Even When Abusive Parents Apologize, They Don’t

photo credit: Isabelle

Every adult survivor of emotional child abuse would love to hear the following apology in some version or other: “Child, I’m so deeply sorry for all the pain and suffering and neglect that you endured through my actions or inactions. If I could go back in time, I’d right those wrongs, treat you with the love and respect that you are owed as a human being… You are loved and cherished, and I am profoundly sorry that I overlooked who you are and tried instead to make you what I thought was better. It wasn’t. You’re someone I would have liked to have loved better and known more. I am so very, very sorry. How can I make amends or try to repair this rift between us?

But when the apologies don’t come, the adult survivor thinks maybe the following would be, though not ideal, something to grasp onto: “Child, I’m sorry I was a big fat jerk. I didn’t know! I’m so, so sorry. How can I fix this? How can I do better?”

And then the adult survivor thinks s/he will settle for: “I’m sorry for being a jerk.”

Then downgrades the expectations to: “I’m sorry.”

Then: “Sorry.”

The Apology That Blames You

What most adult survivors of emotional child abuse will receive in terms of apologies is this: [Cue silence.]

But if the apologies do come, they often are in the format of non-apologies. The phrasing after the “sorry” are filled with passive-aggressive additions that let the abused child know that the abusive parent is not sorrowful or regretful or willing to change.

Those pseudo-apologies sound like:

  • I’m sorry that you feel you had a bad childhood.
  • I’m sorry you think that I hurt your feelings.
  • Sorry you don’t think I was a good parent.
  • Sorry that you misunderstood me.
  • Sorry that you thought I meant [this] when I meant [that].
  • Sorry but let’s just agree to disagree about what happened when you were a kid.

Those apologies place the whole issue on the adult survivor. They place the blame for the rift between the adult child and parent on the child. “If the survivor hadn’t taken things incorrectly or been such a candy-ass pansy, everything would be grand! You suck, adult survivor, for having the audacity to have hurt feelings and not see the truth of what was.”

So. No. Those aren’t apologies that you should ever accept.

Apologies That Excuse the Abuser

A little sneakier than the blaming apology is the excusing one. Your abusive parent didn’t mean any harm. He or she had a shitty childhood; who knew what good parenting was? They didn’t want to be neglectful and emotionally damaging to you… so you should “just forgive them and let bygones be bygone.”

Those excuses sound like this:

  • Sorry but I didn’t know any better.
  • Sorry but I didn’t realize that I was an abused child, too, growing up!
  • Sorry but that was a long time ago.
  • Sorry but I was a young parent.
  • Sorry but I was an old parent.
  • Sorry but we did parenting differently in those days.

All those apologies are tiny little pitty parties for the abuser that invite the adult survivor to feel a sense of compassion and sorrow for the abusive parent and assume that the parent would have been amazing! wonderful! loving! if only this or that…

No. Just… no.

Those apologies don’t express true regret for what happened, they don’t show any concern for the abused child, they cushion an excuse, and they lack a desire or willingness to change.

In the Catholic Church, true repentance comprises of acknowledging one’s sin, deeply regret having committed it, resolving not to commit it again, and making penance for it.

Those components are akin to the true apology that should be given by the abuser. So, for example, instead of saying, “Sorry, but I didn’t know any better,” a true apology would be something like “Sorry… I didn’t know any better, but that doesn’t excuse me for how I acted. I’m so sorry for how I behaved. I promise to be more kind and loving from this day forward.”

And then the changed behavior needs to last… The abusive parent needs to have a long, sustained change of behavior before (and if) the adult survivor decides to continue in their relationship.

Why the Abuser’s Past Doesn’t Excuse the Present

Some abusers had horrific childhoods and truly never learned how to be loving, good parents. And so, they carried on and emotionally abused their own children.

That the abuser was abused is terrible. It’s awful that anyone should ever abuse anyone, child or not.

But, that said, the abuser must acknowledge that s/he was an abusive parent. Whether the abusive parent had a horrific childhood or a pampered one, the abusive parent needs to “own” his or her behavior. He or she must acknowledge what was done and be sorry and truly change the behavior for a long, sustained period of time.

To Wait (or Not Wait) for an Apology

Adult survivors of emotional child abuse do not need to wait for an apology from their abusive parents in order to heal.

You have awakened to the truth of a difficult and brutal childhood. Now, take care of yourself! Go to therapy, say your prayers, find a loving and nurturing friend or two to hear you. Read books about what has happened if that helps you make sense of it all. Know you’re not alone in what happened. Know you are strong and can survive it. You can thrive, even.

But do not put your healing on hold for the magic words that you think will fix everything.

Repeat: You must focus on yourself and your own understanding of the past and healing of the present. You focus on YOU now.

The Invisible Scar mailbox is packed with emails from people who write and say such things like “My parents are horrible, abusive monsters and they want their parents to say they’re sorry and change and then they’ll go get help!” or “I’m just waiting for my parents to see what they’ve done! And then, we can work on healing this family!” or “I’m just hoping my parents apologize and then.”

Waiting for that apology is only hurting you.

Waiting for that apology puts all the power on the abusive parents. You are making their words the ones that will free you from the past and heal your pain. You are giving them entirely too. much. control.

Don’t give them that power.

Don’t wait for that apology.

What You Should Be Doing Instead of Waiting

Live your life.


Focus on:

  • Getting a clear understanding of the past by going to therapy
  • Getting a solid bearing of your present by assessing your life (again, through therapy, prayer, and community)
  • Taking care of yourself by eating healthy clean food, exercising regularly, and sleeping enough
  • Spending time with good, kind people who you love and love you back
  • Discovering new aspects of you (such as what you like to do as a hobby or to learn about or sing, paint, act, draw, build dollhouses, whatever’s good and makes you happy)
  • Nurturing good relationships with people you’ve always meant to befriend but had too many demands from your abusive parents
  • Creating a safe home environment (be it a tiny apartment in a big city, a fixer-upper in the ‘burbs, or a trailer) for yourself
  • Giving yourself some emotional distance from your parents

There’s much work, joy, peace, and healing to start on!

What Happens if the Abuser DOES Apologize

If the extremely rare apology is made to you, and it’s a contrite one, we suggest that you do not immediately pounce on it but do all that was mentioned in the previous section. Just… wait.

Here’s why…

You still need to heal, grow, and learn to be you, not the embodiment of your parent’s warped sense of you. You need to focus on being a child of God, on being the you that is, not the you they wanted.

And, as sorry as your parent may truly be, you need time and space to breathe and discover who that it.

If your abuser is really contrite, he or she will understand and quietly work on himself or herself so that, when/if you are ready to resume a relationship, he or she will have grown as people, too.

Because abusers are people. They’re not monsters or devils or pieces of shit. They seem so, they feel that way. They are toxic, so you don’t want to be around them. You don’t want to expose  yourself to all that venom and poison and filth.

But… if one is truly repentant, you can tell your abusive mother or father that you need to continue on your break from the relationship as you work on healing and you suggest strongly that your mother or father go to therapy, too.

If the abuser is sorry, he or she will understand and seek healing, too.


Continue on your path. Stay awake, stay informed, stay in prayer and therapy.

Onward and upward.


Veronica Jarski is founder and managing editor of The Invisible Scar, a passion project dedicated to raising awareness of emotional child abuse and its effects on adult survivors. She has extensive editorial experience and a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Her work has been featured on myriad publications.

photo credit: flickr user Isabelle


40 thoughts on “Even When Abusive Parents Apologize, They Don’t

  1. This is very much my mother and I. She can’t see or accept the abuse I endured from her and others. I wanted that apology but I have had to learn to live without it. Acceptance is sometimes o wonderful thing. HUGS to you!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. My mother left me a venomous voicemail on my birthday. Saying “who cares if it’s your birthday” and other nasty things I won’t repeat. Then later says… “you must have taken what I said the wrong way”. Never tolerate anyone who is intentionally cruel and incapable of a sincere apology.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Kathleen,
      That’s such a terrible voice mail… but, yes, your advice is spot on. “Never tolerate anyone who is intentionally cruel and incapable of a sincere apology.”


  3. My NMom apologized to me for the first time ever in my mid-30s. She said, “I apologize for the mistakes I made.” And I was so flabbergasted that she’d apologized to me for anything at ALL, I accepted it and forgave her instantly. It was soon after that I realized I had no idea what she’d actually even apologized *for*: the beatings? the manipulation and emotional abuse? a lifetime of distance and neglect? Or maybe something else, something that meant nothing to me at all?

    Years later, when she did something absolutely unforgivable, I went NC for a year. When she asked to meet with me, she very proudly announced, “I’d like to apologize.” This time, I was prepared: “What exactly are you apologizing for?” After all, she’d had a year to think about this. She seemed speechless, and eventually came up with something or another about “letting things get out of hand the last night we spoke.” Nothing at all about the truly horrific reasons she’d forced me to cut her out of my and my children’s lives…

    I thanked her. She asked if there was anything else. “No. Nothing else.” I knew then she was existentially incapable of self-examination and the admission of wrongdoing, even to save the relationship with her only child and grandchildren.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m so sorry. That is so sad. What I’ve learned is that the narc doesn’t even understand that what they did was wrong. They feel justified in doing it. My mother once had a flash of insight that she had harmed me by taking amphetamines while she was pregnant with me, so she’d keep her girlish figure. The next moment she forgot about it and was back to her old self. So maybe your mother had a sense that something wasn’t quite right, but then flipped back to her baseline self and couldn’t remember exactly what it was…?


    2. I’ve glimpsed those flashes of insight you mention; for instance, on that “night things got out of hand,” I told her (with no judgment or rancor) that some women who give birth were never meant to be mothers, and that she was one of them. And there was a softening in the way she looked at me, a quiet and something that I can only describe as… something between sadness and feeling UNDERSTOOD. It was brief, but telling.

      I believe that more recent “apology” was simply a tool to get me to break NC and have everything return to normal and be “fine.” I’d gone NC because she’d been angry with me about something or another, and instead of discussing it with me, she’d gone to a third party and threatened my family and the welfare of my children. This was nothing that was going to be pasted over with an, “I apologize,” by any stretch; I had endured a lifetime of abuse, but when she threatened my innocent preschoolers, it was like Toto suddenly drawing back the curtain… I would never see things the way I once had. And for even that gross violation of decency and trust, she has refused to name it, to beg forgiveness, to atone. She wishes to continue as though it simply never happened at all. Indeed, for my denial of her in my and my children’s lives since, she has been benevolent enough to offer forgiveness to ME. :-/

      I am so sorry your mother took amphetamines to stay skinny while PREGNANT! (And also surprised she confessed to this.) I hope it didn’t cause any lasting harm to you, apart from being delivered from such an obviously terrible and self-centered person.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I actually am in process of dialoging with my father on the issue. His apologies in his recent letter…
    “Please accept my deepest apology for all you believe I did”
    “Please accept my apology as it was not my attention to be anything other than the best father I could be”
    “I am sorry for your memories”

    It slike he read your blog post. 😦

    Liked by 4 people

    1. haha…Michael AllGood, it’s EXACTLY like they’ve got tips from this post. No introspection, just more blame, guilt throwing & more excuses for themselves. Like you, I was surprised too with the first apology that came via email.
      The subject of the email wasn’t ‘Sorry’ – it was ‘Forgiveness’ (that said it all! 🙂 )
      The more I read it, the more my eyes were opened to the shallowness of the personalities involved. They brought God into the picture to talk about how important it was to forgive.They spelled it as- GOD. The icing on the cake was they signed the email: MUM & DAD (the same way as GOD…lol)

      I did not respond at all (exactly as advised above). Time brought more Flying Monkeys into the picture with more accusations to throw at me & my lovely family. Ha ha…. it’s like they all go to the same parenting school.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Michael,

      As one reads more and more stories from adult survivors, the similarities of what abusive parents say, do, and respond is rather shocking. Like they all read from a manual. : (

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Yup, it all sounds so familiar, doesn’t it? After the incident which prompted me to go NC with my mother (when she harangued me in abusive language in front of my six year old daughter for half an hour and then threw me out of her house), she sent me a card in which she’d written “I’m devastated that we’re not speaking.” No apology, no acknowledgement, no responsibility. Just her wanting me to make her feel better. Again. I didn’t fall for it (first time ever) and the next thing I got was an email from her a few months later saying that she has a right to express her point of view and going on to outline all the ways that I am a terrible daughter.

    Weirdly, my Dad (actually the more abusive of the two. I think) has actually shown a tiny glimmer of insight that our childhoods were not exactly perfect. Of course, his idea of an apology was to shift the blame onto my mother and/or his difficult job (he was a surgeon – go figure).

    It’s so sad – they’re both going to die alone, and they have no idea why.

    Thanks for the post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep, this all sounds so familiar. My mother recently left me a message on my voicemail all “I just want to see how you’re doing and how your life is going.” As if she doesn’t recall that I haven’t spoken to her in almost 2 years. She sounds in her message as if we just spoke last week and that we have this wonderful close relationship where I share everything going on in my life. Hell no!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. This is the weirdest thing. My mother behaves the same way. Behind my back she then tells my sister, ex-husband and children that I’m mentally ill and am pushing away everyone who is close to me. Not once has she tried to ask why I have gone no contact. To me this shows she knows why but is refusing to talk about it, let alone apologise. She did get my sister to drive her to my house and her words were as if copied out of the list above ‘I’m so sorry you felt like you had a bad childhood, you must have misunderstood me…’ etc. My sister believes every single lie and is furious with me for ‘deserting’ our mother.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. “I am sorry that you feel your homeschooling experience was that bad. There were good times and I choose to remember the good and not dwell on the bad.” -my mother

    Well of course you do. Because the bad part (which was basically all of it) didn’t affect you it affected me. But you don’t care and what I say doesn’t matter because you remember the good times so it couldn’t have possibly been all that bad.

    “I’m sorry that you ended up with such a bad mother. But you have to accept me for the mother god gave you.” -my mother

    No, no I don’t have to accept anything. I don’t have to speak to you actually, and I don’t. How about you actually admit what it is that you did that made you a “bad mother.” How about you admit that you deeply, deeply hurt me and used me and stop pretending that I somehow inherited my anxiety and depression and low self-esteem from you. I didn’t inherit them, you created them in me. I do not have to accept you.

    “Don’t hold onto bitterness (in reference to her) and let it eat away at you.” -my mother

    Well actually, I’m not holding onto bitterness. In fact since I chose, almost 2 years ago, to go no contact with you, I have been much happier, much more able to work on healing myself, and much more able to invest in healthy relationships that enrich my life. All because I no longer speak to you. And all because I no longer allow your manipulation to hurt me over and over again.

    When I hear that line about bitterness all I can really hear is that they think you should “stop complaining” and “move on” and “accept them for who they are,” etc. It’s true. You cannot wait for an apology. I realized a few years ago that trying to get my mother to change or face up to what she did to me was never going to happen. So I no longer have any relationship or contact of any kind and my life is far better for it. Now I can continue doing the work I need to do to not be the kind of person that she is.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love your post, so well said, stop complaining and move on. It was my father who did the abuse, my mother, the co-dependent. My father died in 2008. My mother went haywire when he passed. My panic attacks came back. I went to therapy when it should have been her! I went NC for three years.To make a long story short, she enables my 62 year old alcoholic brother, the oldest of four, who chose not to be in our lives for 35 years. Even though he was the godfather of my brothers son, he did not attend the baptismal or his wedding…etc. We would see him every five years very briefly. Never any phone calls. So he came back because his wife died and he screwed up again, on vacation by being drunk for three days, disrespecting my mother, husband and I. I cut ties with him. My mother has been harassing me about that and using emotional blackmail because I would not invite him at my family reunions. I’ve had it with her! She says: oh, it’s all forgotten. She will not change. I confronted her and she says that if I, at 60 years old feels free to speak my mind, she will not stop either. So that’s it with her, I’ve had it! I won’t let her do this to me a 3rd time. It’s NC. She wants me to be close to her, make her happy. She just brings me down! A mother should not do that. We were bad children in her eyes and I must not speak of my father. “Leave him rest in peace” Yeah, right!


  7. Hi Veronica,

    Through your posts I am having a revelation right now. I know my mother isn’t normal, nor was she ever a ‘normal’ parent. I spent my entire childhood wishing so much that my friends’ mothers would adopt me into their family. If you have the time, and anyone else reading this, I would so appreciate for your own insight as to how grave this situation is. How bad is it? Because I don’t have an objective persepctive.

    Everytime my mother upsets me and makes me cry (she was still able to do that last year – when I was 22) I feel like I’m overreacting about calling it abuse. Then when she’s nice to me the next day – not in what I call the psycho rage made, I feel guilty for having horrid feelings towards her.

    -My first conscious memory of my mother is her slapping me across the cheek real hard, for something bratty I may have said. I sat in the bedroom room for hours holding my cheek.
    – My second memory is of her slapping me furiously on the butt for wetting my pants (was 3).
    – Today I absolutely cannot stand her touching me with her gross deformed fingers because she only ever touched me to slap, pinch, brush my hair really violently or grab my stomach fat from very young. She stopped attacking my siblings and I when we were 12, we were big enough to know what she was doing then.

    She had crippling autoimmune disease for 12 years so all close relatives just told me she was not herself and out of her mind. Doubt it, she’s uniformly been like that for as long as I can remember. I still tend to accept this excuse though for the reason she was a lousy mother.

    – At seventeen, she blamed me for being bullied in my workplace saying that there must be something about me attracting them.
    – At eighteen I graduated in the top seventh percentile of the state, she said she was disappointed and expected better. She called me fat and asked why I wasn’t embarrassed or upset about it – I was chunky after emotional eating that final year. When I quit my job out of misery she said I was lazy unlike my friends.
    – At nineteen, in front of my cousin and aunty she must have got embarrassed with the college course I selected or something, she ended up humiliating me and tearing me down in a public shopping centre saying ‘you won’t have a job’ and just acting like a jerk, I walked away.
    – She compares me with celebrities, oh at this age they are already established in life or something, excuse wtf does Margot Robbie have to do with me in any aspect whatsoever?

    – I have lost count of how many times she has emotionally tormented me and made my cry, and as a narc she has a fantastic way with words and wit, if you insult her she will come back with an insult five times more hurtful – without even taking a second to think . This aspect terrifies me about abusive people, how they can hurl the most hurtful words at you instantly, it’s like they’ve been secretly mulling over their mean spirited thoughts for a VERY long time, and pretend to be a different person until they can use it against you as ‘ammo’ when the need arises.

    My final straw came yesterday. At four o’clock am she barged into my room and demanded that I attend a family function the next day. I simply say no, I don’t want to, and she went apeshit, said her children have no heart, what did she do to deserve us. I made a crack about her failed her marriage has become, then she threw down a really mean comment about my single status. This is after I’ve been confiding about my angst about it, so to use it against me was very cheap and traitorous,

    This evening as I’m typing, am shaking with rage, how is it okay to treat your adult child that way? How on earth is it okay to treat anyone with degradation like that. I feel like the family dog was treated with more consideration and respect than the human children in the family. I am trying to get out, I know I will have to walk through hellfire to validate my own decision, but sock it I am not happy being suffocated in this house.

    Aagh still don’t know, I sort of still believe that some people just have shitty parents and I should be learning to become immune to it?

    Angry as I am, I don’t wish to become bitter and as a strong Christian can accept God’s choices for me. He chose to put me in this family, and to have loved with them for 24 years, difficult and tenuous as it was. There are lots of pop sayings out there that the most hurtful people need the most love, true that may be, but the onus is not on the abusee to dish out that love, and today I simply don’t have the desire or the emotional capacity to improve what little rapport left we have.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m terribly sorry you’ve gone through that. I can only imagine how it was. This sounds like my father, except he didn’t hit me. He just made me feel so bad about myself. I believe if anyone makes you feel horrible, such as guilty, scared, hurt, etc constantly is not an healthy relationship. He and his girlfriend would speak to their friends and family about how horrible I was when I wasn’t even with them. I could hear them though. In front of them. He even let his girlfriend treat me horribly. How is that a good parent? I don’t speak to him anymore, and I’m so much better without him in my life. I don’t hate him, but I don’t need him in my life.


    2. New Precedent you are a very intelligent & strong young lady to face up to your fears & your struggles, like you have. I am a survivor of parenting similar to yours, but I am also a mother with a 22 yr old daughter.

      It is so sad to read your account because it brings to mind the loneliness & pain I felt as a child. I remember those psychotic rages too well, the gas lighting, the emotional manipulation & the lies. You were born to be free of all that, but some of us have to fight a little for that freedom & peace.

      I am on my 4th year of no-contact with my biological parents & my friends & family have seen a huge surge of strength, peace & happiness in my life since I went non-contact.

      Keep a diary / journal of everything that is said to you. Keep reading blogs like this one. Get some therapy if you can & surround yourself with people who believe in You -not the person your mother says you are.

      You are the Caterpillar who is in the process of strengthening her beautiful wings to break out of her cocoon. You can do this.

      Sending you another link that might help with a big internet motherly hUg. xx

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Spot on!

    My mum’s two hits are:
    – I had an abusive childhood and it was worse than yours.
    – I’m sorry you’re so mentally weak that my totally normal behaviour gave you mental issues.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. My stepfather will NEVER apologises for anything that he did or has done. One time in 1997, I called him on the phone, (I have to always call him, he never called me) I told him that I wanted a relationship with him and that I wanted him in my life with my kids. I told him I would take responsibility for 50% of the reason why we have a troubled relationship. He would go quiet and this happened several times during this conversation. I finally said, how come you aren’t saying anything? He told me I had to grow up. I then said that I can’t take responsibility for all of our problems, To which he stated, ” …as long as I keep refusing to accept my whole responsibility there will be no healing of our relationship, there will be no relationship.” He adopted me at age 15 months. He was in my life since 12 months of age. He has always treated me differently, even though he adopted me. He has excluded me for more years than I care to admit to.To grow up and physically, mentally, and emotionally know that I am not as important or loved as my half sisters killed and still to some degree kills me. My mum, she would apologise then take it back. Or she would apologise AFTER wanting something and receiving something. Or, when she would ask, I’d would tell her the truth, and then she’d say, “Why do you always hurt me?” My mum died in April of 2011, she went to her death angry at me and blaming me for all that went wrong in her life. She used to always tell me that I owed her because she didn’t do what her dad had told her, to abort me. I’m still so incredibly sad and angry today. And I have seen therapists, too many have told me I need to let it go, and grow up. Accept the fact that I had parents who were most probably damaged themselves. One such therapist said my issues aren’t quantifiable, therefore don’t exist. I haven’t trusted any therapist since then. And, I have a degree in Psychology.


    1. Oh my God that is so horrible, that your mother would say that to you, and that you grew up in a household where you were treated as a lesser person! That just kills me. I don’t understand why parents would make their child feel unwanted…even to the point of telling them how lucky they are to be alive because they could have been aborted! You are so incredibly strong to keep going in the face of this horrible abuse. I hope you’re able to find a proper therapist to help you navigate this nightmarish maze. I’m glad you’re here, and that’s just from reading your comment. I think you’re an incredibly strong survivor of unspeakable emotional abuse. Love and blessings from a complete stranger ❤ –Laura

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Thank you for your website, your empathy, and kindness. I know what I am about to say would anger both my mum and stepdad, but it needs to be stated. In an unexpected turn, with all of the abuse I endured, I learned a very valuable lesson. And this lesson revealed itself when I had children of my own. (I wish there had been an easier way to teach these lessons to me, instead of the negative manner) I learned how NOT to be a parent by the parenting that was done to me. You can ask 100 people, ‘What are 3 things you should do and never do for your kids.’ With the do list, there might be many different answers. With the do not list, I’d be willing to bet that there would be quite an overlap of similar answers. For me, it was easy to see, and remember the things you never do. (They were done to me and it was painful and cruel) As for the things you can do, I can pick and choose with the guidance of, Will this hurt/hinder my child ? It’s sad that there are so many children and now grown adults that have been taught so many lies and untruths about who they are as people. M. Scott Peck believes that these type of people literally kill the spirit of the child. I wonder why this sort of abuse isn’t made more aware in our society. It is a long road to challenge and unravel all of these wicked lies. Again, thank you for your kind words.

      Liked by 1 person

    3. Wow. Rainescott, I’ve never gone to any kind of therapy and what you just said about a professional therapist (?) saying you need to grow up is astonishing. I plan to finally get some therapy but if I hear this I’m going to hit the roof. I just commented with a very long post here, so you can see my own story, but I will quickly say that at 53 I am fully grown up but it is the “moving on” that I cannot do very well, because of the total denial my father has shown me. Be strong 🙂


    4. Oh gosh Mark. I am so sorry. I have seen a total of 11 therapists. 1 was okay and did emdr therapy. 1 was so amazing, but when I started standing up for myself..thats when my stepdad put a stop to it. I’m frustrated at therapy now because either you can’t find someone qualified to deal with trauma, mental, physical, and even sexual…they say they are qualified bit they really aren’t. Good luck with your therapy. I have a book that has taught me a lot about how to look for a qualified therapist… It’s called The narcissistic family.. diagnosis and treatment. By Stephanie Donaldson-Pressman and Robert Pressman. It’s basically a book for therapists in helping to treat people from really dysfunctional families. And how to properly help clients to deal and work with these maladaptive behaviours. It has taught me what to look for in a competent, caring, and empathic therapist. Sadly tho, these therapists are either in books (Pete walker, Bessel Van dèr Kolk) or in internet land and most definitely do not take my insurance. I hate that I realise I know I am stuck and need help and I have had to get a psych degree, some psych graduate courses, have an extensive library and just know that this pain and trauma is above my own pay grade… I who always have helped others am in need of help. I’m sorry this is so long. I’m gonna re-read your post. I wish you much strength, compassion and luck in finding a good therapist who actually heals and does not harm.


  10. Thank you so much for this! All of it rings true to my relationship with both abusive parents. I am taking care of me, while they continue the cycle of “wrong apologies” and defensive attitudes. My therapy, support team, and trusting God in all of it, is healing me!

    Liked by 3 people

  11. I read at an EP (Estranged Parent) forum regularly and the “apologies”-if any are forthcoming-are a study in how not to apologize for your really shitty behavior. The most recent (didn’t get over on the AC) “apology:” “I even wrote I’m sorry for any “perceived wrongs” I may have committed.” The poster was even kind enough to place quotes around the above term just in case anyone missed it. The others responded with all kids of “ohyoupoorbaybee!” and “such a heartfelt letter!” and “You apologized. What more do they want?” Well, you might start with ownership-but that would mean accountability and that’s not gonna happen.
    So if you’re hoping for a genuine apology from an Estranged Parent, remember you’ve never received one before. The past informs the present. You can write a 30 page letter explaining how they hurt you and all’s you’ve handed them is a “How to Stomp on (your name)” blueprint. Making yourself vulnerable to a bully isn’t a strategy, it’s an invitation for more of the same. With a CB “parent,” the bully is on steroids.
    They simply are not “Trainable.” You know that.
    If they were you wouldn’t be here, at a site for abused/neglected Adult Children would you?

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  12. Even if an abuser (parent or otherwise) gathers enough decency to offer a sincere, complete apology, it would all fall apart at :”how can I make amends?”

    It’s easy to make that an optional part of reconciliation, but it is the most reliable sign of truth in the apology. The abuser put so much energy and time into the abuse, in order to cause such devastation to another person’s spirit… If they won’t put any effort into making amends, you know they don’t regret what they did. They regret being caught and cornered (as rare as that is).

    I’m going to make a huge guess here. I guess that over 80% of victims of emotional abuse want their abuser to simply tell the truth to those people who heard the lies that were told about the victim. This could /possibly/ allow some relationships to be rebuilt, but it would /definitely/ show sincerity on the abuser’s part.

    Won’t ever happen though. Abuser’s hide in the dark, and are full of insincerity on their best days.

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  14. Only a VERY courageous person can own their stuff and be vulnerable enough to be truly sorry for their wrong doings. Most abusive people are too focused on self-protection to acknowledge what they’ve done wrong. They can’t admit being wrong-EVER. They will make excuses, invalidate, distract, use pity, use peer pressure, use anger and emotion, and will accuse the victim of being abusive. Self-protection, ego, pride, and fear stops them from being genuinely repentant. One lady wrote, “My mother would rather burn worlds than admit she was wrong”.

    From a religious stand point, letting an abuser off the hook isn’t helping them. It only helps them to be evil. We can forgive but that doesn’t mean giving an abuser a free pass to abuse. It doesn’t mean letting them continue to hurt you. It doesn’t mean living a lie (let’s just pretend the past didn’t happen).

    And we have to own our stuff too but it becomes very difficult to be objective in an abusive situation-the victim ends up owning too much (stuff they shouldn’t own at all); this way of thinking seeps into other relationships; abuse begets more abuse. If we don’t stand up to abusers, we will attract more abusers and will accept their excuses too.

    Just my opinions.

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  15. I didn’t realize how truly emotionally abusive my parents are until a few weeks ago. I knew they weren’t the best parents, but I accepted it because they’re the adults and they know what’s best for me. Things were actually great for awhile. We weren’t fighting. My parents were kind. I would be excited to visit them. And then last June my parents just decided (again) that I was trash. And they have no problem reminding me of it regularly. Last week my mom blocked my phone number. Today she decided that having a relationship with me wasn’t worth her time or energy even after I sent her a long email over the weekend begging her to be better at communicating. Two hours later, my dad claimed that I didn’t have the brains or motivation to graduate from college next year. And this is just from the last week. This doesn’t even scratch the surface of the things they’ve said.

    I remember so MANY times being in screaming matches on the phone with my mother and after I would make a VALID argument pointing out her sheer insanity or something she’d said/done, she’d do this deep laugh/grunt of disbelief and say, “wow. Lauren. Wow.” I FELT SO CRAZY. Every. Single. Time. Because part of me KNEW I was right, but I also thought I was wrong. Nothing I say is valid. Nothing I do is good enough. Of course, I have severe anxiety and depression, anytime I tried to defend myself I would get shut down.

    And I know that by this time next week she’ll start a nonchalant conversation about something innocent like the weather, and then she’ll offer to fly out for my birthday (no apology, of course, she can do no wrong and she will never take responsibility for her actions), and then I’LL feel guilty for not wanting to spend time with her. And she’ll hound me until I agree to let her come out, and then she’ll start an argument about how I don’t put enough effort into our relationship. I can see it so clearly and I have no clue how to get out of it.

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  16. Reading this entry I realize how little I care about my abusive mother now. I always felt responsible for her well-being; now I simply don’t care any more. Even if she apologized, I would not be interested. I would merely ask, “Do you believe you can make the past undone with a few words?”
    You are perfectly right. Live your own life as well as possible, and never care for them. What evil they did they are responsible for before God.

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  17. It is uncanny reading the kinds of statements you list here, Veronica. After around 9 months of no contact with my mother, she manoeuvred my sister into bringing her to my house unexpectedly at Eastertime. They pretended that this was a spur of the moment visit but in the middle of it I learnt that my sister had told my eldest son and had told him to lie to me that they were coming, in case I said no. So in the course of this visit my mother gave her apology which ran “When I told you not to sulk [her actual words were ‘You’re just seeking attention’] while you were feeling complete despair it was because I really was trying to cheer you up and I had got bored listening to you being unhappy’. The rest of it was basically the script you give in the article: ‘I’m sorry if you feel I treated you badly’ and ‘you know how you tend to exaggerate situations’, plus ‘I’m sorry that you misunderstood me’. So it is incredibly reassuring to read these characteristic ways of deflecting blame. This episode made me realise that I can’t retain any link, that my sister is completely in my mother’s power (reading her statements as truth unquestioningly) and that they have no hesitation about using my children as weapons to bring me back into line. I challenged my sister and said they were doing this, but their story is that I am mad and paranoid…

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  18. My father was always concerned about correct behavior. He would often comment to us all when he saw examples of it and even would confront strangers to give them a piece of his mind. But for some reason, this hot-tempered mathematician could not seem to see his own bad behavior to his wife and children. He spoke to our mother in front of us kids like she was five years old if she crossed him. He was always right about anything of any significance. He would admit to being wrong about the times


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