Posted by: Judy | November 30, 2011

I am an Abuse Survivor 3

Verbal abuse. In the various books and articles I’ve read over the years, the following may or may not be listed separately: Mental, emotional, spiritual. I wanted to be sure and address each in turn, because the differences are sometimes subtle, but it’s too easy to pretend like one isn’t a big deal if it’s overlooked.


“Crabby Appleton rotten to the core.” Or in other words: There’s nothing good about you. You’re rotten all the way through. You’re evil. “You know better. You’re smarter than that.” Or in other words: You’re being stupid.

It also includes being required to be an adult, regardless of the fact that you’re a child. You are expected to understand things that healthy children are not. You are expected to behave as a little adult. Only you are expected to act like more of adult than the adults around you.

Then there are the guess-what-I’m-thinking games. My sister and I have both expressed the feeling that we really are mind-readers. Our counselor says we can’t, but we excel at reading body language. It was a survival skill. It’s also a drawback in healthy relationships, where talking is the usual way to communicate. Sometimes, saying the words is as important as what is being said. And relationships are richer when both people feel like they’re allowed to express themselves, their way.


Silent treatment. There will be those who will say it’s withholding love. My mother will say I do that. If a person is withholding love, then it isn’t love. Love does not withhold. I wish I’d figured that out sooner. It would have saved me a lot of heartache. I would have recognized the counterfeits a whole lot sooner.

Not being allowed to have feelings is also emotional abuse. Growing up in our house, we were not allowed to be sad or angry or negative anything, nor were we allowed to be too happy or excited. Okay, so this is coming from my perspective. I don’t know about the other children, but I was expected to be calm, placid, even tempered, the perfect foil to my mother’s erratic mood swings.

My mother says she loves me. I used to say it back. Then I started establishing boundaries. My counselor asked me if it would be so bad if I said it back. It wasn’t like I meant it like she did. I stared at him; he was uncomfortable. I explained that the last time I said it back, she took it to mean that she didn’t have to respect my boundaries anymore. Yes, it would be so bad to say it. I’m working at not feeling guilty for protecting myself.


I wanted to donate money to my church. I was so excited about taking that step. During the tirade that followed, I was told that if I donated even a penny, my allowance would be stopped.

The mental and emotional abuses also tie into Spiritual abuse. Actually, all the abuses affect the spirit. It’s difficult to remember that you are a child of God, when you are reminded on a regular basis that you are worthless or only good for beating or molesting — you’re only good for being what an abusive person needs you to be to fulfill their perversions.

God is aware. Life happens; God lets it. He also provides a way to rise above the ugliness to the beauty and peace He has created for us, if we’re willing to let go of the ugliness and look up. I’m learning.


  1. In many ways these are more difficult than physical abuse. You are not alone in being expected to feel nothing. The only emotions allowed were mother’s oh yea, and boys will be boys.

    • They don’t leave visible marks on the body, but how they scar the soul.

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