Just because someone is a parent, it doesn’t mean they love their child. I said what I said.
Living in domestic abuse and having people in your life aware of what you are going through can lead to some very unfortunate encounters with people. Of course, some people are simply trying to help by saying something encouraging or comforting but if you do not have experience in dealing with children/adults who are going through these traumatic experiences, sometimes you might make things worse by opening your mouth to give us some cliché phrase you think is appropriate.
I was already in my twenties when I realized how detrimental the phrase “You know your father loves you” was to me and my perception of love. No, I don’t know my father loves me because that man traumatized me, abused me, abused my sister and mother, tried to kill all three of us on several occasion and almost left us homeless and made us live in poverty because of his drinking. Is that love? Is that what you want children to believe love is? Violence?
My father wasn’t always drunk and abusive. He had periods in which he was sober and very normal. If you had met him in those intervals in-between his drinking phases, you would never assume he is a mentally ill alcoholic. One thing that haunted me in my childhood and is still haunting me as an adult was the fact that I was his favorite. He always preferred me above the rest of the world. I cannot explain how humanly impossible it is to rationalize and understand the fact that I was my abuser’s favorite child. Can you hear how wrong that sounds?
But yes, I was and I have to live with that. Throughout my whole life I have listened to people tell me that I am just like my father (we look a lot alike) and that he does love me. Somewhere underneath all of that alcohol and mental illness there might be a man possible of emotions, but that doesn’t mean that he loved me or my sister and if I, as a person that went through that abuse, can accept and live with the fact that my father didn’t love me why is it so hard for the rest of society to just accept that abusive parents do not love their kids?!
Parents not loving or even hating their children might be inconceivable or controversial for some, but that doesn’t make it any less true.
Forcing this idea of an abuser that loves them onto children experiencing the abuse distorts our view of love from a young age. Many children who grow up in domestic abuse and do not manage to break out of that narrative, end up with partners who are similar to their abusers because abuse is what we see love as. We become very desensitized to emotional, verbal, sexual and physical abuse because it was our normal as children so we do not see it as a threat when we grow up. We see it as something familiar, something that feels normal to us.
And then of course, the same society and the same people who pushed the narrative that our abusive parents love us onto us, blame us for ending up in abusive relationships that might costs us our lives in the end.
Even when we get into a relationship with a non-abusive person, it is sometimes a difficult experience for us because we don’t know how to act and a relationship that doesn’t involve that fear we grew up around is very unnatural for us. Speaking from my personal experience, I did struggle with maintaining relationships up until my current one because I would either become very codependent on my partner and expect him to love me in the ways I couldn’t love myself because of all my trauma or I would just sabotage a normal relationship because I got paranoid around normal. My mantra was “If it’s too good to be true, break it”. Let’s just say, I have my regrets.
On the other hand, I also wanted people who used me or I just ran head first into relationships with people who were bad for me just because pain, uncertainty and struggle was what I knew how to live in.
I had to read a lot of books, cry a lot, write a lot, journal a lot to finally come to terms with the fact that I ruined my chance at happiness more than once because my trauma was running my life and that my father never loved me and that abuse is not love. It was defeating having to teach myself that abuse is not something I should find an explanation for and stay, but it’s something I should run away from because it is not normal.
This can be avoided if we just stop comforting kids by telling them that their abusive parents actually love them. They do not love them and they do not love anyone. Teaching kids that from the beginning give them a bigger chance to love themselves as they grow up.
This is not to say that there aren’t people who love their family and quit drinking or doing drugs for them and become a better person. A family can absolutely change people, having kids can change people for the better but there are just too many cases in which that just wasn’t the case and children were left traumatized. I am one of those children and I speak from their point of view.
I am no expert but I am a survivor and from my own experience I can just say to those struggling with this that they need to take a step back, learn to live in loneliness until they learn how to love themselves and learn their worth. You will have to unlearn a lot of the things you were thought as a child and it will result in a lot of sleepless nights but the only way out is through.
#savingme is the community where abuse victims can publish their experiences just to let go and find comfort and support. Maybe it doesn’t feel like much but just publishing your story for others to read makes you strong. You can send your story about the abuse you went through to firstname.lastname@example.org and you can choose if you want it to be anonymous or not.