Abusive relationships

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Abusive relationships

Postby Kelesi_Woodhouse » Sat Oct 24, 2009 2:01 am

When I found myself pregnant with my beautiful daughter, who is now about to turn 18, I resolved that I would take full responsibility for my "stuff" and that the buck stopped with me. Little did I know that after the difficult birth of my son 2.5 years later that I would experience 2.5 years of serious post natal depression, and that around the time he was 2 that I would "unearth" the truth about the physical, sexual, emotional and psychological abuse I experienced as a very young child from both of my parents, in particular my mother. My father was a Methodist minister and my mother was his dutiful and musically talented wife.

My sister, an experienced counsellor of many years, had told me that I had had to self-validate all my life. There were abuses meted out to me that none of my other siblings experienced, fortunately. It is a very confusing thing to live in a family where "there's an elephant in the lounge room and everyone walks around it, doesn't acknowledge it" etc. I have worked for many years to accept the presence of that elephant in my life, and to take responsibility for the life that I created, warts, elephants and all. It appears to be a lifelong job!

Now no one is perfect and parenting is a challenging process. One of the things which I have learned from all this is that I had/have some big lessons to learn regarding accepting my personal power and how I can express my anger from a clear/ed space.

My son's father and I divorced 9 years ago. I had major concerns about my son's safety and about the many times he was not heard by his father, as I was not heard or seen by mine.... There were many times when he said/cried/yelled out "No Daddy! No". But his father would continue with whatever it was with the end result that my son got hurt, either physically or emotionally or psychologically. This continues to this day, although the safety issues have been addressed.

My son's father has been in relationship with a woman who is a counsellor who has worked for many years in the prison system. This woman considers herself an expert in raising children even though her daughter doesn't have anything to do with her. She has continually, in the presence of my son or directly to him, said negative and judgmental things about me, about my parenting and about our family, even though my ex-husband and I were told by a Relationships Australia counsellor that it is not appropriate for his partner to "wear her counsellor's hat" and make pronouncements about me, my parenting or my relationships with my children.

A couple of months ago, when my son & I went to his dad's house to pick up his stuff for his stay with me (he had been staying with his dad for a couple of weeks) I was ambushed by his dad & his partner where they sat me down, deliberately positioning my son across the table from me and she proceeded to attack me, my parenting and my relationships with my children "with her counsellor's hat firmly on her head". It was abusive and destructive. I left feeling absolutely shattered and later wished I had just stopped this process before it got going, collected my son's stuff and left the house with him.

When I began to protest and express my outrage and concern her hand went up and she refused to allow me to interrupt her tirade. She even complimented me after she'd finished with being able to sit there and take this, which I now see was not only a repetition of the abuse which occurred to me as a very young child at the hands of my mother, especially, and my father standing by and assisting or colluding. I do not feel safe in the presence of this woman and avoid contact with her. I try to keep communications as brief and clear and explicit as possible with my son's father.

Recently my son went on a holiday, taking a friend along with him, with his dad and his partner. I had misgivings about this and discussed this with my son, wondering how he would cope with being constantly harangued by "his step-mum" who would say things like "I notice you are depressed when you come from your mum's" etc. He got to the point during the holiday where he said to his dad that he didn't want to stay with them anymore and wanted just to live with me and have some time alone with his dad because of the way his dad's partner kept haranguing him about things and bad-mouthing me, my parenting and my relationships, even though this woman doesn't even know me and has only once been inside my home (at my son's 15th birthday party early this year). His dad then told him that he would have to confront this woman and tell her what he'd told him!!

Initially I thought well, ok she needs to hear this coming from him, but only if there's someone there to support him. He told me he has told them what he thinks they want to hear because that's the only way he could deal with the impossible situation in which he found himself. I do feel its important he can express himself openly and to stand in his truth. I am trying to find a healing outcome for all in this scenario. My son has created this situation for his own learning, as have we all. Is this appropriate for him at this time? Is it something the adults should work out between ourselves, in consultation with him? I am trying to find the right way through this.

I now resolve to not co-operate with abuse, which is what I learned to do as a very young child, where it was co-operate or be more hurt (physically) and to resist was futile. I actually resisted by harboring resentment, which eventually made me ill. I also acknowledge that I have co-operated with abuse of myself and others in the past and refuse to do this any more. Having made this commitment, how do I deal with this situation, given that my son is to be picked up by his dad from a sleepover at a friend's place tomorrow afternoon?

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Re: Abusive relationships

Postby Gabby » Sat Oct 24, 2009 11:02 am

I got your communication and questions. Thank you for reaching out. I will post a reply later today (Sat).


10/24/09 4:53 pm.

Hi Kelesi,

What you’ve written here is just your story. I’m certain you’ve told it dozens of time using pretty much the same words and phrases, yet telling it has not disappeared your problem. You’d do well to never ever repeat it. Telling and retelling it will keep you stuck in producing more of the same. When you tell the truth the fear and anger will disappear. In other words, we can be certain that everything you've said and believe to be the cause of your present behaviors has absolutely nothing to do them.

Your leadership-communication skills foment divisiveness. And although it looks like it’s them you’re the leader here.

What would work is if you immersed yourself in six-months of weekly counseling/therapy sessions so as to locate the specific incidents that set in your behaviors. We're looking for your very firsts. Your first lie, your first deception, your first experience of abusing another, the first experience of being abused, and your first temper-tantrum. Your firsts are presently recorded as "happenings," things that “happened” to you. You have to go back in time and re-script your dialog so that you can describe each incident from cause. That is to say, you can’t complete anything you didn’t start (cause).

Notice you wrote, “. . . I would take full responsibility . . ." yet you unconsciously wrote, “When I found myself pregnant . . .” A responsible statement would be “After I caused my ex to impregnate me.” You’re still lying about the pregnancy as though it wasn’t your intention (however unconscious it may have been) to get pregnant. If we were to examine what was going on back then, specifically your thoughts, we’d discover that you got pregnant in part to solve a problem.

Re: “My son's father and I divorced 9 years ago.” Again, a resistance to accepting responsibility. Responsibility is never we. “I divorced my ex” is an example of a responsible point of view. Someone willing to be coached in communicating responsibly strives for accuracy, the truth. Even with all of your counselings you still automatically operate from the 50-50 definition of responsibility. Most people are not ready for a therapist who operates and coaches from responsibility, consequently they simply don’t attract one; it represents a commitment to give up blaming forever.

Re: “This woman considers herself an expert in raising children even though her daughter doesn't have anything to do with her.” This is called invalidating and badmouthing. It has absolutely nothing to do with your problem. You make her wrong for the estrangement yet it’s the very advice you need to take, to stay away from all of them. There is simply no way you can become clear by interacting with anyone addicted to abuse. Them staying away from each other is a mutually agreed upon solution. It provides each with an opportunity to see just who is addicted to abusing and being abused.

What would work is if you’d be willing to acknowledge that you are still addicted to drama and to abusing and being abused, so much so that you need your occasional fix of adrenaline which for you comes from even thinking about either your ex or his new wife.

One thing’s for certain, there would be less abuse for your son if you extracted yourself from the equation. You continually abuse both of them in front of your son, trashing both non-verbally, verbally, and psychically. This is not a gift of love. Your addiction to blaming is such that you've already taught your son how to blame. Knowing about responsibility is as far from being responsible as is acting responsible.

Re: “. . . where they sat me down,” This is a blame statement. It reveals that you are stuck in being a victim. You set it up for them to sit you down so as to have more to make them wrong. It's simply more drama. If you put your hand in a viper’s nest you will get bit, that’s what vipers do. You know this, yet you entered the nest—as a moth to a flame. Much the same as a recovering alcoholic doesn’t socialize with a person who drinks the same applies to a person committed to an abuse-free life, he/she simply doesn’t interact with those stuck in abuse.

All of what you wrote and your questions come from the mind that created this condition. If you persist in repeating your story, your descriptions of your inaccurate memories of what happened, you will continue to create more of the same.

What if the answer is for you to estrange yourself from them and your children for ten years after which you will be whole and complete having no need to be victimized or to engage in abusive conversations with anyone any more, would you do it? I suspect not. You’d have to choose to experience sadness, confusion, grief, anger, and seemingly unending loneliness, all without venting, dumping on, and blaming others. Still, it is the most valuable lesson you could teach your children, without even opening your mouth—do not engage in conversations with people addicted to abuse—it is the only way you’ll know for certain whether you are intending this friction and lying, saying you don't want it, or if you truly intend to have abuse-free relationships.

I recommend that you peruse The Clearing House and see if anything speaks to you.

With aloha,


Check back from time for minor edits. (last edited 11/7/11)

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