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Forgiving Abusive Parents and Setting Ourselves Free

Depressed Woman

TRIGGER WARNING: This post deals with an account of physical abuse and may be triggering to some people. 

“Forgiveness is not always easy. At times, it feels more painful than the wound we suffered, to forgive the one that inflicted it. And yet, there is no peace without forgiveness.” ~Marianne Williamson

Growing up in the seventies and eighties with Italian immigrant parents definitely had its challenges. In a family of four girls, I was number three. That in itself was tough enough. Never as good as the first-born and not as loved and protected as the baby. Yes, it was challenging.

On the outside, one would think that we were a picture perfect family. Our lives were as normal as normal could be.

Both parents worked. We had a beautiful house in a nice, quiet neighborhood. We all went to good Catholic schools. Had fun family vacations in the summer. Our parents entertained a lot, so there was always a bustling of activity at the house. Picture perfect, indeed.

Unfortunately, Mom and Dad lacked parenting skills. Sure, they provided food, shelter, and the necessities of life. Compassion, encouragement, and love? Not so much.

Behind Closed Doors

My mom was cold and mean to Dad, and often to us. My dad was cold and mean only to daughter number two and me. I never liked my dad. He didn’t get us. He was always angry with us. I’m pretty sure he didn’t even like me.

And so began the misery.

The beatings started when I was ten and continued until I finally fled at eighteen years old.

I ran away several times throughout that period, always returning simply because, as bad as the beatings were, I had a nice roof over my head, food in the fridge and great meals, a nice bedroom, nice clothes, and all kinds of other luxuries.

So in exchange for all these lovely things, I took the abuse.

I never knew when I was going to get beaten either, which was the worst part for me. It wasn’t always like I knew I did something wrong, though I’ll admit, I wasn’t an angel.

More often than not though, it was more like, if sister number two did something wrong and she wasn’t around to get beaten, they took it out on me. I was always on my toes. I never knew.

There were many nights I would be in bed sleeping. Dad would come home late from work, bust through my bedroom door, tear off the blankets, and whip me til he thought I had learned my lesson. The problem was, I rarely knew which lesson I was supposed to have learned.

I can recall one incident when my parents had company over for dinner, a lovely elderly couple, a minister and his wife. I loved them so much. They were the sweetest people you could ever meet.

I came home from a friend’s house, Mom and Dad and John and Sally (not their real names) were sitting in the living room having coffee. I came running in, so very happy to see them, and Dad had that look on his face.

I froze. Omg, you’re kidding me, right? He’s seriously not going to do this right here, right now, in front of these people, is he? Yup. He sure is. And he whipped me right there. He had an audience and no one stopped him. They just sat and watched. And once again, I had no idea what I had done.

I hated my father and lived in fear of him throughout my teen years.  Constant fear of never knowing when the next beating was going to be.

Forgive and Forget?

As I grew older, I tried to have more of an appreciation for him, but failed.

I tried to gain his respect and love as I grew into a beautiful, somewhat successful woman. That didn’t work much either. I gave him a grandson that carried the family name. That seemed to work a little. He respected me a little more then and actually even supported me more. Finally something.

I spent most of my adult years trying to forgive him, like him, maybe even love him a little. The forgiving finally came. Liking and loving, not so much.

It was clear in my thirties, forties, and into my fifties that I simply did not like my father. Not one bit. Because of that, I lived daily with this monkey on my back. This thorn in my side. Guilt in my soul.

It ate away at me constantly. Why can’t I just let this go? Who knew that forgetting wasn’t going to be as easy as forgiving? I always thought that once you forgave something, you just naturally forgot about it. Nope. It was clear to me it just didn’t work like that. Not for me anyway.

Step Up to The Plate

Years later, Alzheimer’s had struck Mom and it was time to place her in a nursing home. Dad was eighty-four and home alone. This meant only one thing to me. It was my turn to look after dad.

Daughter number one and I had a schedule worked out. She was retired; I worked full time, so my *duty days* with dad were limited to two to three days a week. That’s not so bad, right? Wrong! It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, and I cringed every single time I pulled into the driveway.

My job was to sit and have dinner with him and keep him company for an hour or two. I had nothing to say to him, ever. I could barely even look at him. I had no patience for him, and the only thing I felt was pity.

He was a pitiful old man, sitting alone in a house waiting for people to come visit him, and all I could think was, “Good for you! You deserve this, you miserable old man.”

I know, shame on me.

Two years later, we finally placed him in a nursing home. My visits were few and far between. I was overcome with guilt. I should be visiting him more often, right? He’s coming into his last years now and all he wants is love and company.

I just couldn’t do it. There was nothing left in me.

I went about once a month, maybe every two months. Still cringing. My only thought was “Geezus, when is this old man going to die?”

Pretty sad, eh? Here was the man that gave me shelter, food, clothes, money when I was broke, took me on nice family vacations every summer, and all I wanted was for him to get out of my life.

Fake It Till You Make It

I struggled with these emotions for a long time. How is it that I, Iva, the sunshine happy girl that sprinkles pixie love dust everywhere, could possibly be having and thinking these horrible thoughts?

It took some time but I finally learned to rewire my brain. Think new thoughts. “Fake it til you make it if you have to” I kept telling myself.

I realized it wasn’t going to kill me to show him some love. Some compassion. Show him something for goodness sake, Iva! So I did.

I hugged him when I went to visit him and said, “I love you daddy” when I left. Maybe it was a lie, but he didn’t know that. That’s all he needed to hear. Someone to tell him they loved him. In his last lonely moments of his life, dad just needed love. And I gave it to him.

I dug deep down as far as I could and gave him the love he longed for all his life. It meant little to me but everything to him. That’s all that mattered.

Understand and Set Yourself Free

When Dad died at eighty-eight years old, I cried tears of relief and closure. But it wasn’t his death that set me free—it was the choice to forgive and treat him with more kindness than he offered me. I knew then the pain hadn’t scarred me for life; I had taken that pain and turned it into strength and wisdom.

I forgave him because I could finally see he raised me the only way he knew how. That’s all he knew—it was how he was raised—and I felt sad for him.

Did it make it okay? No. Understanding doesn’t mean we condone it when someone hurts us. It means we understand. And understanding and compassion are the keys to forgiveness.

Sad woman image via Shutterstock

About Iva Ursano

Iva is a blogger and author from Sudbury, Ontario. A lifetime of professional and personal challenges has ignited a passion in her to help people face their fears and live ridiculously happy lives. Join her on Facebook for daily inspiration or go to her website ivaursano.com and follow her blog. Sign up for her monthly empowering musings and receive the free guide “21 days to a New You.”

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  • Maria

    How brave and mature of you Iva to have the strength to be kind to a person who did so many wrong things to you. It’s exemplary.

  • cherie2n

    My ex was raised exactly this way and it haunts him to this day, good for you for acknowledging and making it right! TY for the article.

  • Iva Ursano

    Thank you cherie2n. Definitely not easy to forget it that’s for sure. I hope your ex can find some forgiveness there.

  • Iva Ursano

    Hi Maria. Trust me, it was hard. But in the end, it’s all he needed and wanted. That’s all that really mattered. Thank you for your kind words.

  • Willbeesk8s

    Good article, I grew up with an alcoholic father and it had it’s rough times. I have forgiven him because I know he went through a lot of rough times also. He had a hard military father, saw unthinkable things in Vietnam, suffered financial hardship and many other things life throws at people. This rat race we run everyday isn’t easy but you just have to make the best of it and treat others the way you’d like to be treated, even if you don’t get it in return. You will feel better if you do this. I’m sure your experience made you a better parent and person.

  • Becky

    Wow, a very thought-provoking read. I grew up with an abusive father which contributed towards the suicide of my brother 4 years ago. We no longer speak. I tried to have a relationship with him when my parents finally divorced when I was 18 as I thought it would be easier not living together but he would often only scream at me as a way of trying to get to my brother/mother as he had no contact with either of them. He would still often try and shower me with expensive gifts and cheques though. He, too, grew up with an abusive father. I’m 26 now and hardly ever think about him these days but whether this is ultimately the right thing I don’t know. I’ve had quite a lot of therapy and I feel I have forgiven him but reading your article has made realise that I may feel differently in the future. Thank you for such an honest and inspiring article.

  • Iva Ursano

    Thank you for your comment Willbeesk8s. We don’t know what it was like for them growing up. It was probably harder than we can even imagine. For us, growing up with them was tough enough. Unfortunately, many of us who were raised with abusive parents have a hard time forgiving and forgetting. I only hope they can find some peace.

  • Iva Ursano

    Hi Becky thank you for sharing your story. We all deal with this in such different ways, right? I did the “forget” thing until I realized he needed me and I had to help him. Things changed for me then. You sound like you’ve got a handle on your past. Good for you! 🙂 The hardest part ever for me was trying to show him love. I can only hope it was enough for him.

  • dlgarcia5

    Well done, Iva!
    I tried this with my father, but it turns out he’s still a horrible human, so I had to cut ties… for the last time. But I’m finally ok with it, and finally at peace. I tried to love him, but he’s just not lovable. I have forgiven him; I get that he is just being him for all the reasons that made him that way. It just doesn’t work for me and is harmful.
    I think you are brave, really, and so happy that you got the closure you really deserved.
    Thank you for sharing.

  • lena

    Thank you for the article.
    My father did the same to me. But I don’t think I can ever show him love the way you did.

  • Candie

    Hi Iva, thank you for your story. I can totally relate.
    How do you “fake it” if every time my mother still says abusive untruthful things? I would like for us to stay in each other’s lives, but it gets more difficult every time, not better.

  • Iva Ursano

    Oh wow dlgarcia5. I’m sad to hear that about your father. I’m happy you are at peace though, really that’s the most important thing. As my father aged, he had clearly forgotten about his abusive ways and how miserable he was. None of that mattered in the end. That chapter was over. It seems you are content with the way things are and I truly hope they are for you <3

  • Iva Ursano

    Hi Candie, without knowing all the details, you just have to smile and nod, really. That’s all you can do. Take a big deep breath and do your best. Or you can simply tell her to stop or call her out on her mean words. Sorry every situation is so different Candie. Send her love every single day.

  • Iva Ursano

    Hi lena. It wasn’t so easy and I doubt it was very genuine but he didn’t know the difference really. He appreciated it regardless.

  • Candie

    Thanks Iva! I love your positivity (is that a word)? I can sense it through your writing. Have a good day!

  • Ifeanyi Oraelosi

    Thanks for the article, Iva.

    Hello Candie. I learnt, albeit slowly, that parents cannot give what they don’t have. The way a parent raised his/her child is often closely related to how they were raised. It helps me understand abusive behaviour and how to respond.

  • Iva Ursano

    That’s it exactly Ifeanyi. Thank you for chiming in! 🙂

  • mathildamoon15

    What a bittersweet story. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. Also, great idea with the Trigger Warning at the beginning. 😉

  • mathildamoon15

    Nailed it. 😉

  • Iva Ursano

    Hey mathildamoon15 thank you. I hope to help at least one person who is struggling with this. I also love the warning at the beginning! Good thinking on Lori’s part 😉

  • mathildamoon15

    Candie, not sure if this will help, but I was advised by a counselor on what to do when my Mom starts acting mean/passive aggressive towards me. If she starts acting that way, I’m supposed to think “Here she goes again…” and listen passively, like watching TV, and then put it on a shelf in my brain. See her for what she is: confused, afraid, angry, ill. It’s like having patience for someone who is schizophrenic or demented. Don’t personalize it. She is how she is, and in my Mom’s case, she’s not well (or, at least, she doesn’t have the tools to parent well). Most importantly, Candie, I think we have to realize it’s not our fault(s). I think it’s great that you already have labeled what she says “untruthful” because that is very likely the case. That’s a huge accomplishment for you. Best wishes! 🙂

  • I am glad you are at peace, and I’m sorry you were abused.

    I don’t believe I have to forgive my abusers in order for me to heal. They hurt me, they hurt my family. Parents are supposed to take care of you. There is a difference between right and wrong and they chose the wrong way. They don’t deserve another minute of my attention, let alone my love. They are out of my life, and the way for me to heal is to live my life on my terms–without abuse.

    I’m not saying this is right for everyone. You have to know what you can live with, and how best for you to heal.

  • Sometimes. My maternal Grandparents were the only adults in my life who gave me unconditional love until I met my husband. I know they did not abuse my mother. I wish they had raised me instead. My parents are both MNPDs. They can’t love. They have no empathy. They constantly tried to gaslight me. Nope. I’m done. Three months free and not going back.

  • Chantalle Draycott

    My mother and I had a very abusive relationship for the majority of my young life. She was verbally and physically abusive, and whenever I reached out to friends or teachers at school for help it inevitably made it back to my my mother, and the abuse began again. No one paid attention because I came from a “good” home; big house, money, etc.

    When I was 24, my mother died very suddenly after a brief bout of cancer. On her deathbed, she apologized to me for everything she did and said, but the mystery that remained after she died was: where on earth did all her anger come from? I have spoken to her mother, my father (her ex-husband), and even my stepfather. There was no abuse in her home when she was young, and despite losing her father in her mid-twenties, she really didn’t have a life that really cultivated this rage and anger that she used against my sister, my step-father, but me in particular. In fact, in the last weeks of her life, she openly admitted that she was “harder” on me than she was on most.

    The only thing I can do now is realize that I’ll never understand why my mother hurt me so much. I’m lucky in that I’ve grown into a really optimistic, seemingly mentally healthy person (although I do struggle with some depression and anxiety). My sister has a happy life, and my stepdad is working towards being happier and happier every day!

    I… feel terrible that sometimes I admit to myself that I’m happy she’s gone. I feel free… but the hardest part of my life now is forgiving and hopefully forgetting the abuse I was subjected to, and let go of the fact that I will never understand.

  • Iva Ursano

    Hey Crafty Angel thank you for your comment. Good on you for your healing! Most of us never heal and carry anger hurt and hatred forever. I agree with you, what is right for some might not work for others. <3

  • Iva Ursano

    Wow Chantalle quite the story, thank you for sharing. How sad and frustrating to never know where all that anger came from. My parents never once admitted the abuse. Ever. To this day, I can still hear my mom saying “Are you out of your mind, we never did that!” I would just shake my head. Anyway, it’s over and I have found some peace. Feel free Chantalle. It’s ok. <3

  • Chantalle Draycott

    I wish you all the peace and love in the world. Thanks for reading, and thanks again for sharing your story and wisdom with all of us.

  • Oh Iva, it’s terrible what you’ve been through as a child. And your “fake it till you make it” story is very moving. I think it takes courage and compassion from within you to do that, to hug the man who hit you and humiliate when you were so little and defenseless, when all you knew, he was “supposed” to love you, right?

    While I was physically abused, I think I had my share of emotional abuse by my mother, when I first came to Australia to join her and my step-family after 10 years of separation. She was like the “evil stepmother” from fairy tales, but only this is real life, and she’s my biological mom. I forgave her. I love her. But I don’t think we will be close. And I hope my relationship with my own daughter will be much better 🙂

  • Iva Ursano

    Thank you for sharing your story Lucy. We all gain so much more strength, I think, when we hear other people’s story and how they deal with it. You may never be close to your mother and that’s ok too. I am absolutely positive, though, that your relationship with your daughter will be filled with so much love!!

  • Oh, thank you, Iva 🙂

  • Tania

    I was sexually abused by my father for 10 years until he ran off with another woman which was the biggest relief to me. The memories are still very vivid and I felt disgusting whenever I was forced to visit him. He’s now older with health problems and he calls me multiple times a day, every day but I haven’t answered in 2 years. I use to answer and he would only complain about what an awful daughter I was for not contacting him and sending him money. I am 23 years old and I still dread seeing his number pop up on my phone and I want to throw up at the thought of having him touch me, even for a hand shake. Is there a possibility of having a change of heart when you don’t think there is?

  • Christine Smith

    My parents are dead, both awful, they didn’t know how to parent. So I decided to love my children, I hugged them and held them and said I love you every day. I see my great-niece, a child who has never seen anything but love and I know that is the RIGHT way to be a parent and I hope my boys have learned that from me.

  • beachmama

    If I were in your shoes I would have told my dad I loved him and hired someone to do my care-taking of him.

    I grew up with an alcoholic father and a somewhat distant mother. At some point my mom took her unhappiness and frustration out on us with belts and buckles. I left at 17 years-old.

    One week before my dad died at 51, we had a sober conversation. He told me he was sorry he was a lousy dad and that he loved me and was proud of who I was. At 19, I was in a motorcycle accident that took many months of recovery where my mom was my round the clock nurse. After my recovery she asked me “if you could be like anyone who would you choose?” In my adolescent mind I said, “Kathryn Ross” (the movie star). I asked her and she replied, “you”. I was absolutely stunned and speechless. Both of my parents gave me a huge gift in those conversations.

    My dad died when I was 22. Mom is still alive and 83. I still struggle sometimes (like now) in my relationship with mom as she has trouble being authentic/truthful. I limit my time with her. My two younger sisters, both in their 50’s, still do the sibling rivalry game and I’m just so tired of it. I get taken in and then they do something spiteful. They have yet to ever take responsibility for their actions when I tell them my feelings are hurt. They dump it back into my lap and tell me “I’m too sensitive” or “just let it go”. It’s just exhausting dealing with abusive BS so I’ve not communicated in 3 months. I’m avoiding dealing with them.

    I know for me disconnect without closure doesn’t work when I feel sad. I will talk with my sisters and tell them how I feel, ask them for what I want, draw boundaries (something I never did well) and hear their side. As a former victim I’ve learned how healing full apology and re-committing to being loving is for a relationship. If they will not take full responsibility and apologize I will forgive them but will continue to limit my contact.

  • beachmama

    Abuse is a dance. The abuser cannot abuse unless their is a victim . . . stop being a victim. Read ‘The Verbally Abusive Relationship’ by Patricia Evans Candie. It will help you to understand and learn how to respond to get you out of the victim mindset. If your mom is demented, limit your exposure. If she’s not, set boundaries. You can tell her you love her but that if she continues to verbally abuse you, you will leave. Setting boundaries is HUGE to moving forward. It took me years to get this after leaving a 26 year abusive marriage. I was groomed all my life to be a victim . . .

    Good luck Candie . . .

  • beachmama

    I agree. We all have an opportunity to apologize. Continuing to expose ourselves to abuse is not noble. Drawing boundaries is courageous. Have you read ‘The Verbally Abusive Relationship’ by Patricia Evans? This book opened my eyes and changed my life. All the best to you . . .

  • After Silence

    I was sexually abused by my father when I was a child. 14 years later, he is serving a prison sentence for what he did. I am having trouble putting all this together. I have forgiven him. I have moved on from the past and just graduated from college, just landed a great job. And yet, every day I think about what is going to happen to us after this. He wrote a letter home a month ago and I chanced upon it, my mom had actually hidden it from me. And suddenly my heart was melting. He sounded sweet, repentant, and almost like that loving father I always dreamt of having. I wrote back to him yesterday. I don’t know what it all means. Do I love him? I can’t even touch him without feeling utterly disgusted and nauseated, let alone take care of him when he is old. When the day is quiet and my work is done, all I can ever think about is whether I can live with my dad again when he returns from prison in a year. This article has just made me think about it more than ever. I admire you, really. Thank you for sharing.

  • beachmama

    I was never sexually abused . . . I’m so sorry you’ve endured such gut-wrenching heartache . . . I still believe that reading ‘The Verbally Abusive Relationship’ by Patricia Evans would me massively helpful for you Tania. It changed my life.

    In reading learned that abusers live in a different reality and how to respond and set boundaries. I was in a 26 year abusive marriage and it took years to find sanity . . . I’m now remarried to an amazing man and have raised a loving son (now 19). I wrote a two page letter of appreciation to my ex a couple years ago and it was SO FREEING! I still don’t care to be around him but I found a way to forgive and in that was free to fully embrace new relationships. Good luck . . .

  • Iva Ursano

    Thank you for sharing your story After Silence. I can’t pretend to know what kind of pain you went through or the emotions that you will need to deal with that are ahead of you. Sending you lots of <3

  • Iva Ursano

    Thank you for your input Christine. I vowed to never ever lay a hand on my child and love him to a million pieces. I slipped once and spanked his bum when he was about 3 I think and I cried for a week after that. Never again. He’s 27 now and I hope he can say he had a loving childhood. Your children are lucky to have you as a mom! 🙂

  • Iva Ursano

    Thanx for sharing your story beachmama. Our family is so disconnected for so many reasons. I’ve done what I had to do to deal with the abuse, in my own way. I’ve healed and I feel such freedom. I wish the same for you.

  • Iva Ursano

    Oh Tania how heartbreaking. I wish I had the magic wand or the perfect answer for you. The book beachmama is talking about sounds like a good start. Another book called Radical Forgiveness is also fantastic. Writing a truth letter, I found, helped me get through a lot of pain, not only with my parents but also with my verbally abusive ex. It’s a liberating exercise. I hope you find the right healing path for you. Much love to you Tania. <3

  • Sri Purna Widari

    Hi Iva, thank you for your story.
    I was hit by my father 4 days ago and about to move out.
    I am also about to report this case to an institution which provides pro bono lawyers since I cannot afford one because before I have the new place which will be ready in a week or two, I do not feel safe and I need protection.
    He is still aggressive and I have grown to become indifferent and when he fell down on the slippery floor when hitting me, I did not feel bad at all because that was precisely the place when my deceased mother was being beaten up and bleeding and I was hit on my forehead when trying to stop the fight and protect her.
    I do not know if I will ever be able to love or respect him.

  • Iva Ursano

    Oh Sri I’m sorry to hear of your situation and I’m also sorry to hear of your mom’s passing. 🙁 I hope you get everything worked out by the lawyers and you can start your healing journey. <3 Time will tell if you ever love or respect him again. Work on you first, never mind him.

  • Christine Smith

    I held them very tight sometimes! but I never hit them. Why would you want your kids to be frightened of you? I never got that

  • Reynuja Ratnayake

    Hello Iva. I need your help. I am a 14 year old boy living in Sri Lanka. My father, he is not abusive now, but he used to be in my childhood. These days he drives me crazy. Every week I’m crying in the bathroom because he doesn’t seem to appreciate me. All he wants out of are studies and a healthy six pack body (I’m overweight by the way). I want to love him and i want him to love me too, but he just winds me up so much i feel like killing him. Everyone tells me he loves me and that I’m wrong. I don’t know what to believe. I don’t see any love emitting from him. I’m so conflicted. He’s a great guy, he gives us food, shelter and when we go on trips on my school vacations he’s so fun and adventurous. But at home he always shouts at me, for every little mistake i do, sometimes he says HE DOESN’T LIKE ME! I don’t know if he’s saying that because he’s mad at me, or if he really means it. Sometimes i snap back at him and it often ends with my mother intervening before we attack each other.

    Please help me if you can. I would really appreciate it.

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  • Iva Ursano

    Oh dear. Reynuja all I can say is that he probably does love you but doesn’t know how to show it. I think as you are a boy he wants you to make him proud, most fathers want that from their sons. He has high expectations and because you aren’t living up to them, he gets angry. It sounds like he just expects a lot from you. Being a teenager is hard too. You’re trying to grow and learn and figure out you. I really can’t offer any advice unfortunately, other than just do your best in school and at home helping with chores and stuff and as you grow he will surely grow to love you and show it more as you become a great young man. Sorry I can’t be more help. And on another note, abuse isn’t only physical or violent, it’s verbal and emotional too. Maybe try journalling your feelings and your anger to get them out so you don’t keep them bottled up inside. Good luck to you.

  • Shanker

    Hi Iva,

    Thank you sharing your thoughts truly. You’re bold to share it with us. It’s no surprise that you felt hard to be affectionate to your father who poorly treated you and never regretted for it. I wonder whether I would be able to do what you could do.

    I had a somewhat abusive father who humiliated all his children. I hated him for a long time but realized the real problem was that I was dependent on him. I was afraid to make my own living due to repeated failures. Most of us remain in abusive situations because we are not confident of living independently without the abuser(s). When I recognized my problem, my hatred greatly reduced. Fortunately too, I’d a great friendly couple who listened to my pain that healed me a lot. He regretted his behavior quite some times, yet he could not act affectionately. I knew that he liked most among the three. Yet, I never liked him even after all that, I could pity him because he was humiliated by his father too. He is dead more than a decade ago.

    I finally settled independently years back, and of course, I’ve been at peace with myself too on this issue. Sometimes, I’ve been feeling that accusing him is actually admitting that I can’t take care of myself and live without him.

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  • Iva Ursano

    Hi Shanker, I think accusing is a natural thing that most of us do. Thank you for sharing your story. For me, my peace came with my father’s death.

  • Thank you, Iva! Yes, one of those tough choices that I wish was different, but it is what it is, and he is who he is. Really, just in awe of how this worked out for you and your father as well.

  • Candie

    Wow, thank you guys for the response to my comment a month ago. It helps to hear how people have dealt with similar situations and how it worked for them. I really appreciate it!!

  • any

    reading it after a long time.. and nice one

  • Archibald Selman

    I’m having a little trouble forgiving my abusive parents. They don’t give a damn about anyone but themselves, and they’ve done really twisted, fucked up shit to people, including me. To forgive them is to assume in them qualities that they just don’t have. Or demanding a completely different order to the universe.

    Feeling something like “forgiveness” for them is dangerous anyway, they’d probably use it to their advantage somehow. Sometimes you lose the parent lottery and had to grow up with two really shitty people as parents. I don’t see the point in backwards-reasoning and mental conjuration to find a reason to forgive them. I know how much it sucks having awful parents, and how nice it would be to have had better ones … but what can you do about that, anyway?

  • Jessica Toussaint

    I have an issue with this. Why is that the victims must and have to forgive their parents? Yes, they are your parents. But, if they messed up by abusing you you should not feel obligated to give them a chance or forgive them if you don’t want to. Victims of child abuse should feel free to cut off contact with their parents if they want to. No communication, nothing. And for those that say “but she’s your mom” “she had a messed up life too” “deep down she loves you”. Basically, throwing excuses for the parent but ignoring the victim. I say if you’ve been abused by a parent, you aren’t obligated to forgive them or form a relationship with them, understand them, etc. The parent fucked up, and there are no excuses.

  • angel

    good point Candie… I don’t feel like i have to fake it for someone else sake.. i had abusive mother and not available father… I don’t want to fake anything for them, they got what they deserve. we all get back what we put into relationships.. no love – no love back either.

    I am not gonna lie I love my mother, if I don’t … she gets what she put into our relationship… no way around.

  • Scapegoat 51

    Iva, you have more strength than I. I am 51 and have gone no contact with my father and mother. The criticism, invalidation and pretense of Chrisitanity were too much for me. So he grew up that way,? He should have seen it was wrong and treated me better. He beat me, kicked me and choked me on my 10th birthday because my grade in penmanship was poor. My mom watched it and then told me if I had him arrested and he got out it would be worse for me. This was not the first or last time, but it was the worst. I can forgive but I will not endure their continuing emotional abuse. I am 50 and have a life of my own. You reap what you sow. If you want a caregiver when you are old you need to be a caregiver when you are young.

  • Eevee

    I’m planning to move out soon from my abusive relationship with my dad, but honestly, that’s the least of my problems. My dad is very high-tech and is trying to hack into my personal email account right now. I feel like even if I set boundaries with him, he would continue to invade them via the web. I don’t know what to do…I’ll be physically free, but I cannot ensure that I will be mentally free since he will try to hack into my accounts, possibly even my credit card accounts, etc.

    No matter how hard I try, I cannot show kindness or compassion towards him. Yes, I know he has paid for my schooling, helped me buy a car, basically protected me like how every father should. He just didn’t feed my emotional cravings for an affectionate and loving father. I know I cannot blame him fully, because that is how he was raised, but why am I constantly cold around him? My heart is filled with fear, anger, and resentment that I cannot let go.

    My ultimate question is: how can I forgive my dad who is hurting me in the moment, and will continue to hurt me (via the web), giving me no privacy even if I was to move out? This hasn’t happened yet, but because he does it now, I don’t see him stopping anytime soon.

  • EerielConstantine

    This gives me hope. Maybe i wont always have to live with this ugly resentful hole in my soul.

  • Charles

    I can’t say what’s best for anyone else. But forgiveness and remaining in the same relationship is not healthy. You have to set clear boundaries to have healthy relationships. It’s about emotional reactions. You have to accept yourself and know you deserve to be treated with respect and accept no less. You can’t sympathize with your abuser or try to work on forgiving them. In fact. You should move on completely and leave them to their own destruction. No matter how much they try to make you feel sorry for them.
    Move on. Never look back. And if you begin to struggle with your decision ANGER is your medicine not understanding. Anger sets boundaries. Accept your own voice. Tell that person to fuck off. Fuck you. You will never be able to hurt me again. Fuck you go die.
    That is healthy. If you can’t say fuck you die to someone who abused you then YOU are not healthy. Fuck you is healthy!
    Stop sympathizing with abusers. Get away. Move on. Never look back. And never let anyone do it to you again. That is how you win in life.
    Read every piece of info you can on narcissistic personality disorder and how victims are effected by these people.
    With love.
    Charles

  • don Francisco

    Never once did I hear of any part of the life story where the author was as it was, wrong. Pop was bad. Never mind he did the best he could. He didn’t do well. But just maybe the author didn’t do very well as a child in a family either. Oh yes she did the best she could under the circumstances. We all do, The question now might be what kind of an adult is she now. Is she victimizer in some ways now. We all fall short and forgiveness and forgetting is the balm that makes life worth living.
    “Forgiveness is not always easy. At times, it feels more painful than the wound we suffered, to forgive the one that inflicted it. And yet, there is no peace without forgiveness.” ~Marianne Williamson

  • Charles

    You’re wrong. It’s people like you who keep abused victims in their states of anxiety and confusion.
    Your comment reads as insulting.
    Quote spiritual gurus all you want. Your response to this brave article doesn’t line up with the quote you’re exploiting.
    dont bother commenting back to me here. Cause I could give a fuck what you think about me.

  • Fiza Thalhan

    Thanks for your courage in telling this personal story of yours Candie. I could relate, Almost every word. My mantra is-only abused victim may understand the other. ‘Normal’ people won’t. The pain is unbearable. May God bless us not to be like them.

  • James

    A question I’m struggling with:
    Do I really owe my parents a special relationship?
    Rationally why not spend that attention and love on someone else who needs it, who hasn’t abused me.
    It’s all opportunity cost and time is short.

  • Anna Ovchinnikova

    I think it depends… Personally, I feel it is important for me to have a regular contact with my family, because it feels like they are my roots and they make me stronger on Earth. But it’s my attitude and situation. Although my father was abusive all my childhood until I could physically hit back, and even then remained verbally abusive, he surprisingly still expressed love and support to me and my sister in between his bad moods. So he was a loving violent father. Maybe that’s why it is easier for me forgive and understand, and even appreciate him now.

    I can imagine for others it’s different, especially where there was no appreciation, no love, just pain and fear. If verbal abuse still continues, I imagine it is better to set limits and even cut the contact off. I mean if the person doesn’t love and only hurts you, and you cannot change it, you don’t want to accept it, so the only solution is to leave.

    You probably remain wondering and wishing whether you can change them. That’s probably what holds you in contact. My answer is you can never change a person. Especially an elderly one. You can influence them by your own example… But what’s the cost? And is it possible?

    Final point: in nature there are animals who remain in families, in groups; and there are lone animals who kick out their kid in the while in tiny age. Our closest relatives monkeys, live in groups. Once reach maturity they either stay or leave, to start an own group, or join others. I think, such natural instinctive patterns still live inside of us.

    So there is no one-fit-all scenario for proper relationship with parents. Good luck with finding yours.

  • 267July

    That nice house came at a price. It is h-a-r-d to earn that paycheck. A lot of people take their jobs home with them. Still, what’s the point on taking it out on a small kid. It doesn’the help.

  • Pacificus

    I know this was posted so long ago, but I wanted to say that I understand your mindset. At the same time though, forgiving the parent can be a way that the victim moves on from their abuse. As the saying goes, “forgive and forget”, and in this situation I would prefer to forgive and move on rather than agonizing and crying and feeling hatred over what my parent did. So again, it is a coping method to help a person move on and find peace because some of us have that feeling of obligation that you mentioned. The feeling of obligation is not exactly easy to remove either because it is ingrained within our childhood from the moment the parent starts telling us to be grateful for what we are given. Rather than fighting it and experience emotional agony, I would prefer to satisfy it.

  • AnneDubstepFox

    Forgiveness is an extremely burden expected of victims. Forgiveness is giving justice and dignity to those who don’t deserve it from the person who was wronged.

  • Tayler Lumes

    thank you.. I’m about to do a similar forgiving… I thought maybe I’d become so beaten down or depleted that I just couldn’t hold the anger anymore, I’d given up, but on the other side of my mind I could hear the sound of freedom and strength and compassion… and yes, it’s about showing him for the first time the love that he never had. It’s hard, because it’s also the love I never had, but soul growth is soul growth… sometimes it hurts but the end result… always something to behold… fingers crossed..

    thank you again x