was mostly in part to I would not allow it. When she would get angry, which is very often, I would take the kids to my room or outside.
I have made peace with the ill treatment I recieved, but could never figure out why.
My mom now shows favortism to one grandchild and ignores and neglects the others. I do not have kids, she does this to my brother's kids. She openly admits she likes one child more than the others. I guess some habits are hard to break.

Feb 10, 2009
I was a target
by: Jo

This artical made me cry too - For a long time, I blamed myself for what happened because my brother and sister were well loved and my parents (who are always right) said I was difficult. I was confused a lot because I didn't know what I was doing wrong. Now I don't think I did anything wrong. I know now that if I was 'difficult' it was because I was in so much pain. It is painful to be the stupid and ugly one. It's painful to be the burden of the family. It's painful to not be worth your parent's time. And it's excruciating when nearly everything you do - including the presents you give, are wrong - and what your siblings do and give are usually right and sweet and perfect.
It hurts even more because I never got into trouble anywhere except at home. I still have a hard time believing anyone who says I am nice or a good person. My parents should have known that about me, but they didn't - they said I was an awful person - a lot. Our relationship is a little better now, but they will never truly know me, because they don't believe in me and can't be sincerely happy for me when I succeed. It is still all about them.
I wouldn't wish this on anyone, but sometimes I think it would be easier to heal if my brother and sister had gone through it too - It wouldn't be so personal then. I am sorry that so many of us have gone through this - Thank you Darlene, for this web site. It has really helped me.

Feb 11, 2009
To Anni:
by: Darlene Barriere - Webmaster

You titled your comment "makes more sense to me"...I gather you mean that the article above helped you to make sense of the non-sense you were forced to endured. My heart goes out to you for what you suffered.

As for your mother openly favouring one grandchild over the others...very disturbing. Most would consider the consequences for the grandchildren who aren't favoured. But there are consequences for the favoured grandchild as well. When it comes to typical grandparent-grandchild relationships, the unfavoured children aren't always the ones who show the worst of the effects. Yes, the unfavoured grandchildren feels rejected and will wonder what s/he did wrong, which can have lasting effects. Please don't think I'm downplaying that, because I'm not; those effects are very real. What I'm saying is that when a grandparent does favour one child--depending on the type of favourtism extended--that child often times grows up with a superiority complex, which can be even more insidious than non-favouring. I wonder if your brother understands this.

Thank you for sharing your story here, Anni. And I do hope this site helps you with your healing and recovery.

Feb 11, 2009
To Jo:
by: Darlene Barriere - Webmaster

I am so glad you now realize you did nothing wrong and that you didn't deserve to be mistreated. The messages you received left you feeling unworthy and unlovable. NOTHING could be further from the truth. You hit the nail on the head when you said "it is still all about them". There in lies the answer: it was always about them, Jo. It was never about you. You were perfect as you were.

Thank you for sharing your story here, Jo. And thank you for your kind words about my site. It always fills me with joy when I learn that the work I do here makes a difference.

Feb 22, 2009
very informative
by: Elisabeth

I suffered serious physical and emotional abuse from my mother all through my childhood. My only sibling, a younger brother, was her "baby boy" who could do no wrong. (My brother and I have always been close, I'm happy to say.)

This article practically "drew a picture" of my mother. Understanding, at least a little, of the reasons behind her behavior is helpful. Thank you for this information.

From Darlene: I'm so glad you found this article helpful for your situation, Elisabeth. Perhaps it can be the starting point for healing.

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

Apr 01, 2009
60 and still a child in Dad's eyes
by: Anonymous

My dad has abused me for 60 years. When I was young it was physical and emotional. He is now 88 and the abuse continues, more in the emotional sense. It was only two days ago that I happened to hear randomly (on a TV show) that parents can single out one child for abuse. This has made so much sense: I see it so clearly now. The coincidence was timely because my problem has recently taken on a weird turn. My siblings, very used to being spared what they see me getting year after year, are fanning the flames of my father's abuse "hobby" towards me in order to get him to cut me out of his will. He is dropping hints to me that I am not in his will and laughs. He wants to see what my reaction is. Everything I do is cause for criticism even making a cup of tea. He gives my brother and sister money in the thousands and tells me about it. He says that because I have a degree (which I got at 50 in my spare time) I should be a professor now, earning lots of money and helping HIM. There is so much more going on, I could write a "telephone book" on it. I moved away but the criticism escalated. I was now "disloyal." The worst was when my son died. Dad showed me no sympathy and actually said it was for the best because he believes in Darwinism and survival of the fittest. My siblings didn't give me any condolences either because they probably didn't want the dynamic to change and for me to score any points on need for comfort and understanding. I have tried to point out my siblings' faults to Dad as a way to get some relief. My sister is a drug addict and her son drinks a lot. They both lie to Dad to get him to give them money which he does. My brother has given me death threats but Dad makes excuses for them and goes right back to his favoritizing. Of course my efforts to enlighten him as to their lack of perfection backfired so I don't do that anymore. It was worth a try though to be sure. I will probably write more later. This text is pretty dense. Thanks!

Apr 01, 2009
To Anonymous: 60 and still a child in Dad's eyes
by: Darlene Barriere - Webmaster

If you would like me to, I will move your story onto its own page, Anonymous. It would get far more exposure in that way, which would be helpful to other visitors, and might also yield some support for you in the form of comments from others. You can remain Anonymous, or include a first name; your choice. I won't do anything without your permission. And just so you know, if you say yes, it would take a few days for me to put it up live on my site, as I currently have several submissions in queue right now. Feel free to answer through this comment thread.

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

Apr 09, 2009
very helpful site
by: Erin

I really found this site particularly helpful because I am writing a paper pertaining to child abuse. We just read Shot in the Heart by Mikal Gilmore and A CHild Called It by David Pelzer. I participate in a program called Child Assault Prevention in hopes to help add to child abuse awareness in prevention. All of you are so brave and inspiration for thriving after everything you have endured. In my opinion David Pelzer is one of the most inspirational and influential people. I loved the details listed on this page about why a parent singles a child out. I have never realized until this current course I am enrolled in that this occurs. I wish everybody well and I hope that everybody continues to be resilient in all of their future endeavors.

Jun 12, 2009
61 and still being abused
by: Anonymous II

THANK YOU soooo much for your work and your site. It has validated (how refreshing) so much.

Dear Anonymous.
I could have told your story almost to the letter. I don't know if or what my two brothers are plotting because my father has waged a life-long campaign of interpreting literally every event or incident in our lives to demonize me in their eyes. They are 7 and 10 years younger and I absorbed a lifetime of physical and emotional abuse before they were even aware of life.

I could tell uncounted stories because the abuse was pervasive and encompassed every aspect of the father/son interaction at all times. A few years ago I tried to talk to my dad and made the mistake of telling him my view of a couple of his life long "misunderstandings" and accusations against me. His response was the worst I have ever experienced. He said things that were so bizzare and so convoluted that I realized, for the first time, that he was completely out of touch with reality and clearly mentally ill.

He left me over 400 miles from home and immediately began a campaign to demonize me to my brothers, my children, and anyone else who cared and would listen. If they believed even one of many demented accusations that came from his lips that day...

I have been ostrasized from the family and my brothers won't even return emails or phone calls. Thank God my kids know me well. At the end of the day losing my brothers is the worst of a lifetime of pain...I love them so much. In their own way, they too have suffered. They simply could not accept the truth of a father that has always loved THEM. Their denial is as great as his...oh well.

YES. It would be great to have our own subject to be able to share experiences with people who have lived a lifetime with this burden.

Still Healing

From Darlene: Thank YOU for sharing of yourself, Anonymous II. People like you help to make this site what it is. As for your family, it seems to me it's their loss.

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

Jun 26, 2009
by: Christina

Since I recently realized I need to face this (thought I was fine all along), I thought that this is what I needed.

But, just reading it is making my heart pound and I feel like I may vomit... Maybe I'm taking the wrong steps or something...

Jul 02, 2009
My Grandmother was correct after 55 years
by: Anonymous

I was mentally abused by my mother until she died 6 years ago. My brother is 2 years older than me and could do no wrong. He was let abuse me physical. mental and sexual. It was my fault according to mother and my sisters. I am the youngest of 5. My mother had a hard time carrying me and had a difficult birth. I was not the boy she wanted, I had some health problems from the infection she had. My brother got the expensive clothes, shoes anything he wanted. I got home made or what was given to me. My aunt tried to help me as much as she could. My Grandmother said I would understand when I got grown why I was treated the way I was. I really cannot but through this article I do see how she could have had mental problems. She lost her first child at 2 years old from a disease, it was a boy, mother was only 16 at the time. After 14 years she finally got the boy then me. My sisters pet him even now(he is 62)and will not believe he has ever done wrong even when they have seen it with their own eyes. They give an excuse for everything. He is an obnoxious person no one likes to be around but he thinks he is the king of this world. I now have 2 grandchildren and my husband treats our grandson very differently from our granddaughter. He pets the girl and criticizes the boy. He is only 5 and he already does not like his pawpaw. I do not know why he does this. He had a very abusive daddy. This is no excuse for the way he acts. I love deeply and I hate just as deep. I have a low self esteem, let people run over me just to keep from having the confrontation. The article has helped me to see I am not alone. Thank you for your great work.

Jul 02, 2009
To Anonymous:
by: Darlene Barriere - Webmaster

Anonymous, I'm SO glad the article above helped you to get a better understanding of why your mother did what she did to you. Again, no excuses, just an explanation.

And just for the record, one of the most insidious forms of abuse (neglect) is when a child is raised without boundaries or discipline; and instead grow up to believe they are kings to be waited upon. Your mother did your brother no favours. One need only see how he is detested by others to understand that something went terribly wrong. You on the other hand have turned into a loving, kind and giving woman, in spite of being treated so horribly. You have much to be proud of.

As for your husband, perhaps some gentle reminders of what he is doing to his grandson are in order. Sadly, too many misguided adults believe we should treat little boys more severely than little girls in order to "toughen them up". But it's been my experience that when little boys are raised with loving kindness and nurturing, they feel much more secure in themselves and as a result, are much more than just "tough"; they are sensitive and caring human beings. Human beings with so much to offer their own children and the rest of the world. And they do so without anger and hostility; anger and hostility that is pent up in those who were abused or treated more harshly.

Thank YOU for posting here, and for your kind and encouraging words, Anonymous. I am always appreciative when my visitors take the time to write me their thank yous.

I wish you and your family all the best.

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

Sep 23, 2009
Very Interesting
by: Anonymous

I found this a very intersting articcle. I was my Mother and Father's target child and I think a case study would have been very interesting. You see,I am an identical twin. My sister could do no wrong,I could do no right. When I went to college,I was told I only did it to show my sister up.
It's sad,to be a target child.

Oct 06, 2009
Thank you Jo
by: Anonymous

This is for Jo. I really relate to your story. Thanks for sharing. I also gave the wrong gifts, still do, in fact! It's too bad we can't give gifts to the ones who'd appreciate them.

Oct 14, 2009
A little window of insight
by: Anonymous

Thank you for your article
It is giving me a little insight into why my 3 year old was targeted out of our four children for physical abuse.
I am struggling alone now with four 5 and unders and the repercutions of being in a violent relationship with our young 3 year old becoming a safety threat at times to my other children. It is hard as a mother to watch and see this happening and to feel at times so helpless because of what occurred.

From Darlene: I'm delighted the article has helped you, and even more delighted that you have removed yourself and your children from the abusive environment. I don't know where you live, but I hope you will reach out for any resources that might be available to you and to your children; perhaps through a women's shelter. You, and they, are very much worthy of that.

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

Oct 27, 2009
Sad but comforting
by: Anonymous

I relate to so many of these stories. I'm 36 and I'm the oldest of two. My younger brother is and always has been rude and obnoxious, but in my mother's eyes he can do no wrong. I've always known that my mother didn't like me, but in light of recent events, I now have confirmation of 2 things for certain: 1) that she hates me, and 2) not only does she hate me, but she really, really hates me.
My father passed away last year. And to me and anyone who knew him, he was the kindest, most patient, gentle, wise and selfless person you could possibly imagine. My mother on the other hand is cold, narcissitic and self-absorbed. Ever since I was really young I felt that she was jealous of the love my dad had for me because I was his little girl, and maybe that's why she resents me. My mom has always favored my brother, and I also feel that in part it was her way to "divide and conquer", since my brother and I have never really liked each other or gotten along. My mom also had this two-faced way of behaving really sweet and charming when others were around--especially my dad. But when others weren't looking she would be extremely verbally abusive. Even though I alwayd did good in school, she has always been very willing to believe the worst of me. Although she was far more abusive when I was a helpless child, she is still hateful and manipulative toward me. But I think I turned out ok in spite of her, and because of my dad's love and support.
Since my dad died last year, I feel like I've lost my only "ally" in my family. An argument came up recently that brought a lot of feelings to the surface. It was clearly a matter of her showing preference to my brother who is bitter and hateful, over me, and I've done EVERYTHING to help her since my dad died. It was at that moment that I realized that she will NEVER appreciate what I do for her. The reason I'm certain is because it's common knowledge that I'm the one that would care for her in old age, and that my brother would not. And even knowing this, though it's completely illogical and detrimental to her to alienate me and push me away any further, she STILL does not relent.
I have since decided that 36 years is long enough, and that just like cancer, I want to just cut it out and fight aggressively against ever getting it back. I pray that my dad forgives me, but it's either her or me, and this time I'm going to choose me. I can't continue to let her attack me and allow others to attack me, or to make me feel about myself like I'm the bad one when I'm clearly not. Although I feel relieved, I'm also kind of sad that I don't have a family anymore. But to think of it now, I never really did. It was just me and my dad and now he's gone, so it's just me and my husband and our family and whatever we make of it.
Thank you to everyone here for being brave enough to share how you feel with the rest of us so that we don't have to feel like WE are the ones that are crazy, or wrong or bad. We just had bad luck.

Jan 04, 2010
by: Anonymous

Thanks. I can see why my Dad abuses me. This article really helps me.

Jan 05, 2010
i dunno
by: Anonymous

my step brother was singled out by my mom when he was 3-5 years old. my mom went from 0 kids to 4 in the matter of 2 years when she, IMHO, should've never been a mom at all b/c of mental illness/depression. She singled my step brother in ways the book "child called it" did, though not as seriously horrible as that book. He was a boy, he wasn't hers, he did have behavior problems b/c his mom was an alcoholic and didn't want him, and i think my mom was going thru PPD b/c she had just had my sister around that time. My mom, shortly after he was taken out of the house, tried to kill herself and went through another bout of unexplained anger when I was in high school but towards my younger sister. I am having issues b/c everyone in the family viewed my step brother as a bad egg. I want to bring to light what my mother did but wonder what good it would do. I don't want my mother to feel attacked but deep down I believe that if I talked to her about it she would come to terms with everything herself. I feel sorry for her, really, but hate her at the same time. If anyone did even 1 thing she'd my son.. it'd be hard for me not to kill them or hurt them very badly. I ache for my brother (who in turn did things to me but there are no hard feelings there) and for my sister as well. I'm sick of the family continuing to talk of my brother as though he were satan, when, in actually, satan seemed to be my mother. ANd in regards to the other parent knowing, the dad knew something was up but it took almost 3 years to do anything about it, and finally he took him away but not us from her.

Jan 07, 2010
I Never Knew What I Did
by: Paul

I was born after my mother had two still births, both sons. I am the first living son. My father was a cruel drunk. I remember my mother fleeing to the neighbors for safety, so I knew why she left my dad. What I did not understand is why my brothers and sisters were allowed a new home and family and I was given to my father so the new family could have peace. I was made to work hard, listen to father rant and verbally torture me, stay in a truck all night while he drank and was starved, go home to be put through a terrifying ride, beaten, go to school and made to do it all over again. When I did see my mother, she offered me no warmth or understanding. I wanted her to hug me so bad that it often made me sick to my stomach. I was the visiting outcast. I feel dirty, poor and nasty.
My father is obsessed with me and he never lets me be. I finally broke all contact with him and am understanding what the stress has done to me mentally and physically. But I am still hurt by the rejection of my mother and siblings. My mother is the nicest mean person I know. I truly believe that she thinks I was born to make sure she is happy. My failings is her success. My unhappiness means she raised the others to be happy. Recently I feel that wound more then any beatings. The rejections and abuse of my childhood is with me every second of the day. I just wants things to be different.

Jan 08, 2010
I was targeted too and still am as an adult
by: Anonymous

I am a self made woman with several university qualifications and now understand why I prefer to be on my own and love animals more than people. Don't get me wrong I have a great life, great job, place etc but I never understood why I was the victim of my family. I too am a middle child and I have been mainly emotionally abused but at times physically by my parents and step father. My step father acted in a sleazy way towards me and made inappropriate comments etc and used to threaten me with violence and once tried to choke me, my older brother used to barge in on me in the shower and when I was getting undressed. My older brother and sister were the favoured children of the family.They the step father and brother didn't sexually abuse me in a physical way but they crossed boundaries but I never felt safe. When my dad died my mum married a year later and was dating my step father 7 months after he died. She used to tell me not to flirt with him -as if! I was 15 and he was and still is a creep. They (my family) are convenient relgious, christian fundamentalists and use the bible to attack me because I have chosen my own religion which is a liberal, free approach. I feel ashamed and embarassed than I am in my early 40's with a family like this. I am too scared to have husband but would have a boyfriend if I could trust he would treat me safely. People say I am beautiful but I am scared still.

Feb 13, 2010
Women abuse more because they're the ones stuck taking care of the kids!
by: Anonymous

"... statistics reflect that women use physical abuse more than men. Society as a whole has difficulty wrapping their minds around this statistic. If society accepts that women, the caregivers and nurturers, are capable of physically harming their children, then it undermines the very core of our belief system"

Maybe if fathers were to take care of their children more often (as they do in Denmark)and not dropping this job of the shoulders of women this wouldn't be as likely to happen, eh?

Mar 16, 2010
My Entire LIFE...
by: Anonymous

I have spent my whole life NEVER being the son she deserved. The ruining of her childhood because I was born before she was ready for children. Then the pain continued with her boyfriends hating me. I'm glad I lived through it, and I tried to now as an adult have a non-parent child relationship with my mother. However, this too has failed. She still veiws me as a threat to her life, and a source of jealousy. Well, I want to let others know YES sometimes I'm self conciouse,sometimes I doubt me, and sometimes I don't think I deserve the best, BUT I remember especially while reading this that these are NOT my thoughts but her's. I love who I am and I'm a GREAT mother to my children, and I suppose I "spoil" them, but I justify the over bearing love and attention and things to make up for the basic things I deserved as a child, but NEVER received. Through the 22 years of my life I have learned that what others do to you or say about you does not make it true or law. From your first breath to your last you are your OWN person, and NO one can take that from you. Your family is who you choose. You might not have a choice as a child, but you have a choice when you're an adult. Don't let those who refuse to change and continue to hurt you to have control over you. One of the 5 greatest days of my life was when I decided to stop allowing my narsacistic mother from controlling my life.

Mar 19, 2010
by: Anonymous

I took the abuse, physical, mental & verbal that my "Mother" (gag!) and my step father and even my older half brother doled out to me for 35 yrs. When the ugly old bat started in only 5 yr old son I drew the line and cut them out of our lives completely! that was 12 years ago and It was the best gift I have even given myself!! No regrets, only peace & happiness now. : )

Mar 20, 2010
enduringly useful
by: Anonymous

This article is so helpful and all those who have commented, male or female, you are Heroes.

Sharing our reality, the pain caused by parents who target and abuse, is so necessary to overcoming our shame and preventing this from happening to others. The secrets of families are coming out in the open to be healed.

My mother allowed each successive child (five years apart)to be verbally and physically abused by the older children; she was beaten by my father, the child of religious fundamentalists. Our family was like a concentration camp--only, since I was the youngest, it was easy as the others grew older to distance themselves from their pain, pretend they had had normal lives, and project it all on me--I was bad, retarded, odd,etc. My brother had sexually abused my sister and I when we were small and my mother did nothing.

You don't even want to know the effects it had as we grew older--tragic. But now I know that my life's work, small or large, has to be about saving children from this kind of hell.

Mar 22, 2010
by: Anonymous

I think this was a very good article, however I strongly disagree that the idea that men are more likely to abuse is based on an "unfounded bias". Studies show that 95% of child molesters are men. One out of seven women in this country is a battered woman, and one out of three will be raped.
The reason people think men abuse more is that men abuse more!!!

From Darlene: Anonymous, this article was not about sexual abuse stats.

From Victim to Victory, a memoir
Darlene Barriere
author. speaker. survivor. coach
From Victim to Victory, a memoir

Apr 17, 2010
parents can change
by: Liz

my dad was abusive during my teen years, more verbaly than physically to me. To my brother he was both. To my youngest brother he was neither. to my older sister he was neither (but he did wreck her credit financially speaking).

my dad was addicted to coke for a long time. He'd call my brother fat when we were little and hit him a couple times (he denies this) when we were teens. My other brother is favored to this day. He had called me fat before and still does sometimes now, I live with him now, I'm 22 and a student in college, he's clean now but when I said I'm going on a diet he goes "about time" and "liz, you know that you won't get a boyfriend if you are bigger". I'm not even that big...just chubby, but not huge. He's bigger then me lol.

he used to hit my mom and spit at her, he doesn't now because they are divorced. He's been better since he is clean now, besides the fat comments but I just brush them off. He doesn't scream anymore much, but he denies the years of abuse he did when he was doing coke. He was either 1. going nuts screaming at my mom, my brother or myself 2. sleeping or 3. in his office smoking.

I remember being in a truck with him as he tried to run it into my mom. I'm certainly not over that and the only thing I think the abuse effected is my trust in people. I haven't been able to have a normal romantic relationship with anyone, just flings and short lived crap.

he tries now to be a better person, gone to treatment and has been calmer and nicer. I just hope he doesn't relaspe.

Apr 24, 2010
a much needed article ...
by: Sandy

I just read part of thisand THANK YOU for writing this!

It is so very hard to "do this" ... to actually try to look back at the "stuff" that has been there - growing, not shrinking - all my life. Especially when the one who targeted me has gone so overboard to be nice to everyone else.

Her "thing" is making cards. She has done this even when I was a kid. They looked nice and from the outside who would guess that one of the kids she so wonderfully shined in the card was, in secret, the one she never liked. And that kid never even tried to understand beyond "it's all my fault ... "

EVERY year for the past (25?) she has made them. They really ARE nice. She has a shoebox with 'sayings', according to card type .... and the sayings most assuredly sound good. It is as if she could be the real version of those cards, I'd feel so warmly loved!

There are plenty of grandkids and great grandkids - and every one gets a birthday card, etc. She doesn't miss one - but she is perturbed if someone is lax on thanking her, etc. And she has "reasons" for not liking some ... and if they react, it's all them never her.

Right now - when I get off the computer - I am printing the entire article and putting it in the journal I'm using to figure out the pain and share with my therapist. This is a crucial article, because "little sandy" had NO choices back then re: conclusions ... and "little sandy" desperately wants to be validated before she can know that, at long last, she is being heard.

May 10, 2010
Wow what a relief after all these years to know I'm not crazy
by: Anonymous

This morning I was going around doing my daily chores and weeping once again for childhood past. I am now in my 60's and if you think the horrors of childhood go away or recede they don't; they lie quietly dormant while you are busy raising your family, working etc. but they eventually find their way to the surface, because they have never been dealt with there has never been closure.
I am a middle child, as a child as pictures will show I was pretty,I was talented (was always asked to sing for family even as a five year old) and was smart, did well in school. So why was I targeted by my father in particular for physical abuse, while my mother sat knitting listening as my father grabbed me by my throat and held me against the wall and slapped my face back and forth and ordered me to cry (which I could not anymore I think I was immune to his beatings, and stubbornness refused to let me shed a tear) and finally my mother called from the living room that my father should stop before he killed me. I left the home that night at the tender age of 15 and never went back. And now I have realized that I have been married to a man for 45 years who in his own way has abused me emotionally all this time. Wow what a revelation . I see him manipulating my every action and thought, he has isolated me. Sorry can't continue with this, but I typed in the question in google why am I a target for abuse and came to your site.

From Darlene: Write more when you can and when you feel the need, Anonymous. When you're ready, just go to my Child Abuse Story page on this site.

From Victim to Victory, a memoir
Darlene Barriere
author. speaker. survivor. coach
From Victim to Victory, a memoir

May 11, 2010
I am the Target Child
by: Gina

I'm 58 yrs old and have recently realized there's actually a name for what I've always known for most of my life. I am the "target child" in my family since I was very young. The older I became the more I instinctively knew it wasn't me doing anything wrong. I've dealt with unrelenting misplaced anger and resentment from my parents, including 4 younger siblings for my entire life as a result of being the favored child of my maternal grandmother. Everyone in my family believed they were rejected by grandma, including my mother - this set the stage for a lifetime of resentment and other bad behaviors aimed at me. How does one heal from a lifetime of hurt? I'm stuck in the anger stage at this point, I'm angry this happened to me because I was the one who always wanted the big close-knit family.

May 13, 2010
adult daughter still abused by step mother
by: Anonymous

My 20 year old daughter is still verbally and emotionally abused by her step mother who calls her under a pretext before launching into personal attacks.
Although her statements are clearly inflammatory it is very distressing to my daughter and significantly sets her back for some time.
The woman calls her on blocked numbers, has her younger daughter call her to get her on the phone etc. She uses anger, sadness, weeps, yells, degrading comments, mentions other family members until she gets my daughter to engage.
Everyone knows the woman is off base and has a history of drug,alcohol, lies, sexual problems - it still gets to my daughter.
The woman named her 2 other children with the first initial of my name just as my 3 children are named. She has copied many of my lifestyle choices as well. She was adopted by a very strict religious family. I have not had contact with her for a few years now.
Years ago Child Protective Services were involved but never followed up as time went on - despite having a MD and Principal of grammar school report.
This site is very helpful to understand where horrid adult behaviors come from.

May 18, 2010
thank you!
by: K

I can't thank you enough for writing this article. Reading it and the comments of others who have been through the same ordeal had me in tears. I never understood why my parents went out of their way to protect my younger brother and sister, but abused me verbally and physically. I grew up believing there was something wrong with me. I fought my instincts and did what pleased others. I married someone just as abusive as my parents, but the abuse is only directed at me. I am in the process of ending this marriage. The worst part is no one knows what these people are really like. They see some dysfunctional behavior, but not the abuse. I did not realize how bad my parents were until I had my own children. I cannot imagine treating them the way I was treated. I don't want my daughters to marry someone like their father, and I don't want my son to think this is an acceptable way to treat women, or anyone else. Thank you for addressing this, and thanks for listening.

May 18, 2010
by: Jess

Well least now I know why my stepdad and mom did what they did.The one thing I don't understand is I am the oldest child yet I get it all. I tried going to the cops bit they just put me in juvy because I would try to stop them by getting behind them and choking them till they passed out.

May 20, 2010
I was the target child
by: Anonymous

I was the target child. Father's favorite was #1 and mother's favorite was #3. Neither was ever told "no" and they were doted on and spoiled.
Nothing was too good for each parent's favorite child, I learned to do without. Not only did I do without but I was the one who was screamed at about how much money the others spent.
What bugs me the most is how the family dynamic was set. The other two learned that I was the lowest on the pecking order. I was the bottom man on the totem pole. They were given whatever they wanted and I was punched in the head. I tried to hide behind my plate at dinner while father made fun of me and the others laughed. Now at 46 years old both sisters treat me with disdain.
Each one thinks the sun shines out their ass. They are selfish, inconsiderate, pretentious, concieted and arrogant.
I recently tried to discuss the dynamic and the way they continue to treat me but my sisters scoffed and insulted me. THEY are perfect I was the one with the problem.
I realise that after 46 years the dynamic will never change so I cut ties with my family, I could no longer deal with their superior, inconsiderate and negative attitude. They were toxic people in my life. I was always expected to shut up, go along and accept my position. My voice was never heard, my desires never considered. If I asked for compromise and co-operation I was told I was difficult - "we're doing it THIS WAY...."
This is NOT simply a case of "middle child syndrome". I was beaten, slapped, punched and told that I was going to grow up to be a prostitute or druggie and would bring shame to the family. The others were NEVER struck or verbally abused and their "mistakes" were overlooked and forgiven - I got my ass kicked for looking at a parent the wrong way.
I know they miss dominating me and I believe it was a big part of their life that they made them feel better about themselves to feel superior over me.
Target abuse of one child is very real, that is the life I lived. And more importantly, the life I have finally left behind.

Jun 09, 2010
Please tell me the answer....
by: Anonymous

I could write pages and pages about being singled out, why I was singled out and how it has affected me. Every word, every lick, every bruse, every thought of hate I have is going through my mind. How do I get better?? What is the answer? I fight constantly with my mother trying to get her to own what she put me through. And trying to make her take responsability for bringing a man into my life who beat me black and blue. But she always places the blame on me. She says things like " well there is no telling what you were doing that day to make me (say that, do that) ......" Why is my desire to get the right response from her so strong??? How can I make it go away? How can I just accept that I am not loved the same way my half brothers are?? Please help.

Jun 28, 2010
To The Targeted Ones
by: sara

I pose this question to all of you who were the "targets" within your family.
You were the lowest on the pecking order; your parent(s) abused you; thus, enabling your siblings to get away with treating you however they wished without repercussions. Question: for those of you with siblings, did you find that they took advantage of your status as the abused child? Did they bully you? Or defend you? Did they defend the abusive parent's treatment of you? Did they look the other way and do nothing, choosing denial? In my case my brother and sister bullied me, sneered at me about how ugly I was, and got their friends to join in. All this of course went unchecked and I do believe they saw my mother abuse me constantly and knew they could get away with it. They played on the vulnerable situation I was in. If I ever went to my parents for help from their bullying I'd get slapped--they didn't want to hear it, it would only be cause for my mother to verbally abuse me further and say how I deserved it and what a spoiled bitch I was. "Poor abused you!" she'd mock. Neither one of my parents were willing to protect me, far from it, they were the cause of the problem to begin with. I soon learned my only option was to withdraw (the only way I had to protect myself). After particulary abusive episodes from my mother I would withdraw into my room to recover--and my brother would cruise by my door with his friends and gleefully snicker "Loser!"
I am wondering how common it is for the rest of the family to turn against a child that has been selected by a parent to abuse. My experience has been that the rest of the family joins in on the mistreatment but denies the abuse took place.
My mother saw me as a threat to her and blamed me for her troubled marriage. She took it out on me constantly, ever since I was a toddler. Smashing dishes at me, slapping out of the blue, shaking, name calling....My siblings witnessed all this and overtime, by middle school years, they were bullying me as well. They would also deny that my mother abused me. Her rampages were never spoken of. To this day it is never acknowledged. My siblings deny that she ever abused me even though they were right there while she was throwing dishes at me, right there when she'd slap me in the face with no warning when I was simply sitting amongst my siblings and sharing a laugh. The years of child abuse and chronic bullying changed me from an outgoing, adventurous child to a withdrawn recluse. I have PTSD. I am definately CHANGED. And my family continues to pretend they have no idea why. They certainly haven't made the connection between their treatment of me and how that's affected me.
I would like to ask if anyone out there had siblings who reacted with more integrity. Or is this type of family dynamic (where a parent targets one child in particular to abuse)doomed to set up the whole house against the targeted child?

Jun 28, 2010
Re: Please Tell Me the Answer
by: sara

Anonymous, I understand your need exactly. It's really hard to process and heal when all the trauma they dealt you is being denied. Not just denied, but with the finger pointed at you!
I've tried to explain to my mother how her actions affected me--including how she allowed my siblings to bully me. They picked on and scorned me for years. She condoned it.
I wish she could understand but she refuses. Even to this day they tend to isolate me but she takes no responsibilty for this, she won't even acknowledge it. Instead she'll insist things are the opposite of what they actually are. For example, I was the brat who bullied them (so not true, as if I could have gotten away with that! If my sister tattled to my mom that I'd borrowed her shirt I'd get slapped--and it didn't even have to be true, and often wasn't). My mom insists that my brother and sister never do anything wrong and that they care about me and exhaust efforts to reach out to me....Which is the polar opposite of the truth. When I do show up for family events I'm often excluded, at best merely tolerated. It's hard to heal when you're still enmeshed with these kind of mindgames from your abuser. Everything is and always will be denied and turned around to make it YOUR FAULT.
But I understand the need to try. It would be so easy to heal and move on if only they'd acknowledge what they did to you. The coverup and mindgames are a big part of what keeps us stuck believing what they told us about ourselves. By now I know my family is instituionally incapable of handling the matter with integrity. If you were the family's scapegoat as a child, you probably always will be. People who had the lack of integrity to abuse a child or condone abuse to begin with, don't have it in them to later apologize or acknowlege what they've done. Think about it.

Jun 29, 2010
singled out
by: Anonymous

my mother has had five children and never raised any of them except the youngest. the others now as adults have nothing to do with her. myself the oldest,am the only one that has any thing to do with her. at every opertunity she has to put me down embarrass me even to the extrem of very large lies. she can be pure evil. Why cant i walk away llike the others did, why do i feell responsable? if this is you,weTHER AN ADULT OR CHILD please get help it will ruin your life if you dont. but remember it is not your fault

Jun 29, 2010
Siblings reaction to the Target Child
by: Anonymous

A reply to SARA:
The answer is "YES". My siblings were each showered with affection and praise. I was a "bad girl" somehow responsible for the negative attention generated towards me.
They KNEW they were entitled over me and that I was the lowest in the pecking order. They would tease me and call me names, roll their eyes and belittle me in public. While they were tolerant towards each other they were quick to criticize, correct and judge me.
And YES too - my siblings were very defensive of their favorite parent. My older sister was treated like a princess, she thought her Daddy was the greatest. She did not understand how this man who was so perfect in her eyes; could be mean to someone who did not deserve it.
One time on vacation I was a few minutes late getting back to the hotel. My father gave me the usual 5-10 minute beat down all the while screaming what he predicted to be my future fate - *SMACK* "this is for the ni**er you are going to bring home" *SLAP* "You're going to be a whore and bring shame to the family" (I was 12) I was in the bathroom putting wet wash cloths on my face trying to reduce the swelling and daddy's favorite princess came around the corner, arms crossed and sneered at me "why do you make him do that?"
My younger sister was spoiled by my mother. She was also spoiled by my father, he bent over backwards to please her while our mother psychologically poisoned her (she was 7) against my father. "All he's good for is money" "He's trying to BUY your affection!"
Mother flagrantly denied me my rights often in order to appease my sister who was a bit of a sadist. My little sister would stand behind my mother with an evil smile as my items were taken from me and handed to her. She and big sister would always band together against me. It was never me and the older against the younger or vice versa, it would always be THEM against ME.
Not only was I denied the monetary gifts and presents the others received but I was the one who was screamed at about money! "Your sister put $500 on my credit card!" or "The lady at the bank called again to say your sister is over drawn and I had to put $200 in her account!"
As an adult I recognised that this negative dynamic was continuing to xcause me pain (I am 45)
I attempted to voice my desire to be treated like an equal. I asserted myself and asked them to be as considerate of me and my children as they were to each other. I was told it was my problem, of course you know THEY ARE PERFECT and I am the one with the problem. I have removed my father and sister's from my life and after a year I do not miss them.
As far as I am concerned it is a win win situation. I will no longer tolerate their negative and inconsiderate attitude towards me and my children and I will not subject them to the "mess" that is me.

Jul 05, 2010

Hi, well, I really need help. I was born with a twin and he was disabled, we were middle children. My dad constantly, called me degrading names, fat,stupid slow. My mum called me fat,stupid slow ugly who wont get married. She even said I should have been born disabled than my brother. I got beat up threatened and humilated even till now. I am 28 and living with my mum and brother younger brother cause he is disabled, and cause my mum hits i remain with him so i can look after him or else she will torture him too. I cant get married and now she uses me even more, mum dad have split up and when her other 2 daughter visit with their husbunds she makes me clean the house, which i do anyway.I feel degraded and stuck i cant escape. I did my education through distance learning and got a doctrate and i dont earn money for a living cause i look after my brother. My dad gives money allowance to my mom weekly its enuff we are not poor but now and again she calls me fat and ugly. I feel alone i hate my sisters, i was very ill at a time in my teens they didnt care and just treated me like crap. But i have the higher degree than them now and people tell my mum i am nicer than my 2 sisters and my mum gets really angry not happy. I admit i was ugly and not very smart when i was younger but this was due to confidence which my mum and dad knocked down a lot. I have no friends there married and i get made fun of by my mum all the time. I know she doesnt care for me but i feel low so low, i cant find a nice boyfriend, when they say lowlevel things to me it reminds me of how my mum hurt me and i leave them, usually its abt weight or my dark complexion,

Jul 19, 2010
by: Anonymous

i read your article, and it explains alot for me. i had no clue i was being abused until a while ago, now things are staring to make sence. my mom is emotionaly abuseive. i have a sister who's older then me, and in moms eyes shes an angel. i love my sister, but i think our relationship is ruined. when i look at my sister now all i see is my faliure. when i figured out what my mom was doing i told my sister about it, she said i was making it up and i should stop feeling so sorry for myself. i tried forgiving and forgetting, but it didnt work. i even talked to my mom about this, but she made me feel like i was crazy. when i talked to her about it she made me feel like i was being selfish. she makes me feel like i owe her something, she keeps threatening to kick me out of the house. one minute she yells and screams and says things she'll never take back (and never have to, since she'll deny them) then she claims that she loves me. the first time she slapped me was when i was six, i was learning how to read, and it wasnt going well. i asked questions that she didnt know the answer to and she got angry and took it out on me. later we discovered that i have dyslexia, but she isnt sorry for what she did. ive been majorly depressed for about a year now, but my family thinks im making it up. i dont know what to do, but i think i can make it through this.

Jul 26, 2010
:LOST: Ypou CAN move on
by: Anonymous

I know the feeling. Sometimes you feel like you will alwyas be a loser and that nothing rewarding will ever happen in your life.
For 46 years I allowed the family dynamic to continue, as long as I -shut up, went along, accepted what I was given and how I was treated and did not stand up for myself (or even my children) then everyone was happy........everyone but ME!
I attempted to assert myself, and not in any kind of obnoxious or even demanding way mind you, I was much too timid within my family for that. I simply and quietly tried to talk to my father and my sisters about how they disregard me. They were EXTREMELY defensive and of course BLAMED IT ALL ON ME.
*They always got everything they ever wanted
*They were never told "NO" or denied
*They were never physically abused
*They were never told they were trash
*They were praised & adored by their fav. parent
*They were constant witness to my being abused
*They were told they were better than me
*The constant doting attention they received has led them to believe that they are perfect.
(ALSO TRUE - when a parent felt bad for the abusive way they treated ME they would over indulge their favorite child and reward THEM with trips for icecream or the park! I can't tell you how many times I was given a beating and was left crying in my room while daddy took "his best girl" out for fun "SEE - THIS ONE LOVES ME....I AM A GOOD FATHER!")
In order for people to change; they have to recognise that they have a problem. MY abusive family sees and has always seen ME as the problem!
It's MY problem, I'M the defective one, THEY are perfect.
It has been a year now since I have spoken to my family. I do not miss their arrogant, inconsiderate and abusive attitudes. I do still fight the need to have them acknowledge what was done to me and change the way they treat me. I know that will never happen so I try to put it behind me and move on. I also try not to focus on what I could have been if I had been given a fraction of love, support, attention and confidence that was instilled in my sisters.
(Who by the way are loathsome, arrogant, selfish, inconsiderate, superficial, hypocritical WITCHES)
I did not deserve to be the whipping boy. I did not deserve to be singled out for the abuse.
I have a good husband and 2 decent kids. I have a somewhat comfortable life, we make ends meet but have no extra for frills.
Funny but even when my children were young (started around 8 yrs old) they would tell me they did not like the way my sisters and father treated me! They are extremely happy to not have to put up with my family anymore (they were treated as lesser than the others just like I was)
It stinks that we have to try to live with and repair our wounded selves while others just go along their way. Well I will learn to live without them and value myself.

Aug 17, 2010
Finally a great article!
by: Renee

Thank you so much for your fine article on reasons for child abuse targeting. For so long, i've never understood why my mother targeted me for severe verbal, emotional, and physical abuse over my brothers. I am the middle child, a female, and we are all 2 years apart. I have finally gotten out of this toxic relationship! I have been abused since i was 2 and i am 45 now. I put up with her behavior all this time, having been kicked out of the house since I was 17 in the middle of January in Michigan. I was forced to go in the Army or be homeless. I don't know why I carried on a "relationship" with her after that and let her verbally and emotionally abuse me further. I have been diagnosed with PTSD and GAD because of my abuse. When confronting her with her abusive ways, she insists I needed to be punished harshly, and I had rather pathetic ways (her words) and makes no apology or excuse. I am now trying to find out why I was not able to reach out to anybody during this horrible time of growing up and cry for help.

Aug 20, 2010
The Smart Child
by: Anonymous

Don't forget the child who is brighter than mom and dad. They are often targeted for being "snobs" and are physically/emotionally punished.

Sep 17, 2010
I understand a little better now
by: Anonymous

My father singled me out for emotional, verbal and sometimes physical abuse when I was nine. It continued periodically until he died when I was 56.

He was an insecure and controlling man and treated his wife and three daughters as extensions of his ego with no rights or thoughts of their own.

When I was about nine years old and visiting other friend's home, I realized there was something very wrong at my house.

I began to ask questions and have thoughts of my own. When I began to express these thoughts, my father became very abusive. I was told I was spoiled, bad, trying to hurt my family,mentally ill. He hated all of my friends and forced me to end many friedships that he did not like (but are successful adults today).

He told other relatives what a bad child I was even while I was in the room.

As a teen I became very much a rebel (it was the 60's) but never hurt another person or animal. He began hitting me, dragging me by the hair and smacking me in the back of the head. I ended up in the hospital for a week because I was so stressed out not knowing when he would pull me downstairs and start telling me what a bad daughter I was that I started having severe panic attacks. At 14 years old I did not know what these were.

My mother and sisters witnessed all this, never did a thing to help me. My father had always been emotionally abusive to my mother but left my two younger sisters alone.

I was forced to leave home at 17 with no work skills while both my sisters were sent through Nursing School, put into exchange programs and given money to buy homes.

They have spend their lives protecting my father, who not only abused me but cheated on my mother, almost lost his teaching job due to sexual harassment and left my mother with no money when he died. They tell me and others that I made up this abuse, or deserved it if I got it. They are now as abusive to me as my father, telling me I am mentally ill, selfish, etc.

I have part of a masters degree in science, have spent most of my life working 60 hours per week and have a very successful child and beautiful grandchildren. I was recently diagnosed with post traumatic stress due to the treatment by my family.

I believe they know the horrible consequences of their protection and being servant to my father. They have to demonize me in order to protect themselve and their families.

Oct 04, 2010
by: Anonymous

thank you for all of your answers and support here. i am struggling tonight ... my 7 year old is highly sensitive and cries all the time, it pushes my buttons and it often grows until we are saying horrible things to each other. i know as the adult that sounds disgusting ... i should know better. in the moment i think how horrible it is to say, "don't be an idiot", "you are ruining my day", or "you drive me crazy". and i know that i wouldn't yell at her in public so it is clear to me that i take advantage of the privacy to lash out when she is acting up. i feel so small and that god is watching me with shame. my 6 year old usually just watches in silence, but I know she is absorbing all of it.

i gave up drinking 2 years ago. my grandparents were all alcoholics, many aunts and uncles, and i have relatives who have committed suicide. i have dealt with depression and post partum. when i have a bad day as a mother i feel so horrible like i want to 'pack it in'. i feel sometimes like my daughters would be better off without me.

i have a lot of anger towards my mother. she was emotionally abused by her alcoholic mother and although she doesn't drink i have always found her to be manipulative, judgemental...when she is with my children i can see that it irks her that they are closer to me than (candy giving) gramma. its like she wants to show me that kids love her but deep down we both know how much resentment i have for her. i lost a sibling and she has always reminded me how close she was to my sibling, implying that they were 'easier' than i was. she never liked my extroverted personality and acted wounded for hours if i spoke my mind. Ironically she thinks we have an amazing relationship. at least i make a point of starting fresh anytime we have issues in our home. i call it pressing the 'reset' button and it gives us all a chance to save face and start over...

i wrote this hoping for some guidance, but i think perhaps this is a chance for me to 'confess my sins' and get back on the right track again... thanks for anyone who has listened...

and also please understand from a parent that i love my children more than LIFE itself. when my 7 year old was born i cried and said that i didn't want to 'love anyone this much' and to this day i go into my childrens' rooms every night and whisper in their ear how much they are loved... so that even in that stillness my love for them might soak in and be healing in times of consciousness when things are rough. so please just know that although you may have been hurt, perhaps in some ways that parent loved you even more deeply than you know. that perhaps they had such HIGH hopes and expectations for you that if things weren't going perfectly it tormented them... and that in their rage they too were suffering, perhaps as a result of cumulative abuse or low-self esteem, depression etc. (not an excuse but a reason)... i hope that may help...

Oct 14, 2010
My husband had told me about his family.
by: Anonymous


I was raised in a very loving family except for my mother who used critisism as a way of punishment sometimes, but nothing like what he has described to me.
I could not fathom that his father beat him everyday for no reason sometimes, and his mother did not intervene. He says that the other kids were not abused, but after reading this article to try to understand his situation, I realized that the others were probably abused differently.
He was taken out of his home when he was 12 and made a ward of the state. His father just told him that he had made his bed now he could lay in it. He was placed in a boy's home where neglect seemed to be the norm. He is astounded that I went through so much with my now adult son without "kicking him out". I just tell him that love helps one to put up with things, but we did see a psychologist for his problems and mental illness.
I suggested that when we got married, that we visit his parents, but after reading the previous articles, I realize that what he said was going to be true. We would really not be welcome.
We've been married for 5 years. I still have only talked to his mom (not his dad) a couple of times. It's kind of awkward because I have suspicions that my husband was a " diffi-
cult child". I think he was super smart and things bored him easily.
Anyway, the point of this article is to say thank you to the people who have shared their pain so that I might understand a little better.

Oct 14, 2010
singled out
by: Anonymous

Thankyou for this post, I am in the process of trying to find ways to heal from the severe emotional abuse I have delt with my child and adult life. You see I too was the middle child. I had an older sister by 2 years and 2 younger brothers. My parents where well off and had huge admiration for perfection, in looks and acedemics. My older sister went to an expensive private school where she was an A student and very popular. I was attractive but a shy and poor student which my marks where alot of c and few b's. My father had NO relationship with me, he gave me the silent treatment my whole childhood. Thats right he never initiated a conversation with me or answer me when I talked to him. He would have a cold stare that would make me feel invisible and nonexistent. He did not treat anyone else this way just me. He never was physically abuse or verbally. But the agony of living with a highly well respected father who refused to acknowledge your existance was devastating to me. My mother denied it she spent my whole childhood trying to fix me. I was on 12 pills a day at one time to make me a better listener.(i was not hyper but a bit of a daydreamer) She would pick me up on my lunch hour and take me to a tutor and then again afterschool. She also never hugged me or praised me just did actions to improve me like I was retarded or something. My sister at a young age took on my dads role and ignored me and now that i am an adult no one in my family acknowledges my existance. They invite me to family get togethers which I have stopped going to because hearing how they all got together with one another regularly and never included me became to painful to bear. If I had a birthday party for one of my kids they would not call me back to say they where coming they would tell my mother to tell me they where coming. I have never been invited to any of their homes . My dad has never called me eather my whole life but sees them regularly. My MOM denies all of this to this day and she too now never calls me or has not arranged to see me in years. She does though make efforts to take my kids out when I am working. OR just them.

Oct 16, 2010
why singled out
by: ting

I suppose there are many reasons for one child to be singled out, and in the case of our family, I think that there was plenty of abuse to go around and some children got more of one than another.

Although I wasn't the one who was physically abuse (hit, slapped, chased, yelled at) I think that I was "kneecapped" in the sense of always being put down and made fun of. I was the third of 7 children, smart and independent. I was always the helped, the doer, the fixer, etc. As the years progressed I realized that I was mom's confidant; she was always telling me her problems and frustrations. I can remember thinking "Can't we talk about me?" For years into my adulthood, she would never evidence any interest in anything I said about myself. I was the one who cleaned up like a maid after family dinners and she would call me her "scully maid." To get to the point, and without building the entire case, I think my parents were always grooming me to be the helper, the help in their old age, the one who would take care of the other daughters. These patterns were started at a very young age and continued for decades. I am now 60 and finally starting my own life with a career study I truly love. No more feeling like an orphan looking in on the world through a window. I am consciously rejecting all the negativity of the past and as I distance myself from that family I feel stronger and more alive than I have ever felt.

It is kind of like Cinderella. The evil stepmother kept her as a slave and constantly belittled her and kept her busy. The myth says that the stepmother was jealous of Cinderalla's goodness. I cannot see that my mother was jealous of me, but maybe she was because I was somewhat precocious academically and I believe she felt trapped having married young and with numerous children.

My father joined along with her. I just reviewed a list of emotional abuses and I suffered them all at the hands of my parents. I'm hurting these past few days as it is all coming up and I feel that there is no one to talk to about this. It is a good thing that one can post here.

Oct 16, 2010
The Target Child as an Adult
by: Anonymous

The issue I deal with today is that nobody understands what went on inside our home when I was growing up. My parents, (father especially) were attractive, charming and well spoken. My two sisters were over-doted on and spoiled and grew up to be very confident, self assured and out going.
After 46 years of the dysfunctional family dynamic - my father and sister's treating me as lesser than them - I attempted to talk to them about the way they treat me. OF COURSE they refused to admit that they acted superior, treated me with disrespect and disdain and AS USUAL they rolled their eyes and said "what's HER problem?!" Well, I was not about to continue to be abused by my "family" for another day. I also will not hold them "emotional hostages" with my demands and make them act in a way they don't know how to - TREAT ME LIKE THEY TREAT EACH OTHER!
So I cut them out of my life.
My close friends and people who were observers to the day to day dysfunctions my family life growing up stand behind my decision 100%.
However, people who have no idea what kind of abuse I suffered and are only familiar with my handsome, charming, bullshitting father and my two over confident and charming sisters are all looking at me as if to say "what's HER PROBLEM?!"
I don't give a rat's behind about my "family" but it does bug me that they are badmouthing me and pleading their case of "what's the matter with HER?!" to a lot of people I know.
SO, they all continue to abuse and disrespect by putting me down to anyone who will listen......but at least I don't have to put up with them directly.
My mother is dead and my father is old and not in that great of shape. If nothing is resolved between us before he dies (and from what I hear that he is saying about me nothing ever will be resolved) I already know that I will not attend his wake or viewing but will only attend his funeral service. I will NOT subject myself to hours of people who know NOTHING ABOUT MY FATHER
telling me what a wonderful man he was and blah blah blah.

Oct 17, 2010
I'm sorry, I really don't understand
by: Anna

I'm still a bit confused. I'm the eldest of two children, I'm quite average yet I'm the only one being abused. My mother verbally and physically abuses me ever since I was in first grade, yet my little brother has never been abused. She keeps telling me that she never wanted me, she wishes I would run under a moving car, she kicks me out of the house and leaves me out there until my dad comes home and lets me back in. Why does she abuse me? I have no disabilities, I have good grades in school, I do what I'm told, WHY DOES SHE ONLY ABUSE ME?! I'm sorry, I was moved by your article but I still don't know why she only abuses me.

Oct 17, 2010
to Anna
by: Elisabeth

Take a deep breath, darlin'. I was there once too. Your story sounds exactly like mine.
WHY? I'm sorry, I can't answer that question. Probably only your Mother could answer that question, and only with the help of therapy. My Mother used me as her punching bag/stress reliever for a whole bunch of reasons. (Remember - none of your Mom's reasons are YOUR FAULT. These are HER problems.)

1) Survive. Don't antagonize her, keep your head down, find a way to cope.
2) Hold on to adults who support you. If at all possible, find a counselor, tell your story. I really wish I had.

Know that there are people who are wishing you the best.

Oct 24, 2010
Recognizing myself here decades 'after' abuse
by: Anonymous

I am 56, my mother, the abuser has been dead 7 years, yet I am still learning about what was done to me. This site is to me nothing short of a miracle, especially since I"ve recently sought and ended several months of counseling and was not given this simple explanation of Targeting, and subsequent invalidation. What I've decided also is that the parent's abuse requires certain roles be played out among the rest of the family. Siblings each have theirs, and mine was to be accepted by them as deserving this treatment. My mother's terrible treatment, which I now realize was contempt and perhaps hatred for me, continued until her dying breath, which out of duty I remained by her side for. After her death I continued to be loyal to my siblings out of an attempt to forgive and forget. Since their continued behavior towards me never changed and they were clueless about what was wrong with it, I've allowed myself recently to disassociate from them . This has been met by them with hurt feelings and even rage by my sister. I've never felt better, though. Loving myself was the key. I accepted it will never come from them, so I have to do it. The physical separation has allowed me to see them objectively, and now I feel sorry for them because she hurt them, too, and they are unable to see and fix it. Far from cured, I am still seeking answers. This site was one more and I am grateful.

Oct 26, 2010
by: Anonymous

I'm the Oct. 24th, 56 year old who commented previously. I wanted to add a few things I thought might be interesting to anyone studying us Targeted Adult children years after childhood. I noticed a similarity in some of the people's traits in other entries that I also shared. I suffer from PTSD, feel only comfortable alone, live like a hermit and can't stand groups, do not sleep at night, and am still plagued by nightmares and bad dreams regularly. I wasn't broken, but I was very damaged. I've decided it'd take the rest of my life to improve on me, and instead have chosen to enjoy what I can and except the rest. I'm glad to say there are my beautiful grown children in my life and some interests that bring me happiness.

Nov 02, 2010
To Elisabeth
by: Anna

I've tried telling other people about my mom. I told my guidance counsler in 6th and she actually called my mom and asked if it was true, my mom denied everything and the counsler believed her. I'm currently in high school and I have to live with her everyday telling me that she hates me, that she wishes I would jump in front of a car, that I should just kill myself. It's really painful...I've told so many people, i told my friends and they just brush it off laughing saying "haha anna be serious", my art teacher takes a look at my paintings and just suggests brighter themed hues, everyone just thinks i'm cracking under pressure of something and currently I feel like I just might explode. I don't know what to do anymore. I'm so sick of seeing her, listening to the things she says, and feeling her hand or items she has thrown at me. My grandma use to live with us and she saw all the abuse and she just sat there watching, after my mom would hit me I would go to my grandma's room crying asking why does my mom only hurt me, but my grandma just denies everything. Are people just in denial that someone they know is being abused?
I did ask for help, its just that no one would help me. I only have 2 more years before I graduate, two more years is all i have to wait for to get out of here.

Nov 13, 2010
you are my younger self
by: sara for Anna

Hi Anna, I was struck by your comments, as your life so perfectly mirrors my own. I am in my 20s now, but from early childhood, all through highschool and beyond I was treated with the same abuse. Your mother and mine could be twins.
My family and peers also looked the other way and would deny the abuse if I dared to mention it. My grandma, who was so sweet and loving, could not bear to admit her daughter was abusing her me. I think that's part of the problem, that our mothers were raised where they could do no wrong. No one wanted to do anything about it so they pretend they don't see it. Most people are cowards and simply do whatevers easiest--which is often nothing (then they justifiy this inaction by pretending they don't see whats happening).
Question: are you the only girl child or the eldest girl in your family? You've asked WHY she targets you and I can tell you that my own mother, who treated me with all the same rage and resentment yours does, was jealous of me. Yes. She was middle aged, losing her looks, in a dificult marriage, and along came a young daughter who was everything she wasn't; young, the picture of vitality and new begginings, the center of attention (which REALLY infuriated her), happy, playful, carefree. My mother was raised as the only girl in her family, and a much wanted one. She didn't like being "replaced." Or that's how her sick twisted mind viewed it. Your mother treats you like "the other woman" doesn't she? Think about it. Why else slap, degrade, resent, wish death upon you? She resents your existence because she is JEALOUS of you. She certainly is not treating or viewing you as the child you actually are. You're a child. Just a child. Not some woman she feels she has to defeat and tear down. There is no excuse for a grown adult woman to terrorize a child like this. She obviously never viewed you as a child. She views you as a threat. But that's on her. She is sick. Immature. Warped. No one helps you because they are cowards and want to do the easiest thing, which is ignore it. You, as a child have the least power, and are an easy target. Therefore there's little incentive for people to side with you. It takes guts to do that. Most people aren't thinking of you, but of themselves. They don't want to bring any trouble upon themselves. This may cause you do distrust humanity, but you can be one of the few who stand up for the vulnerable and powerless. One day. Your background gives you unique qualifications to assist others in similar situations. There are some (few) rare people out there that do care about doing the right thing.

Nov 14, 2010
Another targeted child
by: Terri

Many years ago, I was that child. I had four sisters yet they came through with the knowledge they had a good childhood. Too bad I couldn't be part of that.
Instead, I remember the blows at my mothers hands. I know well, the feel of a flight of stairs as I tumbled just hoping my frail body wouldn't break. After coming to a stop I watch my mother at the top of the stairs holding a handful of my hair. This happened often. Other times she was on top of me just pounding then walking off to the backyard when she was done and cried about how I upset her leaving me long enough to patch my wounds and hide my bruises.
Daily she made a point to tell me how she wished I was never born and I was nothing but a problem among many other horrible lines which spewed from her to cause as much damage as possible. She was so hateful!!! I know how it feels to have Pepsi pored over my head slowly as my mother smirked saying nothing more. (she got pleasure from that move for so many years) I remember hiding in my closet for hours sometimes days just crying and waking then cycling through it again. Being locked in an attic with a padlock on the door.
It took me numerous years as I went through the process of trying to figure out what I did wrong. What was it she hated me for?....simply why!?? Was it even anything within my control or was it simply that I existed?
I went on......left home but the memories never go away. Still fresh in my mind as if it were yesterday.

What has changed is me. I prefer not to be around people and if it weren't for work I would only leave home for necessary shopping trips. Two failed marriages but 5 beautiful children. (I refused to raise them like I was raised.-we didn't have much money but they knew I loved them)
I built a wall around me to all others. I know what it is like not to be loved......not to be special........but knowing I was alone and having nobody. Good thing I like myself because dammit!, I'm a good person.

Nov 18, 2010
to Anna
by: Elisabeth

"I only have 2 more years before I graduate, two more years is all i have to wait for to get out of here."

-- Very smart. And wise, to know that you DO need to graduate, that you need the tools to start a good career. Success is great "revenge".

Any counselor who would call your Mother should be fired on the spot. That action is now against all rules and guidelines.
If you go to the school nurse and show bruises, they are required by LAW to get you help without putting you in danger of further abuse.

Of course, I grew up in a time when these laws were not in place. When I went to the nurse, bleeding and concussed from a head wound my mother had caused, the nurse was required to call . . . my Mother. They sent me right back home, to infuriate her further with my nausea and dizziness. I do understand . . . and I'm sorry that you're in pain and in a dangerous place.

Things WILL get better. I hope, for your sake, they get better soon.

Dec 18, 2010
singled out
by: Anonymous

Thanks for this article. I'm the eldest daughter and was made a scapegoat for years. My father was physically and verbally abusive to me. As I got older I was more vocal about this being wrong and got told that I was difficult and disrespectful the abuse became discipline. Often I used to also get involved when my dad was being aggressive towards my mum. After each major blow up my mum told me that this time he was gone and that she was sorry I had been hurt. Only to take him back and be cold towards me and say that i shouldn't cause trouble. This cycle went on for at least ten years. I stayed in my bedroom a lot and my sisters even saw me as the problem.
My mother seemed very jealous of me as I grew older , making sometimes quite vile sexualised comments. I had a great relationship with my grandma , my mums mother , where she did not, which I think caused tension.
I left home at 17 and have tried to build my life. I still have self esteem issues and don't feel whole. On the surface though I do fine ..good job, car and house. Poor relationshjps, but not abusive. I'm working on this one!
I haven't spoken to my parents for 15 years. I'm 40 now. I don't love theim, I wish I'd had parents who loved and cared for me

Dec 24, 2010
What's the matter with YOU?!
by: Anonymous

That is a phrase that I have heard all my life. I'm 47 and I will NOT be told that anymore.
People like me and find me to be well grounded, generous with a good sense of humor. I am dedicated, sincere, hard working and loyal. I get along with just about everybody and I have a lot of friends, many of them are life long friends from childhood.
There are three people who I do not "get along with" anymore and that would be my so called family. I refuse to have anything to do with them anymore and here is why -
I was born 10 months after my sister - I was completely and totaly unwanted by my parents and was cared for by a neighbor lady until I was about 4-6 months and over the colic. Nobody bonded with me and I was viewed as some unwelcome entity my entire life. My mother was cold and indifferent towards me, she wanted my older sister and got pregnant with her so she could get out of her mother's house and start her own life. (Back in the old days you MARRIED the girl you knocked up) Big sister was sleeping through the night when I came into the world screaming, father thought I was sent to punish him. According to each parent it was "the other one" who was abusive and cruel to me as a baby.
They were equally opportunity abusers when I was growing up. I was the one who was struck, slapped, hair pulled, kicked and screamed at about what a piece of crap I was. I was told that I was a failure who would never amount to anything. I was the one who was denied and told "NO" as the others were given anything and everything they wanted. Big sister was Daddy's girl and she got it all - money, attention, money, praise, money, worhip, money.
The younger sister was mother's favorite and was doted on by my mother.
Both sisters picked up on the fact that I was the whipping boy in the family and they could get away with treating me poorly. They did not have to treat me with respect and equality and believe me they didn't!
I recently attempted to talk to my family about how their contuinued condescending treatment towards me and their lack of respect was going to be a thing of the past - I DEMAND RESPECT.
Of course my request was DENIED "What's the matter with YOU?!"
Anyway, I could go on and on and on but I will just say this and hope that some of you other "Target Children" will understand and feel a bit better about themselves -
I used to really feel cheated. I was not given an IOTA of the attention or "resources" that were given to the others. They went to college with a silver spoon in their mouths and I was told "GO GET A JOB". Even their children were treated a million times better than my children.
I do not feel cheated any more. I have no resentment. Both of my sister's are self important, hypocritical, obnoxious, artificial, dysfunctional bitches. I hate them and they way they are - not nice people. I am GLAD that I did not turn out like them.

Jan 14, 2011
child abused until child leaves
by: jp

I am 54 yrs old and just now reading your page after years of therapy and anxiety medication...i was a middle child of three daughters and all the children were treated harshly but my sisters did admit at one time that i was targeted most. As we left the home and started families of our own, my mother changed her abuse style. Since none of received acceptance, praise, love...when she calls one of us, she has praised the others to us but no word that anything was right about us. I guess there could have been some slight scrap of something that kept any of us answering the phone. To try to sum up this long story, i will just say that my sisters were enticed to be jealous of me from childhood because i had natural music tallent and was told by outsiders that i was the beautiful one. So, this mother had alienated her kids from being a family together. At holidays...she required us all to bring our families on Christmas Eve so she could pretend to be the 'good mother'. I think i realized early that it wasn't about us but about 'her need'. I have had years of not speaking to her. She got up from the table once to go to her room to kill herself because my father complimented the pork chops meal i had prepared. Obviously, she was jealous of her own child but somewhere inside i had hoped so badly that she really did love me. As time has gone on and as some of the other writers have is hard to realize there actually was not any love for us. Holidays are dreaded for me due to trying to avoid her calls to dump on me during the holidays. If i say no...she tries to override it by manipulations, etc. She has no interest in seeing my home or flowers but expects everyone to go dote on her things. I am through doing it. I am a Christian and this was the only reason i continued to try to get along at all with her. I honestly feel that the Holy Spirit is leading me to stay away from her and do not even talk to her on the phone to receive these gossip reports about my sisters lives when my sister do not care enough about me to make the time to see me. I do understand how alone some of you feel! I know that there is no good reason for the abuse we have endured and that these people will still dish out on us if we allow them to continue. NO, we cannot change them but we can change ourselves and stop looking for love where it isn't. The LOrd has seen all that was done to us and will avenge this. He will also bring people into our lives to help us heal if we will ask him to help us. As a side note, i use to defend my sisters when she was mistreating them...but they add insults to what she has done to me? HOlidays ARE HARD knowing others have families that want them. THANKS TO EACH OF YOU AND FOR THIS POSTING to allow us to post. I feel for each of you greatly*

Mar 02, 2011
by: Anonymous

I was targeted since I can remember. My mom had my older brother, divorced and had 5 children to my father, a total of 6 children. My older brother was targeted and ran away all the time, only one time he never returned. Then, it was me. I knew that early on. I wet the bed, and payed for it for years. If someone did something, I got blamed, then spanked for it, my mom knowing it wasn't me. It was like my mom tried to pull any attention from me in front of my dad and make him focus on the other siblings. My dad and I were so close, and I would cling to him. She put me in a small crib at 6 and 7, and told me if I wet the bed like a baby, sleep in a crib. It was very small, and if I would turn and bump the crib, she would come in with the belt, and use it on me. She put the sheet over my head in a cold room, and shut the door, my siblings would laugh and call me a ghost. She would then come in and there were times it froze to my hair, she would pull it off and tell me to get out of her sight. I also had to stand with my arms extended in front of me with my wet panties until they dried. If my arms got tired, she would go by, hit me with the belt and tell me to hold my arms out straight. My mom recently passed away, and I'll now never know what exactly I did to get treated this way. At times it is agonizing, and I can't talk to my siblings for they would say it is disrespect to my mom. Eventhough they all know what occurred. They pretty much treat me as less, and keep me where they feel I belong. I don't think I will ever be totally right. I always feel I am less than I should be. A lesson beat into me early on. All I can say is what a shame.

Mar 05, 2011
I too was the targeted child
by: janine

Thanks so much for your article. I was the target child and now at age 53 I realize it. I recieved some awareness when my grandmother apologized to me for not doing anything to stop my mom. Nothing could of changed her behaviour anyway. She was a very dominant person and if anyone disagreed with her or confronted her she lost it. Everyone was scared of her and she would make you pay for even talking back to her. My dad told me when I was 13yo that I was his favorite (out of four) and I never told anyone til right before his death. As far as looks go I was the second child and considered the most attractive of the lot.

My brother was golden as the first born, my sister almost died from sids, so she could do no wrong and of course the baby of the family was special cuz he was the baby. I was the black sheep, the total screw up of the group.

For the majority of my life I always thought I was just a big screw up and I'm sure my brothers and sisters would say I wasn't abused, although I was treated very differently from how they were.

Most of the abuse was mental although there was some physical and also destruction of my belongings. No wonder now I left home as soon as I graduated and did dabble in drugs in my late teenage years.

I don't know how a parent could knowingly do such damage to a sensitive, impressionable child as to make them feel so worthless and incapable of doing anything right. It's so cruel.

Anyway thanks for the article. I'm going to read some of your other ones.

Mar 05, 2011
how siblings react
by: janine

I thought I'd add my comments about how my siblings reacted to me. During my childhood my older brother would pick on me, this resulted in me being a tattletail. My younger sister and brother just avoided me for the most part. They didn't want to associate with me and get in trouble also!

Now that I'm older I'm not close to any of them. They are very quick to criticize my life, my hobbies and such, telling me 'what to do' so I'll be more normal. I show and breed dogs which they think is weird. My younger brother is more attentive especially if he wants something but if I do something he doesn't like he gets very abusive and controling again, telling me 'what I need to do'.

I mentioned my childhood abuse once and they acted like I was crazy. I'm sure to this day they would say I'm a bad seed and it was justified. Which is the way I was raised. I don't talk to any of them, they are not supportive just critical of everything I do. I've decided I don't need toxic or not!

Apr 11, 2011
Needing advice...My husband was an abused child
by: Anonymous

My husband was singled out as a child. He was the oldest and had two younger sisters. His mother and Father had them at a young age of 15. His father also was physically abusive with his mother and in front of him. He had a learning disablity and they would verbally abuse him calling him "stupid" and telling him he will never know how to read or do anything right. They always gave the sister's more attention, recogniation, time,etc. They still werent what I would call great parents to them but didn't treat them as bad as him. He also had to take care of his sisters while his mom was drunk, or just gone. It's really hard for him to talk about this subject. We have 3 children now...but at times I think he is starting to show traits of what they did. My oldest son to has a learning disability and although he has never called him names or anything...he is much more short with him, nags at him more, and even his tone of voice with him is different. I love my husband very much and it really kills me to know the kind of childhood he had to deal with but sadly if I would have known the extent of his family history before starting a family I really don't think I would have choose to take this relationship further. He doesn't communicate well and has long lasting affects. I will never give up on him but sometimes it's really hard. I really don't understand how a Mother and Father can live with themselves. The worst part is they still aren't even good parents trying to make mends and maybe try and be there for him and be grandparents but they don't...they are still bitter, evil, people..I pray for them because that's all I think I can do. What makes me upset is that when my son was a year old I went back to work and his mom would watch him twice a week( then I didn't know her part in the abuse) and he would cry. It wasn't for a very long period but he never did that with my mom...make's me wonder if she treated him badly...if she did I would not be able to live with myself. Now we have a minimum amount of contact with them. I still feel like my husband is looking for approval from them..but why??? he says he's not. Any suggestions on how to understand my husbands denial about this issue??? I know it affects him more then he is willing to admit. The only thing he ever admitted was he never felt like he belonged in that family...which is so heart breaking to me. I will not let history repeat in my house so I would like some advice on how to help him with his issues.

Apr 11, 2011
singled out
by: Anonymous

I come from a family of 4 I am the middle child. My father singled me out and never spoke to me or acknowledge that I existed.I was invisible.My mother constantly made me feel like a mentally retarded child and extremely stupid because I had some learning disabilities. Because my siblings where not treated this way by my parents, they have decided that I must be evil or something and have cut me out of their lives from childhood. SO i am like an orphan,with no contact except every few months I get an email from my mother. No one in my family will ever call me on the phone to say hi, but I find myself looking several times a week for an email from my mom. Even thou she writes only a sentence or two. I hold on to that. IT is very difficult, especially in our society to not have a family place. When everything is about family and placement. I am raising 3 kids alone, I have a career that I can support them, holidays are lonely and being a single mom is difficult. But the worst by far is not haveing a place in a family. By the way I am almost 44 and it does get easier but the sadness and hope never die. Julie

Apr 26, 2011
target child
by: Anonymous

I keyed into this web site because of my adult son who is still suffering from the verbal, mental, mild physical, and spiritual abuse he received from his father.

He does not understand why he was treated differently, and until recently was in denial about the abuse. I have been trying to figure out why he was singled out, and have come to a tentative conclusion. He is the youngest, and I think at this point in the marriage, my husband was finished with it, and wanted out. This child lengthened the amount of time he had to spend with me.

He was away as much as humanly possible, even volunteered for overseas when the children were teenage, leaving me to raise them alone.

I don't know whether he cheated during this time, but he did eventually cheat and I divorced him. The other children were his buddy and his princess.

Is there anything I can do for an adult child, to relieve the pain he lives with? He is still somewhat in denial as to how severe the treatment was. My husband was abused by his father, who refused to work and cheated all of the time, and finally left. My husband was essentially the man of the family.

Is there a book I can get, to help me to help him, or is it really too late? My son is very successful, loved by all, but I think there is a deep pain within him.


Jun 23, 2011
thank you
by: Anonymous

this helped me to understand why i was targeted
thank you

Jun 29, 2011
Abuse from parent and siblings a horrible secret
by: Anonymous

I have been abused as a child and it has continued to be even in adulthood. As a child my stepfather was the prime aggessor and my siblings and mother were the subaggessor. After he died my mother used my siblings as the prime aggessors. It took many years to realize that it was my mother all along who was targeting me. To this day I am threatened with violence and verbally abused. It has led to my withdrawl from the family. Although in private I am attacked when in public my aggressors limit their opposing behavior and pretend to be innocent and act like they don't know what is wrong with me that I am upset. I finally moved away from them for 30 years and the whole time I was gone they kept trying to get me to return. And everytime I visited the attacks would resume. I remember when I was a child everyone outside of my family unit always complimented me to my mother. Which would enrage her. Especially when I was preferred over the rest of my siblings. My Mother would say horrible things about me, as well as my stepfather would publically embarrass me to the point of tears. I would pray to God and ask why? Why did he allow this to happen to me? After leaving my family I found self-worth and a sense of who I was and who was the source of the abuse. The worse thing is the outside influences i.e. extended family and friends who see my abusers especially my mother as innocent and that the fact that I will not have anything to do with my family as an horrible atrocity that I the victim is committing. They refuse to see the truth that it is I whom is the victim not my aggressors.

Jul 10, 2011
Singled Out
by: Carrie

Thank you for this article. This shed some light on my situation. I was the abused child. My sister is and always has been the favourite. I am 40 and still to this day, it is that way. My parents will give her and my Husband even a Christmas gift but not me...This is just an example but it goes on and on. I seem to be the only one in my family who can see the abuse and as a kid spoke up about it, and as an adult won't put up with it. So I have basically been disowned. My sister also treats me badly but I know it's because of how we were "raised" I am learning step by step, that I am not all bad and it is not in my head what I see and know, nor is it my fault. I am just taking a stand, and as a result I am "rocking the boat" and they don't like their delusional world rocked. I am starting to become proud of the stand I have had the strength to take...It is a painful one but freeing at the same time.

Jul 17, 2011
Sister Of the Abused Sister
by: Michele B

I have two brothers and one sister, my sister was the scapegoat also known as black sheep of the family.

I witnessed the verbal abuse that my mother placed on my sister, I tried to help my sister but there was nothing I could do.

This feeling of helplessness to defend my sister had an effect on my life. I suffer from depression, anxiety, panic attacks and stress.

While my two brother, who where both the golden children, view my sister as a trouble maker who caused all this on herself and I am labeled as a mental case.

Both of my brothers have a different view of childhood, they were lavished with money, encouragement and admiration.

Needless to say both brothers are doing well financially and have a wonderful family life.

My sister's abuse carried thru into her adult life, she is now emotionally spent, has Lupus and RSD (Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy). She lives with that abuse playing thru her mind endlessly. She will not go to therapy because she feels that will label her as having a problem.

I have suffered from all this abuse in a different way, I carry it with me in my mind and heart. I also tried talking to my brothers but they would not say anything bad about their little favored world in childhood, so I am told to let it go and move on. I have been thru 20 yrs of therapy and still carry the scars.

My mother has since died, my brothers have no love or compassion for my sister and my father who added to this abuse in his own way is now in denial himself.

I often wonder if adult children who were verbally & mentally abused as children could sue the family member(s) would this put an end to his hideous crime and yes I do call it a crime???????

Jul 26, 2011
I often wondered...
by: Christy

I often suspected that I was targeted, but never wanted to admit it to myself. To admit it would mean that I am no good. I was the eldest child(girl),followed by 2 brothers and a sister. I can remember being terrified of my father from a very young age. I was physically abused for small or non-serious infractions from age 5 until I was 17. I always felt like the scapegoat. Always blamed for everything which went wrong in our family. Was labeled the 'difficult child'. Grew up feeling personally responsible for everything..even when I didn't do it, I tended to accept the blame. My father became wild-eyed when he hit and kicked me repeatedly with his fist/open hand/foot. It produced terror in my soul. I never could predict when he would explode. My brothers were never hit. Though I always had lots of chores, it became worse the older I grew. My mother made me clean her entire house and cook/clean up all the meals from 7th grade til I left home. I never understood why my mom didn't stop my father from beating me! I could barely wait to leave home. The saddest thing? my father began to beat my youngest sister who was 10 when I left home. Because of this, she hates me to this day. (As if it was my fault). Being targeted as I grew up never made any sense to me, so I constantly try to make sense when unfair things happen to me to this day.

Jul 27, 2011
Abuse denied
by: Anonymous

The biggest difficulty a victim of "Target Child Selection" faces is outsiders do not understand this form of abuse and will deny the victim's claim.
My father and chief abuser was a handsome and charming man, my mother could also be very charming. To all outside appearances ours seemed like the perfect little middle class family.
Those old standards "problem child" and "middle child syndrome" have always been used to label the victim and remove responsibility from the parents.
The target child continues to be subject to negative treatment by the family into adulthood. Siblings have been taught from childhood to treat the target child in a certain way. To the favored child their sibling is a bad child who can do no right while they are superior and never do wrong.
When as an adult, the target child tires of being treated as "lesser than" and begins to stand up and demand to be treated with the same respect and tolerence the family members give to each other they are shot down and scoffed at. "What's YOUR problem?!" The standard typical response.
When the target child realises the family dynamic and attitude towards them will never change and they shut the door on their abusive family outsiders always remember "yep, that one was always a problem child...." Again, the victim is blamed.
I believe it is a difficult situation to remedy. The spoiled siblings will never admit they are wrong and admit they treat the victim sibling with a disdainful and disrespectful attitude. They will also defend and protect the parents who protected, adored, spoiled and entitled them.
For many years I attempted to get my siblings to recognise their negative attitude towards me.
I had many situations and examples of how they were inconsiderate and rude but of course there was always a perfectly legitimate reason why they had acted the way they did. I was always expected to live with and accept the fact that the others got the good stuff and I was given the crap. The negative view and treatment of me extended to my spouse and my children! Family members doted on and spoiled one siblings children while always being critical, condescending and negative towards mine.
When I realised that fact I said "ENOUGH!"
I closed the door on my horrible family and as far as I am concerned I will never speak to them again. I get along with just about everybody, am well liked and am a good and decent person. I do not deserve and my children do not deserve to be subjected to the nasty, negative, superior way my "family" continues to act.
After cutting ties I received messages from my nasty family through mutual friends and other family. "I have known your father for 40 years and he is a good man, you should call him."
I have decided that no matter what response I offer, the outsiders will view ME as the one with the problem. So when I am asked by family friends "what's the deal?" I simply say "Google: Target Child Selection, good to see you, take care!"

Jul 27, 2011
How Do You Help an Adult Who Was Abused As a Child
by: Michele B

I have come to realize many adults acknowledge that they were treated differently from their siblings.

My concern is for the adult who does not seek any therapy for this past abuse.

They in fact know they where abused but cannot see they can benefit from therapy or help of any kind.

I have spent my life going thru therapy for what I witnessed as a child. I have tried repeatedly to help my sister who was emotionally abused but all my effort can cause her to get angry at me.

I am now being subjected to verbal abuse due to her inability to see what I see. I do not let her outburst and name calling effect me but I cannot help but see my mother in her coming out.

I wish I could say I could just turn a deaf ear but I did not do that very well as a child and now as an adult I am left to deal with my helplessness once again.

I wonder why people do not see how they hurt others when they have been so very hurt themselves.

All types of abuse hurt not only the abused but it also hurts the ones that wish it to stop and try to stop it.

So once again my question is this, how do you help someone see that the abuse they had to endure through out their life has changed them into a very mad and angry individual?

I do not know how to help my sister, I pray about this every day and will continue to do so until the day I die.

Aug 18, 2011
Thank you for your article!
by: Anonymous

I am one of 5 children. A middle female child. I was also a battered child living in a very violent atmosphere. My mother singled me out and I got the most abuse from her. My mother once stood by and watched as my father held me down slapped my face several times. My face was so badly bruised that I wouldn't leave the house. My brother was abused by my father and would later turn to drugs and eventual suicide. It took me until I was 49 years old to recognize what the emotional abuse was doing to me. My parents are no longer in my life and that makes me very happy. I am married to a very caring man who adores me and keeps me safe. I live a very quiet, safe and secure life. I am 58 years old now and free.

Aug 20, 2011
with hard work it gets a little better
by: Anonymous

I came to this website trying to find an answer to why I was abused, and my other siblings were not. If anything went wrong in our disfunctional household, I would get severly beaten by my mother, it didn't matter if i was innocent-which was almost always, she would just humiliate me more and scream at me that i was a liar, that i was the devil. This went on daily until she finally died of cancer when i was 15. At 17 i tried to kill myself, was in a coma for weeks, and the hospital for months. I am now 42 years old, i have spent the past 6 years in therapy. I could never understand the depression, hopelessness and isolation that plagued me. I spent twenty years taking any drug i could get my hands on, I 'knew' that i would finally succeed in killing myself, so nothing mattered, didn't care if i became a junkie. I don't 'know' that i will kill myself now. I will never again have any contact with my family because they will never accept my truth- i tried. Hang in there folks, work on getting to a place where you don't abuse yourself.

Sep 02, 2011
i was targeted
by: Jess

I was an unwanted pregnancy and I paid the price for that. It was horrible and I didnt realize until now at the age of 32 it was not my fault. i went through so much due to emotional and psychological torment that I am now writing a book about it hoping to help others. Thank you for you r atricle it helped me

Sep 02, 2011
Michele B
by: Carrie

Hi Michele B,

I too am in your shoes. I have a very abusive family and I am the targeted child (adult now but still a target) I think in part because I do see what is happening and will not allow it to be part of my life. My sister also treats me the way my abusive parents do. She has been abused too but doesn't realize it...She would rather live in denial. She is now going through a divorce after a 14 year marriage to a guy who cheated on her over and over, it only took her 13 years before she couldn't sweep it under the carpet anymore. Now in the mean time, she is sleeping with an older married man who actually resembles my abusive father. I have talked to her until I'm blue in the face. I have come to learn that you can't help someone who doesn't want to be helped. They have to come to the realization on their own and though it may break your heart to watch them fall, sometimes it's the only way. Hitting rock bottom, while horrible, is not always a bad thing. My sister chooses to live in denial that we have an abusive family and therefore can't see that it is directly connected to the choices she is making now. I love her, but I have to let her go. She has gone to counseling a couple times but never stays...I think because she doesn't really want to hear what they will tell her. Hope this helps.


Sep 04, 2011
A long wait...
by: Camille

I was always blaming myself for my mother's inability to love me and her constant affection for my older brother, but this article makes sense and I really did identify with it!

A thousand thanks!

Sep 04, 2011
by: Anonymous

I was not wanted from the time I was conceived.
My mother told me I was lucky abortion was not legal when she conceived me, my father told me I was born to "punish" him.
I did not bond with my mother who said that when it came to ME she felt like she was "forced to raise someone else's child."
My father tourmented me from infancy due to the fact that I had colic and cried constantly. His response to my cries of pain was to scream at me, bang my crib against the wall and even strike me, I was 2 weeks old. My mother's response was to put me in a small room downstairs and shut the door to "cry it out". She could not be up with me all night because she had to be up with my toddler sister all day.
By the age of 4 months the sound of my father's voice sent me into hysterics. When he approached me I recoiled in fear - I "rejected him" and it became easier and easier for him to be abusive and mean to me. My mother was apathetic and just did not care about me.
I had two sisters, one was daddy's favorite and the other was mother's pet. When they felt bad about abusing me they showered their favorite child with gifts, attention, love and praise. Those two think the sun shines out their ass and they think they're perfect. They also think there is something wrong with me as they were taught by the parents that I was the "whipping boy idiot" who did not deserve respect.
I was blamed for the negative feelings my parents felt when they had to look at the child they abused and neglected. My "parents" could not wait to get rid of me and when, at the age of 18 I got a job in another town they quickly dropped me off and forgot about me.
I used to think it strange that some adopted people desperately seek the love and acceptance of parents who gave them up at birth. But now I understand. What is even stranger is that as an adult I still find myself bending over backwards to gain the love respect and acceptance of those who abused, neglected and treated me with pure disdain.
I have been seeing a counselor for over a year now and am learning to let go, move on and lose the need to be loved by those who, for 42 years NEVER LOVED ME.
It is not my fault. I was and AM a good person. I do not need approval or apology from those who never deserved to have me in their lives.
I am not crazy, I am not the "BAD ONE", I am not defective.

Sep 04, 2011
Hi Carrie
by: Michele B


Thank you for your input on my ongoing heartache of watching what there is no control of. It is hard to watch a sister that you love and care for refuse to seek help.

I could not help my sister but I did help myself, if I would have looked the other way and felt I was "ok" I would not be the person I am today.

I stick up for what is right and I am not afraid to confront abuse. I do not tolerate that behavior in my life in any form.

I pray one day my sister will just happen to log on to this site and realize that she is not the only one that had an abusive childhood.

I actually pasted the web address in an email to her but I do not know if she has opened it. I have the feeling she would not want to read anything that will cause her to remember her heartache.

I almost feel like I am dealing with my mother and her thought process when I am talking to my sister about seeking help.

The only time my mom acknowledged what she did wrong was when she was placed on meds. The sad thing here is she was in a nursing home and they called in a therapist for her behavior.

My sister and mom never got the chance to work thru the pain; my mom has since died and my sister now is dealing with flashbacks and such sadness.

That childhood abuse wrecked my sister and her family, the abuse took away her physical and mental health in her adult years. It robbed her and my nephews of a family life when she experienced physical ailments in her late 20's.

That abuse destroyed that family because my sister was not able to handle the collapse of her health, job, home, and family. They lived a nightmare of being homeless while the physical ailment soon attached itself to the mental issue.

I know I am being a bit vague but it did work out in the end after years of praying and doing the best I could to help my sister and the family.

I really do hate abuse, really hate what it does to a wonderful beautiful person.

Sep 18, 2011
My eyes are opening
by: Melissa

I am the middle child and know exactly why I was singled out. My mom had 3 children by 3 different men. My mom was angry with my Dad so she punished me. My mom would never say anything bad about my sibling?s dads, but she would say horrible things about my dad. My mom was no where near as bad as my grandmother, she hated my Dad and wanted nothing to do with me. She pulled my hair every time I walked past her, she beat me, dragged me to school by my hair, tied to a bed and beat, threw holy water on my face, put soap in the mouth, called me names, the mental, physical and verbal abuse list goes on. My younger brother was abused after I left home by my mom?s boyfriend but not by our mom or grandmother. My older sister was NEVER, not once hit or abused in any way. Now that I'm 31 I've recently come to the realization that my sister makes a lot of comments to me that are down right rude. I never reply, I just go on as if I didn?t hear what she said. She says that I was bad when I was a kid. She shows no interest or happiness for me, yet I shower her with compliments and brag about her accomplishments in front of her and friends, I build her up constantly, because I want to be nice to her, she is my sister (well I?m done with doing that). Thanks to what everyone has been saying about their relationships I understand that my sister has picked up where my grandmother left off, my sister has been trained in her mind that I am a bad person that deserves to be punished. Also, now I finally understand why she doesn?t like my Dad, she heard nothing but horrible things about his character yet he was the only one of the 3 dads that paid child support and came to visit. It is all making perfect sense. My problem now is, do I continue a relationship with my sister or cut her out?

Sep 18, 2011
Way to go Michelle
by: Carrie

Hi Michelle,

So glad you found yourself worth enough to get help! I am in counseling to and finding that it is a death of sorts. A death of who you wish your parents/family were and how you wish they had treated you and therefore I grieve. I have been learning to feel for the first time after years of living numb to survive. Oh my goodness the pain and the tears that come in waves like grief. Hopefully this will lead to freedom in time! I hope you are doing well and get better and better everyday. Sorry your sister is suffering and you have to watch it, but they always have a choice and we can't make it for them. At least we have made a choice to walk down the road to health. All the very best. :)


Sep 25, 2011
history repeating itself
by: kae

My mom was the child singled out between her and her three sisters. She suffered physical and emotional abuse severe enough to maybe not match but come pretty dang close to that of dave peltzer. She was beaten starved locked away sexually abused and verbally abused my her mother and all this was ignored by her father. Shes always idolized her dadeven though he died before i was born and she still talks with her mom like nothing happened.

She doesnt beat me and she never has. Im not going to exaggerate that. She was a fantastic parent before she and my stapdad who raised me split. For a month or so she went into some kind of comatose trance and i had to care for my younger sis and 2 brothers. I did cooking cleaning shopping getting the kids off for school and home for dinner. We had hardly any money so id babysit for thinngs other than hotdogs cereal bread and peanutbutter and milk.

Id always been a good kid and my mom and i had a great relationship so i was shocked when she came out of her thing with a hatred for me and me alone.

My entire teen years were spent as the black sheep and everything i did was bad and wrong. I would cut and had poor self esteem. I was bulemic for a while because my mom would talk about how big i was and how small my sis was even though im only one size bigger than her. I had my baby at 20 and my sis is pregnat at 17 and my moms not upset with her at all and she thinks its great she had a girl and its "too bad" i had a boy. Which i find strange because she adores my brothers and they can do no wrong even though theyre flunking school smoke cigs and pot and act like hoodlums.

I have to live with her for the time being because of poor choices i made as far as roomates go and my boyfriends hard at work living an hour away couch surfing to get us out of here. I pay rent and im the only one that cleans. Im activly looking for a job and do everything she asks. My brothers treat her like crap and she still loves them better.

I feel bad for her because of what she went through but i cant take this any more. Im understanding now that im beautiful im good and im loveable. I want my son to grow up knowing this too so im about an inch away from breaking all ties with her when i move out. I will not allow him to grow up thinking his cousin is better than him because grandma says.

Sep 26, 2011
To Melissa
by: Anonymous

As someone who has 2 sisters who were trained by our parents to view me as lesser than them I say you have to leave your sister behind.
To your sister the ignorant, selfish, inconsiderate, condescending amnd abusive attitude towards you is a complete norm. She knows no other way to view you and will never acknowlege that she is doing anything wrong. YOU were always the one who was wrong and if the dynamnic was anything like what I experienced, your sister was over indulged and spoiled which leads her to believe that SHE is always right and does no wrong.
For many years I attempted to point out to them that they were tolerant towards each other but had little tolerance for me. They were considerate towards each other but not to me.
Every time I attempted to point out to them that they did not treat me like they treated each other they rolled their eyes and said "oh JANE, what's YOUR problem?!"
I could give you some outrageous examples of their lack of respect for me and even my family but I could write a novel and there is not enough room.
For your own personal happiness you have to delete from your life those who are a constant reminder and re-enforcers of the "fact" that you deserve to be a target of negativity and disdain. You will never be able to heal your siblings who were also subject to a disfunctional childhood. You will never get thwm to admit they are not perfect and they need to change anything about themselves.
Your siblings see no reason for THEM to change in order to make YOU happy.

Oct 10, 2011
abused mentally ill adult child taken out of will
by: Anonymous

i have been emotionally, mentally, physically abused, and now i am taken out of the will, i live in ontario, i am on disability for trauma and depression and anxiety, i need help.

Oct 14, 2011
To the poster from Ontario ^above^
by: Anonymous

I do not know what kinds of services are available in Canada. I hope you can find a counseling center that operates on a "slide scale" (fees based on your income and ability to pay).
If a counseling center is not available to you then try to find a support group for people who are survivors of abuse. These may be found though calling a local hospital, they often have group meetings.
It sounds like you are very alone and meeting with others who can understand and relate to your issues and the pain they cause would be very helpful.
The hardest part of healing is reaching the point where you rid yourself of the need for your family to confess their faults and recognize their need to change.
You cannot change others, especially in a Target Child situation. Remember, the others were entitled while they watched you be mistreated. They see no reason to change their ways because they were trained to see and treat YOU as "the one with a problem".
I hope you are able to find a support group who can help you understand that you are not at fault and that you WERE a victim who does not deserve to be a victim anymore.
Good luck to you~

Nov 16, 2011
Denial is a form of continued abuse
by: Anonymous

Overcoming Target Child Selection is very difficult. A victim first needs to recognise that they were not at fault, they also need to understand that their family has been programmed to believe that the victim child is the "bad one".
Parents who have targeted a child will never admit their abuse and will continue to insist that their target victim was a "problem child".
Siblings, who were witness to the abuse and who were trained to treat their target sibling with disdain are often over indulged and spoiled and will also never admit their faults.
The need to be loved and accepted, especially by your own family is a very strong human emotion and is difficult to overcome.
In order to move forward with their life, a Target Child must often leave their family behind. It is difficult enough to fix yourself, there is NO WAY a victim will ever be able to heal their family members.
Another obstacle to healing is the fact that there are outsiders who will view the target child who has liberated themselves from their abusive family as the one with a problem.
YOU are the only one who matters and you have to forget about what others think.

Nov 30, 2011
Thanks. I wasn't aware of these things.
by: Anonymous

I was singled out constantly growing up-I was hit, threatened, kicked, almost drowned, almost thrown across the room, whipped with sticks, locked away, and had other stuff done to me that no one deserves to have done to them. I found this article informative. Thankfully the physical stuff stopped a while ago but it left an indelible mark on me and my emotional health. I'm still verbally abused. I'm called stupid, useless, that I should go kill myself, accused of things I never did, threatened, lied to (yes, I consider lying to someone a form of verbal abuse because being lied to hurts), and blamed for every single thing that happens. I do not have any disabilities nor am I autistic. I don't understand why people treat me the way they do. Maybe because I'm introverted and shy. If that's the reason it's a senseless reason to treat me like this. Because of the way I was treated I never let anyone close enough to me to hurt me anymore. I will never understand why this happened to me-I'm a good person and never deserved any of that. :( I'm timid and do not trust now because of that.

Dec 02, 2011
I know the feeling....
by: Erin

Wow. That was a lot to take in. I am now 22 and the third eldest out of nine. All from mom and dad. And ever since I can remember my mother was always rather harsh towards me. I was always the child she set to bed without dinner if I did something wrong (normal child stuff) I was treated like i was possessed or bad. I spent a whole summer at the age of nine in my bedroom from sun up to sun down only coming out for meals and the bathroom, I didn't do anything that warrented that, infact after awhile I forgot why I was even grounded. As I got older she would literally throw me out over night in the cold if I did something wrong (only one of my siblings this happened to) and slept in a church across the street. I was always called names by her she never wanted any hugs from me etc. Without getting too lengthy. One of my fellow sibling made up lie that I said something about my mother that was untrue and that gave her the ultimate excuse to not talk to me. It's been four years now. She still wont talk to me. She doesn't even know me anymore. I am happily married have three year old son have my own home and am in the processes of finishing my degree. I still don't have an answer to this day why she treated me less than and even told me that she hated me. At least now I have an idea. Thank you for this. However like most it's too late. I never was under the understanding of this when I could have told someone.

Dec 03, 2011
Suffers from guilt
by: RG

Well, I was born into a large family. The youngest and "wanted". Unfortunately, not all of my siblings were viewed the same way. I am 31, and still have not found closure on my upbringing & am realizing that I probably never will. My mother had 6 children within 5 years (two sets of twins). I was born 7 yrs later. Overwhelmed, depressed & ignored by our father she took her anger out on 3 of my siblings. Mainly my only sister and brother, twins. What I witnessed as a child should never have occurred. No one did anything to help. I have dealt with heavy guilt for being a "favorite" and refuse my mother's attempts at creating a wedge between my sister and I. I understand that I should consider myself lucky but there will always be ugliness in my past that i carry. My mother has some sort of mental disorder & acknowledges her abuse without emotion. I wish I could say more but leave with this. My abused siblings are good positive people despite it all.

Dec 13, 2011
by: Anonymous

I am sorry these things happened to all of you people out their, but I hope you realize that the child who is the abused child is actually the strongest child of the bunch. The siblings that were not abused but witness the abuse are usually doomed to have a very unhappy life because they end up carrying all the guilt around and they are witness to the terrible abusive events that happened to someone else. So if you were abused and your siblings were not, your siblings will most likely have a much crappier life then you ever will,even if it does not seem apparent when you look at me they are hurting badly inside. This is unfotunate.

Jan 01, 2012
Siblings of the Abused
by: Anonymous

The previous post is correct!
I used to feel resentment over the fact that not only were my siblings never ever subjected to the negative treatment/abuse that I was, but they were also showered with gifts and praise and were never made to do anything, like chores.
Now I realise that I am the one who is able to enjoy the important things in life while my siblings are superficial, materialistic and have serious disfunction in their lives.
Both my sisters are very shallow, judgemental, intolerant, unable to feel empathy or compassion towards others. They are completely wrapped up in themselves and think the world revolves around them.
Both my sisters were coddled and spoiled while I was shown the door at 18. I was not a bad kid, the parents got rid of me because every time they looked at me they were reminded that they were abusers. I made them feel bad about themselves (seriously, everything was and always will be MY "fault").
I am a very happy person with a good marriage and good children. My two spoiled sisters are a friggin mess. THEY don't think they are but I would not trade places with either of those miserable b***hes for all the money in China.

Jan 13, 2012
abusive step fathers
by: Anonymous

why would a step father target the boys and not the girl?what "defective traits" do boys have that the step father hates?

Jan 13, 2012
by: Anonymous

this describes family i know perfectly. dont know how to get them help without risking not seeing the kids

Jan 14, 2012
My husband is doing this to our daughter, I don't know what to do!

My Daughter is 8 yrs old, I have a 16 yr old son and also a 5 yr old son, but for whatever reason my husband treats his ONLY daughter horribly, he never spends time with her, he never says anything to her except to yell or get on her about something she has done wrong, Many of my friends and family see it too...we are in Marriage counseling and she is in Counseling too but I don't know how to make our marriage work if he continues to treat her this way...As a mother its my job to protect her and I worry about what this is doing to her self confidence! What should I do to help her any ideas?

Jan 27, 2012
Targeting involves the whole family
by: Anonymous

This really hits home for me. I'm 47 and haven't spoken to my mother for 10 years, and barely speak to my father. Both of them really favored my sister (one year older than me) my whole life -- supposedly, she was nicer, cleaner, easier to get along with. In reality, she slept around, did drugs, was a serious shoplifter, cheats, name it. I walked a straight and narrow path my whole life, and the result is I'm never good enough or respected (even though I graduated with honors from one of the best schools in the country and have a strong 26-year marriage and a great kid who's going to Harvard for graduate school next year). My mother actually told me that she "begged" my father to let her abort me, that I was a "mistake," that I was a disappointment because I wasn't a boy, that I was a horrific baby/toddler/teenager, etc. etc. etc. She told me when I was home once from college that I made her feel like committing suicide. You name it, my existence from day one was a nightmare for her. She made herself miserable over it, my father miserable (he didn't stand up to her, though he knew that I was having lots of problems with her), and her behavior let my sister know that it was okay to treat me terribly. My sister used to beat me in high school and even in college, though I never hit her once. My mother actually disowned me when I was about 34, because she said my sister needed the money more (not true, and cruel regardless of the facts). When I told my father, he laughed. Well, now I guess they all have each other, because I won't be the one taking care of either parent in their old age. It took me a long time to realize I could never please my mother and that it wasn't my responsibility to try to please her; when it finally truly hit me, I walked away and haven't spoken to her or my sister since. She sends cards to me every now and then, but I don't trust that she understands why I can't speak to her any more, so I don't plan to reopen the relationship. I also don't trust my father, whom I feel abandoned his parental responsibilities toward me by not protecting me, or my stepmother, who stayed as far away from the situation as she could (and she has a PhD in child psychology, hah), or my sister, who benefited from not being the targeted child.

Jan 29, 2012
They're not my family - they never were
by: Voiceless Victim

I'm the target child, only daughter, with one brother 2 years older, one 2 years younger and another born when I was a teenager (and therefore I was responsible for doing all the work of raising him).

My narcissistic mother was the main abuser, my father was emotionally and often physically absent and just repeated "Do what your mother wants". Anything to avoid being the target of her attacks. Unfortunately as the target child I couldn't avoid it.

Why? All I can think of is I was the only female (she was more like a patriarch), she was jealous, she lost her mother at 17 (while I never had one), and I was very bright and outgoing. She put an end to that and I ended up shy, insecure and unable to trust anyone.

My psychopath older brother had his own nasty tricks, mainly focussed on completely destroying my self esteem, independence or confidence in my ability to protect myself from my abusers. Boundary violations of every kind and sexual abuse were also used to keep me from ever feeling safe.

My parents laughed at my brother's abuse, pleased that he was doing part of their work for them. One younger brother was ridiculously easy going to prevent being targeted, saw what was going on but was too weak to stand up for me, while the baby was the golden child and turned out a spoiled brat who uses my female parent for his own convenience as much as she manipulates him.

As a result of this abuse from birth and completely dysfunctional environment, my staunch catholic parents were thrilled when I was targeted by a catholic sexual predator. They had softened me up for him so I was unable to defend myself, and of course they wouldn't defend me - they were part of the church inner circle because of my abuse. And very disappointed when six years later I ran away to escape him.

This terrific start led to me falling into the clutches of other rapists and to marry an abusive husband, but recently I have stood up to the catholic church, had the predator arrested, cut off my entire family, am about to report my brother to police, confronted my husband - who has improved (and come out as gay), separated from him and am trying to learn how to live.

I accept they are incapable of loving me or accepting me, or of changing. Its their problem. All I want from them is never to see their ugly faces again. I feel so much better without their abuse which continued to the day I cut them off.

The funny thing is, if I was trying to hurt them, which I am not, that is the one thing that will really get to them.

Best wishes to you all on your own road to recovery.

Jan 31, 2012
Victims continue to be victimised.....
by: Anonymous

What I would like to find is advice on how to respond when "family friends" ask about the family members who I no longer allow in my life. Of course there is always the standard "oh he's fine" said with a fake smile but I hate saying that and it often leads to other questions "so what is he up to these days?" etc.
I do NOT discuss my situation with anyone and want to leave it that way.
What gets me is the strange looks and accusatory attitudes of people. When they discover that you (the TARGET CHILD who they know NOTHING OF your suffering) are not in communication with your ABUSIVE family they always assume that YOU are the one with the problem. That should not bother me but it does. I was the victim, I refuse to be a victim anymore and I for that I am judged by others.
Do I tell them that I was beat and kicked and smashed in the teeth?! Do I tell them that the others were spoiled with gifts and praise while I went without? Do I tell them that my siblings and parents continue to treat me with disdain and an abusive superior attitude?! Seriously, how the hell do you respond when a family friend begins inquiring about your so called "family"?! I have tried everything I can think of including changing the subject but is there anything I can say that will not make ME look bad? I believe it is not a good thing (and not very flattering to ME) if I say anything negative about my parents but is there anyway to explain that you are not "intouch" with these ABUSERS anymore without telling people your life story or putting them down?
Any ideas anybody?! Thanks

Feb 02, 2012
End of the Line
by: Davy

I am in desperate need of some advice, if I can get some. My significant other, the middle child of 3 girls, has been emotional abused throughout her life with some shades of physical abuse tossed in along the way. She has never had anybody to trust or really speak to, until me, and even after 2.5 years, I still don't think she trusts me. I do the best I can, on supporting her and listening to her, but I never experienced any abuse when I was growing up, so its hard for me to relate. All the abuse that she has received in her life is just sitting inside her, eating away at her self-confidence, self-worth, and her general outlook on life...and it scares me. I love this girl very much and am looking towards marrying her in the future, but I'm not sure of her emotional stability and willingness to stick it out with me when the going gets rough.

She's threatened suicide a couple times but has never gone through with it. I would like her to see a psychologist and have even offered to go with her and go through it as a couple, but she wont go for it. I don't know how to help her if she wont try and help herself. She still won't stand up to her parents, because she says "it is disrespectful", even though she is a 22 year old senior in college. I would love to help her, but I don't want to inherit a project that may or may not work out because she wont face the facts. Please help, wether its from past personal experiences or professional help. Any insight and/or suggestions would be much appreciated.

Feb 02, 2012
To Davy
by: Erin

I am speaking from someone that was once in her place. I am also 22 years old. I am now married with a 3 year old son and also going to college. I have shut many people out. And yes it's hard to talk to people. Very hard, i don't even think i can put it into words. I however cracked after having my mother push me away for the final and last time. I have not spoken to her since I was 18 years old. If showing her this helps (what i am writing to you) do it. I did not want any help, in fact i was insistent that i was going to be okay and that i could hold my own. the truth is, all that you hold inside and the more you do it, the more bitter of a person you become and it will distroy you as a person. I would know. She needs to talk to someone, maybe less intimidating than a psychologist, however she needs to start some where. Have her start by sharing it with a close friend. The best thing you can be for her right now is a pair of ears. People like us need to talk this kind of stuff out, that's the most important part if it, especially if it's been bottled up. just get it out there. And second, if you wish to continue a relationship with her you need to be patient. Things like this take time, It took me four years to talk openly about my mother being abusive to me. And there were days I had some pretty erractic moods going on, thankfully my husband stuck it out with me = ). But there were days too that he went on the internet to research how to deal with me to. I remember being insulted at first but now i understand his side of the scenario. Sometimes, it's better to cut those "bad" relationships out of our lives than to let it keep hurting us. I shared some of my story earlier up in the comments if you wish to read. My mother was very abusive, she still wants nothing to do with me, and my father and siblings never did anything to stop what she was doing and i was one out of nine children. I have had everything from my mother religiously brainwash me to having my head slammed into a wall repeatedly.Be there for her, help her heal. I promise it will be worth the wait. especially if you truly love her. I hope I helped. I apologize if i haven't. But i can tell you, you're not alone being on the opposite end. take care.

Feb 06, 2012
a series of unfortunate connections
by: carolyn

My dad sexually molested me as a child. I think he wasn't right because he was sexually abused himself as a kid, suffered trauma in Vietnam and survived paralyzing polio, making a full recovery. Now he's an old man with alzheimer's.

My mother was an achingly beautiful young girl from am extremely poor village in central America, when she met my.military father. She lived in a shanty town and did not own shoes. I believe she married my unnatractive father because she wanted a piece of the American dream and an escape from poverty.

They married very young and moved to a high crime inner city neighborhood in NYC. I was the first born. My mom beat me regularly because she says that's how things were done in her country. But the truth is she was disapointed and disillusioned in her new life in America. She was also too proud to let family back home know she might of regretted her decision.

I don't know why I was targeted for abuse over my younger siblings. Maybe its because I was prettiest child who most physically resembled her. Maybe its because I wore glasses. Maybe its because I was sickly or too chubby or not quick thinking or charismatic. Maybe because as oldest child I should've been quicker more reliable assistant to help het with my siblings. But maybe she knew my dad molested me. Maybe she became disgusted with me and sacrificed me to save the others...but she made me eat off the floor. She shaved my head. She beat me daily and worst of all humiliated, insulted, defeated me daily. In time she isolated me from my siblings. And years later when I told her what het husband/my father did to me, she called me a liar and wh**e. Even though my father admitted and apologized for his behavior.

I don't know why I was selected for sexual abuse, physical and psychological abuse while my siblings were spared. But I think I was unlucky in the same way that victims of natural disasters like twisters, hurricanes, tsunamis, war & famines are.

I'll never know.

Feb 20, 2012
need some serious advice
by: Anonymous

I'm trying to figure out the next step to help a little boy that is being psychologically abuse by his parents, it's a long story but i'll try to make it short.I worked for that family as a nanny since he was born. When he was about 2, 2 1/2 years old I started to notice cruelty from the mothers part and it only got worst from there, I confronted her and him about it and she simply didn't agree with me, in fact she throw it back at me saying I was over protecting of him, and as for him what she says and does is the law,(yeap, one of those...) I also talked to other members of their family,they said they did notice that they were really hard on him but nothing was done on their part,they didn't want to get involve, there are two other children in this family and they are treated fine. I've been feeling really sick about this situation because the little boy is really feeling horrible, and the constant humiliation doesn't stop, as he gets older he is getting really embarrass about it and when i try to talk to him so he can express himself he gets really mad at me and I have to drop it. I talked to a child psychologist and she didn't think calling social services may help, I just don't want to do anything that would hurt him more, but something has to be done.I think his relatives should be ashamed of themselves, he is such an amazing boy, i would appreciate any advice.

Feb 20, 2012
to Davi and Erin
by: Gina

Erin,first off my hart goes out to you and I'm sorry no one in your family step up to help you, that probably was worse than the abuse itself, I saw abuse in my own house by my mother to two of my sisters, I'm the youngest girl of 7 brothers and sisters, I just remember being crying all the time and so so sad for them, I did stand out to my mother so many times, in fact she would kick them out of the house and although i was just 12 I would go with them, it felt so right, my mother went so far as too make me choose either seeing my sisters or getting an education and of course I left my education slide, growing up like that just does something to your soul, I left my country when i was a teenager and I don't think I could ever live there again,too many bad memories, my sister don't really have any relationship with my mother, one of them tried to kill herself a bunch of times, they live in Europe and I live in the united states but we are so close...,they often tell me that it helped them a lot that I stood up for them, it always make me cry, but enough of this, I think when really traumatic situations happen is important to get help, of course has to be the right one, but Erin I really wish you the best as for you Davi my opinion is that your girlfriend still has that fear from her mother, she needs to get help to somehow confront her, even if is with a letter she will never send, be patient with her as you guys probably have a difficult road ahead.good luck with everything.

Apr 13, 2012
Singled out
by: Anonymous

Im 43 &female and im having a 'bad'night where im remembering the past. I was the singled out child. My mother who still likes to assert her power over me has been being nasty again to me. I still get it from her occasionally,and it still knocks me down. Its verbal and emotional now, the violence stopped years ago.cos the verbal can be disguised with"all i said was...".she knows exactly what shes doing.

Apr 24, 2012
by: Anonymous

I was a middle child and my mother abused me in eveIry way but sexually. There were 6 in our family. I was a child in the 70's so child abuse was never addressed. My mother never once told me good job or nothing positive. She talked to me when I was 6 and 7 like you would talk to an adult. I was beat black and blue once so bad I had to wear long sleeve shirts in the summer. I always wondered why I was the only one out of the 6 to suffer abuse at her hands.

May 27, 2012
Never Look Back
by: Anonymous

I finally got the "balls" (excuse me) to say the hell with the whole "middle child disabled ruined our lives not as good as the other children" crap, and it was the best thing I ever did. I have had a wonderful time developing who I am, what I believe (I actually became a happy neo-Pagan and abandoned the whole male dominated Catholic lie), graduated college (the first in the family to do so and neither of my parents set foot in a college), and working full time and buying my own home. The freedom that comes from finally leaving the whole thing behind is at first like having to deal with a death, but once you go through that mourning process and get on with things, life is a whole lot happier. I happily will not have to deal with angry old agers, the government can do that. I don't have to deal with siblings, a friend of mine and I have adopted each other as sisters (both abused) and we are truly family. I have friends and stay active. As a neo-Pagan I don't have to buy into the fantasy of the perfect Norman Rockwell Christmas, and even if I was a Christian I wouldn't waste my money on decorating for holidays, knowing that a vacation to the beach is more desireable than blowing money on home decorations that really have nothing to do with what is supposed to be the true spirit of the holidays. If I do celebrate the holidays with friends, I don't bother with much except food (which feasting is always fun and welcoming!). I am free of any and all criticism and abuse of how I choose to live, what to wear, eat, where to work, how much or little to spend. And I am a highly capable, intelligent woman who is very independent and really having a good time. Some people feel sorry for me for "not having a family", but if they had seen mine, they would understand better. Family isn't biology, and the whole religious "honor thy parents" stuff is null and void in my book if your parents are ---holes. Don't remain their punching bag. Move on, find your own way. You won't die, God won't strike you down, you won't go to hell -- you'll have friends, your own place, your own peace, and you will survive. I did, and a new house of my own awaits! I get to paint my own walls purple and yellow and green, get to have the garden I always wanted, and get to be selfish for myself with no guilt because I deserve it. You deserve your own life too. No one deserves a piece of you, mentally, emotionally, physically, or spiritually. They don't live in your body, you do! It is your brain, your body, your soul, not theirs, and they cannot take or touch what you don't let them. And NEVER LOOK BACK because they won't miss you or care in the least. Unless they need something, which you will ignore because they ignored you. Let them lie in their own waste. You get up, get washed off, and get on with the rest of your wonderful life!

Jun 27, 2012
Makes sense to me if not to you
by: Anonymous

This article makes sense to me. I may not appeal to some of you because you may not have been singled out. I grew up in a family of 5. I had a brother older by 9 months older than I. We went to the same school and my mother always to forget to give me money for school and was neglected for books and was constantly punished for his mistakes. None of my other siblings we punished, verbally, physically and mentally like I was. I always thought growing up that it was all my fault. Something that I was doing that was wrong. One day my mothers friend told me she always noticed I was being treated different from the rest of my siblings and I should get someone to talk to. She advised me to leave home since she thought it in my best interest. I did eventually see a therapist. Through our therapy after sometime the therapist indicated that I was indeed singled out by my mother because of whatever personal reason. So maybe some of us are simply abused and some of us amoung the rest are singled out and abused to a greater extent. I can't say all that I would like to but this is a summary.

Jul 16, 2012
by: Diane V


Jul 19, 2012
Grieving the Impossible
by: Unplanned number 3

I am 44. That is an achievement in itself, as I attempted suicide, when I was only 17. Instead of concern or basic human regard from the hospital staff, at the time, they treated me like the trash my family never wanted. Nobody gave a crap about the hell I endured for years as my body grew, and my self-esteem withered.
I was the unplanned and targeted black sheep. As third child of four, I was witness to other limited abuse of siblings, but only until they reached their late teens. As they stood up and fought back, they were no longer challenged. They all grew to be abusive to my parents. They are always forgiven, however, and continue to be welcomed and loved. They grew up to be abusers of their own children, if they had any adult relationships, and are very unhealthy, psychologically. They continue to treat me as disrespectfully as they can. They have threatened my life with guns, told all of my extended relatives lies about me, and have gone out of their way to ruin me, financially.
I stood up to my parents and sibling abusers, without any relief. But the abuse just got sicker and more creative as I aged. I was different than all of them. I was smarter, was obviously perceived as prettier, although continuously told how unattractive I was, and I am simply more human. They are all certifiably, mentally I'll. They are all narsicists, my brothers are schizophrenics, and my only sister is Satan's spawn!
I have never been accepted by either parent, or siblings. I was always embarrassed by them publicly, and shamed because of them all through school. Yeah, I bet you already guessed. We all went to private parochial school. The Catholics learn how to do one thing really well. They will treat you like shit, and deny it all! They coined the term hypocrisy. Stupid me, I was the kid who grew up feeling GUILTY about everything. So dumb, and so emotionally deprived, I kept returning for more abuse throughout my adult life. I felt sorry for my aging parents and the way my siblings treated them. I cared for my aging Father until his recent. My husband (my HERO), and I attempted to continue helping my elderly Mother. But siblings have turned against in unison, now. We have been threatened physically, legally, and have reached the breaking point. I realize now, that Mom was the greatest perpetrator of my abuse all these years. I couldn't imagine that she despised me so much. I always saw her as a victim. I am now threatened by the elder abuse attorney she recently hired. Laughable, as I was the only one trying to protect her from the abuse of my siblings. WOW! Mom will have to live with her ignorant decisions, and I will have to cease ALL toxic relations with any of them. They have what they all want. I am no longer a threat to any of them. They are not worth the time and energy I have so selflessly given up for them. They deserve each other, and what's to come!

Jul 19, 2012
Fix Yourself
by: Unplanned number 3

After all I have been through, I realize one important fact. I can only change the way I allowed my perpetrators to make me feel about myself. I am OK! They have the problem. I don't have to tolerate crap from anyone, anymore. I am relieved of the guilt-nose my family held around my neck for so long. I can't help them or make them better. They have to want it for themselves. I know better, and will survive! I am a better person, despite my so-called family. They will never know the meaning of my life. That is their loss. Don't ever give up on yourself. Nobody else can really take that from you, except yourself.

Jul 23, 2012
How to let go?
by: Anonymous

I have a great loving family of my creation, but have been progressively cut-off and rejected by my entire family of origin. I've always found a way to forgive and look past all of the chaos, mental health issues, constant disrespect, threats, physical and mental abuse, directed only toward me. My sick need for approval and acceptance has made for a lifetime of misery-of my own creation. I stuck around for the ongoing abuse, and gave up my self, year after year. I am emotionally and nearly physically sick, thinking about the hurt that their final rejection has caused me. My Mother used me as her protector, and caregiver, all my life. I filled a parental role for her! Now she suddenly wants nothing more to do with me or my family, including the only grandchild she has known. I'd like to think that her sudden and abrupt change in personality was due to a brain tumor or illness. But I know it has everything to do with my siblings, to whom she has always devoted her love and attention. I know I can't force a relationship that didn't exist, but it's all I knew. I don't know how to get over the grief I am experiencing. It would be much easier to know that my parent abandoned me because of death. I am struggling with this loss. It doesn't matter how old you get, I think you need to feel a parent's love.

Jul 23, 2012
you can't make people love you
by: Anonymous

Once you move on, get away and live your life, you are free. View this as your ticket to ride, and take that train to freedom. I say this now as an older person. Most of these postings bring back so many bad feelings, and I feel so bad for those of you who wish to keep trying. Don't try to ever get them to admit what they did . . . they don't see it. In my case, in my early teens when it started, I knew I was the convenient scapegoat for other problems that had developed within the family that had nothing to do with me. I didn't like to fight and NEVER fought back. I was quiet, sensitive and eccentric, creative. I was simply unable to do anything. When I saw that the one parent who was abusive (and got my only sibling to join in) was doing it to get the other parent's attention, trying to put me in the roll of "bad teenager," I didn't take the bait. What do you think bullies do when you don't give them a fight, don't take the bait, and don't wish to be that foolish? They hate you even more and escalate their behavior. In a weird sort of way, this has served me quite well. I am the person in an emergency who goes numb, knows what to do and takes care of things. I am the one who calmly walks away when others are fighting at work or anywhere else and try to get me involved. I am the one who has calmly talked a mugger out of mugging me. I am the one who has witnessed an armed robbery and calmly walked out the door of the store, only to remember it later that evening. I am the one who goes to a funeral and does not cry.
I am a person who very much would have spent my adult life in the same place, devoted to family. It was not my fate. Instead I have led an adventurous life and seen many parts of the world (and done it in very unconventional ways)than most people would manage in many lifetimes. I see things differently because of this, and I am all the better for it. You will NEVER change these people. Get over that. You cannot MAKE people love you, get over that, too. Once you stop bending over backwards to please them, they will actually respect you more! But by then it won't matter, because you will have either left or have learned how to keep them at arm's length and don't take them seriously. You will learn that you are like the phoenix rising from the ashes, even better than before, and flying off to a fantastic life of your own making. Everything you do will be for YOU. Have no guilt about that, because for so many years it was always about THEM, but at least you will not be doing it at the expense of other people. You know better. Take that ticket to ride and start travellin'.

Jul 25, 2012
why me? what did I do
by: sakie

I am 65 years old now and it wasn't until I was 64 did a client of mine tell me about being a "target child". Somehow we got on the subject of being abused as a child. We had similar situations where we experienced abuse. I knew I was severly abused as a child and young adult but until this client/friend let me know why, I could not understand. From an extremely young age my mother would literly beat me half to death or until she felt better about what was going on in her life. My other sisters were never treated to her anger. It was so bad that every single day I was battered around. I was terrified of her but loved her. That is what is so confusing to me. I loved her. You cannot understand why an abused child wants to go back home but I understand. I tried my entire life to make this woman love me. She is gone now but the confusion remains. I loved someone who could not possibly love me back. Even my sisters found it hard to understand why I was beaten so often. It got so bad that when my little sister did something to upset mom I would say I did it so she wouldn't hurt her and I was so use to it. Now that is really screwed up. Bottom line I loved her anyway, made excuses to this day for her, but she simply could not love me back.

Jul 26, 2012
to no sense
by: Anonymous

I am 32 y/o. I deal with this issue that you have constantly. I hope that you are doing ok. I know exactly how you feel. I have a sister and a brother. I look exactly like my father. My mother hates my father. Feels that he stole her innocence and forever changed her life. I can feel the loathing in her eyes every time she looks at me. She told me that I was an ingrate, I would never make any woman happy. I was held responsible for everything. I grew up in my teens at first trying to prove to her that I was not my father and that I was good. My younger brother has dyslexia and my older sister was never bright in school. I fortunately was in honors since the third grade. I tried hard in school to overachieve to make my mom believe I could be good. It was never really physical but verbal and emotional. She would call me a failure when I got fired from a grocery store at 14 because I didnt know I was on schedule. I never got fired again. Eventually I felt that, "hey this is my mom...if she says Im never gonna be anything good why should I keep trying to fight it?" I dropped out of honors in the 11th grade started to have sex and had my son at 19. My sons mom treated me horribly and my mom loved it. She would tell her how bad my father was and how I am just like him. I lived the next 9 years clubbing drinking and with every girl I could get a hold of. 3 kids later it hit me! The only one getting hurt is me. My sbblings know but refuse to get involved for fear of crossing mom. They like the help they get and the calls and invites to family gatherings of which I am not invited. I still feel like an orphan. My mom was very hard on me and I grew up with a hard callus on me. My brother and sister are to this day dependent financially on support from my mom who is dependent on financial support from my rich grandad. I woke up and stopped unconsciously hurting myself. And I encourage you to do the same. The pain is still alive to this day and I am still left out of everything but I am happily married to a wonderful woman with a huge family. Theres good and bad in every situation. You will find that you will be very independent whereas they will hate you for this too but the purpose in life is to be happy and treat others well. My mom is 56 and will not change but in order for me to be happy I had to change how I saw myself. You are who you want to be not how people want you to be. Once you realise that you have control over your future and that it is not written out for you, then life starts.

Aug 02, 2012
by: Anonymous

My sister posted a picture of her and my mother and everyone (several) people commented on how nice the picture of the two was. All I could do is feel ugly. Of course I was not included in their special time. I will always deceive my invisible roll. I look at the picture and remember the beatings and chunks of hair ripped out. All my clothes in the cellar,cut in little tiny pieces. I can not remember anything gentle or kind about her. She married a man when I was 9 years old and I was excluded from the wedding. He beat me every day for sport and she never helped me. She helped him. I something as it turns out I WAS a target child.Thank you for giving it a name.

Aug 03, 2012
You can't change others......
by: Anonymous can only change yourself.

Don't waste your life trying to prove to your abusive family that you are worthy of being treated with the same tolerance and respect they treat each other with.
Don't waste your energy on hating your oppressors or it will fill you with negativity.
Don't blame yourself and do not feel guilty about breaking out of the mold your family has pressed you into.
Go forward without looking back, delete toxic people from your life whoever they may be and know that you deserve to be happy.

Sep 05, 2012
always left out
by: Anonymous

My story is an unusual one and I have been in denial most of my life as I had never heard of one like my own to relate to.This was the hardest part. not having anyone with my story to relate to. My father at some point when I was a child decided to stop acknowledging I existed. He did so by looking straight threw me, not acknowledge I was talking,didnt discipline me or yell at me or call me names.Yet I was terrified of him because he would never talk to me and gave me the silent treatment 98% of my life.My mother overcompensated by spending alot of her time with me and ignoring my 3 other siblings.Which I didnt realize until I was an adult and she told me My siblings hate me because they are jelous of the amount of time she spent with me.My father didnt ignore my siblings but was also angry that my mother spent alot of time with me.She was always trying to make me have high marks and spent alot of time taking me to tutors and helping me with homework as I was a c student when I was young. She also took me 2 days a week horseback riding as she and I loved horses.This apparently made my dad and siblings hate me. My siblings where all A students and popular and \I was shy. I was a child and didnt know. Now that I am an adult I have been suffering terribly as no one calls me and I am estranged from my dad, and siblings. My mother resents now the time she spent with me and feels she made a mistake so she rarely calls eather. I have been raising 3 kids alone and even though I have a good career and dont suffer financially. I live only for my kids as I feel everyone hates me and wishes I would die. I have tried to email them or call them and they all act like I dont exist. I feel like an orphan . I have been in therapy for years,church and I struggle to make friends. My kids are my only life and I cry several times a week and feel so sad inside. I dont date for 10 years. (thats how long I have been alone)as I have put all my time into my kids. I dont trust myself in picking the right man as I feel why would anyone want a relationship with me.I also usually am the one to be bullied by others as i guess my low self worth shows. If it wasnt for my beliefs in God and my children I dont think I would exist. I cant stop thinking about all the fun times my siblings have together and my parents minus me. How can I get over this and move on. I still hope that oneday they will call me or include me but I am 45. I have never in my life been invited to my siblings homes but they see each other several times a month and my dad has Never called me to even say hi. My moms not that interested in me but loves my kids so she is the only on to keep in touch. Please help me with you suggestions. Thanks.

Sep 13, 2012
looking for reason?
by: Melissa Moore

I was a target, I had one older sister and a younger brother, I was verbally and physically abused daily. I am 45 and my mother STILL hates me. wow, how to live with this! when your siblings receive same treatment its easy to see who the bad guy is,but when you are singled out,you blame yourself for the abuse. it must be my fault because its only happening to me. VERY hard to change a lifetime of this belief, and of course the abusing parent enforces the idea and convinces the child it is the CHILDS fault!I am having trouble to this day getting help with this because alot of people dont realize this can be true! I struggle constantly for the will to live! hard to find anything in life worthwhile. if you can help PLEASE respond!

Oct 12, 2012
It took all these years for me to discover what was really going on.
by: Emily Pace

I am a target child. (...lets say that I was a target child.) I am a 54 year old woman. For years, I didn't understand why it seemed as though, not only was my mother abusing me, but rather all of my siblings did too. I thought that something was wrong with me. But, after reading this article, as well as some others, I now have a greater understanding regarding what was, and still is going on with me and my family. I could write a book! But, nevertheless, I'm just happy to know that the whole family was and still is very ill.

Nov 02, 2012
More common than noticed
by: Anonymous

I have worked as a nanny with the wealthy and counselor with the poor. I came to realize on some level this happens in the majority of households. With the wealthy I will often see the one child real spoiled where even at like four you can see the spoiled child already in control. To compensate for there loss of control they will discipline the nicer child who doesn't or can't fight back. As if somehow this makes them feel more balance....sic... Sometimes the difference is awful, as if this sick parent needs to be an abuser but the child raised with more self esteem is un willing to put up with unkind treatment. I think those children fair better but often become bullies. With step parents it's often rivalry of the ex. These bullies back down to assertiveness, but real ease there aggression on the weaker. It's like this in almost all groups. In my job working with gangs I would often see staff look the other way for a tough one and over compensate to look tough by picking on the weaker ones

Nov 02, 2012
target child
by: sidonia slabodnik schumann

This is wonderful. You have told my story. Thank you.

Nov 06, 2012
Parents who want someone to blame their problems on
by: Anonymous

Some of the parents who target children have Narcissistic personality traits.Than there are mothers who only got pregnant to trap a man, resent the child for tying her to the man for support, and expect their child to be a lifelong slave reimbursing the mother for her self sacrifice over and over again. A mother like this will find cruel and sadistic ways to torment and exploit that child. Sometimes they encourage other family members; siblings, their grand children to treat their parent the same way.

Nov 12, 2012
they tolerate
by: Anonymous

I grew up in an abusive home. My mother and father were both abused by parents who were abused and so on. I am the oldest, a female, small, and my parents abused me even after I was married. My brother is the youngest, but when he turned 13 and put on some weight my mother went after him and he attacked her. She has been his b***h ever since. My sister is in the middle. She left home with 4 trashbags filled with all of her belongings when she was 17 and never returned. I met someone who knew her many years later, and he told me she said she is an orphan who came to America on an Irish potato boat. I could percieve myself to have been targetted, but the fact is I was just the only one who tolerated the abuse.

Dec 03, 2012
Emotional/spiritual abuse
by: Anonymous

Second child in the family, three girls followed by two younger brothers. Our family was part of a religious sect of 3,000 people who believed they were the only heaven-bound believers in the world. Because of the strict religion and being that I was raised to believe in this doctrine and "honor thy mother and father" I believed they were right and I was truly an inferior person. They said bad things about me to people at church, who treated me with disdain, as well, but I could not leave because of the brainwashing. I left my church when I was 40 when I realized I did not want my child trapped in the same situation. I am now out of the church and cast out of the family. I will spare some of the stories of target child treatment, but I was called ugly and fat, when I was neither, called crazy and schizophrenic, not given money and clothes as were my siblings, and none of my accomplishments were recognized, and 90% of any physical punishments that were dealt out were enacted on me for being rebellious. My marriage saved me. I am out of the cult and outside my family. Mother is the one who called me those names and was a witness to the sibling gang-ups and if I ever retaliated against them I was blamed and punished. I found out that my mother was treated similarly, she tells the story over and over how she and her sister were both given a calf to raise and were to keep the proceeds for their future and her sister got her money and grandpa took hers. I would spend summers working on a farm while my sisters did nothing and at the end of the summer when we went school shopping for clothes my sisters were doled out money and I was to use my working money. Any decent mother would not discriminate like that. My sisters were taken shopping for their confirmation dress and I ended up buying my own with my babysitting money (all 3 of us babysat).

Dec 07, 2012
Chosen one
by: Anonymous

I am the youngest of me and my sister. My entire family called me the black sheep and verbally abused me. Called me stupid wh**e , dumb and other stuff. I see my family in your article. I was very passive and nieve , I have mild aspergers with a very high IQ but my IQ didn't show up till I was older. I think because I believed what they called me. My mom and sister have narsistic personality disorder and also they literally hate all other women who are pretty and younger than they are. Including me. My dads mom, my grandmother was a model and I looked like her. My mom and her side always called me a wh**e. My mom even said once that I look just like my dad and I make her sick. So that is another reason I was singled out. But my dad even treated me bad verbally and beleived my sister who is a pathalogical liar like my mom. Mom is a drunk too. My dad is the only one who has apologized and admitted to mistreating me. I'm 40 now , I ran away at 15 and got emancipated so I learned how to be a better person. I'm still messed up a bit but I'm ok. I was passive, quiet, pretty, and looked like my dads side of the family so that is why I was singled out for abuse. It's still hard to feel like I'm worthy.

Dec 10, 2012
My Family Has Never Changed
by: Anonymous

Wow - I could go on forever.

I'll just say that my father targeted me for almost everything from the time I was quite young. I think he hit me and emotionally abused me whenever he was angry with my Mom too.

He was very sadistic and enjoyed it too. And my mother just went off and washed dishes and let him do it.

My siblings were pretty abusive as well and my sister especially seemed to think I deserved everything I got.

I was basically made to stay home all my life and help my Mom or I was just on restriction because I was not a good daughter to my father as I wouldn't love him. My mother was forever worrying that I would be raped - but apparently she was not very concerned about me being hurt.

I can assure many of you that it's in many ways better to just accept that "It is what it is" and not try to find out the truth. I wanted to know - and finding out what I did was in many ways worse. My father blamed my Mom for the fact that he and I did not have a good relationship. My mother said I was not molested because we did not have sexual intercourse and also that she couldn't have stood being married if my father had ever hit her.

We also found out after my father died that he wrote about wanting to kill my son so he could live with me like his wife.

It hurts alot not to have a family that cares. But the very best thing you can do if you are in this type of situation is to do the best you can in school and learn some skills. Then the next best thing you should do is cut off from your family and learn to make a new one. Learning to make a new one is the hardest part after you've already learned not to trust. I haven't made much of a new family but I will say that not seeing people who always seem to enjoy embarrassing me has been a real relief. I should have done it 40 years ago.

Dec 24, 2012
Thank you
by: Anonymous

I can think of many ways my dad has been abusing me.I am not the middle child or the baby I am the first one. I am different from them. I don`t look the same, I don`t act the same way. I am me. The abuse has change me, but I am trying to find the person I used to be, because I am different, smart and strong. He can`t change me just because I was born in New York. He is not me, he is him. This has been going on ever seen I was 2 or 3. I am 12 now going on 13. So thank you so much you give abuse kids like me hope and tell them that your not by yourself. Thank you!

Dec 24, 2012
by: Crushed

I need to move away from my mother and step father and half brothers. But I honestly don't know how to start cutting somebody out of my life? It's going to be viewed as me (once again) doing something to them. Not being thankful "after all they've done for me"...

I think I understand now...


I'm NEVER going to be viewed the same....and no matter the problem I will be guilty before it even starts.

My younger brother is home from college. Hes 25. He treats everyone like crap. Hes "the baby" as my mother calls him. He recently broke up with his girlfriend of 5 years and is now being even more of a jerk.

Long story short....he yelled at me for the millionth time and I yelled back.

My mother then pulls me aside and told me to "let it go" "just forget about it" "and whatever you do...don't you upset my baby"

I told her that I was going to stand up for myself and wasn't going to be treated like that by him.

She then told me she was going to lock me out of the house and not let me come for Christmas. And also that she was not going to let anyone give me any gifts. And ALSO (and this is one of my favorites) that as long as she lived she would NEVER celebrate my birth again.

What a great Christmas...

Somebody please help me walk out of their life..move far away where they cant harass I can learn what love is.

Dec 25, 2012
To: Lost
by: On Mom's S**t List

I haven't been with my family for Christmas[or anything for that matter]since 1987....I'm 61 and my parents are both still living. My mother is responsible for my estrangement from the family; too long of a story to relate here.

I've gotten to the point that I no longer really care about my mother though I recently learned she is suffering with some neurological thing that seems to be serious so my conflicted feelings towards her have been reawakened.

There are a few possible reasons[or rationalizations]for the emotional/verbal and sometimes physical abuse my mother subjected me to,
but that doesn't matter as the end product is still the same.

I want to see my dad but he was one of these 'absent' fathers[he worked long hours] who was not a significant part of my childhood and really does not know the extent of the abuse I suffered. I want to tell him about this but I'm sure he will not want to hear it or be able to accept what he'd hear. He misguidedly protects my mother by keeping me at arm's length[though he will talk for short spurts on the phone]to keep the peace[so she doesn't get mad/upset]. As I said, it's a long story.

I got a double whammy of abuse....bullied at school, humiliated/belittled/insulted at home.
The fact that I am gay probably plays some significant part in the abuse I experienced from all fronts though it probably was the perception that I was somehow 'different' as the 'gay' label was not really applied except in the phys ed class environment when I showed my incompetence in most sports and even then I think it was used as an insult rather than a true label.

I am a lifelong sufferer of social phobia[also called social anxiety], which I attribute in no small part to the rejection/humiliation I experienced.

People often tell people who have traumatic childhoods to 'get over it' or some such cliche.
I wish it were that easy. You would think at my age I would have 'gotten over it'...nope.

So, Lost...I wish you a Merry Christmas and hope you can find the help to alter your life so that you can live the rest of it a happy person.

Jan 06, 2013
35 and Still Trying to Learn How to Cope
by: Just Me and My Boys

Finding this website was really refreshing for my mental soul. I am the oldest of 3 children and the only girl.First let me say that my mother was adopted by an ok family and I was born when she was 14 years old. Her family did not accept me because my father was African American.My brothers were a dream come true for her. I was told that if I ever have a daughter she will never have anything to do with her.

I have been mentally and physically abused by my mother, her friends, family members and boyfriends.. I was molested and raped by close friends of the family and she claims to have never known. I know that is a complete lie. I helped my mother raise my brothers and got beat when she was beat by her boyfriends. I love my mother, but being 35 and raising my children completely different than how I was raised just confirms that the way I was treated was horrible and inhumane. My mother has put everyone elses kids before me, giving my clothes, my room away for her friends children. SHe once told me that only one woman will live in her house and that I may not ask her boyfriends for anything.
I was never a part of the family like my brothers even when they turned to drugs and I graduated from high school at 16 years old, went to college, and raise my children well. I have always worked because she refused to ever take care of me. She dropped me off on christmas day when I was 15 at my grandmothers on my dads side who I had never me and left me there. I was homeless after that for years.
After all the torment from her and then getting into a bad abusive relationship I decided I wanted to move on so I left to another state and somehow put it in a box and moved on with my life and raised my son.After starting a new life, new job, happy and moving on, I get a call from my mother and everything I was able to ignore and act like never happened overflowed from my glass and I had a breakdown at work. I ended up in the hospital and ended up losing my job. The doctors told me that I was bipolar, had a personality disorder, and that I had PTSD. This all happened in 2006, and I hate to say that I became a cutter and lost everything but managed to keep my kids. NO my mother and my brothers have not been their for me. I have enclosed myself in my home and I am working on my second Bachelors Degree, but I am still afraid of society because I am insecure. I look online from time to time and see that my mom and my brothers are living a perfect life without me or her grandchildren and they are ok with it. I hate the way I feel inside and about myself because I feel like I dont fit in anywhere, but I know that I have to get myself some help. I always knew I was supposed to be somebody to help others but my breakdown has really had a toll on my mental state. I love my children and they are all I have in this world. Im glad to say I dont abuse my children mentally or physically, but its not fair to them for me to not be a normal parent.

Jan 08, 2013
by: Anonymous

I was always called abnormal by my father n that I was bad/ naughty. I was born premature n he would always refer to me as "6 months" despite me growing into a healthy child. Out of my siblings I was the second youngest out of four, however I was the most outgoing, sociable n over achieved in my studies. Growing up i was my fathers favourite, but as I got older I became his target instead; which is what confused me

Jan 11, 2013
Some Monsters can look like a normal Mother
by: Anonymous

My mother hated me because she could not love and somehow even as a baby I knew this. I always knew that there was something wrong about her. With education and experience, I have grown to understand she, like all those who are like her, was mentally ill in a way that has not been defined nor can be perceived except by the child they target. These people know how to instinctively gain the trust and support of everyone but the target. This is one reason it is so difficult to always identify their behavior as "abuse". It looks more like frustration from trying so hard to deal with an impossible child. They can appear as the "victim" rather than the abuser and are very convincing. And since the child does not know and can not articulate their feelings in a way that sounds reasonable against the abusers protests and counter accusations, the child either learns to survives or runs away or is murdered by the abuser.

My mother was sneaky and afraid of being detected as a wrong doer by my father. She hit me once when I was about 2 and let the blood dry on my face. When my father came home from work, he knew immediately what she had done. She never hit me again, but she continued her mental abuse and made me the "thing" and the "devil". She destroyed our entire family with her desire to destroy me.

Somehow, I survived and am actually the most "normal" of the four children from the family. All of my family hates me and talks about me as though I am evil trash. I had a very good career and retired with a pension. Both of my brothers are drug addicts and my sister and brother-in-law are thieves. My mother turned my daughter against me by the time she was 16 and I have not seen my only child for 17 years.

My mother died about 2 years ago while in the care of my daughter. My daughter and her husband left my mother alone for three days following her breast cancer surgery. Upon their return home, they found my mother in a very bad state and an ambulance was called and my mother was taken back to the hospital where she died.

I don't see this as justice or karma, I see this as what too many people call "normal". I can't say that I loved my mother, but, I cared enough to hope that she would eventually understand herself truthfully. I hope the same for my only child. To touch or to maintain a close relationship with "these" people means that you have to let yourself become infected with their mental illness and become like them or they will hate you and make it their life's mission to destroy you and make everyone around you hate you too. They make it their business to even make people you don't know, hate you too.

These people go beyond the meaning of selfish self-centered, they can look and act normal but they are always alert for anything in anyone that sees them for what they really are. Love is a method, not an emotion.

Jan 14, 2013
How do I help a friend?
by: Ari

I have a friend who was abused by her father, and she has an anemic sister. Since her sister can't help her, and I am a beginner to the concept of abuse, I'm not sure what to tell her. Can I have a few ideas? (All I was able to do was act [genuinely] sympathetic.)

From Darlene - Webmaster: I suggest you check out How do I Help My Friend Who Disclosed Sexual Abuse on this site.

From Victim to Victory, a memoir
Darlene Barriere
author. speaker. survivor. coach
From Victim to Victory, a memoir

Jan 19, 2013
Thought it only happened to me
by: Anonymous

I never knew that this happened to anyone but me. I was always treated differently, my father desperately wanted a boy after many daughters and I was told as long as I can remember what a disappointment I was. It was displayed in many ways including physical abuse. My sisters have told me in adulthood that they wish they could have helped me as they were not the golden child that brother who was born several years later was, but they were never treated like me. No one outside of the home would've had a clue what went on in there. I am a strong woman now. The one thing my parents taught me was how NOT to be a parent. I am grateful for outside influences like my Grandmother who was kind and loving and taught me how to be loving. I never told anyone the things that happened because we were always threatened that there would be trouble if anyone told.

Jan 20, 2013
Never ever wrong.
by: Anonymous

My mother was never ever wrong about anything. She always had to be right. I am the eldest of her three children, I have a younger sister the middle one and a younger brother the youngest. I was the target child.
Until I read these articles I had just assumed that my mother didn't like me and that I was treated differently because my sister was her favourite and my brother her only son.
I was called unpleasant names, she cackled with laughter when I got hurt. I was told that I was selfish, ungrateful, always trying to be different and referred to as a difficult child.
I played music and was constantly told that I wasn't any good at it, I was, but I was told that my sister made music.
My mother started arguments with me.
The worst aspect was that my mother knew what she was doing as she would behave nicely to me if there was another parent present.
I had undiagnosed medical conditions.
When she died I did not grieve for her. It was not like losing someone close. I am trying to forget her now.

Feb 02, 2013
I think this is me.
by: Heather

But it's weird because I'm the youngest child. I have 3 much older siblings on my father's side (2 half-brother and a half-sister. I had one full brother with algid health problems, but all I noticed in him was a mild seizures. My mother would describe other symptoms in him that I never saw and maybe never happened. She would even go around the country and speak about curing his health problems professionally. I wonder to this day if it's some kind of Munchausen Syndrome. Even so, my brother was very much favored to the point that it was obvious to others.

My father resented me and was pretty open about it. He was home from work on Saturdays and Sundays so he would beat me for something on one or both days. I would get blamed for everything around the house, including my parents marital problems. If my brother did something or said I did, I would get beat for it. I lived in fear when he was around and even if I went to my room to avoid him I would get beat for that.

My mother was usually fine with a few exceptions until I was about 12. Then she became verbally and physically abusive. I was physically small and she would pick me up by the hair, hit my head into walls, punch and kick me. She would tell me to drop out school and become a prostitute because that was all I was good for. Then, she would go into graphic descriptions of sex acts I would do with the guys that were paying for me.(I was not having sex at the time) One time, she came after me on the stairs and when I tried to stop her, she called the police. Another time I had a bad kidney infection and she refused to get me medical attention, said I was making it up to get out of exams, then beat me even though I was already in severe pain.

I got into an exclusive fashion design school and was set to go. My mother called the school pretending to be me and pulled me from the classes.

I did everything to avoid them in my adult life including taking a job as a stripper and nude model so I could make enough to not need them.

I lost my job at an advertising firm and was out of work for 23 months. I ended up losing my home. They would rub it in my face and say things like "Oh c'mon, I thought you were doing sooooo well, guess not!"

My mother got a hold of my boyfriend's phone number, and told him things to try to get him to break up with me.

My favored brother is close to 40, still lives with them and barely works.

It has become awkward when people ask about my family. People consider not having a good relationship with your parents a "red flag." There is no one I can talk to about this.

Feb 06, 2013
by: Anonymous

My mum was convinced that there was something wrong with me. She would tell me that no one would ever love me and that i was violent despite the fact i have never hit anyone in my life. This led to her frequently calling the police and social services and telling them utter bollocks. My dad reinforced my mums delusions and was sometime violent towards me; this involved bashing my head into the walls, punching me, stamping on my chest in the street until my back was bleeding etc. Eventually i went to live with my aunt because my home wasnt safe. At this point my mum was convinced that i had aspergers and i was forced to under go tests for it or my aunt would throw me out and i would be homeless. When every doctor refused to diagnose me with anything my mum was hysterical. My aunt was also very derogatory towards me, whenever i did anything wrong it was because i was a 'retard.'I found living there a really terrible experience. The weirdest thing was is that my mum was convinced that i regularly beat her up. When she was slapping me i would sometimes catch her wrist to get her to stop and occaisonally this would leave a mark. She seemed to erase the fact she attacked me from her mind and think i had just beaten her up (i saw someone else with a simelar story on this site) Now i live on my own and have a wonderful girlfriend and i have it in writing that there is absolutley nothing wrong with me. But i am staggered by what has happened to me and how bizarre it is. When my parents and my aunt were all insisting that i was mental i almost started to believe i was which i found very traumatic but fortunately i had a very good friend who would talk to me for ages whenever my aunt was horrible to me and straighten things out in my mind.

Feb 09, 2013
coward mothers
by: lawrence mends

An uncommon article,
i'm a survivor of target child selection.It has robbed me of several years of my makes it worst being a twin.parents who target a child for abuse are cowards,hiding behind their favorite children to disguise their crimes!
there is limited literature on this kind of painful abuse because non victims find it almost impossible to believe that a parent(s) can be this barbaric.
i can only hope that all victims like me will before long find healing.

Feb 17, 2013
Effects in Adulthood
by: Anonymous

My father, a Methodist minister, physically abused me from the age of three. He used a razor strap, belts or his huge hands. He did not treat my several siblings that way. I have felt since childhood that my mother"sacrificed" me and often blamed me for things that happened to prevent abuse to my sisters and brother. Several teachers noticed the bruises on my face, legs and arms- but in the 40's you did not report such things. My siblings learned to blame me for everything that happened that made my father angry. None of them were ever abused.

Today, I feel isolated from all of my siblings, just as I did in childhood. They say they don't remember the beatings and blows to my face that reshaped my nose and displaced my teeth. We are the same dysfunctional family as adults. My mother is 95 and told me twenty years ago that she knew I was strong and "would survive."

As an adult I earned two college degrees, taught school and became a school administrator and acknowledged leader. In my work, I was vigilant, and intervened in any child abuse I observed. By then, it was a legal requirement for educators to report such things. Throughout my 50 year career in the classroom and as principal I never found it necessary to use physical restraint with a child.

Mar 01, 2013
This is me.
by: Anonymous

I look back on my childhood with amazement that I even came out of it alive. My mother would threaten me with `Just wait till your father gets home` and I would spend the next 6 to 8 hours until he got home from work, in absolute fear knowing exactly what that meant. He would take out his frustration on me. Sadly I was a very tiny, little girl, but my disipline would be violent and would be directed as to not show marks. I was 7 years old and being punched in the stomache. I wonder now if he ever felt bad for beating up little girls. My siblings, my younger brother and my younger sister, the golden children, were never touched. I was constantly reminded on what a disappointment I was to my parents, and being hit was just to make sure the evil was beat out of me. To this day I have no idea why I was treated the way I was. I actually finally at the age of 47 asked my mother why I was treated the way I was, and she told me `I was just too difficult to ever love. When she told me that, it actually freed my mind. I realized for the first time, that she was wrong,and I did have people in my life who loved me and I was worthy of that love. My parents will never acknowledge their abuse towards me, and as my mom will say to anyone who listens, they should have been even more strict, as they call it, on me. I have severed all ties at this point, since it just makes no sense to allow these people to continue to undermine me. I do wish though. that at some point they could have been held accountable, and not made my childhood a living hell.

Mar 05, 2013
by: Ann

I am the only girl born to a abused and abusive woman who believes all women are weak. She wanted a boy and had already had one stillborn boy. At birth, I was removed from my mother before she could even hold me because my mom "got sick." The drs found out later it was a RH factor reaction. I didn't see my mother for my first 48 hours. I have read the first 24 hours are crucial for mother/child bonding. (Have these factors been considered in targeted abuse cases??) I had severe allergies as a child and my mother says I "cried all the time." My brother, born a few years later was "a perfect baby." My brother was spoiled and could do no wrong even when his entitled attitude put him in prison. I was systematically abused and neglected until I left home. I know IT wasn't my fault. But I've always wondered if the initial bonding was problem or if I just should have been born with a penis. LOL ... deflecting again. I'll be 40 soon and I am still not "over it."

Mar 18, 2013
bereaved mother
by: Anonymous

ive read your page with ,in the beginning a resignation,as ive read on ive seen my story over and over again.Last year my dear much loved son was killed,and since then the sheer enormity of the soul wrenching misery ive been through has thrown up my past.A past id moved so very far away from.I was the unwanted teenage pregnancy,to a catholic girl.My nan had custody of me as my mother was in detention centre for violent crimes.When she got out,and eventually married,i was returned to her.At age 6 i had no idea who she was,no idea what a mother even always had a nan!like so many of your comments ,i was my mothers mother.the housekeeper.the baby minder.the whipping girl.sexually abused all my childhood,by her husband,and her live in boyfriend,as was my small half sis.her sons could do no wrong.they were brought up to blame and abuse me.allowed to call me slave,and demand i do everything,while they did nothing..i recall many occasions eating dog food,and drinking the water out of the poor dogs mother lived in a menage et trois,so often i was left at home in the back garden while the adults went out for the day with my half siblings.never sat to eat my food,always made to stand.what food i was fed i recall never being enough...i could go on,but the crux of my thoughts are,that despite my moving away from all this,putting it all behind me,and having my own family,who all adore me,as was bourne out on mums day!!i feel like my poor son died cos i never was as good a mum as i assumed.fact is,i knew how not to treat a child,but,retrospectively,did that make me a good mum??...i feel he,d be alive had i been normal.from a normal background.he was such a little light in my life,one thing that id actually done right,which in all the dirt and filth,and existential life id existed in,that i now feel ,had he been born to anyone else,he,d still be here.his generation truly lost a good clever soul that day.i was lucky enough to be able to hold him as he died,as they withdrew treatment,as he gasped his last breathe,as he took his first breathe,at least i was there to hold him for his last.How many mothers get to do that????id kill my self now if i had to recall his death,knowing he,d died alone.....god knows how i still function!each day is another day without him....a day he should have enjoyed.......long story short,i went to the police and reported my childhood england there is no time limit now on reporting abuse.even if it goes no wher,ive reported those sick evil fks that,to my mind,helped to kill my did i,in my own way.through not reilsing kids need boundaries.where i was allowed no privocy,even being watched on the toiet, or in the bath,my son had too much total unquestioning privacy.and that wherent right either.i just live now to avenge my sons one helps to kill my lovely son,or actually kills him,with out having me as a life long enemy.

Apr 03, 2013
Yeah...been thinking over this one
by: Kate

I was not abused physically, but my mother singled me out for criticism. It is easy for other members of the family to accept it and look away, even blame the victim, because it does not look so bad, or seems justified. I tried to defend myself, but it never worked. I was always in the wrong. I called myself the family punching bag.

It got worse when I had a brush with sexual abuse at 10, from a distant relative, an older male I looked up to as a grandfather. I told my sister, who told my mother. She never told me she was "looking out" for me after that. I thought she'd make a scene and drag me away from him as if the house were on fire. Instead, she assumed I'd forget about it. I did not. I obsessed over it. That's what traumatized kids do. (So, please, if you have such a child in your life, do not wait for him or her to come to you...they cannot ask for the help they need.)

When I moved out, eventually, my mother chose my dad as her target. In my late 30's, he said, "I cannot do anything right for her. Just like you used to be." It was LATE, but it was an acknowledgement that I was not crazy. He finally got it. At least he had adult coping skills that I had not.

I forgave my mother just before she died and wished I could have done it sooner. It took practice and dedication--I wanted to forgive her so I could let go of that burden. From the outside looking in, we looked like a great family and could have been. The elements were there. My mother's vicious words, and my father's refusal to step in, made for a painful childhood.

Apr 21, 2013
None of you are alone!!
by: Anonymous

I'm not sure if my story is considered a "target child" story or not. My mother divorced my father after her infidelity with my now step-father. My mother got my father's parental rights stripped when I was 4 based solely on accusations, so I never saw him again. My mother mostly emotionally abused me, and she has severe control issues. When she married my step-father, they had a boy of their own, I later found out that my sister may have been my step-father's. From the time I was 4 and even now, I was targeted by my mother for everything. I was always kept at home, wasn't allowed any space to grow up, she had to know every detail of what I was doing when I moved out, as well as calling me names, telling me I'm too much like my father, making me feel worthless, incompetent, and never letting me have a mind of my own. I finally got the strength to cut ties with her entire side of the family, and I married my wonderful husband of nearly 4 years. He has been SO supportive and attentive to the stories that I passed off as "parenting," and I came to find that it was emotional abuse. My mother was still attempting emotional abuse even after I cut ties, and she even had the nerve to testify on my ex's behalf in court and got my son taken away from me. (This was all because she is unhappy that I'm married and living my life without her telling me that I can't.) It was my husband who talked me into contacting my father, and he is absolutely nothing like how my mother described him growing up. I have an excellent relationship with my father and will continue to do so. My mother, on the other hand, has lost a lot of friends and contact with relatives because of her controlling ways. To this day, she feels she is the victim who has done nothing wrong. This article helped me a lot to realize that I believe I was targeted specifically because I didn't belong to my step-father. I appreciate this and any other articles that bring awareness to this type of abuse on children. It truly does affect one in adulthood. Thank you for listening.

Apr 22, 2013
I resent the STIGMA of being a Target Child
by: maria

I was a Targeted Child, I understand it and have moved on with my life and have nothing to do with my abusive family.
I no longer yearn for their acceptance and respect.
I cannot change others I can only change myself.
What I deal with now is the STIGMA forced upon me by people who do not understand TARGET CHILD SELECTION and give me sideways looks when they discover that I do not "have a family."
I do NOT offer my story to people, I do not discuss my past AT ALL. But during conversations with friends or co-workers the subject of family will come up. "Where are you going for Christmas?" "What are you doing for Father's day?"
I have been asked outright about my family "Do you have siblings? Where are your parents?"
I simply say that I do have siblings and we are not close, my mother has passed but my father is still living.
Why do people have to 'pry'?! Maybe, being a survivor of abuse I am thin skinned when it comes to the issue of my family, I am uncomfortable talking about it.
BUT, the average person (myself included until recently!) believes that abusive parents who beat and neglect their children, abuse them ALL. They are either BAD parents or they are not. When discussion has gone to the extent where I have to explain that I was a Target Child and was singled out as a scapegoat by my parents who treated me very differently than they treated their favorite child people look at me like I have monkeys flying out of my ears. I get that "what's wrong with YOU" look from them and it really REALLY pisses me off!
Even my boss, who is a very sweet, kind and well meaning man caused me much grief by insisting that it is a "burden" to me to not "FORGIVE" my ignorant abusive family! I tried to explain that I tried MANY times during my life to get my family to treat me as an equal but THEY refuse to recognize their disdain & disrespect towards me. When I tried to take a stand and make my family aware of the dismissive way they treated me the usual response was "OH MARIA!" Everything was always MY fault, MY problem, MY responsibility.....that is just one of the "issues" associated with Target Child Selection - the siblings have never done wrong and it is ingrained in them that THE TARGET CHILD is the one with the problem. PERIOD.
Child Abuse is not a fun or entertaining issue to discuss, especially with people who prefer to view the world through rose colored glasses. "Can't we all just get along?!"
I am not Jesus Christ, I have turned my cheek repeatedly with my family only to be continuously slapped again and again. I am done and am enjoying living my life without the negativity. I just wish this issue would find a platform where it could be discussed and understood.
It is not my "BURDEN" it is a STIGMA that I am subjected to by being associated with such a negative unhappy issue - CHILD ABUSE.
Child abuse/Target Child Selection is NOT ME.

Apr 23, 2013
Need info
by: Anonymous

I am a foster mom and was caring for a traget child and his sister. I seems that the sister may be returned to the offending parent as the trial date has been postponed (waived the right to speedy trial) My question is, will the offending parent now abuse the little girls as she has no one else to target. It is my understanding this will be the case. I am looking for articles or research to bring this concern forward with evidence, statistics, etc. Can anyone help.

Apr 24, 2013
reply to "need help"
by: Anonymous

Hello "need help"

Interesting dilemma, but in my opinion you do not have to worry.
Target Children are usually rejected from birth. For whatever reason a parent does not bond with a child and begins to resent that child from the very start. They will neglect and abuse that child while (strange sounding I know) developing stronger than usual connection to the others, especially if there is just one sibling.
Abusive parents who select a child for their negativity usually have a favorite child who they over indulge in order to rid themselves of the bad feelings they have over abusing their target.
Parents who target one child tend to be very protective, even over protective of their other children.
BTW - thank you for being a foster parent, it is even more difficult than being a parent and is often a thankless job.

Jun 02, 2013
Me too
by: Anonymous

I am just beginning to be aware and deal with the fact that I was the Targeted child. I gave up drinking alcohol 3 months ago. I had started about 3 years ago. I'm in my 30's.I can't change the past but it helps to read articles like this. I still have relationship problems- none. I would rather have someone call me ugly, dumb, disabled. Physically, I grew out of my disability, bad skin, and learned to hold my head up. But I don't see me as pretty at all. I don't know -when do you tell men "well I don't think I'm any of that because I was never raised to think that about myself. Never told I was pretty or smart. So when you say that I have no inner positive connection, understanding or attraction/bonding/? To those words." I was never heard by either parent. My screams were stifled. I have self esteem issues. I want to forgive. I don't trust being around them at holidays because I revert emotionally. I drank. Thanks again for writing about this. It's sad.

Jun 28, 2013
Amother who knew how to share hate
by: Anonymous

but my mother treated all of us like her work donkeys. hanging motherly love carrots a few centimeters out of our greedy tongues.

by "taking care of her" by denying yourself and giving her your all you hoped to secure her elusive love. and by walking away you risked being cursed by your own mother and suffer all those horrendous African jinxes.

So by not singling out any child, but giving a blanket assault we can at least be sure of one thing. Which is what? That is.

She knew how to equitably and fairy share out her loathing and hate for the children she had given birth to.

Jul 12, 2013
by: joyce

Wow, from the time I was in my mid 20's (now in early 50's) friends' family members including grandparents, neighbors....all would tell me of the horrific beatings and verbal/emotional abuse my mom did to me, my paternal grandmother even apologized and said she and my grandfather should have stepped in to help me. I was a middle child, a female, with an older and younger brother. Oh I remember all the humiliation, the names I was called, how if I did something wrong I was not allowed to eat meals, the punching, kicking, hitting me with whatever weapon she could find......I was still being beat when I was 18, I was SO crushed because I thought being a legal adult, I was on the same level as my mom: adult to adult, and that would be the end of the beatings and abuse to me. Nope. Everyone saw it, everyone knew and my father.....he did nothing. As he still does. She has continually verbally abused me to date, telling me if my hispanic husband and I had children together, it would be discusting. My brothers and their families, loaded with financial gifts, including their children. My 3 kids, if they are not left out, get nothing compared to what the other grandkids get, and they all talk so my kids know about their gifts and money! Now my mom hates my daughter, who also is a middle child with 2 brothers. A granddaughter the exact same age as my daughter, she got her bachelor's degree and her master's degree paid by my parents, co-signed for her car, were supporting her, they paid for her medical insurance, now her medications. Matter of fact, when my folks were visiting me a few months ago, my mom called my husband a racial slur. He and I never had children together, my 3 kids are from a prior marriage. My husband was active duty military for 20 years, we supported my 3 kids and his 2 kids, and let me say on military pay, it was rough. Both my brothers lived in their same home, never moved, and their jobs were paid a lot more than us, so why did they get all the financial gains? I don't have contact with my family now, there is too much drama, and I believe to treat everyone equal, it's the right thing to do. I'm done with them, not answering the phone anymore.....once abusive always abusive.....I guess my mom just finds other ways now because she can't beat me.

Jul 13, 2013
4rh and 1st
by: Jacquetta

My mother had 3 children , boy, girl, boy within 5 years.
Then 8 years later she had me, a girl. My younger sister was born when I was only 6 months old.
My oldest brother was a target because he was shy. I was
also extremely shy, but I don't believe that is my innate nature.
I think being shamed made me shy. I suffered extreme verbal
and emotional abuse, and mocking. . If I fell down it was o.k.
to cry, but if I cried because my feelings were hurt she would say,"Look at the crybaby ! She just wants attention!"
She continued the verbal putdowns through my adulthood.
She teased my youngest , shyest child when babysitting .
If I mention this to any family member they discount it saying, "oh , that's just the way she is. You're too sensitive!"
I have a new therapist who picked up on the target child scenario right. My ex psychiatrist thought that I was bipolar
and that is why I had. A hard time making friends
My one friend of 40 yrs. says I am not bipolar.
My children are all very educated and successful. They are busy with their kids, the women all work and rarely contact me.
When I call them, they are too busy to talk more than one minute.
I divorced their verbally abusive dad when the youngest was 10, Having been a stay at home mom, I had a hard time getting a good job and have been living at poverty level for 20
I am again the target. They say all kinds of cruel things .
I could find many things to say about each of them, but I won't hurt their feelings. I also will not sit still and listen to anymore
putdowns .
Because of an inherited eye disease, I was legally blind and couldn't drive for 5 years . I had an eye operation and can drive, but cannot afford a car., so I can't get to their houses.
They come up with the most outlandish falsehoods and pass it around among themselves and their aunts.
After the divorce. Some aunts on their dads side said awful things to my one daughter, adding to the rift between us and irrevocably ruining years of our lives.
The worst thing is not being validated and now being the target in the middle. "your mother wasn't bad, You're too sensitive , and on the other hand, your children are right to blame you for everything!"
Thank you for this site. I am 62 and just heard from my therapist about target children. It helps to know others went through this. I know I will have to grieve for all the things I could have done and been if I had had a loving mother. I wish I had known this years ago because I have gone through crippling depression and anxiety. I thought I had treatment resistant depression , but now I think that this unresolved lifelong hurt is the cause.
My father was very kind and affectionate. I always think he saved my life because if he had been like my mother I don't know what would have become of me.

Jul 29, 2013
My Littlest Sister and I
by: A Nonny Mouse

My dad has every one of the "features" of an abusive parent. My mother, quite a few of them. I was one of 8 kids, 4 boys, 4 girls, with a huge spread in ages. I was emotionally abused by my mother, and emotionally, verbally, and physically abused by my father until I moved out at age 19. My youngest sister, 12 years younger, was also subjected to this same abuse, but she still lives there. (At 27, she is depressed, but hoping to escape soon.) Of the 8, we were the "ugly ducklings" - the losers in the genetics lottery.

Four of my other siblings were also emotionally abused, and somewhat verbally and physically abuse, but not anywhere nearly as badly as my littlest sister and I. One girl and one boy were by far the most attractive - like models - and were treated as though they could do no wrong. They were given the best of everything, the most and best gifts, the privileges, the praise, the "love" if any was to be had. If there was not enough of something to go around, they would get it all.

My littlest sister and I were blatantly neglected, ignored, beaten, put down, deprived of sleep and food, and generally terrorized constantly for years. We were made to do all the chores the others refused to do, on top of our own and punished if we didn't get them finished. All emotions were forbidden in us, as were any noises or hints that our lives weren't sunshine and roses. Our oldest sister hated us too, and abused us mercilessly. Apparently, our parents approved, and allowed it.

I had to block it out to survive. Since I didn't remember any of it, I didn't understand why I had dreams all the time about raging at my parents. (Far from the quiet, compliant daughter I was during the day.) Even now at age 39, I didn't understand why I had major anxiety problems, resulting in a heart problem, making it impossible to have a healthy relationship with anyone.

I'm terrified of my sweet, caring husband. I spend my waking hours "placating" a man that doesn't need it. If he walks toward me too quickly, I have to run away. My 9 year old son takes off his belt, and it's all I can do to keep from having a full-blown panic attack. I can't really talk openly to anyone but my one sister. I can't even tell my husband what I'm thinking or feeling. I can't show emotion... in fact, I'm not even sure what emotions feel like. Loud noises, of any kind, terrify me, even music. I'm forgetful and am filled with anxiety over it. I can't allow myself to be seen relaxing or sleeping, even though my husband assures me it's okay. Housekeeping is a constant source of anxiety, fear, and torment. I've been depressed perhaps my entire life.

I only just recently (about a month ago) began having flashbacks that forced the memories upon me. I am trying to process the "new" information but I'm so afraid of acting outside my "safe zone" that I'm not even sure how to live.

Your article was helpful to me, to realize WHY we were singled out among so many. Thank you.

Aug 21, 2013
I was the bad seed
by: Anonymous

I think it showed early how smart I was and my mother hated me for it. I am the third of five and the oldest girl. My brothers were supposed to be perfect because they are boys, but both were held back their first grades in elementary school. They wanted to skip me grades and my mother wouldn't let them. Around age 9 is when things got noticeably weird. She started calling me the bad seed. I was always in trouble for nothing. She wouldn't show me how to do anything and then punish me when I couldn't do it the way she wanted. My sister and brothers were allowed to hit me, spit on me, and call me names. I was allowed no peace. The physical abuse grew as I got older and peaked when I was 15. I started acting out at school and failing classes. I was called in repeatedly to the counselors and principals. One finally asked me what was wrong. How does an A student in accelerated classes start failing? I told them I was being abused--something unheard of in the 70s and no one reported it to social services. They called my mother to the school. Thankfully, she never touched me again except for the occasional slap. But the verbal abuse escalated and she started telling her friends what I accused her of (of course, on the outside, she thought we looked like the perfect family, but no one was fooled) and she started telling them I was the bad seed. I finally left home at 17, and in later years got help. I now hold two masters degrees, and am living my own dreams. My siblings? They are surviving. Three finished high school barely, one got an equivalency. And they are still wrapped up in her delusions of her own weird glory. My father? He was her mignion but now asks for forgiveness. Her? She sits on the couch watching soap operas and drinking tea while smoking in the closet. I'm close to the second generation. I barely tolerate my own, and I won't walk into my mother's house. To this day, you can't say anything good about me around her without getting a sneer. My husband tried to talk me up to her and was horrified by her reaction. Yes, it will always hurt on some level, but I have made a life full of safety, joy and peace away from them, and I deeply enjoy my intelligence.

Aug 30, 2013
John is Still Alive
by: John Anon

I appreciate this site and the forum it provides. By reading the previous posts I realize there are people here that have gone through far worse than I have and I hope they heal.

I am 52 years old and I grew up during the1960’s. I have three other siblings – one younger brother, a twin sister, and an older sister. Both my twin sister and I were born premature. My mother had one other child that died at birth.

Growing up I was “The Bad One” and “The Lazy One”. My mother would constantly point out to my siblings and me that there was “Something Wrong with him”. My mother would frequently threaten to have me institutionalized or “Put away”. My siblings would taunt me by calling me a Lunatic and that I ought to be put away. My three siblings were the golden children and I was the cast off. My brother and two sisters attended private schools while I had to attend a public one.

I remember always having to wear dirty and worn out looking clothes while my siblings had clean and new ones. Sometimes on family trips in the car, my mother would tell my siblings to ignore me for no apparent reason. Somehow my mother had managed to turn my grandmother and aunt against me. Other than school, appointments, other things of that nature; I really didn’t leave the house. I also wasn’t allowed to have friends. If I did manage to befriend someone, my mother would find a way of driving them away.

At one time my mother was bathing me at age 8 when I became fidgety and restless she grabbed me by the back of the head and shoved it below the water. On another occasion she was ironing laundry when I tugged at her dress for attention. She hit me in the head with the iron and I ran into the hallway crying outside our apartment, holding a bloody rag to my head. She cut my scalp really bad. These are the incidents that I remember and as far I can remember no one in my family witnessed them.

In Elementary School I frequently had to attend Therapy and Mental Health Clinics. When it came time to interview my parents, the visits and therapy sessions abruptly and very quickly came to an end.

My mother drank heavily during the course of her marriage and probably, as I later come to realize, suffered from some Personality Disorder. After doing some research, my mother probably had Borderline Personality Disorder or suffered from Depression. My father was a pretty passive and laid back guy. He had no part in any of this.

My parents died about thirty years ago due to poor health and after that I was pretty much estranged from my siblings. In my teens and twenties I had substance abuse problems. Since then I’ve had problems with Depression and Anxiety. I’m currently seeking help with this. Despite all this I have manage to live independently and healthy and remained employed must of the time. It’s only within the last three years that I have managed to reconcile with my siblings.

Oct 07, 2013
target children
by: Anonymous

There were 6 kids in our family. Two were abused, my sister and me by our Dad. We both were abused by him, while he loved the others. We two both tried to kill ourselelves in early 20s. Much of life painful for me, just heard about target child. Very sad for us, but tryig to get better.

Nov 14, 2013
Thanks to everyone who has written!
by: Ugly duckling

I wondered for years why nothing I did could ever please my parents, why I was expected to fend for myself while my sibling was coddled, why I was not allowed to show any emotion under any circumstances, why I was constantly sent away, why the best I ever looked was,"respectable," why my parents rarely attended one of my events while rarely missing one of my sibling's, why, why, why. I am in my late 40s now, and still can hardly do anything right in my parents' eyes. I have only recently come to understand that they will never appreciate me no matter what I do. This has been quite freeing, as I have now given up trying to please them and no longer care much what they think of me. Only in the past few years have I come to understand that I am actually not ugly or lazy or globally incompetent. It is a great relief to know that I am not alone. Thank you for this excellent article, and thank you to everyone who has shared a story!

Nov 15, 2013
@ugly duckling
by: joyce5/9

I hear ya ugly duckling. It took me until I was in my late 40's to not let my families ugliness effect me. I don't care to have any contact with them what so ever, phone calls to me are awful still and hurtful. So I no longer answer their calls. Sad but true. It's a shame we didn't come to terms and "get our wings" earlier, we could have a better quality of life all these years. Remember, Karma is a you know what. Best to you.

Jan 26, 2014
Easy to get away with
by: Anonymous

I will make the statement that "Target Child Selection" is the most common type of child abuse as it is the easiest form of abuse to get away with.
While watching a show about Wills they featured the story of Joan Crawford. Her oldest daughter Christina claims that she was horrifically abused by her mother who also was abusive to the only boy Christopher.
Joan had also adopted twin girls Cathy and Cindy.
When Christina's book was published the younger twins categorically denied that any abuse had taken place, THEY were treated wonderfully by their adoptive mother. Despite the fact that there were some who confirmed Christina's accounts (like Joan's long time secretary) there were many who defended the star and attempted to discredit Christina's claim.
Showing favor and bestowing lavish gifts and attention on select children is a big part of Target Child Selection.
Parents who choose one child as a victim will almost always choose another child to spoil and dote on. This is done for many reasons but mostly to ease the abusers feelings of guilt for abusing the victim child and creates a protective "bond" between the parent and the favored child.
When others in the family agree that the Target Child is lesser than or "has something wrong with them" it bolsters the abusers belief that the Target Child is to blame.
When it is reported that a child is being abused/neglected and authorities become involved, a quick look at what appears to be a normal home with other well adjusted children results in a diagnosis of a "problem child". Again the victim is to blame.
I was a target child and at one point I believed that there WAS something wrong with me. Why did my parents treat my siblings so wonderfully and treat ME like dirt?! My siblings were extremely defensive of our parents who gave them anything and everything their hearts desired. When they witnessed me being abused by our parents they were mad at ME! "Why do you make him do that?!" my sister once demanded after hearing my father beat me for 10 minutes while on vacation.
My other sister once told me that "we would have a perfect family if YOU weren't in it!"
My parents were charming and outgoing people.
My sisters we also outgoing and deemed "stable" (they are NOT but that is another story)
Most people believe parents abuse their children or they don't. They beat all of their kids or they don't. ALSO, don't you know that attractive middle to upper class parents don't beat or abuse their children?! Only low life low income ugly dirty people beat and neglect their children.
Nobody wants to believe that wonderful charming well to do people have a secret - they abuse one of their children.
This form of abuse needs to be studied more.
People need to wake up and recognize that child abuse is not limited to one class or one race but it CAN be limited to ONE CHILD!

Feb 05, 2014
Thank You
by: Anonymous

Thank you for this article and thank you to everyone who has commented. My mother never physically abused me and she never neglected me in any way except emotionally. I remember asking my mom to hug me before bed when I was ten, "no you're too old for that now," she said and my dad chastised me for asking for a hug. My dad said that I was too old for hugs from him anymore when I was 10 but my sister still got numerous hugs until he died when she was 27. My mom still disparages any gifts I give her . But she loves even token gifts that my sister gives. One of the worst things that my mom has done since I've been an adult is to call me a bad mother in front of my children and in the next breath say what a wonderful influence my sister is on them. When my children were small, my mom frequently gave my sister money to take my children out to eat and to buy them things.My children had plenty at home and my husband and I took them out as well. But my husband and I couldn't afford to take them out to eat as often as my mother could afford to pay to take them out with my sister or to give my sister money to take them. We bought toys and video games and all for them and took them places like the zoo. But my mom could afford more extravagance. Every time that I tried to explain to my mom that I didn't want her to do that, she would say that I wasn't providing enough for my children. I would back down. It wasn't true that I wasn't providing enough for my children, my mother knew exactly what to say to control me. To this day, and I'm 46 now, my mom will say that I'm stupid, lazy, crazy, mean and a liar if I try to stand up for myself. One of her favorite forms of verbal abuse is saying cruel things in a joking manner. It was okay with her that my dad called me lard a** as a pet name. Everyday he called me lard a** . It was very hurtful when I was middle school age. But when my sister gained weight , my mother told my dad that he was not allowed to say anything at all to her about her weight gain. I've never heard either of my parents say anything except complimentary things to my sister. My mother continually points out all my faults and some things about me that she considers to be faults. She does this in front of other people as often as she can and she encourages others to laugh at my expense. I was a targeted child and I still am the targeted child of the family. I was emotionally neglected and abused and verbally abused. It feels good to type that because it's a truth . My mother and my sister will still say I'm crazy and a liar if I say it aloud in front of them. My parents frequently blamed me for everything, and called me things like foolish, stupid , ungrateful and fat . And then they would yell at me for having low self esteem . They told me I was abnormal for having low self esteem after they repeatedly told me how lazy, untalented and unappealing I was .

Feb 06, 2014
moving on
by: Anonymous

Sometimes it is just easier to drop all communication with these parents and siblings that have targeted us. It sure makes life way easier. There is NO LAW that states we have to keep them in our lives. We are all better off without them, so let's all move on together! They will never change...

Feb 22, 2014
by: Anonymous

I quit talking to my mom & siblings a few months back. I feel sad inside that it came to this, but I too have always been the least favorite & target child. I agree, why let them knock us down. Break away!! I love all you target children, I love any child who is/was abused in any way. I understand what it's like in childhood, and as an adult. I am the youngest & a biological child too. I think being a target child made me a better mother, because I am so fair to all my kids, and want to be the best mom I can be. I want no competition, or jealousy, and want them all to know I love them equally. I'm destined to make sure they feel this way. It is just like the experts say...your siblings (although they know there is/was favoritism), they will back that parent to no end, and all gang up on you. They treat you like you're nuts, are mean to your parent, and tell you what a terrible daughter/son you are. I notice all of my family I grew up with are all very two-faced & back-stabbing too.

Feb 23, 2014
Thank you Darlene
by: Maria

I would like to thank Darlene Barriere for sharing her personal story, bringing a light to the issue of Target Child Selection and for providing survivors a place to share their stories and support each other.

One of the most common feelings expressed by many here is the relief of being validated. The Target Child is told they are the cause, the problem and are to blame for their circumstance. Targeted children are also called liars, crazy, paranoid or accused of being mentally ill. The constant rejection makes the victim feel isolated and alone.

When I read Darlene's book I felt as though she were telling my life story. I see there are others who feel the same.

The hardest thing a Target Child will do is break away from their abusers. They are your "family" and are supposed to love you. Everyone wants to be loved and appreciated and we (Target Children) strive our entire lives in the attempt to achieve that goal.
I understand my family will never give me the same love, respect and tolerance they give to each other. My family has proven in my 45 years that they will only ever treat me with disdain. They will never acknowledge the abuse and dysfunction, admit they are flawed and will go the rest of their lives feeling self righteous. They will never change.

The most important thing for me is that I learned

I ended my association with my arrogant abusive and dysfunctional family 5 years ago and my life has never been better.

I no longer bend over backwards to please those who will only kick me in the stomach. I do not care what "outsiders" think. It is my life to live and I will hold my head high and surround myself with the family members and friends who value, love, appreciate, understand, support and most of all RESPECT me.

My best wishes to all who have been Targeted and I pray for the day when you each cease to be victims and become survivors.

Feb 24, 2014
Maria and all who are standing in their own power...
by: Darlene Barriere - Webmaster

Keep up the great work! Keep treating yourself better than anyone else ever has. Keep moving forward, no matter where your family believes you to be. What they think of you doesn't matter; what REALLY matters is what you think of your Self. Changing what THEY think is futile; changing what you think if fundamental to your healing.

Thank you for sharing so much of yourselves. And as always, I send all of you love, light and healing energy.

From Victim to Victory, a memoir
Darlene Barriere
author. speaker. survivor. coach
From Victim to Victory, a memoir

Feb 24, 2014
Feb 06 comment helped
by: Anonymous

The comment from Feb 06, 2014 made me feel great to read now that I am cutting ties. It made me feel it is ok to do.

Feb 25, 2014
Yay Feb 24th anonymous
by: Anonymous

I'm Feb 6th anonymous, glad my comment helped you. I tell ya, life is really much easier with these people no longer in my life. I guess it is like being on the edge of the high dive at the local pool, once you jump off and realize how easy it is, it's not so hard. Congratulations to you!

Mar 08, 2014
AFTER CARE - Take the HIGH Road
by: Maria

Hello friends

It has been 5 years since I liberated myself from my oppressive, abusive and toxic family.
Life is good and I am enjoying feeling confident, happy and positive about myself.

I encourage all victims of Target Child Selection to do the same. Start living your life for YOURSELF. Following are my tips on how you can graduate from being a victim to being a SURVIVOR!

1. Tell your family that you will no longer be their whipping boy. I told mine I was no longer going to be the focus of their negativity and disdain and unless they could offer me with the same tolerance, respect and understanding they gave to each other they would no longer be allowed in my life. OF COURSE they all rolled their eyes in disgust and gave me their usual huff "Oh MARIA!" With that I said "ok good bye" and I shut the door.

2. Start a journal. Write down your feelings and thoughts about them. Purge your mind of the negativity. Eventually you will be rid of the yearning for their love, co-operation and understanding. You will accept that they will never change and will realize this important fact - You can't change others you can only change yourself.

3. Do not attempt to make others understand your life and struggle. Fact is that most people who "know" your family members know them to be nice people. Target Child Selection is a form of abuse that goes on behind closed doors and is a family's dirty secret. Outsiders have no idea that the nice PTA mom or the upstanding businessman father is an ABUSER. They will NEVER understand and YOU will be perceived to be the one with the problem (isn't that so convenient for the evil ones?!)

4. STAY POSITIVE! When people ask "how are you?" the answer should always be "fine thanks" And more so, when people ask you "How's your mother?" or "How's your sister?" the answer should be "fine!" If they ask further about what your family members are doing etc. all you have to do is SMILE and say that you have not spoken to them in a while and then change the subject.
ALSO - be prepared to answer if someone actually has the nerve to ask (and believe me - THEY DO!)
"I saw your sister and she said you won't talk to them" or "Your father says you refuse to talk to him and you claim he ABUSED you!"
The answer should be "I'm sorry to hear that my family attempted to foist their negativity on you, that wasn't very nice." and again, change the subject.

5. SMILE and always SMILE. Remember you deserve to be happy and do not let others bring you down; be they your abusive family or family "friends" who like to gossip and enjoy other's drama and suffering. If they treat you negatively - show them your back and keep walking!

Hope these tips help anyone who has chosen to or is thinking of breaking away from those who think it is your lot in life to be a victim of Target Child Selection!

You can be a SURVIVOR!

Mar 29, 2014
what was wrong with me?
by: S

My parents were very overbearing. Short tempered, impulsive and they are fighting all the time. They donot even want to leave each other. My mother was so mean all day what she would do is complain. I was never allowed to play with toys . Those toys werenot given to me by my parents but by relatives. She kept them all locked up. I was never allowed to play with friends. I wasnot allowed to have friends either. I was always expected to behave very properly make decisions like an adult. Understand all the time about what is important in life studies, wealth and accomplishment. I was locked up in my room all day. I would talk to myself all day. Daydream. I was locked up to study all day and not do anything at all. No TV no phone just study. I didnt study I do not know why. They expect me to become like Bill Gates someday. I am not a child but my moms bextfriend. However I have cut her off very carefully from my life. My mother was very scary she would stay in the same room and I would be mad scared. She would throw stuff at me and keeps on complaining about my handwriting physical looks I cannot take them anymore. I had this question about myself. Why was I so naive as a kid. Now when I look back at it? I was very naive and very stupid. Also as a girl I would only try to find love. I would occasionally fall in love with emotionally unavailable people? What was wrong with me?

May 21, 2014
Me too!
by: Lorraine

Thank you so much for this, I was a middle child and singled out by my father for physical and pyschological abuse, all this when I was the top of the class and was appreciated by those out of my family. I'm 46 now, and the pain doesn't go away, we still never get it right as far as abusive parents are concerned, but I have two wonderful children and love them both equally even if they are very different. Nice to know we target children are not alone.

May 23, 2014
I treat my 2 boys very fair too
by: Anonymous

I treat my two sons equal, & try & be very good at it. I think because I'm the never do right target child, I want to make sure I don't do to them what she did to me.

Oct 14, 2014
The Abused that never ends
by: Anonymous

I am 60 years. I wanted to state that abuse does not go away, it stays with the other generations, even when the abuser is no longer present. I grew up in a family of eight. 5 girls and three brothers. I was the 7th child. The youngest was a female and the child before me a male. My mother verbalized frequently how she disliked her mother in law and constantly mentioned how much I looked like her. It was obvious to me as a young child, my mother resented something about me. She mentioned on several occasions how my dad constantly stated how much he missed his mom and how much I looked like her. She constantly criticized me in the presence of my brothers and sisters. I was slightly taller and darker than my siblings, She constantly called me an animal and had me do the laundry by hand,while my sisters used the washer. She had me wash my sisters backs while they bathed and stretch my sisters shoes because my feet were bigger. Despite my begging and crying of pain, she would ignore my tears. Through the years as a teenager, I learn to be independent and worked for the things I wanted. She rarely offered me much. My mother would refer to me as selfish because I had to share my earning with my sisters who were older and refused to work. Even after leaving the home, they have always seemed to burden me with the abusive treatment. I found it difficult to walk away and breaking the barrier. This is just a minimal account of the abused endured during my childhood. There were beatings, sexual abused in which I felt my mom turned a deaf ear. Watching the other generations growing up, I realized that despite my mom passing away the other generations continued the same disrespect towards myself and my children the same. I am grateful for finding the strength to have separated my children from these generational abusers and after so many years later now finding the strength to turn away from these that continue to live the life watching others grow. The abuse and pain never goes away. One must be careful and not allow those memories to turn into bitterness, destroying ones health and mind. Although, I must admit that watching the same disrespect fills me with resentment at times towards them. I do feel that because of them, I am stronger, a professional person who has raised two fine professional men, however realize that not everyone can willfully walk away from years of mental and physical abuse and mental conditioning.

Oct 16, 2014
same here with continuing from chiildhood
by: Anonymous

My mother who did the target abuse is dying now. Made her favorite the POA..(expected, lol). Not that I ever cared about material things, just wanted her to love me as much as them. (You understand the feeling. :)) Both my siblings are stay home parents, and spoiled. I am the one who works, makes about $100,000 a year from hard work, you are right they still (now in their 30's) put me and my husband/kids down. Act like I never do right, gang up together on me, or are twofaced when I think they do like me. I did the same as you...although it is hard...I had to separate myself too. I will always have to, or the abuse continues... My mom is dying, and I am seeing her before she dies, and being nice. But I will never forget the favoritism the rest of my life, and have asked God that she go to heaven, but please show her how much she hurt her youngest, that only wanted her love as much as the others. She was abused, and it carried grandpa had favorites too. I too was put down as looking like her married in in-law side, and it caused me to develop bad body dismorphic disorder. I even had plastic surgery on things she put down. I try & be the best most fair mom I can be. Thanks for your recent posy. :--) Nice to know others have been through what I have & understand.

Oct 19, 2014
5 years after the break
by: Anonymous

It has been 5 years since I cut all ties with my abusive family.
It wasn't easy, the first two years were hard. It was difficult to shake the feeling of "If only I could PROOVE to them that I am a GOOD PERSON" (because I am, there is nothing wrong with ME at all).
The biggest thing that helped me stand strong was the fact that for about 3 years (the LAST three years I spent with my so called family) I KEPT A JOURNAL.
That's right my friends - KEEP A JOURNAL -
Whenever I doubted myself (remember, even I was convinced that I was the problem and there was something wrong with ME) whenever I felt depressed or rather - weak - I would pull out my journal and read a few pages.
My family treated me like crap.
After reading my journal entries about "this event" and "that event" (and believe me they were PLENTY)I would be strong again in my conviction that separating from them was the right thing to do. Misery loves company and every time my sisters felt crappy they would dump on me to make themselves feel better.
I do feel badly for my sisters in a way because they both were pretty miserable b****es. Each of them were spoiled and worshipped by the parent who favored and doted on them. When parents choose a TARGET CHILD they also choose a FAVORITE CHILD. You see, when the parent abuses the target child they then turn and lavish their favorite child with praise, gifts and attention to make themselves feel better. Both my sisters were WORSHIPPED so much by Mommy and/or Daddy that the poor things grew up to actually believe they were special and completely without fault. Must SUCK to have to deal in the REAL WORLD where not everybody realizes how "SPECIAL and PERFECT" they were!
Anyway, I really don't care about their dysfunction and personal misery, my point is this=
Your abusive family will NEVER change the family dynamic. They are always right, you are always wrong. Their children are special, yours are not. They don't have a problem, YOU are the one with the problem. They will always be united in their superiority over you. When you get the strength to demand they change and treat you with the same love, tolerance and respect they give each other or you will LEAVE; be ready for them to scoff, roll their eyes and refuse to recognize or admit THEY have anything to change.
I am 50 years old and the last 5 years (ok, more like 3-4) have been the happiest and most productive years of my life. I regret I did not cut ties with my family sooner.
I left the ball squarely in their court when I made my exit (after many attempts to assert myself failed) and I have never heard a word from any of them. I am sure I never will.
That is fine with me since I know what a relationship with them means - I eat crap.
So my friends, KEEP A JOURNAL of your interactions with your family. Document the crappy, insensitive, abusive, ignorant things your family does to you. When you finally get your fill of their negative attitudes; REMOVE YOURSELF from their "clan". Declare your independence and surround yourself with people who appreciate, love and respect you and treat you as an equal.

Nov 30, 2014
Love yourself more than hating them
by: Cristy

It's been eight years since I cut ties with my family. I was the middle target child, and my siblings where just as bad as my parents to me. I was abused by everyone, yet never did I raise my hand in anger, I did not believe in violence. I could tell you the stories, but the most important act you can do for your soul and spirit is to cut ties with all of the toxic people In your life. It takes some getting used to, but you will find your own families and friends. Your people are out there, you just have not found them yet. God bless all of you in your journey for self discovery and self love, it is never okay to be treated with abusive tendencies. Love yourself more than hating them.

Dec 01, 2014
Moving along
by: Joyce

@Christy. I totally agree to cut ties. It is really strange to think of cutting ties with your family, they are the ones who are supposed to love you unconditionally, the ones who you circle your wagons at night with, the ones you are supposed to always count on. Not true. It is actually hard to do it, but when you do cut ties, really cut them, life is just a breeze! I feel so much better. No more guilt feelings of keeping in touch, no more hurt feelings, no more lies and drama. It is a sad fact that some of us have to do this, but life IS better. :)

Dec 08, 2014
my story
by: Anonymous

My older sister was pretty and my mother seemed to have been in love with her. I was never a problem child and good at school, but she hated me kept telling me how ugly I was. I was not really ugly. My sister was beating her up all her life but to my mother, my sister was perfect and I was the one who was to be hated. To the extent that even tho my sister had many lovers including threesome, to my mother she was a virgin. I was a virgin when I married and never had sex outside of marriage but to my mother I was a slut. There were 2 younger brothers born when I was 13 and 15 and she was fine with them. My sister was 5 years older than me. Go figure.

Jan 09, 2015
When the abused child is the target of a sibling?
by: Anonymous

I am curious about your opinion on my situation. I have to older siblings and we are all three of the same gender. The eldest singled me out for what seemed like physical bullying behaviour when I was young (age 8) and it was combined with mean comments. As we progressed, it became quite clear that she felt she had a say in my life. She was impatient, short tempered and entitled. Very good at placing a snide remark just so it would do maximum damage. The thing is, it is like she has a different set of rules for our other sister. I used to think it was my personality that was the problem. She will say that I ALWAYS overreact because I'm too sensitive. But then I started realizing that no one else views me in the same contemptuous way she does. She oversteps my boundaries and when I try to reinforce them, no matter how politely, she just ignores me and keeps right on telling me why Xyz that I am doing is wrong . Eventually she will explode into a vicious rage and say the most hurtful thing she can come up with. This past weekend she instigated a situation that ended with me on the receiving end of verbal abuse. She had made the mistake of doing it via email, so I outed her to the family. Her excuse? She is the victim, wahwahwah, and she doesn't understand why I am always so mean to her. She then references an event that apparently happened 14 years ago and proceeds to throw herself a pity party about the fact that I treat her differently to our other sibling, referring to the close and find relationship I have with her. I mean, who in their right mind thinks they are entitled to a loving , fond sister relationship when they have done nothing to earn it. Also, " she hurt my feelings a decade and a half ago" just seems like a crazy reason to give for a situation that went nuclear because you clearly wanted it to. So what am I dealing with here? She never bullied at school, and until relatively recently, when she started raging at my mother too. I was her only target.

Jan 09, 2015
Step grandmother secretly verbally abused my 16 year old for yearsth
by: Anonymous

This article is very informative and makes sense. I am a very opened minded person and pride myself on that!
After a visit with my father in law and step mother in law, my daughter said in a very shallow voice " why is Grammie mean to me and not the other grandchildren?"
My daughter loves her family and refuses to hear or say anything negative about her family, so I really knew something was wrong.
My Mother in law was like that with her sometime and I had
been questioning my daughter about it for years, but she would not talk about it. My husband has not wanted to stir up trouble for all these years afraid to ruin relationship with his father, who is 90% deAf, has no idea what is going on.
My daughter admitted her step grandmother degraded and picked on her for years behind our backs! My daughter is an honor roll stundent and plays sports and has always bowed down to her elders.
I desperately want to expose her. She is jealous of my child. There is much more to story. What do I do with my anger? She verbally abused my daughter for years!! She has hurts daughter mentally for years! I never want to see her again. I need an article to help me with this type of anger. I did not protect my child from her when I knew something was wrong and my husband, unsupported . I feel anger at myself & husband. Please write article about advice. Thank u for your time.

Feb 05, 2015
Questions answered
by: Anonymous

I'm not alone...35 and it's more mentally now than physical. My brothers and sisters are the prince and princess cos they got a daddy which my mother married. She always said I looked like my father, I guess I tick her off walking around minding my own business.

Mar 25, 2015
I didn't understand why I was being severly abused.
by: JennifernLaurie

Our Dad selected me, Laurie, the oldest child to beat and verbally brow beat. This occurred my whole life. He would even threaten to get on to mom and my sister. I would act to protect them. I have dyslexia, and for the longest time, I couldn't figure out why he hated me. He yelled and screamed at me when I missed a word. There was a day when my father was spanking my nephew who has autism mercilessly. I stood up to stop him by removing the baby off of my Father's lap. My husband told him to stop. In 2013, I moved back to my parents home and began to see him targeting my 12 year old nephew with autism and my son who has a host of mental disabilities. The final night that I stayed at my parents house my
father was screaming at the top of his lungs at my son. I came in to see what was going on. I sent him out of the room to tell the other two children to get on their shoes. My father hit me in my mouth. My sister and I took all 3 kids and left my parents house for good and we are very glad we did. I never understood why my
father did this to someone that he proclaimed to love. May be because it happened to me, I was able to see it happening to my son and my nephew so that we could act to protect them.

Apr 04, 2015
by: Anonymous

One thing that this article neglects to bring up is birth order. There's already been studies that show parents favor the children who were born in the same order they were (youngest children favor youngests, oldests favor oldests, etc...). Surely this can be a huge factor for abuse as well.

Apr 10, 2015
Still havent Forgiven Her
by: Kirsy

I vividly remember the day I realized something had changed between my mother and I.
It was when I was in fifth grade, and I had a friend who was my escape from living in my home. My family was never all that stable. After moving to California, my father and mother divorced during the fourth or fifth year of living there. My father had never singled any of us out. He was a retired E-7 in the military, and even though he was a little verbally abusive (IE, the whole treating your children like army recruits), he never targeted. However, my mother was the problem. She messed up the entire relationship my father had with my brother, sister, and I. Constantly she'd tell us that he didn't like us and that he didn't want to put up with us anymore. I never really believed her, considering my father seemed to feel very guilty for letting my mom have custody. She was a heavy substance abuser, adulterer, and she used her "Borderline Personality Disorder" as an excuse. Instead of trying to find a way to get help, she acted like a goddamned drama queen, and would turn my siblings against my dad. So one day, he just moved away.
And then when I started to notice my mother was doing it with her new family (my soon to be step father and step sisters), I would spend prolonged nights at a friend's house whom I felt kinship with because we were both abuse cases.
My mother saw this as me abandoning her.
So she made me stop being friends with her to the point of physically restraining me and telling my friend that *I* didn't want to associate with her any longer. Things got progressively worse when my mom became pregnant with her last child. She grew angry with me for calling my dad on a regular basis and mocked how I sounded when I started crying after she took the phone from me and hung up. She proceeded to trash and tear apart my room, saying I'm hiding things from her, and after she finished she made me clean it all up.
After a while, my siblings and my step father started acting similar to her. I guess she was just yelling at me so often they started to believe I was causing trouble all the time. This kind of thing proceeded into my teenage years until finally my father had heard enough of it and drove from the Midwest, all the way back to California to pick me up. I lived with him mostly for the rest of my highschool years, but after a while he started getting depression because he felt like I needed a mother figure in my life do to the fact he wasn't "A good father". His guilt over leaving his children affected him constantly, so I told him I'd move back in with my mom, who had been calling me and telling me she had changed and that she wouldn't "act the same" anymore. She never really apologized for her abuse, and she had done more than just cruel teasing. The last time I saw her was a few weeks after I had gotten out of the hospital for a suicide attempt. I had tried to tell her I was depressed but she wouldn't listen to me and told me I was just feeling sorry for myself. After I almost OD'd on meds, and had been discharged, she'd promised not to hurt me anymore. But again there were no apologies. And soon enough, two weeks after my discharge, she started up again, and chased me through my house screaming at me. She was hysterical and I finally lost it and told her to back the F*CK off, and she saw this as a threat. She called to my step dad and told him I was going to hurt her and that I threatened her life, and he restrained me and threw me in a child-locked Honda, then I was taken to the ER. She falsely accused me of potentially harming her life, and I ended up in a psyche ward for 9 months, just for the doctors to finally deem me depressed from physical an emotional abuse at the hands of my mother. I could have been discharged within the first month of my stay, but my mother wouldn't take me back, and she had gotten my father to believe that I had tried to hurt my family, so he was unsure of what to do. I had no home. It was hell.

Apr 12, 2015
You're Pretty Close To The Mark!
by: Anonymous

How I wish I'd read this sooner in life. It describes my situation to a tee!

I doubt that anyone (unless they have experienced it themselves) can appreciate just how isolating, and soul destroying being the targeted child is. I know for a fact that I was such a child - it just took YEARS for me to realize it. During those years, I would describe life as "hell"; my only desire was to leave my parental family as quickly as I possibly could.

I am utterly certain that the circumstances of my birth contributed to my being targeted. My mother was very ill whilst pregnant with me, and suffered depression and psychosis after my birth. My father had her handed over to mental health services, and I was sent to live with an uncle and aunt. I guess that as a result, I could not "bond" with either parent. My mother describes me as being a "hyperactive" child who did not sleep well, and who cried a lot, upon returning home.

I also had problems with my legs and feet, which meant that I had to wear leg braces as an infant. Presumably, these are what prevented me sleeping, as I had to wear them at night - they were like a huge metal bar inside a plaster cast! As an older child, I had multiple surgeries to correct the problem. I do recall that this caused significant stress, and arguments with my parents. They had NO idea at all how terrified I became of hospitals - and did not seem to care!

For years, I have been taunted and called names. More of the abuse seems to have been from my father, than from my mother, which is something I can't understand. He seems openly to hate me - and always to wish me ill. He never praised me, cuddled me, or told me he loved me. He instead criticized what I was good at, told me what a disappointment I was, and took delight in times when I was unhappy. He was both physically and verbally abusive (and remains verbally explosive to this day). My mother was simply somebody who always backed him up, and occasionally shouted at me. She did also tell me how much of a disappointment I was, and often compared me unfavourably to cousins.

I have one sibling - the favourite of the family, who can do no wrong. He can drop out of University, dabble in drugs, get a woman pregnant without having dated for long... He was just as "bad" a person as I ever was, but my parents let him get away with it. Even as an adult, I feel I am treated very differently from my brother.

I know for a fact that targeting occurs, but I feel that the authorities do nothing to recognise or understand the phenomenon. Thus, children in this position get no help.

Apr 13, 2015
WHY are these abusers getting away with it?
by: Anonymous

I'm the person who just posted the above "You're pretty close to the mark" story. I've been reading through some of the replies by other people to "Why parents target a specific child for abuse", and they really made me think. As a result, I've ended up with some questions...

You see, I feel I've noted a sort of "theme" - not only do parents seem to target one kid more than others, they also seem to be very good at hiding it. I've spotted several comments that say the abuser managed to get other people to join in the abuse (other family members, friends, etc.). This happened in my case. I've also noticed that in most cases, even though there were people about who KNEW a child was being abused (e.g. neighbours, extended family, siblings), these people did NOTHING to stop the abuse. In some cases, they actually believed the abuser's claims that the victim "deserved it", and sometimes they seem to have joined in the abuse.

This really scares me, because again it's something that happened to me. It's REALLY hard as a kid or young adult to find the courage to report abuse - sometimes you are not sure it's happening, and feel you won't be believed. However, whenever I made attempts to report abuse, I got ignored, or worse, punished. This seems to be the case for many of the people posting comments here.

WHY is it that people who you turn to, in order to help you get free from abuse, do NOT help? WHY do they believe the abuser? WHY do they not listen properly to the victim? WHY do they blame the victim?

Most of all, WHY do the authorities, and people in positions of authority like medics, teachers or the police (who really ought to have the power to stop abuse) NOT take it seriously? WHY are abusers so able to fool people - fool them into thinking the abuser is a "decent" person?

If anyone looks through the comments here, they will see people who often DID try to report abuse, but got little or no assistance. Instead, the abuser got away with it because people did not step in to help the victim. Most of them were fooled by, or even sided with, the abuser.

Surely it could be classed as a form of abuse, to know that somebody is a victim, and NOT try to help them? WHY are the abusers getting away with it?

Apr 13, 2015
Abusers getting away with it
by: Anonymous

I read the above on abusers getting away wit it abuse. I believe that society is visual. As well as admiring emotional bullying .All over Tv, movies it is bullies admired. I am not talking about physical bullies but verbally abusive ones.Our society teaches that it is terrible wrong to hurt someone physically or with evidence. But emotional abuse and bullying is ok. If you start looking for this snake in the grass you will understand what I am saying. it's like a code of ethics don't push but attack verbally or ignore. Focus on Jesus he loves You.

Jun 20, 2015
Target Child and Siblings
by: Kerry K

I was targeted for abuse, primarily emotional, verbal and psychological, because I was an "accident" pregnancy and my mother resented me for being an unwanted "expense". She was a social climber and our father did not have a social climber income.

From an article on this subject I read years ago, I learned that the abusing parent will "vilify" the child, even to the point (true in my case) of creating an entire false persona of a person with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. It also said that, since siblings are also children, this false image becomes "hard wired" and that, no matter how much time passes or how much evidence to the contrary, they are never capable of seeing the target child as they truly are. They can only ever see the vilified child. I am 60 years old, disabled and on a financial "leash" to my sisters, who continue to look at me as a person with no redeeming qualities. My late step-father, who greatly admired me and couldn't understand why the family treated me so unfairly (his words), would often say "Why can't they see the person I see?" Unfortunately, I didn't learn the answer to that until after he passed. I have been living in an emotional vacuum for 15 years and desperately need a support system.

Jul 03, 2015
Problem Child/Middle Child
by: Forrest

How many people are familiar with those terms?

That is how ABUSERS get away with targeting their VICTIM.

I was targeted by both of my parents for their abuse, in turn they each had a favorite child who they coddled and spoiled. They also taught their little pet that I was inferior and did not deserve to be treated as an equal. My siblings grew up believing that if they had a problem with me that I WAS THE PROBLEM. My siblings got away with anything and everything, never punished or even scolded for their bad deeds.

I tolerated their arrogant, hurtful, obnoxious attitude for years always bending over backwards to prove myself worthy of their love and respect which I never received. I put up with it for far too long because it was "normal", that was how I grew up.

After reading Darlene's book I realized a few things:

#1. It's not ME, it's not my fault what was done to me.
#2. I cannot change others I can only change myself.
#3. I have the right to live my life free of negativity and I do not have to have abusive, negative people in my life NO MATTER WHO THEY ARE.

Thank you Darlene for sharing your life and for taking the time to explain this form of abuse. I felt like you were describing my life when I read much of your book and it all made sense when I was done reading.

Jul 06, 2015
To Forrest:
by: Darlene Barriere - Webmaster

I am delighted that you found some answers for yourself reading my book. What you experienced wasn't right...and now you know it wasn't your fault. That's massively HUGE! Sometimes, logically, we know this, but on an emotional level it's a different story. When we're thrust into a family who has been so nefariously brainwashed, we ask ourselves "What's wrong with me?" And when we ask ourselves that question, tit is so hard to see the truth of it all: that there really is nothing wrong with you at all. And just because more than one, sometimes many, are saying evils things about you and mistreating you as a result, does not make it so.

It is beyond distressing when our families are the ones telling us that we're to blame. And when they do so at the very core of our being, essentially telling us that we don't deserve any kind of dignity or respect or love, it's very challenging not to take that in internally. But that's what has to happen.

When we know our value, when we understand how systematically those in charge manipulated and controlled all those around them, when we care ONLY about what we know in our hearts about ourselves can we break free of the prison of what others think and believe us to be.

Stay in the truth of Who You Really Are, Forrest. And when you do, you have the power to bring change to the world over and above anything you thought possible.

Thank you SO much for sharing here. I'm thrilled to have been a tiny part of what is now moving you from Victim to Victory. Much love to you.

Darlene Barriere

Jul 07, 2015
by: Anonymous

For most of my life I was mentally and physically abused by my stepfather who told me I was better off dead and worthless and a mother who did nothing but joined in - I look like my father who she hates.

I have made the decision finally to have no contact with this family and have walked away as I suffer depression and anxiety when confronted by family get togethers.

I am seeking help for alcohol abuse due to the depression. The final straw was seeing the stepfather start to treat my kids as he treated me.

Thanks for the article as it explains alot.

Jul 07, 2015
To Anonymous who posted July 7, 2015:
by: Darlene Barriere - Webmaster

I commend and applaud that you are taking back your power!

Your post reminded of a quote by Daniell Koepke:

You don't ever have to feel guilty about removing toxic people from your life. It doesn't matter whether someone is a relative, romantic interest, employer, childhood friend, or a new acquaintance — you don't have to make room for people who cause you pain or make you feel small. It's one thing if a person owns up to their behavior and makes an effort to change. But if a person disregards your feelings, ignores your boundaries, and "continues" to treat you in a harmful way, they need to go.

From Victim to Victory, a memoir
Darlene Barriere
author. speaker. survivor. coach
From Victim to Victory, a memoir

Jul 08, 2015
Plus the minions
by: Anonymous

Forgot to add three stepbrothers who follow whatever my stepfather does.

Jul 29, 2015
9 kids and I was the beating post.
by: Joel

I have often wondered what I did that was so bad to deserve all of the abuse in my life. My dad beat me when I was 4 so badly that I had blood dripping down my legs. When I was 12 I graduated from the belt to his fist and kicks he broke my ribs that day. My mother took me to the ER and told them I fell down the stairs. When I was 18 he threw an unopened beer can at me and beat on my head until he closed both eyes. I finally fought back that day and he realized I was no longer a helpless child who couldn't defend myself. As a child I was the top of the class but started having vision problems. I needed glasses by second grade and my parents would never buy me glasses. By 4th grade I couldn't read and my grades dropped. My parents would discipline me with spankings and restrictions but would never buy me glasses. When I was 15 they pulled me out of school to go to work, I hung sheetrock all day long but never got paid. I finally got glasses because I couldn't read a tape measure and could make more $ for them if I could see. Now that I am an adult he has turned family members against me with slanderous lies. To the point that I was attacked recently by him and 3 other family members. He fractured my skull with a club and knocked my eyeball out of my head when he fractured my eye with a kick. I suffered major concussions and had to be sent to a trauma center for my injuries. They told the police that I attacked him first and they were only protecting a senior citizen and I have been charged with a crime. I wish I could have seen this article when I was young, I would have walked away before wasting so many years being their scapegoat.

Aug 12, 2015
Thank You
by: Anonymous in Portland

I am the youngest of five and was raped and sodomized by my father from age 3-to-14. He was mentally and emotionally abusive to all of us including my mother. She and I are the only ones he sexually abused. My siblings all tortured and bullied me while we were growing up. In 2006, I cut myself off from all of them and it was the best decision I ever made.

Thank you for your site.

Aug 12, 2015
by: Anonymous

Oh sorry Portland, what a horrible life you had. Extra hugs to you.


Oct 11, 2015
Nothing left for me...
by: unknown from u.k

My mother had no time left for me. I think I arrived at a time when life was stressful for her. She already had two girls aged 5 and 3. MY dad was on strike and i was unplanned.
I have had many years of therapy to understand myself. I wasn't physically abused by my mother( apart from once at 14), but i acted in a very adult way from aged 12 onwards, after one incident where I was sexually assaulted. After that i threw myself at many men of all ages.
I was assaulted by my sisters boyfriend when I was 16. My mother was told and ignored this. She divorced my dad and I was left to fend for myself. She moved to a nearby town with one of my sisters and the boyfriend who had assaulted me. Every time I saw her i had to see him too.I was left to live with my dad who couldn't cope with the fact my mother had left him.
Needless to say I was pregnant within a few months and married to a man 24 years my senior.
I carried on my life thinking I was a terrible person for having sex with so many people. I thought this is what you did to be loved. I craved love and affection constantly, had numerous affairs and survived emotionally on my own.
At aged 36 I was told how horrible I was by one of my sisters. After that I was ignored by most family members. I sunk into depression and began therapy.
After several years and many different therapists i looked at my relationship with my mother and could finally see the damage she had done.
One of my sisters is epileptic and has disabled children. She monopolised my mothers attention. My other sister grabbed what was left. I could see that as a child there was no attention, no love , no affection for me. This led to me looking for it wherever i could, being abused by many people.
I was diagnosed with breast cancer during this time. my mother would come over to see me, but only if my sister let her.
During the last few years I have tried several times to confront the issues within my family. I am always met with the same resistance. They have family gatherings where myself and my children are not included, we find out by the photos plastered all over facebook. If i complain i am told that its ok to have separate parties, or that i wouldn't be interested.
So I have virtually given up. I have a stressful relationship with my mother, with little contact maybe every 6 weeks or so. It turns out she remembered i had been assaulted by my sisters boyfriend and thinks its ok as she told him not to do it again. I wish he was still alive so I could report it. I do not have hardly any contact with my sisters.
Life is ok, but i struggle with my emotions and everything that has happened. My children are now grown up and getting on with their lives. I am very proud of them. i have a new very supportive partner. Yet at this point in my life I feel very lonely.
I won't try to change the dimensions of my family again as they don't want to look at their own behaviour and how they have affected me. So for now I carry on as best I can.

Oct 11, 2015
target child
by: Kellie

My mother appeared to hate me when I was a child. I was singled out for verbal and emotional abuse and harsher punishments than the other children. (There were six of us; I was number four.)

I think the main reasons I was singled out are: (1) I was very active and high energy; (2) I was a restless baby; my mother said I cried and screamed whenever she tried to pick me up ("How do you think that made ME FEEL?" she demands); (3) My father was good to all of us, but I may have been his favorite.

I think my family's dysfunctional ways destroyed my chance at a normal life. I am almost 50 now and I see no way to fix things.

Feb 07, 2016
I wish we had a group like AA or ALANON
by: Anonymous

I really wish there was a group to meet others in this same boat in real life. I worked in mental health for a decade and never heard of the term "target child". Many of these stories are familiar to me, I'm feeling isolated at the moment and they've helped. My father is visiting my family and all the memories of my abusive mother are haunting me. Even though she's passed away, memories still haunt. I feel I have no one to talk to about my feelings. I've read every story on this site, cathartic.

My partner gets angry with my father and my bullying family, but I ask him not to intervene. My father and (deceased) mother who made me start working for my own food and personal necessities at age 12, kicked me out at age 17, and basically neglected medical and dental from 11 on expects us to take care of him. I love him but he's so mean to me at times. I hate for my young child to witness. He lives for 9 months in another part of the world with my sibling and three months with me. He lavishes my sibling with vacations, jewelry, cars, you name it. To our household he gives nothing. I honestly don't want him here but feel guilty.

My favored sibling never got beat as a child, got to drive, got handed presents and clothing. I guess it was hard to as they did attention getting things but would never get punished-I would! My sibling smoked at an early age, shoplifted, stole and crashed the family car, started having sex at a young age, you name it. Parents considered that sibling an angel.

It was hard for me at age 17 to find my way, but somehow, miraculously, I achieved an undergraduate and two graduate degrees. My parents never came to my undergraduate graduation which made me choose to miss my graduate ceremonies as I was embarrassed not to have my family in attendance. For my graduate degrees, I was asked to speak on behalf of graduating class and I declined both times.

Last year, my father claimed I was lying about my degrees and I stated that I could not have had the teaching positions I had without my advanced degrees. I have a box in my attic with core papers, transcripts, awards, and degrees and I dumped it in his bed and told him to look through them after I waved my degrees in his face.

I honestly think I achieved my degrees to prove myself to my family but all I ever obtained was a gigantic student loan debt and snubbed from my family, which led to the same feelings I had since age 2 or 3. Unloved.

I'm writing this like a scared little girl, hiding in the attic of my own home, like I used to do as a child in my parents home. My fathers presence brings up horrible PTSD memories of my mother beating me and making up lies and absurd stories to try to get my father to beat me. My mother would pull clumps of my hair out and hit me with whatever she could gather. My sibling could do no wrong. I used to get along with my only sibling, who at one time admitted the favoritism/abuse, but since the birth of my child that all changed. My sibling now has amnesia about the abuse. I don't want more than one child because I'm afraid I will act like my mother! Another thing has happened since the death of my abusive mother, my sibling is taking on her persona. It's quite unbearable.

I feel, and my partner feels, like I should sever all contact with my family as I am a loving and kind citizen and good human being. My partner states he sees blatant abuse and he said he will gently explain to my family why I need to sever ties, I just cannot seem to do so, as miserable and tormented by them as I am. I want them to treat me kindly and acknowledge my achievements that I worked so hard to get their attention! I get more credit from strangers than them.

I feel suicidal from the 40 years of emptiness and raw hurt I have felt. I wish I could numb, but I'm afraid of mind-mood alternating substances. I'm putting on a good face for my child and would never leave the earth willingly, but the pain is so unbearable today.

I wish their was a real-life symposium or group. I agree with the posts that say society red-flags those who cut family ties.

Feb 07, 2016
To Anonymous of I wish we had a group like AA or ALANON:
by: Darlene Barriere - Webmaster

The very deepest scars I carry, besides the deep ones I bear from countless beatings and emotional trauma I received at the hands of mostly my mother, are those of abusive episodes against my siblings. Those were the ones that led me to inner murderous rage that I frequently took out on myself. Based on what you wrote, I'm not sure your sibling got off scott free. It might surprise you to learn that all the terrible behaviour of your sibling in childhood and adolescence, though neglectfully disregarded by your parents, could well have developed as a result of guilt over seeing and hearing the abuse your parents inflicted on you. Your sibling would have been helpless to intervene. And though your sibling has seemingly taken on your mother's persona, that's not unusual in such circumstances. There is SO much psychology that can explain--not excuse, but explain--the behaviour over the course of this person's life.

I agree with your partner...severing ties with them needs to happen if you have any hope of bringing true healing into your life. Clearly, your partner cares very deeply for you. I would say that what is stopping you from doing what you know in your heart is necessary is hanging onto the hope that they will provide you with the acknowledgment and praise you never received as a child. That's the hold they have on you. Your need to prove to them that you aren't the person they think you are, that you are a fabulous person (and you ARE) is getting in the way of making a healthy choice for your Self.

We are all better at dealing with negative family stuff in our lives when we feel whole ourselves. But when we're lacking in our own value and worth, we look for it in all the wrong places and we get triggered very easily. Sometimes it may even seem as though the whole world is either against you or trying to keep you down.

In short, you must find a way to believe yourself that you are all the things you know you are logically, all the things you want you family to provide for you on an emotional level they likely cannot or will not do. That's a tough pill to swallow, I know. Lean on people who truly support you, like your partner. And find it in your Self to give your inner little one all that was never given but deserved. Love is a part of Who You Really Are. You have it in spades to give, so start giving it to your Self.

I send you love, light and healing energy.

From Victim to Victory, a memoir
Darlene Barriere
author. speaker. survivor. coach
From Victim to Victory, a memoir

Feb 07, 2016
re: feb 7 2016 anonymous/alanon, AA
by: joyce

Congratulations on all of your academic achievements! It is not easy to go to school and finish :) Kudos and a big hug to you. I did horrible in school, my home life was horrible so I could not focus at school, being starved, beat, ridiculed, tormented, you name it at home......not a good environment to bring home schoolwork to work on, let alone just try to live day to day and survive.


Mar 18, 2016
You're getting there
by: Julia

I don't know about each case of targeted abuse, but I know for certain it exists, because I was the target, and my three siblings were not. I'm afraid, at least in my case that I was not challenged intellectually or otherwise. Point in fact, I was the most intelligent child, above the others in school, more popular, and more attractive. Yet I was the target of my abusive Mother. Who was an only child, who felt unloved by her own Mother. The trouble was, I was very much like my Mother, and unlike her, her own Mother loved me in a way she couldn't show. My Grandmother didn't hide her preference for me over her other grandchildren, and my Mother didn't understand she loved me most because I was so much like my Mother.
This may not make sense. Basically, my Mother beat me, berated and belittled me, because she thought her Mother loved me, and not her. She never touched, or spoke an ill word to my siblings, who by the way, ignored my abuse. My Mother's abuse towards me continued into adulthood, and did not end until the day she died. My siblings kicked me out of the Family after her death and don't communicate with me.

Mar 29, 2016
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
by: Anonymous

Not only do I feel validated, but now I truly understand why my mother was so cruel and found me to be "a difficult child to love". There was definitely a "failure to bond" and being my father's favorite, it is now clear to me that Mom perceived me as an adversary. It also did not help that my maternal grandmother was verbally abusive, as well.
Thank you so much for this much-needed "WHY" . . .

Jun 13, 2016
I was targeted by dad
by: Oliver

I was the second oldest and oldest boy. My older sister and I were targeted by dad. He would use multiple wire or one wood hangers to whip me. I recall the wood hangars breaking he hit me so hard. It was during my 6-10 years of age. He used his police-style thick leather belt as well or he would hit my body closed and open fist. He never hit my younger and sister who were only 2 and 3 years younger than me. The hardest part about the abuse was that he would abuse me as soon as he would arrive home from work and after drinking alcohol at a bar. He would be raging. And after the abuse my body would be hurting a lot, I would be crying hysterically but he would tell me to shut up or he would hurt me more. And then he would force me to sit at the dinner table with my 3 other siblings, mom and him. I would be sobbing trying to stop crying, tears running down my face and he would sit there with his finger in my face telling me would hit me more if I didn't stop crying. Sometimes it was hard to stop crying because of the pain and embarrassment and shame so he would hit me more. It was truly the shame they hurt the most, sitting at that table as the only one who was hit and for really no reason. I was a great student in school (every year my grade school would elect me class president), I was an outstanding athlete and I helped mom all the time around the home. I started lifting weights in grade school and drinking protein to grow and get big to protect myself and then he tried to take my weights away. Emotional abuse came later throughout my life even as late as 40 years old I recall him telling our church pastors parents with my mom and I there that I was a "faggot"...a "homosexual" which I'm not. I couldn't figure out why he singled me out but my thinks it was because I was her favorite child. She told me that I helped her out was the best behaved and was a star student and athlete growing up. So she told me she used to tell my dad what a special child I was. She told me dad didn't like hearing that and told her not to give me any compilents because it give me a big ego. So mom said he was jealous of me. He should have been happy for me and proud of me though. I truly believe he wanted the worst for me. I recall having a great job in my late 20's, dating a great girl for 4 years and going ginger his marriage blessing. He gave me a 1-2 hour lecture on how women would ruin my life and to not get married. So I didn't and lost an amazing woman that I still think about 20+ years later. Mom turned her head when i was young to the abuse. As an adult I asked my parents to go to counseling to address what happened. Mom was willing to go and we went but dad only went once and didn't open up in counseling. He was obstinate in therapy session denying he abused me. I approached him two other times in a loving way to discuss the abuse and he he denied it again saying "he would never touch me or hurt me in any way". When he had weeks to live I decided to approach him once more about his abuse of me and so when I went to his bedside to talk to him, his speech was so impaired from cancer eating his body that that I decided to thank him and tell him how much I loved him instead for everything he did for me (because other than the abuse he did work hard and provide a nice home and education). He then interrupted me and said, "son, I'm sorry for all the bad things i did to you in your life..." That broke my heart because it was something he was obviously holding in for years and couldn't tell me until the end. I wish he could have told me earlier because we could have had a better relationship clearing that past. And what's odd is at that time he opened up and confessed other dark secrets like how be brought a mistress a home. And then he told me not to tell mom those dark secrets. It was just odd how he picked me to tell me those things when he seemed to be a lot closer to my younger brother and sister that are not abused by him. And he showed them a lot more favor too.

Jul 12, 2016
by: Anonymous

I don't believe for one second that it is only step parents and most of these comments are about biological parents. My father chose me after my older sister left. She was put in foster care. My mother still lives in denial and I will not have a relationship with her because of it. She says stupid things all the time. Like "Oh where was I when this happened?" or 'That was a very long time ago. Don't you think you should get over it?" I just want to smack her when she makes me feel like Precious. My other siblings talk about him like he was a God. They post his picture on FB and are so proud of all that he did for them. I want to punch them all and say "Excuse me? I was his child too." Alas it is a struggle I have to live on my own. I mean without family. I have no family of the traditional kind. I don't believe violence solves anything except to create more violence. Even though I want to be violent I am not that way.

Jul 13, 2016
Re: interesting by anonymous
by: Anonymous

I share your pain about how it hurts that our own mothers deny the physical abuse. When I was in my 20's (10-15 years after the physical abuse), mom recalled the physical abuse happening and she was sympathetic when I discussed it with her. However 40 years after the abuse I was shocked when she told me she did not know my father (her husband) beat me so badly. She told me the same comment ..."where was I when it happened." I told mom she was next door in the kitchen, encouraged him to beat me (as when dad came home mom cried to him saying i was bad boy during the day when i really was not a bad kid) and heard everything and then saw me come down stairs to eat at dinner sobbing and humiliated as dad made me eat dinner with everyone after the beating of which the humiliation hurt more than the pain. It was always a quiet dinner after my beating when we were together and nobody spoke perhaps due to shock over what happened to me or perhaps they were afraid they would be Beat as well if they looked at dad the wrong way. He was a bigger imposing individual. Perhaps mom just really forgot over time. However what really hurt was when she defended him telling me that he truly tried his best as a parent. I guess it was easy for her to say that as she was not continually beat like I was for no reason except for him being drunk and not being able to handle his life stressors when he beat me.

It's odd because the physical abuse happened 40+ years ago and it had such a profound effect on me, I think about it seems like daily. My sister was abused as well but she told me she went through a lot of therapy and has been on meds a good part of her adult life and said she is over it. However, she has stated for years that she is diagnosed as clinically depressed and she is challenged with hoarding, boundary and body weight issues. She is a sweetheart and I love her as my sibling and it breaks my heart that my father hurt her and me so much especially because she has such a beautiful heart. He never touched younger brother and sister and obviously as a result those younger siblings were a lot closer with my father and he with them. I always honored my father but was not as close as the siblings that he didn't beat. I noticed the younger siblings don't have the trust issues that my sister and I have due to the abuse.

In my college and adult years I fully absorbed myself into work, more post-grad schooling, relationships and fitness and looking back I see the physical abuse effects on life decisions even though I had always tried my hardest to work hard and get ahead honestly. I never married due to trust issues from the abuse...but still hope to... All of the siblings never married...and there were a few kids out of wedlock.

What's odd about dad is that he still attempted to attack me as an adult. At a family holiday dinner I recall him out of nowhere becoming verbally aggressive over how he purchased the steak that i was eating. Another time on a family vacation mom warned me he was going to harass me and sure enough When he and I were having breakfast on the ocean enjoying what I thought was a great time with dad (as this was probably the most beautiful setting we had ever had breakfast), he started to attack me that I didn't do a favor for his best friend that he asked me to do, when I actually performed the favor. I felt like there was something in him where he didn't like me. I still always honored him.

I believe due to me getting beat so much, I became the family scapegoat. Even through I went on to excel In a career and have success in post-grad school, was most involved in church, lived a clean life, I was the family scapegoat. My brother told me dad would speak badly about me to him. My niece told me as well that he would say negative things about me to her. I never understand how a dad could do that. It was like dad saw me as competition. I recall in my 30's how his best friends wife who he admired a lot wanted to set me up with her best friend, when I was alone with dad he told me, "She won't like you, what do you have to offer her, she sounds like a beautiful Christian woman, she won't have any interest in you."

Another time in my early 20's, I had a gorgeous and sweet college sweetheart girlfriend from a great family, and he lectured me for nearly two hours how she and any woman would ruin my life, take my money, and keep me from having any fun. Over my life, my cousin later told me that he spoke badly about any woman I would bring around to meet the family.

The youngest child in the family was spoiled by dad. He would give her anything. She was a high school drop out because she burned so many bridges at school with students and teachers due to behavior issues..she felt uncomfortable at school. he bought her an expensive German convertible sports car at 16, and then gave her a lucrative job at his business when she dropped out and she barely showed up for work. He paid her rent in an expensive apartment and gave her endless groceries. I recall wondering if he would be partly generous with me so I asked him one day if I could "borrow" $200 for rent that I would pay back in a week when my employer would give me my paycheck, (I worked for a fortune 10 company at the time). Dad told me, "son, that is a lot of money, I don't know..ill ask mom and call you." In the meantime, he was making well into a six figure income through owning multiple businesses (where I worked tirelessly for years as a child and adult with zero to low wages) and giving my younger sister anything she wanted...he never called me back about my $200 loan request (and I never actually needed the money so it didn't matter)

One day when I was 20, at the time I was getting therapy, i approached mom at her home about dads physical abuse of me, I broke down crying and was on the ground crying. Mom sat there and discussed it with me. And then dad walked into the home, he came home from work. He walked in the kitchen and there i was on the ground crying...and what did he do? Instead is asking me, "son what is wrong?" He took a step and walked over my body to the refrigerator, put some food in the refrigerator, walked back over my body (as I was on the ground crying), walked upstairs and into his bedroom. And what was bizarre is that 5
Minutes later he opened his bedroom door and yelled down to me..."son, are you ok?"

He was an alcoholic until his mid-50's. He would drink beer early for breakfast and drink through day and night. He then became a Christian which was great but then became obsessed with the pastor of his church giving him lots of money, gifts and time. He helped the pastor build his church and would constantly brag about the pastor and his family. I felt like he forgot he had a family.

Dad, in his last weeks confessed to me he bought his mistress a house. That really bothered me because I owned my own properties but my brother approached me one day asking me to help him buy a home because dad would not help him. So i did what I thought was the right thing to do, quit my job, bought him a home, spent several months fixing it up and all for an unappreciative brother who went on to later say I scammed him...I'm still trying to figure that one out.

When dad was ill I decided I needed to approach him one more time about the abuse. However when I approached him, he was so weak and frail, I instead honored him, Thanked him and told him how much I loved him (it may sound odd but I did love him, honored him my entire life And have forgiven him for the abuse), dad interrupted me and apologized for hurting me through my life. It was a bitter sweet apology as he was passing and I really didn't want it at that time because I felt so bad for his condition but I guess it was on his heart and he probably wanted to do it before moving on to his next phase.

Both parents have passed so the abuse culprits are no longer around and I'm now alone to deal with the adult effects of being abused as a child.

Jul 19, 2016
Psychological abuse
by: Loriane

Thank you so so much... My father was psychologically abusive or so I think. He'd call me names, saying that I was that way (the name) for this or that reason. He just assumed I did certain things and wouldn't listen to me if I tried to explain him my reasons. He also let his girlfriend do exactly the same. Yes, I may have misbehaved at times, but it was due to the fact that I was in so much pain for him to have cheated on my mother with this woman and introducing her as my new mother. They treated me like I was such an horrible person and a burden to the family. I have a hard time believing I'm a good, capable person... If my father didn't believe it, then how can someone else do it? They'd also humiliate me in front of their friends while I wasn't there but change the subject when I was there as if nothing happened. It was only my fault, my behaviour, my... I don't know, myself I think? I'm the first child and a girl. I think he's always wanted a boy. He has a better relationship with my brother. He may have been abused, but I've always felt targeted. He won't admit he mistreated me, or just says he's not that kind of person. If he was, he wouldn't have had treated me that way. It's always about him whenever I try to explain him how I feel. He doesn't listen. I want to think he didn't do it with bad intentions, but his actions hurt because he didn't know better. It hurts, and I don't understand...

Oct 28, 2016
Child Abuse
by: Anonymous

Both of my parents were physically and emotionally abusive, but my father abused us all equally. My mother singled me out for abuse. I have never understood why. I was one of those kids who wanted to be perfect--always obedient and respectful.

There were clues to why I was abused but I don't know if they are the reason:
* I was the first child born after a miscarriage.
* The miscarried child was a boy and I was a girl.
* I was a breech birth and my mother said repeatedly what a painful and difficult delivery she had.
* My mother had seven sisters and I never saw any closeness between her and any of them. Some of them we never saw unless they dropped in at my grandmother’s house when we were there.
* My mother told me about a time one of her sisters chased her around the house and burned her with a hot iron.
* My father isolated his wife and children. We were only around other people in a group.
* Both of my parents had a public persona that was completely different from his or her private one.
* My mother encouraged my sister to lie about me and abuse me.

School was the only place I felt safe. My parents could explode for no reason. When they made me cry they would mock me and threaten to hurt me worse if I didn't stop.

The only praise I ever received was for good grades so I worked to get A's. My grades were used by my father for bragging rights--if his kid was smart then it followed that he was smart too.

My husband and I met in high school. He was very quiet so my parents would forget he was there to see me. He was the only "outsider" who ever saw a bit of the emotional treatment.

So much of it was normal, everyday behavior that I didn't know my husband-to-be noticed so much. It wasn't until after we married that he told me he was so worried about my safety that he talked to some of his friends and asked if they would help him get me out of the house and away from my parents if he asked them to.

I think about the abuse every day. I wonder how I would have turned out if I hadn't grown up so terrified. I'm afraid of people and can't trust them.

Oct 30, 2016
How to Deal
by: Just Me

I have been abused my whole life. My two brothers were the "good and normal" ones. I was compared to them and told i was defective. My mother told my dad that he spoiled me so she had to make it up to the boys. Now I am an adult who cannot function properly and cannot figure out why.... and they're thriving just fine with plenty of help from her, whereas I have been cut off from help because it takes the control and attention away from my mother. How do i deal with this? cut the whole family off?

Nov 08, 2016
by: Anonymous


My family recently 'divorced' me in standing up for my horribly abusive mother instead of sitting and talking with both of us... that couldn't happen.

Both of my siblings adore her and have no bad memories of her.

Your article helped me realize that what happened to me then and now wasn't my fault. I'm over 60, by the way.


Dec 19, 2016
I thought I was alone
by: Anonymous

I'm turning 50 and father of two young daughters. I intentionally differed having children out of fear I would act like my parents.

I was singled out from my other siblings. As the youngest I was told "mom" changed after I was born. At the age of 5 I was sexually abuse by two male teens. After I told a neighbor I trusted, who quickly and rightfully informed my parents, the abuse started. Instead of being protected, my mother blamed me for the "actions." The beatings began and sustained until I was 14 where I threatened to kill her if she hit me again. All this time, my father did nothing, even if he was in the same room at the time of the abuse. I was raised with comments like, "your sick in the head, I wish you were never born."

My wife does not know. Just recently after my mothers passing, I told my eldest brother. We moved away and I was the only child with my parents (I was an opps baby with 8 years difference between my second youngest and I) and he knew mom was a hot-head but did not know the extent of the abuse.

For the past several months I have daily bouts of depression and find I doubt the value of my own existence. My children are my source of inspiration I refuse to treat my children with anything other than love and positive reinforcement.

As a man, I won't risk of sharing my pain due to the fear of being stigmatized that because I was abuse, therefore I'm abusive or can be. The pain is unbearable at times.

Feb 06, 2017
Thank you
by: Anonymous

I really appreciate everyone's stories and if you want to meet in Tampa to get past it give me a shout. Regards. 50 year old in Tampa and experienced this hell!!

Feb 09, 2017
At peace
by: Anonymous

I was named after my dad and my dad's girlfriend when I was born. So my mom would have a constant reminder of what I was I was the second oldest of seven and my mom was an awful parent, perhaps because she was an only child. The scars run deep but I was able to forgive her for all the ugliness before she died.

Feb 11, 2017
forgot the obivious
by: Anonymous

Although I don't disagree with these thoughts, there's one you didn't look into. It's not related to anything to do with the child. If a parent targets one child there's better control of the situation and the family is more likely to accept the abuse. See, if the abuse is designated to one child only and not the rest, how can the parent be at fault? It's not the parent's fault. He/she doesn't abuse the must be the child's fault. The siblings will begin to agree with this and allow the abuse to continue or grow. It becomes a part of the family dynamics.

Feb 15, 2017
Finally realizing the full reality of this
by: Anonymous

I'm grateful to find this article. I've been the singled out child of horrible psychological abuse for all of my 34 years, and I'm breaking because if it. Lately it is so bad that I feel like I'm on the verge of a psychotic break, but I think I'm just putting everything together for the first time and it's overwhelming. I was singled out by my excessively overbearing controlling and mentally abusive mother. Always telling me how I was just like my dad, I did everything like my dad (my dad was also a victim of her abuse) The abuse got worse over time with her making up things that didn't happen, severe gaslighting, telling me how mentally ill I am, telling me I'm sick and do everything against her on purpose, never praising her enough for the good she does, etc. I still hear it to this day, I still deal with the sent treatment for something I didn't do, being punished for my "attitude" how I'm "mentally sick." I'm finally coming to terms that I'm not sick and have been a life long victim of severe mental abuse. My siblings will never acknowledge it or stand up for me. But I will stand up for me.

Feb 19, 2017
I will hunt each one of them with pride
by: You don't know where I am, but you all still live in the same addresses

Seeing the other comments somehow make me not feel alone, but it doesn't avoid the nightmares at age 29 and my whole body shaking from panic attacks just by reading this type of subject, even a reminder in a movie or something I see on the streets bring it all back.
One thing that strikes me from the other comments also is: Everybody knew. Every f**king body. No one had the guts to stand up against a single old fart dude. If just ONE stood up, maybe others would be encourage to do something. It's incredible the damage that one bad person can do and NO ONE will ever do anything about it.
The best thing I've done was isolating from all "family" and relatives. As time goes by, things get worse. Nowadays the stalking is easier with Facebook and online profiles linked to email addresses. By the way, Facebook does NOTHING to prevent such stalking, but they instantly block you if send too many friend invitations. This whole world is f**ked up, the rats outbreed the good ones, the vermin, the lions who are eating the children in our village. There's no therapy for lions, you dumbasses, there's just one solution: death.

Feb 25, 2017
2 Foster Bastards
by: Anonymous

Knowing this does not help me overcome the effects.

I'm 65 years old and my entire life has been defined by the memory of those 2 bastards.

I live alone. Never married. Never dated. Because of my parent's abuse.

They were not my biological parents even. They were foster parents. I don't know what or why I was targeted daily.

There isn't a day that goes by where I don't recall my abusive childhood.

They kicked me out to the street when I was 15 years old and I was exploited by a homosexual.

Listen to me, if I had to live this life again I would kill them. They got away with it.

Mar 06, 2017
Points fit my situation.
by: Anonymous

Some of these points fit exactly. I am now in my 30s and my father still has a hold on me. I am deeple effected by him and not moving forwards with my life. I am under the same roof and he will not heal the situation. I feel he knows what he is doing to me. Yet, is the complete opposite to other siblings. One in particular - when we are doing the same task he says that is not working to me and the opposite to my sibling and praises them for it. It is endless and has had and continues to destroy my life! I have no one around me to help.

Mar 07, 2017
Bystander who speaks up for victim
by: Anonymous

In response to the contributor who mentioned that no one was ever willing to speak up - Once when my father was slapping me around one of his employees spoke up and told him to stop it. He told her not to interfere with him and gave her a look that would kill. When we got home he beat me for putting him in that position. I felt sorry for the woman who decided to say something because I know my father treated her differently afterwards. It was awkward for everyone. I did appreciate her stepping up and saying something about it.

Mar 21, 2017
A Poll...
by: Anonymous

How many of you had parents who were Narcisstic/BPD? I suspect 100%. If one parent is abusive, and the other enabling, turning a blind eye, letting the abuse go on...then that parent has a personality disorder too. Narcissistic and BPD parents tend to stay together and wreak havoc on their children. They may fight amongst each other and treat each other terribly, but they NEVER leave each other. They ENABLE each other. They NEED each other because deep down they know no one else on earth would tolerate them. No healthy person, that is. They both share in common these traits: nothing is more important to them than their public image; the way they are perceived is primary above all else (hence the great skill they take in "keeping up appearances" in public; they each feel they deserve ALL the attention (narcissists may get all the attention, BPDs may obsess and be fueled with self-pity if they aren't the center of attention, and they often aren't, though they still demand it and resent it when they aren't); both are highly volatile and abusive; both NEVER admit responsibility to anything bad they've done; both throw tantrums; both project their own bad qualities onto the easiest target for whom there will be no consequences or repercussion to doing so; both are ENRAGED at the slightest hint they aren't perfect. Both feel immense ENTITLEMENT to get away with doing whatever they want (but know to act differently in public). Basically, they are your basic toddler before parental discipline and "raising" enter the picture. All ME ME ME, WAAHH!!! There is a slight difference between them--the Narcissist never gets defeated, they win or they rage. Or they tell themselves a story about how they triumphed. The BPD has more of a tendency to fall into despair and self-pity whenever reality creeps in to suggest they aren't the wonderful beings they demand to be perceived as. A BPD may threaten suicide to avoid facing consequences for something awful they did to their child. They abuse their child, but the child ends up comforting mommy afterwards aka "There, there, mom, its not your fault. You're great, You're wonderful. I don't know what I'd do without you!" So there is a twisted role reversal where the child has more empathy and responsibility for the parent's emotional state and the parent doesn't give a shit about the child's emotional or psychological development. BPDs can fall into momentary despair when a sliver of reality seeps in and doesn't the feedback they get from the world doesn't reflect their cherished view of themselves. They might threaten suicide to get what they want, to elicit attention, to cry "poor me!" A Narcissist would never stoop so pathetic. They completely delude themselves into believing they are GOd like at all times, always righteous, always winning, never wrong, they don't let reality seep in if it contradicts this. Ever. Every once in a while, a BPD will let in a sliver of reality about the things they've done to others, but do they feel GUILT? NO!!! Only self-pity. So you see, both of these personality types operate on pure SELF-CONTENTEDNESS. They are just slightly different shades of self-centered. And that is the cause of abuse around the world. Not just in the microscopic family. In schools, in the workplace, in war.

Mar 21, 2017
Another Poll...
by: Anonymous

For those of you with abusive many of you had parents who grew up without ever having been disciplined? Both of mine had that dynamic. And they are proud of it, if its proof they were born never needing to be disciplined. My mother actually says this aloud with pride, as if its proof she were born an angel. Her parents DID treat her as such. My father was also never disciplined, although his parents did this because they were "hands off" wealthy parents of a certain generation and had him late in life as they were approaching 50. They were "done" with parenting and didn't let his birth interfere with their lifestyle. He had maids, and private school, and all the freedom and money in the world. And parents who defended him when he caused fights, rather than had him face consequences for poor behavior. And zero consequences. Both of my parents were effectively raised as only children. Both had a sibling much, much older and they were not raised together, there was no competing or sharing for attention because they were already raised and out of the house. Both of mine were the "babies" of the family. And spoiled. The attention, hence was all theirs and they grew up expecting the environment they grew up in to continue that way for the rest of their lives. Getting their way, never being questioned or challenged, never having to put others needs before their own, getting all the attention, all the freedom, always being "right." To sum, they grew up expecting the world and everyone in it to treat them the way they grew up. The messages their parents instilled in them about themselves and how the world worked cemented and formed their outlook in life. It formed their personality. They expected everyone to adore them, spoil them, let them get away with everything, hang on every word with rapt attention...just like their parents did. The way their parents treated them formed their expectations about how they should be treated and how they can treat others. Just as an abused child frames their world view and personality based on how their abusive parents treated them (failure to thrive, poor self-esteem, self-abnegation) too do the children of indulgent parents become shaped by the environment their indulgent parents provide them. The spoiled child grows up to be selfish, empowered, dominating, groomed to become an abuser if he/she is not receiving constant adulation and submission and things don't go 100% their way 100% of the time. In others words, since they are unlikely to replicate the scenario they received in childhood of never facing consequences for their actions, and always having the world fawn over them...then Yes, they'll be abusers in adulthood. The world isn't going to spoil them and anticipate their every need and find them endlessly fascinating the way their parents did. Certainly, their young children should not be expected to treat them like their parents did; their children cannot put their parents first, cannot anticipate and satisfy their parents every whim and need for attention. The world won't cater to their every whim and treat them like angels. Hence, these are very cruel adults, enraged that the world, You, their children, their boss, the driver passing in the next car, doesn't allot them the same kind of attention and treatment their parents raised them to expect. Parents take heed! You are shaping your children into the adults they become. Whether it be victim, loser, or abusive tyrant. You shape your children whether you are conscious of it or not. Might as well do it consciously. For the sake of society! You may not suffer, but everyone in your adult child's life will suffer if you've spoiled them rotten. Your grandchildren will suffer, other people will pay for your lack of parenting. Be it in crime or simply interpersonal abuse. Nothing is more precious or important than parenting. Nothing in this (human) world is of more consequence.

Apr 02, 2017
How to help?
by: Anonymous

I have reason to believe that my nephew is a victim of specific child abuse. I have recently found out from him, that his mother (my sister) has choked him. She made him sit back against the wall in a squatting position which is something she uses as a punishment coming from a military background. While he was sitting against the wall his mother pressed her forearm against his neck/throat until he physically pushed her off of him because he could no longer breathe. I don't know what to do to help him. He has two younger sisters that also live in this house and from what he has told me neither of them have had something remotely close to this happen to them. I want to help him, I'm just not sure what I can do.

Apr 06, 2017
confusing childhood
by: Anonymous

i am the first born daughter. i am my dad's favorite. i have three younger brothers. i had a difficult childhood my mother was verbally abusive. she only couldn't take it to physical because of my dad.she used to tell me i am the ugliest from my friends and she call me by names in front of everybody. i had a very low self-esteem. and she tell bad thing to my dad to make him hate me. she get jealous in every way. in my education, looks, friends. and my little brother didn't get any attentions from both parents because both were focusing on me and i feel sorry for them cause they had a very bad childhood because of me my mother abuse the in bad ways both verbally and physically my younger brother left home when he was just 17 because of them.and and third couldn't even learn anymore and he was so smart. and the youngest is 12 but he looks 7 and talks like a baby am so worried about him because she calls him retarded every time and i am afraid it would destroy his confidence and self esteem i am 23 now i had a degree but i don't have a job currently i live with them but i hate every second of it. i even wish death at this time because it hurts more to see my poor brothers getting abused by her.

Apr 07, 2017
Response to "A POLL..." by anonymous
by: Anonymous

You are correct in your observation that parents who will Target or "Scapegoat" one child have narcissistic personalities. My father was the youngest in his family and he always had to be the STAR of the show. He was worshipped spoiled and adored as a child and he expected everyone to worship and adore him as he had always known. My mother was the eldest and her half siblings started to enter her life when she was 10 years old. Her mother relied on her to help raise the brood so I believe my mother became self absorbed and selfish because she felt she deserved it after the sacrifices she made playing "mommie #2" to her 6 siblings. My mother proudly exclaimed many times to me and my younger sister that she had a PLAN when she met my father. She found a man she knew would provide her with a house, a car and a couple kids and when the kids were school age she would divorce him and he would go live somewhere else and pay all of the bills in the house they had shared (she planned divorce in the late 60's when that was exactly what happened). My mother got pregnant on purpose with my older sister and my parents got married. I followed 10 months later. However when mother was about to set her plan in place and divorce my father she got pregnant with my younger sister and her plans were delayed until the mid 70's. By that time the "Women's Liberation Movement" had changed things drastically and mother didn't get everything like she planned. She had to leave the home our family shared, move to a smaller home and (gasp) get a job. I remember her whining to people about her plight "POOR ME! I'M A SINGLE MOTHER!!" when it was SHE who had plotted and schemed. (by the way I HATE that "single mother" BS, most fathers pay plenty of child're a DIVORCED mother, NOT a "single mother"!) Both of parents were always right, were never at fault, expected never to be questioned about anything they claimed. My father wanted to be worshipped by all and my mother expected everyone to accept her crap or "screw them", she didn't care about what anybody else felt or thought. Of course both of my ABUSIVE parents convinced themselves that it was ME and MY ACTIONS that FORCED them to be abusive. They were never at fault for anything ever.

Apr 09, 2017
by: Anonymous

I was born different, I was hyper-active and cognitively slow compared to my siblings.

As I grew up, my parents continued to see me this way and continued to treat me differently from my siblings.

Apr 19, 2017
I was the "Golden Child "
by: Anonymous

My bother confessed to me last night about physical and sexual abuse from my father. He was born a few years before my parents met. Growing up I was always favored and he was known in the family as the problem child. I always knew that he was disciplined harsher than me but never suspected my father of doing anything other than discipline. The worst that I can truly remember of physical abuse was a slap. I believe my brother. It's hard for me to reconcile the father I know and love being this monster he was to my brother. My brother tried to tell my mother about it a few years ago but she didn't believe him. She said he misconstrued the facts. I don't know if she was oblivious or in denial or both. Of the slaps I do remember my brother getting, she gave an excuse that my dad had a drunken father and didn't know how to be a proper loving parent.
My brother doesn't blame me or resent me, which totally shocked me! He even wants me to love my father and keep a relationship with him. He says he understands that I was never abused and doesn't want what happened to him to ruin that.

I feel so conflicted. I want to love my father. He's never treated me badly. I want to confront my parents about it but my brother feels that it wouldn't do any good. He still wants to have a relationship with our mom and thinks if I confront them I will blow his chance of his relationship with her.

Apr 23, 2017
Economical Burden
by: Anonymous

My mother was a narcissist and social climber, even though our father did not make social climber money. She didn't really even care for children (something we 3 daughters inherited), but in her day and age, it was simply what women did. I was an accident pregnancy and, for my mother, an unwanted one. So, I was to her, plain and simple, an economic burden. Most of her abuse was psychological, but it was daily and intense. There were extreme "rules" for me alone to save money such as brushing my teeth only once a day, showering only once a week and those were monitored with her handing out shampoo and soap also until I grew pubic hair I couldn't use toilet paper when I urinated. This is just a single example of how extreme things were. Also, I was the "baby" with two older sisters, to whom my mother vilified me to the point of creating an entirely false persona of a problem child with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. This got hard-wired in my sisters and they have always treated me like that false persona. They literally don't know me at all. I am disabled and, while on disability, I need a bit more financial help. Needless to say, blending family and money with me isn't oil and water, it's gas and a blowtorch! I have been depressed my entire life, but the last decade plus, being dependent on them, it is so bad that tests for Seratonin result in ZERO! I don't live, I exist. My depression will never lift until and unless I can become financially independent. Every mental health professional I have seen over the last 35 years have told me the same 3 things: 1) I don't need therapy; 2) my family will never change; and 3) you need to MOVE! I wish I had listened.

Jul 25, 2017
I wasn't Crazy
by: Ema

I feel a bit sickened by the fact that I'm comforted by knowing it wasn't just me and that I'm not crazy.

As far back as I can remember my mother has treated me differently. I got called every name in the book, along with some new ones, and was her personal punching bag. If my older sister and I got caught doing something wrong I got the worse of our punishment because it "had to be" my idea. One time my sister was playing with fire, burning some of our mother's plastic flowers. I had no idea what she was up to until she lit the damn thing and gave it to me. She reached on the floor for another one to light passing her hand under the lit one I was holding,while being confused as hell, and got burned by the falling plastic. She screamed alerting our mother and conveniently left out the part where it was her idea. I got blamed for the whole thing and had the shit beaten out of me. I was seven. She was three years older than me.

I knew something wasn't right but it was just me. I thought I was just overreacting. My little sister was treated well also so it made no sense that it could just be me. I was good in school, I was always one of the top three in my class but to her it meant nothing. My sister didn't even try but she was congratulated for just passing. I got hit it I didn't respond immediately when called. Beaten if I didn't do the dishes immediately when it wasn't even my turn.

The first time I was aware something was wrong was when I was nine. My aunt and cousins were staying with us so my mother behaved well in front of them. She called me and I didn't get there quick enough so she hit me a couple times. Later my cousin called me to her room and asked if I was okay. My mother didn't know she saw us. She asked if that always happened and I was so scared I lied. I felt ashamed, so ashamed that I avoided her until they left. The last thing she told was I could come stay with her. I didn't even tell her goodbye. Things got worse after that.

My older sister started running off with her boyfriends and to keep her home my mother spoiled her more. I got all her angerI feel a bit sickened by the fact that I'm comforted by knowing it wasn't just me and that I'm not crazy.

As far back as I can remember my mother has treated me differently. I got called every name in the book, along with some new ones, and was her personal punching bag. If my older sisye and she even blamed me for my sister running off. Looking at her the wrong way would set her off. Not crying while she beat me made her hit me more. Crying when she beat me made her hit me harder. I also got really good at lying when it came to her.

On the day of an interview for a scholarship she beat me and ripped my shirt right before the interviewer came. To this day I couldn't believe how easily I smiled and chatted as if nothing happened. I was eleven.

She stole the money I saved and spent it on my sisters. My sisters treated me like crap because they knew she hated me. No matter what I did it all backfired. The woman despised me yet it made me want to try harder to make her accept me. I knew it was messed up but I couldn't stop.

My teens made her worse and my father began criticizing me too. I got all the chores dumped on me. I had to take care of my new baby brothers and my sister. My grades started to suffer. We moved too so I lost contact with all my friends. I became this sad, lying person I didn't even recognise. And worse, I began to believe what they said.

It took years for me to face the truth. When my younger sister stood up to our mother against my older sister she tried the same thing she did with me. But I think because she was older than I was and hadn't been broken down it didn't work. She even admitted that I was treated badly. Hearing that helped.

Living with that permanent negative voice is hard. If things go wrong it pops up and it's a constant fight to not fall back into the bad cycle.

I'm here because I let that woman back into my life and she has not changed. She doesn't feel one shred of guilt and is asking favours on my older sister's behalf. Incredible right?

Thank you for all your stories. I just needed to be reminded that I'm not crazy. Because I still can't believe it happened sometimes.

Jul 29, 2017
by: Anonymous1

Hi - thank you very much for this article! I had been severely abused in many different ways as a kid and wonder why I was singled out yet my two sisters were really spoiled (partially to show my worthlessness). The questions I have are: what kinds of mental disorders would underlie sich treatment. I have no physical or cognitive defects and am a middle child, twin to a boy who was also badly abused, but they got rid of him and still badly abused me, eventually harshly rejecting me too. By the grace of God I am well removed from that scene entirely (no contact, etc, by my choice) with very prosocial people and supports in my daily life (yay!). Another question is...why does she still slander or try to target/sabotage just me, even though she doesn't know me at all by her own choice? Is this a malignant narcissistic abuser (malignants do not show remorse or take responsibility). The odd part is that the brothers are almost exalted and I'm still mistreated - used, lied to and about (really badly), or ppl are manipulated to try to get them to divulge info about me or turn them against me...fortunately I know a lot of truths and have very good people around me, so the lies don't hurt as much because they know it's not true, etc. Why the long term tunnel vision of morbidity on one child? Although, for the rest of the commenters I'll say this as a form of encouragement: I strongly dislike what happened to me over the years by that terrible family, but the silver lining is my innocence - my conscience is clear and that has made a huge difference in the recent healing processes. This is the same case for you guys. Learn to care for yourselves in healthy ways, too!

Jul 30, 2017
I have good news for you, hope this helps!
by: 29-years-old

I commented a few months ago, it was the darker period of my life and I seriously thought I was going to murder my entire "family" (hate this word!) and that I would kill myself in the event of the cops finding me out.
I just turned 29 years old, thanks to some welfare money I could move to a bigger city and I found a nice job in which I also receive shelter and food as payment. But the scars are always there, you have to focus on positive thoughts and ignore the ghosts! On top of the job, I just found this amazing woman whose birthday is one day after mine, we just think the same way about life and she also been through some problems with her sisters, she was isolated and neglected by her sisters (but thankfully not by her parents, who raised her fine and with love). Long story short, we are just moving together and for the first time I feel the desire to have kids, we already have the names of them, and I know we will raise them with love because we know the difference it makes in someone's life. I just have one fear: that I will spoil my kids too much and they will grow to become child abusers themselves, so I will have to find some balance in the mix, although I don't have any idea how. Thanks to this woman I am able to dream again, to make long-term plans, I feel the need to build my own house, to become a parent, things that were absent these past years. Don't give up people, I know it's hard but you will have to find a woman (man) who has been through similar situations in her (his) upbringing, because then she (he) will understand the power of unconditional love. Focus in the positive, DAILY, and ignore the ghosts.

Sep 22, 2017
It never seems to end, only subside for small periods
by: Crickett T

I am 43, I have three children and one grandchild. Everything that I have read it just sounds so much like the way my mom grew up, the way I was raised, by a little bit of time by my mother. It's just all strange to read.

My mother has hated me since the age of 7 or 8 if I remember right, she still does to this day. She claims she is so accomplished at her ways, she has all believing drug use. She has taken every child from me and my only grandchild. It saddens me to sit here and talk to you about it. She does not want my second son even though she has seen fit to have him taken from me. She does not want me to have him, so she has helped in having him be placed over a hundred miles from me. DHR here does not see it strange where she wants one child but yet she's having them send him for permanent Foster. I am a second child, he is my second child. She finds him I think is a threat because she cannot buy his love. She has said that he is a black hole of which she spends money on and she is given nothing in return. And it makes me sad it really does.

I know I'm not the only forty-three-year-old adult that is going through this. It makes me miss my kids. I would say I miss my mother but I don't know what it is like to ever have a mother.

There's a lot I can tell, but I won't get into it. As far as my childhood goes, that's absolutely amazing, it really really is absolutely amazing, I have three other sisters, three other sisters. It was a shock to read your article

Jun 06, 2018
It's not your fault!
by: Maria

I have read many articles about how some parents will target one child. They all seem to blame the child. "Maybe the child was difficult or special needs"..etc. They even go so far as saying the child may be the product of rape! There is no excuse for abusing a child. In my case my mother planned my older sister in order to trap my father into marriage. Neither of my patents expected or WANTED me to come into their lives 10 months later. Both of my parents blamed ME for being born A. When they weren't ready for another baby and B. I was not a boy. There are parents who are narcissists and don't think of anyone but their own wants. These narcissists target one child to vent their anger and frustrations at not being the center of attention, having to be responsible and not getting what they want or being able to do whatever they want. Their failures are all your fault. The other reason they target one child is they save the other children to be their fan base. Abusive scape goaters will use one child as their punching bag while they spoil, coddle and over indulge their golden child. The golden child gives the narcissist parent the adoration they seek as well as affirming that YES - it is that "bad one" who is to blame for everything, even their own abuse and it's not the parent who is bad.I just have to say both of my parents are dead now and I don't miss either of them. I don't speak about them because I have nothing nice to say about either. Both were charming and artificial and people thought they both were so wonderful. People will blame YOU if you say anything negative about your abusive parents who everyone thought were so wonderful. It's never the child's fault for being targeted.

Jun 13, 2018
The favored child is now a monster
by: Anonymous

My parents targeted me too and spoiled my older sister to spite me. Now as an adult, she has become just like the abusive parents, taking over the verbal abuse and attacking me physically until I started fighting back at 30+ years old.

Jun 19, 2018
Violence in Suburbia
by: Anonymous

I was the middle of 7 children and was hyperactive as a child. My narcissistic father punched, slapped, kicked, and backhanded me every time he lost his temper. The other 6 avoided his wrath. I got it every time. Knocked bloody several times but never hospitalized. As I grew taller it ended around age 11 or 12. I was simply ignored after that (Thank God). I was a mess. I changed schools, myself, put on a false face, and managed through. I even remember being asked by the parent of a friend if I was being beaten, and I denied it. I would like to learn more about target children. I have met a few. I think there is a lot here we have not begun to understand.

Jun 25, 2018
What is the difference between parent abuse and Maternal Narcissitic abuse
by: AdvocateAnonymous

I have been studying and doing my own research on Maternal Narcissitic behavior. Because i have been experiencing this behavior from my mother every since a little girl. I have come a long ways in healing and wanting to learn and study this behavior which is emotional and mental
abuse. I am condisering myself as a over comer of this long time abuse from my mother. I'm at the point in my life to make a stand for all of us who are afrade to speak on this sensitive subject but true. Some of us are not stronger enough to come out of this abnormal dysfuntion behavior from a maternal parent. It can be very damaging in a childs life all the way to an adult. I have four beautiful children and if its one thing I learned from my mother is not to be like her and treating your own child with such hate and emotional and mental abuse toward that child. Its very un Godly.

Feb 05, 2011
by: Alicia

I noticed that most of the comments here are from middle children. I myself was a middle child--elder brother and younger sister, but I was the favorite child.
And guess what else? I hated it.
My father made sure in public that I was his favorite little girl. He'd give me presents for no occasion--dresses, toys, trips to the fair, while my siblings were empty-handed, and all the while jealous of me. But at night, my father would creep into my bedroom and touch me, and growing up I felt that I was the most ungrateful little brat who ever lived whenever I complaine about the touching because my daddy worked so hard for the extra gifts he gave me, and it took such a long time to convince myself that I was not a brat, it wasn't my fault. And I had every right to complain about the abuse.
My family was nearly torn apart when I told the truth just two years ago. I'm seventeen now. My father is in prison (for theft,but not the abuse) , and my mom still doesn't believe me. My sister does, but it took a long time for my brother to believe in me. They're not jealous now, and I'm glad they could be family to me when my own parents are not.
But I keep on wondering: why was I chosen? Why was I the only one who was sexually abused?I know it's not my fault now, but are there any underlying reasons for this?

Nov 05, 2016
I want to protect her
by: Anonymous

For years my niece has been the target of her mothers rage. I have to say i know partly why she takes out her anger on her child. My brother physically abused and sexually assaulted her. I am ashamed. I have 12 nieces and nephews all together. And for so long i have turned away, telling myself she is disciplining her kids. But this past week she was out of control. She punched her and beat her so badly that her back and bottom are purple and blue. I can not and will not stand for this any longer. Im taking away my niece from this. I am so ashamed of myself for waiting so long. But now i have proof of physical abuse. I have the means to take care of her now. I just dont know how to help my niece overcome her abuse. I pray to god to please, please bring her peace and happiness. I pray to god that what i am doing is right for everyone. For the court to please give me custody. And for god to forgive me for waiting so long.

May 01, 2017
by: Adam

I have been type 1 diabetic since age 6. I have one sibling and I was completely disinherited, I was not even given a picture. My brother is perfectly healthy. My diabetes keeps me broke because the expense of prescriptions and doctor visits. It has cost me a job and the dialy insulin injections, blood testing, diets, etc is a constant chore. My dad did give me something - the diabetes! He was type 2 diabetic. I lay awake at nights wondering HOW he could do this to his disabled kid. My mother and brother have never acknowledged it and they refuse to speak about it. He got the entire 120 acre farm, and I got not even 1 acre in the back corner. Isn't 120 acres enough for both? It feels good for me to write and vent my feelings. I can't visit his grave. I have recently wrote to my brother and we get together once a month for dinner but that took me to accomplish. He has never reached out. All he would have to say "I don't know what dad was thinking but this farm is yours too, I just live here, please come and use it".
, but no, it took me, the disinherited one. He had always been self centered when we were growing up. I was the skinny, acne faced, asthma, sick one. I think that I didn't give dad pride when he looked at me and that made it easier for him to disrespect me. I was never in trouble, never arrested, graduated from college.
Oh well, I'll learn to live with the hand of cards that I was dealt. Please don't do to your kids what my dad did to me. It hurts beyond description.

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From Victim to Victory
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