The Invisible Scar

raising awareness of emotional child abuse, its effects on adult survivors & the power of words on children

For Adult Survivors of Emotional Child Abuse

Facing the truth of one’s emotional child abuse takes a special kind of courage. But to be an emotionally healthy adult, the truth must be known, so that healing can begin, and the pattern doesn’t repeat.

An emotionally abused child who does not, as an adult, face the truth of their childhood is in great danger of repeating the cycle of emotional abuse with his or her own children.

“As long as [the experience of cruelty] remains hidden behind their idealized picture of a happy childhood, they will have no awareness of it and will therefore be unable to avoid passing it on. It is absolutely urgent that people become aware of the degree to which this disrespect of children is persistently transmitted from one generation to the next, perpetuating destructive behavior.” (Alice Miller, “The Drama of the Gifted Child: The Search for Self”)

Unfortunately, because emotional abuse is often tolerated or because the abusive parents are very secretive in their abuse (hiding their true selves when in public), emotionally abused children will assume that how they were treated at home was natural. They have no frame of reference. And so, the child will develop a skewed sense of what a healthy relationship is.

Emotionally abused children become adults with little or no self-esteem; a deep, pervasive sadness; problems bonding with others; and a tendency towards self-destruction.

Hope Is in the Truth

Emotionally abused children will not always become emotionally abusive parents, however. Studies indicate that the number of abused children perpetuating the cycle of abuse is far lower than previously thought.

“In a survey of such studies, Joan Kaufman and Edward Zigler, psychologists at Yale, concluded that 30 percent is the best estimate of the rate at which abuse of one generation is repeated in the next. ” (New York Times article, “Sad Legacy of Abuse: The Search for Remedies“)

The study shows that the denial of abuse can be the greatest indicator of future trouble. Hence, the abused child who grows up to be an adult who denies having been abused has the greatest risk of becoming an abuser. But adult survivors of childhood emotional abuse who awaken to the truth of their damaging childhood, and strive to do the opposite of what they have been taught will NOT emotionally abuse their children.

If the adult seeks therapy and healing from an abusive childhood, the adult child can break the emotional abuse cycle and not perpetuate the abuse with their own children.

Healing from an emotionally abusive childhood can be very difficult, but as Andrew Vachss says:

Adult survivors of emotional child abuse have only two life-choices: learn to self-reference or remain a victim. When your self-concept has been shredded, when you have been deeply injured and made to feel the injury was all your fault, when you look for approval to those who can not or will not provide it—you play the role assigned to you by your abusers.

It’s time to stop playing that role, time to write your own script. Victims of emotional abuse carry the cure in their own hearts and souls. Salvation means learning self-respect, earning the respect of others and making that respect the absolutely irreducible minimum requirement for all intimate relationships. For the emotionally abused child, healing does come down to “forgiveness”—forgiveness of yourself.

How you forgive yourself is as individual as you are. But knowing you deserve to be loved and respected and empowering yourself with a commitment to try is more than half the battle. Much more.

And it is never too soon—or too late—to start.

Please seek professional help, read good books, turn to supportive friends, and don’t give up. Ever.

15 Tips for Adult Survivors

An emotionally abused child usually continues being emotionally abused by the parents long into adulthood. The patterns have already been established since the child’s earliest years. The dynamics of the family have been set into place. Nothing is to drastically change it—unless the child grown up awakens.

Some adults experience a jolt, a sudden flash of memory, that is triggered by an event, a song, a movie scene, anything, really. Others remain asleep until the abusive parents become abusive grandparents—continuing the cycle of emotional abuse to the adult survivor’s children. Others will just reach the point where they cannot take it anymore; enough is enough.

And the abused child-turned-adult awakens, slowly realizing that not everything is as it has seemed. Everything is different now.

Taking the red pill regarding your emotionally abusive childhood leads to a very difficult path—but the important thing is that it is a path. You no longer remain stuck, wondering about the pervasive depression or sorrow.

Best of all, you can break the cycle. You can heal. You can reclaim yourself.

Here are some suggestions as  you begin your path to healing.

1. Seek professional help from someone who understands emotional child abuse. 

Before signing up for regular visits with a psychologist, have a preliminary meeting to gauge whether the counselor and  you are a good match. So much can affect a counseling session—from the setup of the room to the type of therapy the counselor favors. Some counselors prefer a very aloof clinical approach; others are more inclined to Conrad Baars school of thought.

2. Create some distance between you and your abusive parent.

You will find it difficult to put your new thoughts in perspective if you are still immersed into your parents’ lives. So, you need to create some space. Let them know that you need time to think about things.

“Adult children who have never spiritually and emotionally separated from their parents often need time away. They have spent their whole lives embracing and keeping and have been afraid to refrain from embracing and to throw away from of their outgrown ways of relating. They need to spend some time building boundaries against the old ways and creating new ways of relating that for a while may feel alienating to their parents.” (“Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No and Take Control of Your Life, pg. 38)

In some cases, adult children will find healing, and they will eventually find new ways of communicating with their parents that is healthy.

However, do note that in many cases, especially when dealing with narcissistic parents, your saying you need space will be seen as throwing down a gauntlet. In some extreme cases, narcissistic parents will sense that their adult child is beginning to awaken and the abuse will increase (and even get outrageous).

3. Don’t give up! Stay awake, stay vigilant.

Give yourself space in which to think.

“You should not continue to set yourself up for hurt and disappointment. If you have been in an abusive relationship, you should wait until it is safe and until real patterns of change have been demonstrated before you go back.” (Boundaries book, pg. 38)

Again, in the case of narcissistic parents, they are never going to get it. You should talk to your therapist about that fact and about toxic relationships.

4. Take your time.

As you awaken, you will find yourself with all sorts of emotions rushing through you. Emotionally abused children usually do not have a great gamut of emotions, so many of these feelings will be uncomfortable, difficult to stand, inspire guilt. For example, you will feel anger towards your abusive parents—and then, you will feel guilt about thinking such terrible things about your parents. That’s natural. You’ve been set up your entire life to only think of your parents’ feelings and not your own… but that’s going to change. Take your time, explore different emotions, go to therapy regularly.

The adult child will have a hard time slowing down, at first. The child within them is used to jumping to serve the abusive parent and reacting quickly without thinking, for fear of punishment. But you no longer have to fear your abusive parent. Take  your time. Take all the time you need… as long as you move away from the abuse and toward healing.

5. Educate yourself about emotional child abuse.

You’ll be going through myriad emotions, so you should read to better understand how healing is a process and will not happen overnight. You can find a starter’s recommended readings here.

In the book Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No and Take Control of Your Lifeby Dr. Henry Cloud and John Townsend, the clinical psychologists discuss the severe impact of being raised without boundaries and its affects into adulthood. Also, look at the various sites here for information about emotional child abuse and healing.

6. Be patient and loving with yourself. 

This merits repeating. Many adult children who awaken grow furious at themselves for having taken the abuse for so long. Be kind to yourself, however. The emotionally abused child that you were had no understanding that the abuse was not normal. The emotionally abused child was raised in emotional captivity—how could she or he know about anything else? View the fact that you have emerged from such captivity now as a miracle. Be grateful that you are awakening. 

7. Surround yourself with good, supportive friends.

Humans are social creatures. We need others. We need community. The awakening to one’s abusive childhood can make the adult child feel like they have no one in the world… but they do. Turn to good friends (some friends may share their own similar stories). If you don’t have friends who can relate to you or offer the emotional support you need, consider online forums for help. (Just make sure the fit is right. You want healing and resources for healing with healthy doses of ranting—not constant nonstop ranting.)

“Fear of being alone keeps many in hurtful patterns for years. They are afraid that if they set boundaries, they will not have any love in their life. When they open themselves up to support from others, however, they find that the abusive person is not the only source of love in the world and that they can find the strength through their support system to set the limits they need to set… The other reason we need others is because we need new input and teaching.” (Boundaries book, pg. 39)

8. Understand you may lose friends and family members—but let them go.

 When an adult survivor begins to process his abusive childhood, he will start becoming a different person, a more authentic self. The mask of “the perfect upbringing” or the “happy childhood” is stripped as the adult comes to understand that what happened in childhood was neither normal or healthy. Some people in the survivor’s life will have a huge problem accepting what is happening.

If your abusive parents were a great part of your life, your social circles may overlap. Word of your “needing space” will spread through your social circles. If your parents are particularly destructive, they may spread terrible rumors about you and do everything they can to convince mutual friends and relatives that you are mentally ill, that you are a liar, that you are somehow suffering a breakdown.  Narcissistic parents will tear down their child to save themselves and their positive image; they will even claim to not know what is happening or why you are not happy in the relationship.

Know that, if your abusive parents are abusive in secret, most people will take their side. If your parents are charming and “pillars of the community,” you will find yourself alone in your truth.  

Don’t cave in. Go to therapy. Educate yourself. Hold fast to the truth. Better to be alone in the truth than in the company of liars and their followers.


You may also find some of your closest friends not believing you and turning from you. They remember you as a happy person, always compliant, always talking about how wonderful your childhood was… They will have problems understanding that you were raised in a dictatorship, that you always used the wording that those in charge made you use, that you knew all the dictator’s slogans about being happy—and yet, deep inside, you were dying emotionally. Some friends may reject the hurting you because they do not want to either look at their own childhood, look at their own parenting, or look for a truly caring relationship.

Let the people walking away from you go. Let them go. True friends, good friends from the heart, will come and replace them in time.

“The problem with friends and family is that they know us as we are. They are invested in maintaining us as we are. The last thing we want is to remain as we are… With some exceptions (God bless them), friends and family are the enemy of this unmanifested you, this unborn self, this future being. Prepare yourself to make new friends. They will appear, trust me.” (author Steven Pressfield, “Do the Work)

Remaining steadfast in your pursuit of an authentic life will be difficult—but you will not regret it. Your heart will hurt. You will feel sad. But you will also feel a deep sense of empowerment and self-respect—new feelings to the abused child.

9. Keep a journal.

journalWrite down what you are going through. Don’t stress about proper grammar, punctuation, etc. Just write whatever you feel. Get it out. Like Winston Smith in George Orwell’s novel “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” you must write your true feelings.

Write about…

    • Memories that come up (Don’t edit yourself. Let it all out.)
    • What pisses you off and what pissed you off (Your journal will never tell you to stop ranting. It will never tell you to just let it go.)
    • What is happening in your relationship with your abusive parents.
    • Good advice that you may have received.
    • Epiphanies that you may have had
    • Whatever you want to write about
    • Quotes that inspire you.
    • Your side of arguments.

Don’t forget that you can also use the journal to draw your thoughts, sketch things, and even clip out magazine articles and glue them on pages.

The journal will prove a worthy companion on your road to healing. It will show you the places you’ve been and the progress that you have made. 

10. Be mindful of your relationships.

In awakening, the adult child may realize that many of his/her relationships mirror the same destructive pattern as the one they have with their parents. The adult child, not knowing any better, may have friends who treat them with the same abusive language and attitude that they have had in their youth. If you come to this realization, again, be gentle with yourself. You didn’t know. In captivity, you made friends with captors of different sizes and colors and shapes. But now, you can change this. You can choose your relationships. 

11. Pray or meditate.

Praying to a higher power can help you focus on the ultimate relationship. It also helps you reach beyond yourself, beyond the human relationships, to find the love that does not fail. However, some abused children have had their religious faith or beliefs used against them by their abusers. Know that the abuse comes from people, not God. Talk to your priest, minister, rabbi, etc. to discuss your conflicted feelings. It’s all right.

12. Let yourself receive love.

If you have a good circle of friends, if you have a spouse who understands what is happening, let yourself receive that love, support, and understanding. The adult survivor can find it hard to be loved. (“How can anyone love me if my own parents didn’t?”) But know that your parents’ failure to love you is a failure in them—not you. You are lovable.  

13. Accept change.

Your life will change in both enormous and very tiny ways once you awaken to the truth. Holidays, Sunday dinners, etc., will be different once  you have distanced yourself from your abusive parents. At first, you will feel a crippling loneliness… but then remember the truth of how those holidays or dinners were. You may have had some beautiful moments in your relationship with your abusive parents—but be honest with yourself. How many good moments did you really have? How wonderful were those events really? 

You now have the opportunity to make your own traditions for holidays and events and Sunday dinners. You no longer have to abide by rules and decrees put into place by your abusive parents.

You get to be the adult. Embrace that fact. 

14. Find a creative outlet.

Take up running, knitting, drawing, sailing, sewing, woodworking—anything. Your mind and heart will be going into overdrive as you awaken. You need to find something that can be a healthy balm on your frayed nerves and fragile heart.speak-the-truth

15. Don’t give up.

Don’t give up. Don’t quit. Rest, sure. Take a little time to just lose yourself in music or TV or books for a little while… then continue on. DON’T QUIT. Don’t stop on your path to healing. Sometimes, the sorrow will be biting and cold—but don’t quit.

Know you are worthy of love, of respect, of kindness, of happiness, of dignity.

Know you matter.

Know that your life does make a difference.

Just waking up to the fact you had an emotionally abusive childhood?  This 92-page PDF can help you during this difficult time. For just $7.99, you receive What Really Happened: Finding Out You Had an Emotionally Abusive Childhood (and Tips for Healing).

veronica-jarski_authorVeronica 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, such as Kapost, MarketingProfs, and Ragan.



325 thoughts on “For Adult Survivors of Emotional Child Abuse

  1. Hi, I had thought of killing myself, lost, and I didn’t knew myself. I have CHARGE syndrome. Is a rare syndrome caused by a genetic disorder. I’m totally healthy…Thank God. I don’t know if I’m abused or not but I had seen some similar things in here that happened to me. I have this wonderful guy in my life and he helps me LOT with my school works. I’m in third year of college. I had tried less tutoring sessions with him and I ended up not passing the classes and I had different tutors and I did not pass the courses. Now, I have five days of tutoring sessions with him and I passed the course with 95!!!! My mom and aunt do not see that he helps me lot and got me to passed a course with a high grade. My mom and aunt tells me that “I’m one of the women who stayed with abusive boyfriend.” that tutor is NOT my boyfriend and he DOES NOT abuse me. They tells me that I do not know anything, I’m stupid, moron. They also tells me that he is bossing me but he is not. I don’t think so. My mom and aunt constantly tries to find me a tutor and tells me that the tutor I have is the worse ever. My mom had threaten me to take my car away if I keep driving on the weekend. My mother does not want me drive on the weekend because it is dangerous but I thought the weeks was more dangerous. She said I will need to use Uber and there will be less spending…. but UBER will cost lot of money. My aunts sees herself like if she was my dad. My dad tells me to not be afraid of her, to tell her that she is not my mom or dad. Also, to NOT listen to her all the time and do whatever she wants me to do. IT IS FREAKING HARD!! because my aunt had made me to think that she is there for me, she is a secure base. Lot of people thinks she my mom and my mom is my aunt. My mom BELIEVES everything what my aunt said. My aunt once time humiliated me front of my grandparents in a restaurant. She told me that I’m shame of being Colombian because I told someone that I was raised in USA. My aunt told my grandparent to think how I behave. She made me to cry! TO CRY IN PUBLIC because I was shamed to be Colombian. I felt like she treated me as a child. I’m 21 years old and I still feel like a child. when I was 7 years old, my aunt told me that my guy friend like my friend. I was 7 years old and I didn’t care who like each other! She told me like “Pedro likes Maria” “Pedro is in love with Maria” I was like who cares?! but I felt like no one likes me. Then I cried to my grandmother saying that Pedro did not like me and no one does. then my grandmother said “do not worry about that dude. Lot of people likes you. Joe is not right person. Someday, a guy will like you” I felt little better after that. I felt like my aunt disrespect me. This past Christmas, I was doing laser. I told the lady that I do not have hair on my forehead. I did little bit but this auntie I have, she came up to my face and told me “Shut up, she knows her job and let her do her job” then she told the lady about my heart surgery after I told her do not tell her! She said “Do you see this scar?” pointing at my chest. I told her no, do not tell her. “I will tell her. She had surgery” then keep explaining the lady about my open heart surgery after I told her no. When I was little kid, she told me that Maria was controlling me and using me. I didn’t believe her because I knew she was not but I almost lost my friendship with her just because I did actually believed my aunt. Now, my mother is telling me that my tutor is controlling me…. I feel like my head is scattered everywhere. I can’t think. I can’t trust. I can’t believe anyone. My aunt left me at her ex-girlfriend’s house for many hours and she told me at 9:30pm that she is not in rush to pick me up and I was VERY VERY tired. She picked me up at 11:30pm. I told my mother about my aunt abusing me but she didn’t believe me.In Spring break of 2016, My aunt told me that my dad have to call her when he is picking me up…. I never told my dad to call her. Then my aunt told me I’m a child. I can’t cut her off because she is family. You want to know the feeling I had every time when I hanged out with her when I was little? I felt like I was her wife… Now, I do not feel that way but I still feel like if my brain is being brainwashed. I felt like I poured myself in here… Oh! My aunt tells me things about my dad to makes me think that my dad is never good father. To make me think that my dad NEVER loves me. My father does loves me. He is a good father. But I always trust my aunt… which I want to stop trusting her! She puts negative things in my mind. My aunts tells me that my tutor is stealing money but she never explain how. I don’t think he is. He costs me $35 per session while he normally cost $60 to other tutees. He is losing lot of money with me. Everyone think my aunt is nice and sweet. But I think she is the most LIAR ABUSIVE PERSON! My aunt detests my tutor because he confront her about the abusing then my aunt laughs with me saying that “You did good story. I never abused you. you should be a writer. What you wrote is a monster” Of course! She is a monster! My mom detests my tutor without any reasons. I think it is because she believes my “father” who is my aunt. I think my mom believe everything what my aunt says but had disagree with my dad. I think it is like my mom is my mother and my aunt is my dad….My father told me that my aunt likes to control people. Like to tell people what to do. I just feel like I want to give up. But this tutor tells me to keep going, don’t give up, encourage me to keep going, help me to get through life, put positive thoughts in my mind. I can’t trust him because I trust my aunt…. It is like my aunt told me that I should believe her. for example: Aunt: he is stealing money,
    me: Oh okay. you, Ronnie, you are stealing my money!
    Ronnie: ???????? I’m…not…stealing…your…money.

    It is just feel good to just explain what is going on with the “healthy happy family”. Do you guys think that I’m abused? controlled? I don’t know…I’m lost.


    1. Dear Ericka,
      listen, i am saying this from an outsider’s point of view. your aunt sounds like a completely crazy person. since you were a child she has messed with your head. as children we trust our elders and she has taken advantage of that trust. your mom maybe cant see it bcoz she is her sister.(i have a similar problem . many a times it feels as if my mom loves my aunt more than she loves me).
      firstly and most importantly, please, it is my very humble request to stay away from your aunt. tell your father and go no-contact. she is probably a very miserable person and in turn is making your life miserable because you are young in the family and its easy to control you.
      i would suggest something i do myself. sit down with a friend or a diary. and write everything she has done with you and view it objectively . it will give you much needed perspective.
      one measuring scale i always go by is that anyone in your life who makes you feel bad, ugly , inadequate , helpless ABOUT YOURSELF is not a person you want in your life, Ericka.
      as we both are of same age i will let you in on a little secret.
      there is a LOT of resiliency in youth. (no offence other people please). a lot of power we have. when you start working on this issue in no time you will feel the difference. once your aunt will see that she no longer has her claws in you. she will turn away and try to find a new victim. and please let your tutor know what a crazy she is. have a talk with your dad and seek therapy.


    2. Hi Erika, Your story really touched my heart. From what you mentioned, it sounds like your aunt is controlling you. And having a tutor that is charging you less than the other students, and helping you pass and telling you not to give up? well that tutor does not sound like a thief. Remember that life is full of possibilities. You will find terrible people in this world, but you will also find wonderful people in this world. Don’t give up on yourself. You have much to offer. Just look at what you achieved, you tried to pass your tests, but you failed. Did you give up? No. And because you did not give up, you achieved a WHOPPING 95%! Girl! You should be proud! And don’t except anyone’s negative Bullsh*t or their negative energy. God created YOU. You are an individual! You are special, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Learn to think for yourself. Because you are you. No one is going to live your life. Not your mum or your aunt or your dad or your tutor or anyone. You live your own life. So stand up. Move forward in life. You don’t have to be mean or nasty with people, just smile and go ahead with your life. It’s up to you.


  2. My mother has been emotionally abusive to me all my life. I am now 30 and married with 2 children. I knew from a young age that her treatment of me was wrong. I have 3 older brothers and a younger sister. She always found ways to show that she loves my siblings more than she does me. Especially my younger sister. I have suffered from depression, anxiety, low self esteem, anger and a fear of losing people I love since I was very young. A few of the worst things she has done to me are; never being happy for me, watching me choke on food and do nothing but look at me in disgust. I thought I was going to choke to death. When it finally came out she looked at me and said in a very harsh voice ” you better clean that up” and walked away. As a teenager still living at home I was made to do everyone’s laundry, the dishes, the cleaning of the house, cook most of the meals and after my oldest brother and his wife had a baby and moved in with us a lot of times l was made to get up with the baby at night and still had to go to school. Anytime I said anything about my hopes and dreams she told me I’d never make it. She would take my sister to movies, out to dinner and buy her things while I sat at home feeling like I had no one that loved me. My father worked a lot so he didn’t realize how bad it was. I tried to kill myself once because of all the horrible things she did to me. On the up side I have become an incredibly caring, loving, understanding person. I had a horrible child hood but I wouldn’t change it because while I have days that I struggle with the way my mother always treated me and how she shows partiality towards my siblings’ children and mine I have become a good, strong, independent woman. I love the person I’ve become. My husband has done a lot to help me heal. I still have contact with my family even though they treat me horribly because I love my neices and nephews and they love me. It would hurt them and I if I didn’t see them anymore. Most days I can block out my mother’s negativity because we don’t see each other very much and thanks to my husband I know that I’m not worthless. I wish all of you luck. It’s a long, hard journey to heal after the people who should have loved you unconditionally broke your heart repeatedly but it can be done. I found that praying everyday helps me immensely. On the days when the memories are too much I ask God to bless me and help me to be strong. I know that God is always there for me because as my heavenly Father he does love me unconditionally. Knowing that brings me comfort. I hope each of you get to a place where your able to realize that you are worthy of love and didn’t deserve any of the things that your parent/s did to you. May God bless you.


    1. Lovely Laura,
      it does my heart good to see you happy. it makes me believe that there are happy endings for people like us. you are a very courageous woman. salute to you. i have enough trouble handling my parents how did you manage so many people?hats off to your loving husband and i wish you a contended and happy life.
      it would be great if you could answer a question of mine.
      frankly, i dont believe or trust the menfolk. my father is a shit of a man and so was my boyfriend , i dont have any brothers or guy friends. only today i was talking to my friend and she told me that i will never have a boyfriend or husband. that i am not a kind of girl who could hold a guy. i do agree with her. i have zero self esteem and confidence. and i know that if i love a guy i would do anything for him even if he is an asshole(my ex). i am scared no would like me or the baggage i carry.
      i am always scared that i will get heartbroken and eventually end up alone.
      what do you think i should look for in a guy who would love me and care for me and even shoulder the baggage once in a while?


      1. Hi Garima,
        Honestly you should start with yourself first, before you look for a guy. You have everything within you already.


  3. yes my dear this is an abusive rltnship. u nd to get rid of ur aunt n follow the tips above. dont listen to her anymore. she has already proved that she wants u to get HURT. please stop listenin to her or any1 she influences with immediate effect or u will never be HAPPY. plz follow the advice for ur own sake. I WISH U THE BEST AND GOD BLESS YOU.


  4. Hello,

    I’ve been abused (some physically when I was a children and mostly emotionally and verbally). When my mom physically abused me (i.e. spanking), she says “People are being abused worse than what I’m doing to you, even until they are dead, so what I’m doing to you should be nothing. Same when she makes fun of me for “not being good in math perfectly (i.e. counting in my head), she would reply “in the real world bosses and other people will abuse you, ruining your self esteem to the point that you can’t move, so you better have and must have a tough skin to take these blows from me. She is also passive aggressive. When I apologize to her, she takes this as “getting back at her.” I’m over at my dad’s house, but when I tell him these stories, he tells me to take an easy on her, because she’ll eventually change someday. I felt like I was talking to a brick wall talking to him. Yet, I hear stories about him being abused at work and he tells his sister about it, then reverts back to say that he must strong, no matter how much boss or a coworker abuses him.


  5. my mother and her friend used to beat me in partnership , my father did not abuse me but my mother tricked him and invited him to beat me with her together i was in hand of abusive parents for many years. they were very pretentious, specially my mother was a pillar of society , friendly and charming figure in
    friends circle .My religion praised the parents and it would be sinful act even talking against the .parents..In our Nepalese society parents are always right and children are always wrong! child abuse is so acceptable in a Nepalese society . Thanks for the people who wrote such supportive information,


  6. I did not realize I was going through emotional abuse until recently… I just thought my mother is naturally like that. Now am just depressed and always in a foul mood. My siblings think am stuck up because what my mother does to me I find myself doing it to them. I am afraid I will become like my mother and emotionally abuse my children because I will be a mother soon. I am almost 23 now .I just want to move out although I have nowhere to go. I am happy away from home because when I go to visit a friend or a cousin, when it’s time to go home I feel sad. I have a boyfriend who is supportive at least that keeps me going.
    This article has helped me to gather the courage I need to separate myself from the situation. Thank you.


  7. My dad has verbally and emotionally abused all 4 sibilings. The sad thing is that we are all adults and he still does it. But for me personally. I have found it is affecting my love life. I am 24 years old and have a 3 year old and another on the way. Their father and I have always had a rough relationship. He has cheated on me multiple times. I have always forgiven him. I always forgive him because in my mind my dad has engraved into my head I am not worth anything, I’m stupid, I’m not skinny enough, I’m not pretty enough. I am just never enough. I really don’t know the meaning of self love. I am trying to teach myself to be strong enough to finally leave him which I am about 50% of the way there, but it’s still hard for me.


  8. I have been taking care of my mother for the past 2 years in a home I rented so she could live with me and my children. She had been out of state in my hometown of Alabama from 2007 to 2014 in an Assisted Living facility. Until December of 2016, I had no idea that I had been abused. I knew nothing of NPD. I have lived 49 years believing everything is my fault and that I am an ungrateful, wicked, uncaring person that had serious problems and caused my poor sweet adored mother torment and grief. I knew that I was seriously damaged, but I can now accept (sort of) that I was damaged but not originally. Damage was inflicted on me because my mother had a serious mental illness. I spent months tortured because I just couldn’t bare to even talk to her. I only visited her once a year over her birthday while she was in the assisted living. I called infrequently. I avoided the calls. All that guilt because I was convinced that I was a deeply selfish and ungrateful child that avoided such a wonderful mother.

    My mother NEVER called me. I was expected to call her and if I didn’t, she let me know how disappointed and hurt she was. I told her she could always call me anytime and her response was always “I don’t want to bother you because you are so busy.” This was a typical guilt tactic and it certainly did work. WELL…if only I had known what I know now…. mom called me one day and said “Kristin, I don’t want to die here alone.” Well, I immediately snapped into gear. I cashed in my retirement fund at a significant penalty. I moved heaven and earth to get my mother to NY to live with me and my children. It was my way to redeem my miserable behavior all my life and repay all her love and generosity. It was a chance to honor a promise I made to my dad to take care of her (funny it never bothered me until now that my father’s only concern when he was dying was that my mother be taken care of). I snapped into action. My mother was 83 and in good health. She could take care of herself. She just wanted to live with us. She talked about spending time together and being with her grandchildren and going to their special events. She made it sound like we would have a loving relationship. OH HOW MISERABLY WRONG I WAS.

    I paid for the move with all the savings I had. I found a house that she would love and paid the landlord to build a handicapped bathroom for her. What a waste because she rarely showered. She moved in and immediately expected to be waited on hand and foot. I was her maid, cook, caretaker and secretary. She had no responsibilities and never offered to lift a finger. She handed all her social security over to me for her portion of the additional expenses but that was it. I had to manage everything. All the doctors appointments. She was still a walking, talking, physically healthy person that absolutely refused to engage in the world.

    She would follow me into the kitchen. She knew when I was having a difficult day and chose those moments to come and talk to me. Otherwise she never came out of her room except to see what was going on in the kitchen for meals. It was brilliant. She perfectly timed when she could get me the most upset and then would put on the wounded, horrified face and I was immediately overcome with guilt. She refused to call her friends. They would call and leave messages. She never picked up the phone. I originally believed it was depression, but now I am convinced she was more pleased at how often they would pursue a conversation with her. Eventually of course they called me very concerned that perhaps all was not well. Always there was that hint of accusation that I was mistreating her or not providing for her. Nothing could have been further from the truth. She had a big beautiful room. Everything was done for her and she didn’t have to lift a finger (and she never offered except when I was so overwhelmed with her care that I became a basket case… then she would pitifully look at me and say “Oh I am such a burden to you, I wish there was something I could do to help” MADDENING…. of course she could do things to help…. bring your dish to the kitchen. Make your own meal. Microwave something. Call your friends and let them know you are okay. Nope nothing. I was constantly having to make regular telephone calls to the dear friends on her behalf. I made excuses but eventually many of them stopped calling. It was unbelievable to me. I always was the friendless kid. My mother was the most popular person anywhere she went and just threw them all away without even a care to the hurt she must have caused. Even through all of that everyone still adored her.

    My mother refused to bathe. She refused to comb her hair. She would wear stained clothing and not brush her teeth. It was unbelievable that this once meticulous all about appearances fashion plate mom was behaving like this. She was a slob. She refused to bathe and the odor was so bad the house would smell. I had to beg and plead and then scream in frustration. She would just look at me and say “OH, I WILL”. That was the only thing she ever said when asked to do simple self maintenance. Then she would promptly not do any of it. It was maddening. All the while I blamed myself. I begged the doctors to please do a psych evaluation and they humored me once and came back with “Your mother answered all the questions perfectly”. Well of course she did… she was a master at putting a good impression to the public. She would routinely contradict her behavior to the doctor. I would go in and discuss her symptoms and my observations and she would very sweetly LIE TO THEIR FACE and I would just glare at her. The doctor would then sweetly tell me that it was normal for the elderly to exhibit some of these behaviors. I was in hell. I was a single working mother that was now having to devote more time to her mother than her own children. When expressed to my mom that I was over my head and stressed and that the children were not getting enough attention, she wouldn’t even respond. NOTHING. She acted like I hadn’t even spoken. Of course 2 years of this was taking its toll and then we get the cancer diagnosis.

    It was in August the surgery and by December my mother was acting in such an unmanageable way that I finally went online and typed in some of her behaviors and discovered NPD. Finally I had an answer, but it did no good in helping my predicament. She was given an excellent prognosis and was told that she was very lucky and if she would eat and drink and do her exercises she could live many more years. What did she do? She refused to eat and drink. She refused to get out of the bed or do any exercises. She wouldn’t even touch her ostomy. Eventually she just stopped getting up to go to the bathroom it was just easier for her to have me change a depends. She would beg me to just put them on… I know that to some that must sound like I am a cruel daughter but at the time I was desperately trying to get her to do what the doctors said. She was NOT DIEING. She was perfectly capable of doing these small things. She was willingiy and knowingly causing me to have to completely take care of her. Eventually of course she destroyed any chance of getting treatment and it was at that point when she looked at me and said I don’t want to die, you must get me treatment. It was insane, she refused to help herself and then it became my responsibility to fix what she had deliberately done.

    Sorry for the long post, but even though I expected her death. It still just makes me furious that she refused to do anything to help herself and that the doctors told me that she could have potentially lived many more years. If she was just wanting to die that I could understand but every single day she would remind me that she wanted to live. She didn’t want to die. Yet her actions were the total opposite of the words. I would cry and pour my heart out to her about how worried I was and how I was cracking under the pressure and my job was in danger. I would tell her that I was doing all I could but that she had to do something too. She would just look at me and not respond one word. She wouldn’t answer direct questions. She wouldn’t tell me what she was thinking. She would just say, well I’m lazy that’s all. I am just too lazy. Hospice was involved twice. The first time was horrible, The nurse and the social worker were horrible. They actually came to the house to speak with me and my mother about her “reluctance” to eat, drink, bathe, wash up, dress, even go to the bathroom. It was that meeting that my heart finally realized that my feeling that my mother never loved me was completely accurate. I poured my heart out to her. I cried and told her how awful this was. I begged her to talk to me about what was going on. She sat at that table with a stone face. She was cold and indifferent. Finally the social worker said to my mother “Helen, your daughter has just expressed a great deal of feeling and emotion. What would you like to say to your daughter?” Without even really looking at me, she addressed the social worker with this statement “I don’t know what she wants me to say.” It was at that moment that the fragile thread of hope that my mom loved me and that she valued me broke and I was irrevocably destroyed forever. At that moment, I believed that I had been such a terrible daughter that I was unworthy of her love. I was unaware of NPD. I was just that 5 year old child being told that I didn’t have any friends because I didn’t act right. I was that 10 year old that never did her school work to perfection. I was that teenager that weighed 120 lbs and was told I needed to go on a diet in order to fit into a prom dress. I was that adult that was constantly a disappointment.

    However, once I knew, it somehow made the end much better. I wasn’t angry. I truly was sad for her. I hated that she hurt. I hated her empty last years devoid of anything good because she chose to act like a pathetic abused person then actually live and enjoy. Now that she is gone, the guilt is even worse at the moment because I am so relieved to not have to take care of her. I am numb. I hate all the condolences from well meaning people that tell me how lucky I was to have such a wonderful mother. How wonderful that I was able to take care of her. Every single story they tell about my mother’s sainted behavior and what a good generous friend she was. Inside I want to scream. I have become a hermit. I dread the comments and the posts to my Facebook wall about “MOM, I miss you and wish I could tell you one more time I love you” type posts that friends keep leaving me. The send me long messages about how wonderful their mom was and how they mourned and all the things they expect me to be feeling. It isn’t helpful. In fact, it has added a layer of frustration that I can’t possibly describe. It is horrible to know all the terrible things she did to me in private that no one saw. It is horrible to have no one to actually understand that her death was the beginning of my freedom. It is so sick and horrible it would revolt most of these well meaning friends. So I have no outlet. I have no support or understanding. I am utterly alone just like always and even though she isn’t here to inflict more damage, her abuse of me still haunts my ability to be a regular person.

    Sorry for this amazingly long post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kristin-thank you so much for sharing. I am so proud of you. What you are feeling is VALID. I can relate to many things you wrote. It definitely helps me to read what others write and not feel so alone in how I feel. Thank you for sharing your story of an NPD Mother, I feel less alone now thanks to you. You are a beautiful soul and I appreciate and care about you from afar. Best to you, you will get through this. You will recognize your worth and your inner strength and beauty. Sending you hugs and positive vibes. ~Sandy


  9. My mom and I have a codependent relationship with each other. Ever since I was little, my mom and stepfather has been in my life and I was emotionally abused.(my biological father didn’t do much at all) I grow up scared of expressing my emotions in risk of getting physically or verbally attacked. I remember a few years ago, my mom, grandmom, stepfather and myself went to see his daughter and he literally yell at me that I was ruining the trip even through he was disrespecting his daughter house and make everyone not want to be bothered with him. He make me cry that time along with many times. I grow up thinking that if I do everything that they tell me to do then I received the love and care from them. I had really low self esteem from that and still struggled with self esteem a lot but it’s higher than what it is at the time. I listen to them and put myself into a bad situation. I’m in college about to graduate in a few months and I own a lot of money more than I had expected for college. My mom got injured at her job three years ago and my stepfather left her hanging without anything moving on with his life so my mom didn’t have any help so I stepped up and did whatever was necessary to make sure that she is okay but she starts to take advantage of me financially and on the path of getting her straight, I put myself into a lot of debt and I’m so angry at myself for doing this to myself and not accepting help from anyone to further better my situation because I thought that my mom was the only one that loves me. I remember that I start dating someone last year and my mom did whatever she did to cause conflict between him and me. She told me one day that he disrespected me because he didn’t say hey to her along with telling me that he got someone else and that I’m not the only one which is irrational and mean to say that to someone who has issues with themselves. I am still in the mess with my mom in terms of everything but slowly I am getting there because I can’t continue on being abused anymore. It has make me feel so worthless, angry, frustrated, lazy and unmotivated. I still don’t know how to drive at 23 years old and my best friend told me that she was offering me her car to drive a few times and I didn’t take up on it because I thought that my mom would take time with me to teach me and she is a year older than me which is very worse for me because it makes me feel like a failure to have someone who is the same age as you being more advanced than me. I find myself being very harsh towards others for not knowing certain things and constantly compare myself to others often because I feel like I am not good enough or not doing enough. I am on the path to forgiveness and learning to deal with my mom in the way that doesn’t make myself less than what I deserved.


  10. Wow. This is so close to what I am feeling. My mother is toxic. I recognise so much of what’s being said here. My two sisters are loved by her but she hates me. My dad always told me to turn the other cheek. No one understands how worthless you feel. I feel suicidal so often but am a coward and can’t help but hope that one day I’ll feel better. I’m not a perfect mum but I know in my heart I’m the one who broke the cycle. My kids were and are the centre of my life and suicide would devastate them. I always put them first and tried to give them all I could in life. Happiness love and encouragement. I would never hurt them by being so selfish. Which is what stops me killing myself. But I feel I live in a prison of my own unhappiness. The little dealings I have with my parents and siblings is awful. I feel so worthless. I just hope one day I will free myself and learn to be happy.


  11. I’m so sorry for your pain. You don’t deserve what your mother did to you. I truly hope the best for you. You are absolutely wonderful for just who you are. Find your inner strength and found yourself. You are worthy and precious.


  12. I am sorry for what your father did to you. Even through it’s hard to leave a relationship that’s not good for you, I just want to tell you that you are trying to get the point where you can finally leave him which I respected because you are trying which is very important and acknowledging the fact that your childhood did part a part of how you feel about yourself. You are taking the steps in finding yourself. Continue with the good work. You are a mother which is beautiful within itself. Self love will come over time but it will come. You are loved. You are worthy enough. You are smart enough. You are pretty enough. You are good enough. May god bless you and your children. Keep your head up and keep on trying. It will be better days for you.


  13. You are already halfway there. Bravo! Taking the steps to change a situation is not an easy thing to do and involves so many mixed emotions and thoughts. By the simple fact that you are in this world, you are beautiful and you are loved. Good enough? Yes, you most definitely are!


  14. As I read this, the thought occurred to me of what an incredibly strong and loving person this is. In spite of so much adversity growing up, you put yourself through college. In spite of the hurt you are feeling from your mother’s recent actions, you are already looking to forgive her while recognizing the importance and need for self-love. Your amazing!


  15. I read your story and know that I am not alone in the world. I don’t know why many of us were given this cross to bear in life, but it causes an incredible amount of emotional pain.


  16. You are so young and have recognized the problem. Happy to see that you are reaching out to heal before this impacts on the children you bring into this world. Please continue to reach out and find a way to get counselling. You are worthy and deserve to know that you are loved in this world.



    Just going through
    the daily motions
    of parenthood
    because you have to
    leaves a child in isolation
    no care no nurturing
    no examples being set
    ignorance is not bliss
    neither is being ignored
    untold apprehension
    unimaginable fears
    a daily diet of despair
    Being kept in emotional poverty
    deprived of the things
    that pertain to life
    and the pursuit of joy
    forced to lie
    forced to steal
    unrestrained guilt
    and more misery.


  18. I just realized I was emotionally abused by parents. I remember growing up and my mother would compare me to her friend’s kid. She would tell me how I would never be pretty enough or smart enough. She would say these things until I started crying and then she would ended saying that she was just joking. Growing up I was always compared to my older sister, specially by my father. He would always talk so highly of her and he didn’t even realize what he was doing to me. He wanted her to go to the best high school and college. As for me they would have been pleased if I at least graduated from high school. I have been angry for a very long time. And my relationships weren’t any better, I just broke up with my ex of almost 9 years. I couldn’t take the emotional abuse. We lived together in his place and every time we would argue he would kick me out. He would gather my things and throw out by the door and every single time I stayed until I couldn’t take it anymore. He would compare me to his friends wife and I would beat myself up for it. I would clean all day so the would come home to a nice apartment and when he would come home he would pick fights with me for no reason and then he turn them around like it was my fault. Like I was the one that started everything. Slowly I am starting to realize that that is exactly what my parents did to me. My mom specially has always made me feel like I just had to be okay with everything and I had to just suck it up and my feelings didn’t matter but god forbid I said something about my brother or my sister. I have always felt guilty for having negative thoughts about my parents because after all they gave me life. But sometimes when I sit and think about things I really hate them. I can’t believe that they would do something like this to their child. I am an adult now and I don’t want to hold on to this negativity and I really want to move on from this and be able to enjoy a real relationship.


  19. Mother wanted children to gain her own mothers approval. She was duplicitous and manipulative. Admittedly jealous of a smarter, kinder, prettier daughter, she made sure I never had much confidence or money. I hated her sincerely. She softened me up for other bullies against which I had no defense. Finally, in my thirties, I emerged recognizing what happened . Educated, married, employed and independent, I no longer needed her or her opinions. While her venom will always be a part of me and does rear it’s ugly head, the Witch still the witch. She finally died in 2013 just before our first trip to Africa. I was not there thankfully and purposefully. I was fifty four and delighted. My only regret? That it didn’t happen thirty years sooner.
    You can recover. You will thrive. You WILL!


  20. Are there any support groups in Montgomery County, MD? I’m an adult survivor with autism, depression and anxiety. I really need to get out.
    I tried getting a job, graduating and going to a good school, but its never enough. There’s always something that’s wrong with me, or something I’m not doing right. I’m so tired of trying to live up to everyone’s expectations, of being an investment, a thing, to get retirement money for my parents. I’m tired of being constantly threatened to do the simplest tasks, being yelled at, insulted and being out down. I’m tired of being talked down like I am not smart enough to figure things out. I’m tired of having to work for any sort affection and love. I don’t feel free and safe where I am living. My feelings don’t have value.

    Sometime I wonder if there is still anything worth living for. And just so tired of the doubt, the sadness and pain. I just want it to stop.


  21. I’m a son who grew up with a emotionally abusive mother and a father who never paid much attention to me, on top of all this I was also severely bullied all through my school years. I grew up feeling I was worthless, a horrible person, and I hated myself. As an adult I feel I’m very damaged as a person both mentally and emotionally. I’ve never had any decent relationships and due to my low self esteem I often seem to bring people in my life who don’t value me. It’s often a repeat of childhood, trying to win love and approval from someone who doesn’t respect me or care. As a man it’s difficult trying to get help because so many don’t seem to take the after effects of what I’ve been through seriously or how it made me the person I am today. A few years ago I finally got up the courage to try therapy at a community mental health clinic but the same dynamics played out in this situation, again the therapist was uncaring and didn’t seem to understand childhood emotional abuse, having poor boundaries for myself I opened up to someone who didn’t care, in the end she actually laughed at me. I don’t what to do, it doesn’t seem there’s any where safe to turn to for help.

    Due to my current circumstances I still have to be in contact with my mother but as soon as I can I will be completely severing all ties with her. This might be horrible to say but I’m torn between loving her and hating her. She’s one of the most negative people I’ve ever known.

    Anyway I’m glad there’s more websites like this that’s exposing the long-term effects of emotional abuse.


  22. Thank you.
    I’m having one of those bitter cold days, but I read this article out loud to myself.
    The tears came.
    The emotions stirred again.
    It still hurts a lot, but it’s moving again.
    Thank you.


  23. Hey guys, the fact that we aren’t denying the emotional abuse means we will not continue the cycle with our own children. This is a big achievement.
    It is hard for me to know what to do, so I always listen to my child and I tell them that I love them. I give them high fives and will introduce the fist bump soon.
    I completely cut my parents out if my life and also I am considering cutting one friend out, I am not sure yet.
    Read as much as possible, articles like this are helpful.


  24. Hi, I am totally new with this page… but I think something made me discover it right on time. It’s so comforting to know there’s somebody who’s been going through the same sorrows. I am feeling so helpless right now, I believed and still half-believe it’s all in my head but… I read your blog and all becomes so relatable to me 😕 Thank you for creating this form of support. I am trying to do something about it. I am 25 and in my country there’s still so much stigma around seeking for professional help when dealing with mental health problems, I’m trying, but I don’t know where to start from exactly. I feel like I am randomly posting on this page to somehow get out of this situation, messaging people I trust – so few! I mostly feel ashamed of what’s going on in my parents’ house! …Luckily I am moving out in few months (and how the hell will I survive in the meanwhile?) to start a new job abroad, but it’s a traineeship, so I’ll be still half-dependent from family economically speaking. It’s been years already I am being strong face to my mother’s insults and mean way of playing around with my mind… she tricked me into believing I am not worthy of love and basically uncapable to do anything. I’m wondering how I’ll start this new chapter of my life with confidence, while I am still dealing with this deep wound, an heavy baggage I carry around. I am still at a stage in which I wonder how my boyfriend could even love me, after almost two years of beautiful memories we have together. This is emotionally draining me… </3


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