I need help in facing our abuser...

by cognac 36 Replies latest jw friends

  • Scully

    I would only consider facing an abuser if I could be confident that I wouldn't have blame projected back on me, or be told that I am making everything up, or to have all my valid memories denied (attacking my credibility).

    I know that's what would happen, because it happened when I previously tried to confront an abuser. They haven't changed, they believe they did nothing wrong or anything requiring an apology or asking for my forgiveness.

    So, I had a therapist do a role play with me. He allowed me to say the things I needed to say in a confrontation with my abusers. He didn't apologize or ask forgiveness either, but after I was finished we went back to our session, and as my therapist gave me validation and said how sorry he was that those things happened to me. It was an incredible release.

    Other people find it helpful to write everything down that you want to say in a confrontation, and seal it in an envelope for 30 days. Then you go back, read it again, re-write it if necessary, and seal it back up for another period of time. You keep doing this, getting stronger to the point where you do not crumple up emotionally when you write/read/re-write what you've written. Every time you do this, you validate YOURSELF.

    Understand that you do not need your abusers to validate your experience. They do not need your forgiveness either. Rarely do they want it, because they likely will never acknowledge that your experience was what actually happened. What forgiveness does for YOU is that it releases you from the terror and pain of your abuse and allows you to walk out of your pain with the ability to go forward in your life, without the abusive history holding you back from reaching your goals and dreams, knowing that they are never going to hurt you again.

    When you reach this point, you can have a ceremony of sorts. It could be very private and personal, in a calm, relaxed state of mind and heart, where you take the letter(s) you have written over many many weeks and months and, one by one, sacrifice your pain (in those letters) to the universe. It's a very therapeutic and cathartic experience.

  • feenx

    I have actually been through similar situations with my parents and my grandparents, and it was in reference to a lot of abuse. First off, I highly agree with not expecting anything from them whatsoever. It is my hope that they will not point fingers at you, but be aware that that is a realistic possibility. I think the key thing to keep in mind is that while you are saying what you need to, to your parents, that this is actually about YOU and NOT them. They essentially have nothing to do with this equation other than being there to hear what you have to say. In that same vein I have heard countless times in therapy and group therapy that whenever confronting anyone, or even simply communicating with someone it is vital to use "I" statements. E.g. I feel such and such. This event occurred and as a result I feel this or that. Try to stay away from any "You" statements such as you make me feel this, etc...

    I think writing down what you need to say is a very good idea. Not only will it help you to not forget anything, but it also gives you a chance to hone in on how you want to say things, PLUS writing it down period will prove very theraputic and with that kind of preparation the actual conversation will indeed feel much more like closure. Remember, this is about you. So say everything you need to so that when finished you can truly be done and begin the healing process. YOU can be done. They probably won't be, and that's fine and to be expected.

    Were they in a place to be receptive or truly and earnestly consider you and your feelings about the matter than most likely the abuse would not have occured in the first place, or they would've themselves addressed the issues in the past.

    I truly do not mean to come across as a negative nelly, because in all reality this is SO incredibly healthy and you are to be comended and feel very, very proud of yourself for choosing to take this step. It shows courage, strength and an earnest desire to be healthy and happy. There are so many people who deny and/or ignore issues like this. So give yourself lots and lots of pats on the back. I know it sounds kinda funny, but it really does work, tell yourself how much you love yourself. Even a simple Cognac, I love you. It is very helpful.

    You also mentioned your brothers. If confronting your parents all together I would also recommend doing a couple rehearsals or run throughs if you will. There will be a lot of strong emotions in that room and you three need to be a united front. If one deviates from the intent of the conversation it could make things more difficult on the other siblings. Again remember, this is about you three, not your parents.

    Now as far as the religion aspect goes, what is said about that and how much is obviously all your choice and discretion. I would advise to tread lightly in that area because while yes it is very much related and intertwined (my situation was the same, so I understand how much of a muddled ball sh*t it feels like) you are addressing them about abuse, which JW or not, would still have been an issue. The organization did not make them or motivate them to do this, instead it enabled them to go unpunished and remain unaccountable to the rest of the world for it. It's a fine line, but it is still a line.

    We ALL know how defensive "faithful" JW's get. They will already be on guard as people and as parents and tipping the hat too far in the direction of religion could prove to be the straw that breaks the camels back. Also, and this has happened to me, remarks and issues stated about the religion can be used as a tool to discredit your issues with abuse, and just as it is very much intertwined for you, it can be used as a related issue against you, and very easily transformed into a huge finger to point back at you. E.g. If you were more faithful and had a better relationship with Jehovah you would better understand how your father could be re-appointed and any and all past sins forgiven in the spirit of heartfelt repentance, etc. etc. I can really see that backfiring. So, all I'm saying (and I apologize because I know I'm rambling) is to step lightly and really think about how much you want to go into that. Which again, the writing things down prior to and re-hearsing with your siblings will really help.

    And if your siblings aren't on the same page but you feel solid about your approach or what you want to say, than know and trust that you yourself have the strength to do this on your own. You DO. Even if you don't believe it right this moment, you keep drilling that into your head, and when the moment comes you will be amazed at the amount of strength you have buried inside.

    I know it feels like a huge mountain right now, and it is in a way. But the thing to keep in mind is you are not a little kid trying to climb Mt. Everest. You a grown adult with absolutely the best of intentions who has already climbed mountains, bigger than this one, you just didn't realize until you were done. So this is nothing you can't do, and nothing harder than things you've done already. So, without sounding too crude, go kick that mountain in the balls.

  • Satanus

    There is great advice, already, here. I agree w those who said that they will deny everything. This is also what happened when i mentioned something to my dad, that he did.


  • chickpea

    like was already said, get some kind
    of professional guidance to prepare
    you for the possibilities that can occur....
    like there might be admission of perpetration
    or more than likely a flat out denial,
    not to mention emotional manipulation

    my father never acknowledged the impact his
    incestuous forays had on my sense of self and
    emotional well-being and my mother never
    apologized or in any way admitted the harm
    caused by the severe physical/emotional/psychological
    abuse her alcoholism unleashed on her children.....

    i have had a series of therapy/counseling seasons
    and they helped significantly to break the generational
    cycle of deep-seated abuse issues... hopefully it ends here....

  • Mickey mouse
    Mickey mouse

    If you don't mind me asking Cognac, are we discussing sexual abuse here or physical? I ask because I think a different approach may be better with each.

  • cognac

    Thank you so much for all your imput. It has helped a lot...

    Mickey - It was physical abuse...

  • Mickey mouse
    Mickey mouse

    Ah OK. In that case I'm in the same boat as you although my brother had a much worse time of it than me.

    I'm sorry to hear you were treated this way too.

  • Bumble Bee
    Bumble Bee

    bluecanary is right. My mother flat out denied saying and doing the things she did.

    I know what happened, and funnily enough my brother says the same things, so we both can't be wrong, can we? lol

    you will feel better for having the courage to stand up for yourself and tell them your feelings and how things affected you, just don't let their denials take that away from you.

  • truthseekeriam

    I have no advice because you will have to figure out what's good for you.

    I will tell you it's very healing to speak out and confront those who have hurt you.

    For my child and myself that was in a courtroom facing her molester and telling a judge and jury what he had done.

    I wish you all the best.

    You will feel better once you speak out.

  • Lady Lee
    Lady Lee

    OK Here is the professional guidance:

    1. Write your letter. Include:
      1. This is what you did to me.
      2. This is how I felt about it at the time.
      3. This is how it affected my life.
      4. This is what I want from you now.
      5. Then put it away for a week.
      6. Take it out and read it. Add some things that may have been left out. Take some things out or change them. Put the letter away for another week.
      7. Repeat #2
      8. Repeat #2
      9. Repeat #2 until there is nothing left to change.
      10. That format is from the book Toxic Parents by Dr. Susan Forward. I highly recommend the format and have used it with many clients. It helps to focus the mind on the issues. It also helps to get really clear about what you need to say. The repetition of writing and reading helps you to release a lot of the anger and fear before the actual confrontation making you feel more confident in what you want to accopmplish.

        Confrontation is not about getting them to apologize or change. If they haven't by now then they won't so don't hope for it.

        Confrontation is about "speaking your truth". It is about reclaiming your power. Too often we continue to approach our abusive parents as if we are still little children. Confrontation allows you to step fully into your adult self. You speak as adult to adult not child to parent.

        Dr. Forward suggests that a letter be written to each parent. I think that is a good idea and when they are finished you can use them both in the actual confrontation.

        If your brothers are going to join you then they should write their own letters. They may have different perspectives and experiences and those need an opportunity to be expressed. If each of you writes your letters from their own perspective and you each have your own confrontation it will be more therapeutic for each of you.

        Be prepared for your prents to try to walk out. But hey, you are adults. Call them back and tell them to sit down because you aren't finished yet. If they do walk out leave a copy of your letters with them.

        After it is over go someplace quiet and safe and sit down and talk about it with your brothers. Regardless of how your parents took it you need an opportunity to debrief and find that closure. The closure most likely will not happen during the confrontation. But if you sit and talk it out with your siblings you should find the peace you are seeking.

        One note of caution:Never confront a person who may turn violent.

        Sometimes it is impossible to do a face to face confrontation. Perhaps our parents fall into the class of violent offenders and should not be approached. Perhaps they live too far away. Or they have died. The letter writing can still be used. The act of writing and rewriting the letter can in itself bring a degree of closure to you. After writing the letter some people choose not to bother with the confrontation. They have what they need. Reading the letters to siblings and then talking about it can help. If the parents are dead then reading the letter at the grave site is an option.

        Ultimately confrontations are for you. Not to get them to change. YOU finally get a say in this is what you did, how it affected me then, how it affects me now and this is what I want from you are important steps in reclaiming your power.

        My experience:

        Well first my father was a violent person and I should not have tried confronting him. But Toxic Parents hadn't been written yet. I was unprepared but it was something I had to do. His comment was:

        If you think I'm going to apologize, you're crazy.

        He started getting angry and I started backing out of the house before he hit me. He screamed all the way out of the house, down the steps and onto the lawn. He saw my husband step out of the car and he stopped dead in his tracks.

        That is not how you want it to go. One of my younger brothers called to tell me I should have talked to him first before confronting my father. He said he would have talked me out of it. But he wasn't even there when my father sexually abused me. It's been 25 years and he still hasn't forgiven me. That's his problem not mine.

        The interesting thing with my father was that while he didn't admit anything he didn't deny it either. I did get closure but I could have done a much better job if I had been better prepared.

        Having your siblings support you is a great idea. If they don't then let them know you are doing it regardless of what they think because it is about you and your parents. They can deal; with their parents in their own way . . . or not.

        PS. I have a letter to my mother that I have not sent her. (She lives too far from me for a confrontation now) I really have nothing else to say to here except what was in the letter. She has created her version of history. And it changes as often as she changes her clothes. Her excuse for everything is that she did the best she could. That may have satisfied me in the past. But it is empty now. I had a cat for 13 years. That cat was more affectionate than my mother ever was. That cat knew when I was in pain and would come sit near me or cuddle up to me. He knew when I was depressed and would sit there patiently waiting for me to feel better. If a cat can do that then all the "I did the best I could" answers in the world won't heal the old wounds.

        My mother is toxic to me. Having even a superficial relationship was more painful than having none at all. I just couldn't do it anymore. We each need to decide what kind of relationship we want with our parents (#4 in the list above)

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