Over 90% of children who are sexually abused know their attacker.
This is her story; a story of an adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse:
Recently a friend gently pointed out that the way I write about family isn't exactly... standard. The kind of help I think I'd get is fairly unusual. I couldn't name a close friend who has the kind of relationship with their family I write about wanting. No one has family who just shows up to take care of you - that isn't how things work in America. To this I reply:
"Ah, okay. You think I have a mental model of a healthy family with boundaries. Hahahahaha. No. I come from a crazy codependent family. What I talk about wanting is what I have seen. I long for family from watching the way that people treated my sister after she had kids. Quite frankly, folks worried that she was incompetent and immature, so they showed up and helped. My mom did. My aunt did. My brother did. I did. Sometimes our cousins helped, too."
I've been watching a lot of movies lately: Winters Bone, The Poker House, The Burning Plain, while none of them explain who I am, they're a good reference point for those who want to know me.
If you care about movie spoilers, don't read the rest of this post. That's your warning.
In Winters Bone, the star is attempting to track down information about her father; pestering her extended family in the Ozark. There's a strong presence throughout the movie that the police are the enemy. Drugs. Drugs. Drugs. My family did drugs like that.
In The Burning Plain, there are a series of disconnected stories (that eventually come together) about mothers and daughters, feeling invisible, accidents, hating yourself and running away to cope with your self-hatred. Charlize Theron manages to look as empty as I feel. The way she self-harms, the way she runs away because she is "bad."
I understand that.
The Poker House is based on Lori Petty's Life. While my mother never prostituted herself or did drugs in front of me, hers did - I was similarly neglected. Abandoned in unsafe environments. The rape scene was extremely well done, non-graphic, but accurate. It's the truth; it's how fast; how easy rape happens. I actively dislike Lori Petty's take-away message, "Don't hold a grudge - forgive people for hurting you because they were hurt too."
To that I say, "Bullshit. I have children to protect."
When I gave up on my family, I gave up a lot. I gave up a support network that hasn't worked in years and fucking loves hanging out with little kids. My family loves children under age eight, when they're still cute and fun. Especially little girls. My own little girls are so angelic and wonderful that they'd have been well loved.
However, the price of my family's support is keeping your mouth shut; understanding that "people make mistakes," and ignoring horrifying behavior year after year. If you need the support and you cannot survive without it, this is the bargain that must be made.
I don't fucking need their support that much - I can sit home and cry about being overwhelmed instead. It'll all work out - my kids are less overwhelming by the month. My life is getting much easier every day. Before long, my girls will make my life easier. They want to. They understand that helping leaves me with more energy to do the things they want to do.
Their Mama didn't raise no fools.
However, three of my family members have told me that my sister sexually abused them and I have fairly good reason to think that my kids would be good targets for her.
I know she's a pedophile.
My sister hasn't had a job since my daughter was born, except for babysitting (I hope she's not molesting those children) which she does. She was laid off and lived off unemployment. I'm pretty sure she's waiting for Mom's social security to kick in to live off that, too.
My sister is a pedophile.
How do I know she's a pedophile? I remember how inappropriate she was with me. We didn't have sex, but at age four, she told me how to relax my anus so anal sex didn't hurt so much. It was actually a thing for me for years; I didn't manage to successfully have anal sex until Noah. (I decided that violent sodomy as a small child doesn't count - I didn't relax enough to make it hurt less). He was the first person who could work through that fear. A number of people tried before Noah - it always hurt too much; the hysterical crying freaked people out. I felt bad; like a failure, because I wasn't able to have anal sex with men who wanted to have anal sex with me.
I've suffered intense feelings of worthlessness because I was not able to do what people wanted. I was supposed to.
My sister is probably who taught me this; I think she was the main source for this. She talked about sex all the time, had sex in front of me. Consciously and deliberately, she told me what I should go do.
I can't play the game anymore. She's not okay and my children do not deserve to be exposed to her.
I know I'm losing out on cousins who fix my cars, cousins who know how to help with plumbing, all the free babysitting I want, holidays full of people, a niece and nephew who really need my help.
I simply can't play the game anymore. I'm not at the bottom of the shit hill and I won't allow my family to set the terms of reality.
I just can't.
But it's hard. I moved around a lot as a kid; often staying with relatives. I didn't know them well and I didn't stay long so I never got to know them... but they took me in.
Over and over.
My family takes care of children. They would have been very happy to know my own children.
But it's a trap - all or nothing.
You have to play the game and keep the silence or you are out.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a family disease.
This is the story of an adult child of narcissistic parents:
To all my Band Members, HAPPY CHRISTMAS!
With two narcissistic parents and two narcissistic stepparents, events that should be joyous family occasions have always been a source of distress to me.
This is the first Christmas that I've been knowingly recovering and it's going to be a tough one. My father died in 1997 (funny how he can still affect me from the grave) and my step-mother cut off contact with me after that, so I have to deal directly with my mother and stepfather.
I think that my mother/stepfather scene is so unique, that it's worth sharing. From one angle, it's quite funny!
When I was fourteen, my mother left my father for a rich American (I'm now 49 years old and writing from England), who we'll call Jim. She spent her entire life serving his needs, and therefore hers.
Of course, my brother and I were side-shows to her narcissism and suffered for it. Jim continued to be very successful, becoming a multimillionaire, assuming that my mother would continue to put him first in everything that she did. This she was happy to do.
Not content with a beautiful house in the country, a town house in London and a holiday home on an exclusive Caribbean island, Jim bought a castle!
Yup, a genuine castle in England, complete with turrets, a moat and drawbridge. Errol Flynn would look totally at home there. There are 48 acres of land, a tennis court and a swimming pool. It would be easy to say "how amazing!" but sadly, the place is hideous.
It's a shining symbol of his narcissism, not a place of fun or joy. Whenever my ex (or current) wife have visited with our children, the atmosphere is toxic, thanks to Jim's need for control; his need for us to play roles in his narcissistic fantasies.
I've always felt manipulated by my mother and Jim to pay homage every Christmas. I have complied, to the detriment of all of my loved ones. As a reflection of narcissistic madness, this castle really takes some beating!
This all sounds a bit petty, as I'm writing it. However, I have to remind myself that much - if not most - of my recovery has to do with the toxic parenting I received from my original parents, before my mother left. I am finally separating myself from a childhood of fear, physical abuse, verbal abuse, and emotional confusion.
I am connecting with reality at last.
Like everyone in The Band, I'm experiencing the courage to accept what happened to me, work through the pain, beginning to learn how to feel, and changing how I behave.
I am feeling for the first time, which is so scary, because the first feeling that I have experienced is profound emptiness. But I am beginning to fill that gap; I know that I will be okay, because no matter how hard some of the feelings are, it is far better than what has gone before. So now is not the time to be manipulated and undermined by some very disturbed castle-dwellers!
I am separated from my second wife but will spend most of Christmas Day with her and our kids. The threat to our marriage set me on the road of recovery. For the sake of my four children, I am devoting my life to stopping the cycle of pain that has blighted my family. If I can be reunited with my wife as a result of this work, I will be overjoyed.
I am learning to separate from and manage my narcissistic, toxic parent(s). Christmas is going to be a time when guilt and shame will challenge my resolve but I must remain strong, for the sake of myself, my marriage and above all, my children.
Do any of you adult children of narcissistic parents have any advice for your Band Member?
5 in every 1000 people have Schizoaffective Disorder.
This is his story:
He never had a chance.
Our father left our mother when she was six months pregnant with their third child - my brother Daniel. My mother came home from work to discover that their closet was depleted of his clothing and promptly had a panic attack.
Earlier that year, my father had had a motorcycle accident. The only thing that saved him was his helmet, which cracked in half upon impact. He was hospitalized and the doctors said that it would take him at least ten years to get back to where he was mentally before the accident.
He was 21 years old.
I can't help but to think this brain damage resulted in many of his problems thereafter.
During this hospitalization, it was suggested that perhaps the baby wasn't his. It's a mystery as to why - perhaps it was a theory he came up with while on pain medication. Regardless, it put a damper on things. His parents hadn't exactly liked my mother in the first place.
Five years and three kids after their marriage, my parents got divorced.
Daniel was born on our father's birthday a few months before the divorce was final. He looked just like his big sisters and there should have been no doubt that he had the same father. Still, the idea lingered.
I was proud of my brother. He was a good baby and later, a good kid. He was, however, different. He flapped his hands when he got too excited and his speech was odd - only I could understand him, so I had to translate for the rest of our family. I took my brother under my wing and cared for him as if he was my own child.
The problem was - I was only four years his elder.
When Danny started kindergarten, he got in trouble for smearing poop all over the bathroom within the first week. The teacher said she couldn't handle his energy level and he was referred for psychological testing. It was determined that he had "difficulty processing information." My mother recalls that when he asked the evaluator where she lived and she replied, "in a house," he got frustrated and the testing went downhill from there.
He'd wanted an address.
He was placed in a special needs class with children who were severely mentally disabled - much more so than he was. He was prescribed medication for Attention Deficit Disorder. Perhaps this was due to the fact that our grandmother (our babysitter) regularly gave him a combination of Benadryl and expectorant every day before school.
I'll never know for sure.
Meanwhile, at home, our abusive step-father accompanied Danny on his trips to the bathroom and controlled his every move. When he got frustrated with my brother, he picked him up by the throat and choked him. I clearly remember this, my mother stepping in to break it up, but she doesn't recall it at all.
My brother became afraid to be by himself and developed a paralyzing fear of the dark and aliens. At night, our step-father would shut him into his dark bedroom and hold the door closed until his wailing was quieted and he seemed to go to sleep.
Danny crawled into bed with me nearly every night after our parents had gone to bed.
My brother had never bonded with our father, and after our step-father was sent to prison for child molestation, he was devastated.
Danny attached himself to our grandmother's boyfriend, who was a was a military veteran who sat at the kitchen table chain-smoking, watching television, and occasionally speaking - usually to tell us to be quiet so that he could watch his shows. He was not a great man, but my mother was happy that my brother had a "male role model."
"Boys need a father-figure," she claimed.
When we visited our father on weekends, our brother got in trouble for doing things like falling asleep in the middle of the road. He stepped on frogs to learn what color their blood was.
He was "out of control."
Never mind that he was either abused or completely ignored by the majority of adults in his life.
Never mind that he was learning social skills from the mentally disabled.
Never mind that the person taking care of him was a sister only four years older.
Danny was doped with ADD medication whenever he presented any sort of behavior problem. He continued to attend special education classes until the fourth grade, when he was abruptly switched to a new school and a mainstream class. He made no friends; he was a complete outsider.
He did manage to graduate high school, albeit late and after many academic problems. He learned to drive a car and got his license. He held down a job for a while, although I heard plenty of stories of him disturbing his co-workers with comments like "I worship Satan." He's always taken great joy in making others uncomfortable.
I'm not exactly sure when things completely fell apart for him, but I remember being pregnant, feeling frustrated by his situation and completely helpless. I'd been trying to get him to move in with me for years - to get him away from our dysfunctional family and hopefully on a better path. I still believed in him and knew he had skills and intelligence - they'd just been buried by an unfortunate childhood.
My brother never moved in with me.
I gave birth to my son, who became the center of my world. After I began dealing with my own mental illness and then a divorce, I realized I no longer had the capacity to be a surrogate mother to my brother. I had to focus on my son and myself.
I urged our mother to get help for Danny after he was arrested for breaking and entering - on my birthday, no less - and spent several weeks in jail. His behavior had been erratic for some time - he was severely depressed, had insomnia, talked about seeing odd things and communicating with our deceased father.
Finally he met with a psychiatrist and was diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder, which is like a combination of Schizophrenia and Depression.
His diagnosis came as a shock to no one. He'd always been a bit off and steadily declined in his twenties. The diagnosis made perfect sense.
Unfortunately, he refuses to take medication for his illness. He can no longer hold down a job and is on disability. His behavior has become so unpredictable that I can no longer allow him in my house or near my son. He threatens to kill various people on a regular basis and he harasses people (me included) on the internet.
He's not completely out of control, so he can't be involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital. He doesn't own any weapons and hasn't physically harmed anyone, so the police won't arrest him.
There is nothing I can do to get him the help he needs.
So I sit and wait for something bad to happen - for Danny to physically hurt someone and be arrested or committed. That's the only way he is going to get anyone's attention.
Once again, my brother has been set up to fail in life.
It breaks my heart that he never even had a chance.
Sometimes, she'd put on a cheesy old song she (probably) didn't like, just to be annoying. Dance in a very out-of-sync fashion, snapping her fingers, her eyes to the back of her head singing along, almost hatefully.
She would ignore me this way, singing, saying "leave me alone; I'm happy."
She was happy when I was locked away in my bedroom doing nothing, not watching television, not online, not talking on the phone or having a friend.
My mother never enforced social interaction between me and other people, but whenever I found a hobby, she found power to ensure that I knew I was "addicted" to this new hobby; it was bad for me.
What about her?
With her cheesy old music, singing nothing relevant, nothing authentic - just plain boring. It made me so miserable I could hardly appreciate any type of music.
It was scary, not the moment it happened, but all of the time. Scary that she could, one moment, pretend to be happy, singing along to a song she probably didn't like, and the next, her nails dug on my arm, her face on mine, fire on her eyes, speaking to me through her teeth. I could feel the hatred in her voice, poisoning her grip.
She kept up appearances. She ensured our house was full of furniture and luxuries, our front and backyard overly beautiful, both of us well-dressed. She made sure that our appearance was entirely different from what we truly were.
Did she tell our countless therapists that she hit me on an almost-daily basis, punished me for months at a time, removing any tools I used to unwind and relax, isolating me from people? Did she tell them that she spoke for me, making sure everyone knew how bad she had it as a mother? How much "discipline" she enforced as I was - in her mind - out-of-control?
My mother was not fun, she was strict - far from understanding. Abusive, to say the least. I recall cold lonely weekends, hoping it was the weekend to be with my father; away from all of her rules. To be able to go out, see a movie, eat pizza, and talk to one of his new girlfriends who were always charismatic.
It was a choking environment, living with my mother.
Sometimes I can still see her in my mind's eye, pretending to be repulsively happy, annoying me. Letting me know that she was the one with power.
And that she enjoyed it.
Here at The Band, we believe in kicking stigmas to the curb, flinging glitter, and shining a light into the dark. And now?
Your bandmate needs a sounding board.
It's time to Ask The Band!
Tonight, I'm really scared.
While flicking around the album of a family friend on Facebook, I found photos of my son and I that had been re-posted.
Seeing them was a shock.
It also explains how my mother has been getting all of my Facebook information. I feel betrayed by this family friend.
However, those feelings are overshadowed by the fear I feel for my mother now. They're even greater than the fear I felt when she hit me, screamed at me, choked me.
I've done all in my power to prove to this woman that I'm in control of my life, of what she sees of my life, of what information she gets - that she no longer has any grip on me. That I have done everything to finally let her know her place.
Tonight I realize that's all bullshit.
This woman has been spying on me and seeing pictures of my son without my consent. I'm frightened because this woman is obsessed with my two-year-old. Obsessed to the point where she said he was her son and not mine, that she raised him, not I, that I neglected him.
Of course, this is all untrue, but she did it to try to get custody of him. We've lived with her since I got pregnant. During my pregnancy she was an okay person, but afterwards she grasped control quite quickly and became a monster again, but ten times worse.
This woman has spent the last two years reminding me of how worthless I am, what a bad child I was, how everything is my fault. How I've failed as a mother and how my child preferred her (also untrue). She hurt me in front of him, she hit me in front of him.
I managed to escape her grasp, after hitting my lowest of lows. I had no job, no schooling and no opportunities to even come close to leaving the house. Her abuse left me feeling like I was worth nothing and my only duty was to do as she said and care for my son.
I met a wonderful man, who enlisted in the military to provide a home for us. We got married. Through the process of our marriage, my mother did everything in her power to take my son away from me. She reminded me how worthless I was, how incompetent, how I couldn't possibly have a husband and be a mother at the same time. When that manipulation didn't work, when trying to separate me from my husband didn't work, she screamed.
Screamed that I was neglectful, lied that I was irresponsible. Told people she had to remind me to feed and bathe my son otherwise I wouldn't. People believed her, and threatened to call Child Protective Services on me.
One night, she grabbed my hair and started punching me as I held my son in my arms. He screamed, frozen, his muscles tensed.
I'd had enough. I was two-weeks married and this was her payback for my happiness. I sat my son in bed somehow, then turned over as she was still hitting me. I grabbed her hair and pulled her down. I hit her with all that I could and told her that she would never, ever hurt me again in front of my son.
I rode her out of my bedroom forcefully. As I calmed my son, I called my husband and texted my father for help. My father sent someone to pick me up at 2:00 in the morning. My son and I left with all our things in trash bags.
Six weeks later, we moved into military housing with my husband.
Since my mother has not calmed down her demands and manipulations, I decided to limit our communication to texting.
Until I realized she was getting information elsewhere - her texts were too informative. I thought I had an idea who, but boy, was I wrong.
And now I'm scared. Very scared.
What kind of grip does this woman have on me? When will I be free, Band?
I almost want to scream. I'm on the edge, The Band.
I have nightmares - sometimes I can't sleep. This is hurting me.
When does it stop? When will my mother stop haunting me?
How can I break contact with someone who has terrorized me all of my life? Every time I've tried to pull away I've ended up even closer to her.
I'm scared that I'll never be able to break contact. I'm scared that she will succeed in taking my son away.
I'm scared of her.
Please, The Band, help me.
Page 1 of 6