Social Question

Jude's avatar

If you suffered from any form of abuse as a child (physical, mental/emotional, sexual), how did that affect you as an adult?

Asked by Jude (32098points) October 5th, 2011

Trusting others is difficult for me.

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67 Answers

Coloma's avatar

Of course. Most of us have.

The only person you need to trust is yourself!

I “trust” myself, meaning, I trust that my own intuition and observations will not fail me in my interactions with others.

I trust that I will not allow untrustworthy people to remain in my life once I have identified them as such.

I trust that I will take right action, for myself.

The only trust you really need, is trust in yourself!

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I’m not sure it has. I know that’s not what people want to hear..but it so happens that, for many victims, their abuse wasn’t as life-shattering as you’d think…nobody talks about that aspect of victimology but some of that’s coming to light now.

jerv's avatar

Short temper, mistrust of authority, and only a shaky grasp of the relationship between misbehaving and punishment because I got used to being punished regardless. Needless to say, it made my Navy years interesting.

GabrielsLamb's avatar

That’s a really long and really difficult story to explain. But it went badly in the event of attempting to share it with family in a reasonible manner that at the time made sence to me, and actually ruined a large portion of my life and the relationships I had with them (Which honestly sucked anyway so no real loss there).

To make a long story short, I had bad feelings, as well as negative behaviors directly attached to fractal recollections at one time in my life surrounding physical abuse, and my way to deal with them was to self medicate and use drugs. I was a bad drug addict at one time and that was the event that started the ball rolling and caused all the problems. WHen you’re a junkie… everything is kind of amplified 10 times worse than it really is.

I had a marriage counsellor put it into my head that I was physically abused as some criteria they followed at the time in psychological trending that led me to believe that I was. (I don’t have strong memories, but I do have some.)

Because of certain othr instances of what might be considered abuse in a sence, in my attempting to share those feelings as possibilities which I felt at the time were justified, my family took that as an outright open accusation which it never was… I always maintained and was carful and cautious to express it as a possibility using specific words like I think, I believe, I wonder and I feel… NEVER anything even remotely close to an outright accusation, not once.

and other people of course took it upon themselves to claim that I made an accusation that I never had. During the course of all this… my mother being the only one who knew the true story, because she was the only one I every shared with intimately or openly about anything in detail… Passed away and took all of the proof of everything with her and left me in a really bad position.

Not only was I INDEED abused, but I was then blamed for it and again, called a liar by other peoples machinations and assumptions of what I did actually say as opposed to the way they interpreted it.

And that being said… I will NEVER fell comfortable opening up to another human being ever again in that intimate a way for any other reason than for self defense.

Because of this… I do not believe that people are good and I have absolutely no concept of family. But then again, that being said, I never had that to begin with. It was all always bullshit and they all know it too.

Blackberry's avatar

I don’t know to be honest, because I don’t know how I would be if it hadn’t happened.

However, I do know how it changed my attitude towards my mother.

GabrielsLamb's avatar

@Blackberry Read above and just be careful what you say… People start witch hunts over things like this. SOmetimes, with some people, you are simply better off not knowing how to be “Honest”

GabrielsLamb's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir You are 100% right on there… As well as the other side of that coin being how years and years of lechery even with no direct contact can, and is in the mind and heart of a child translated as all the same feelings of having been physically molested.

It makes you feel the same shame, the same humiliation and carry around the same filthy and unclean and damaged-goods feeling that some actual abuse victims experience. SO you are right… and this is a very complex, deep and touchy subject.

King_Pariah's avatar

Trust/Paranoia issues, antisocial issues, bitterness that has gone from just towards my parents to nigh everything, self hate, made me more protective and caring of my baby bro (yay, one positive), etc.

GabrielsLamb's avatar

And don’t even get me started on the absolute magnitude of the emotional and mental abuse i went through… and as an added bonus, it was ever and always completely denied real time, as in at the moment of the event, it was IMMEDIATELY after denied as though it never happened to your face! And sometimes you would get smacked or threatened if you argued about it. It was like having reality taken from you and put into a blender and then asked to put it back together…

It was sick, and damaging and it honesty ruined who I might have otherwise become less their influence.

Blackberry's avatar

@GabrielsLamb Thanks, but there’s still no excuse for abuse, although I kind of agree with Simone, that my experience may not be as bad as I think. I don’t care about it now, but I still wish it didn’t happen.

GabrielsLamb's avatar

@Blackberry Of course! and honey from where I stand looking in from the outside, It looks to me as though it actually made you stronger so…

You’re a pretty neat human being you know?

wundayatta's avatar

I don’t know if I would call it abuse. It’s more of a lacking of something positive than an active negative thing. But I was never praised, while at the same time my parents always denied (while clearly covertly expecting) me to do something great—the Nobel prize my father thought was the litmus test of a successful life.

In any case, it helped contribute to a sense I was never good enough, which eventually led (when leavened with depression) to the idea that I was no good. In addition, my parents, being somewhat aloof and never really providing any physical expressions of love, made me believe I was unlovable. So love is an obsession of mine to this day. It doesn’t seem like there is ever enough. Except for love I cannot have.

I recognize that these experiences do not rise to a level where they could be called “abuse,” but I thought they might be related. I think most people have to deal with these kinds of problems and that I’m a bit slower than most in learning how to cope.

TexasDude's avatar

I was emotionally bitch-slapped a lot when I was little, and I have been in an abusive relationship or two in my day.

As a result, I was very shy and passive for a long time, and I never stood up for myself. Additionally, I was very uncomfortable with my sexuality to an unhealthy point: I was basically terrified to even touch anyone.

I still have my moments, but I have pretty much conquered it all through a strict regimen of being relentlessly positive and training myself to an ass-kicker. I was inspired by my hero Teddy Roosevelt. If he could beat asthma and sickliness as a child through sheer force of will and learning to be a badass, surely I could beat depression and the lingering results of the various types of abuse I had been subjected to by doing the same thing. It pretty much worked, thank God.

Coloma's avatar

The real tragedy of abuse is in the wallowing in the past instead of taking charge in the now, as @Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard mentioned.

It really IS very simple.

You come to understand that nothing is ever “personal” and that those that have behaved abusively towards you do so from their own dysfunction and disconnect and not BECAUSE of anything their “victims” have done.

Abusers scapegoat, they project their pain and issues onto others.

To cling to ones past is self defeating. There comes a point when one MUST let go of their past and move forward in the present moment.

To remain stuck is to allow the abuser to still have control over your thoughts and emotions.

GabrielsLamb's avatar

Boy, I feel like I should be paying you guys for much needed therapy…

The last therapist I went to see was pretty much useless and she made fun of my shoes. *An old pair of comfy but ugly shoes that I loved that had a hole in the bottom that I filled in with epoxy because I loved them.

so as she took my $60.00 for her “Insults and lack of any kind of acceptible service.” I was careful to remind her, as she dripped in prada and pretence, that I could very well just assume continue to hold in my issues, make myself feel somewhat better by shopping, and instead go buy myself a decent pair of shoes with the next $60.00 she wont be getting because I no longer required her services.

Thanks for helping out guys… and for never ever making fun of my shoes! LOL

thorninmud's avatar

I was sexually abused by a neighbor, an older teen, over a short period of time. I never spoke about it with anyone, not because I don’t want to discuss it, but because I don’t want people around me to worry that I might be carrying some damage or have unexplored issues. That’s not at all how I see it.

It’s just a memory of something that some screwed-up guy did to me a long time ago. I don’t see it as saying anything about me or even as having shaped my views on humanity or sex or trust. I’m a pretty self-aware guy, and while I have my share of issues to work on they don’t seem to have any connection to those episodes.

That said, I’m not in the least bit dismissive of people who have suffered real psychological and emotional damage from abuse.

TexasDude's avatar

@GabrielsLamb the one time I ever went to a therapist, he was the ultimate stereotype: bespectacled, detached, and all he ever said was “how does that make you feel” while nodding and scribbling on a legal pad.

GabrielsLamb's avatar

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard Oh My God! that’s the epitomy of Fu*ktard to me! I can’t stand that noise! It is the most degrading thing someone you just handed a check to help you can actually manage to say to you I think?

That’s how that made me feel you therapist fu*ktard! LOL

*Laughs. Here watch and Enjoy!

Blackberry's avatar

I went to a few sessions with a therapist, she was the greatest. I wanted to see her for no reason because she made me feel great. She always wanted to hug me and stuff.

GabrielsLamb's avatar

@Blackberry Honestly… Who wouldn’t want to hug you silly!

tranquilsea's avatar

What I went through caused me to become invisible or think or hope I was invisible. At the same time I’ve always had a curiosity that drives me to ask questions and research. I tried to invisibly research to my heart’s content.

I put everything that happened in a lock box in my mind and went on with my life. That worked for a while but then I broke down. Badly.

I’ve been in therapy for 12 years and, for me, it has been life saving. I had trust issues galore and I can say now that I can trust.

JLeslie's avatar

Depends how one defines abuse. My parents faught a lot when I was a child with each other and screamed at us kids a lot. Seems some people would feel they were verbally abusive.

A friend of my fathers was innapropriate with me, lifted my shirt, touched my stomach, commented on how thin I was, made me very uncomfortable whenever he visited, and then this event happened. I made myself scarce when he visited after that.

I had a relative make a sexual move on me when I was in my early 20’s a physical move, not just a verbal come on.

I dated a guy for years who cheated and lied all too often and the whole family treated women without respect.

Kind of to pick up on what @Simone_De_Beauvoir I think was trying to get at, she can correct me if I am wrong, it might be how each person frames the events inntheor head for how traumatized they are. Certainly some traumas are worse than others, and more difficult to overcome, I don’t mean to diminish anyones experience who have been through things much more terrifying than what I have been through.

As far as my parents screaming, I kind of chalk it up to being from a crazy, loud, Jewish, NY family. I feel their intent was always to care for us, and they loved us, and whatever mistakes they may have made, well I am just not going to dwell on them. I figure if I had kids I would screw up soe of the parenting also. I hope I would be forgiven and understood that I am only human trying my best.

The friend of my dad…well, he is a fuckhead. His fuckheadedness did not affect me from what I can tell. I never put his innappropriateness onto other friends of my father, I never thought for a second that I had done something wrong. But, I do admit that it reinforces what I had always been told, men might be perverts and pedophiles. But, that is not glaring in my brain all the time with emotion attached to it, it is something I just know. Like I know to lock my car door and make sure my curling iron is unplugged before I leave the house.

My relative was innappropriate, but that is not my fault, and since I was able to get up and leave, I guess it was not very traumatic, whereas if he had forceably kept me there and gone further I would be much more traumatized I am sure. I think that probably makes a big difference.

Here’s the thing, I know people who have been similar experiences to me and they hate their parents or at least one parent. They have had boys do innappropriate things to a similar level of what I experienced and they feel all men are horrible human beings. I don’t know why one person is so much more affected than another.

I tend to focus on all the good people around me, and chalk the bad ones up to being people I rather not associate with. However, there are times I engage with people who really leave me rattled. Sometimes conversations with my father leave me feeling me like I have been hit by a truck, in some ways I feel I sacrifice myself for his happiness and needs. Long story I won’t go into it. Anyway, it does feel abusive sometimes, but I don’t feel like it affects my trust in others.

gondwanalon's avatar

Physical, mental/emotional and sexual abuse. HA! As a very young child I suffered from them all. It retarded my personal growth as a child but I learned to leave all of the pain behind me. At least I try. It is locked up in a dark closet deep inside of me. But now and then I suppose the skeletons kick open the closet door to affect me in some ways. Perhaps the past continues to haunt me by contributing to my passive aggressive ways and untrusting, skeptical and sarcastic nature. But I counter this with droll humor, attempting to visualize the good in things and lots of physical activity.

GabrielsLamb's avatar

@JLeslie “made me very uncomfortable whenever he visited, and this event happened. I made myself scarce when he visited after that.”

This happened to me throughout my childhood… many times. I believe that is because people didn’t think that way years ago. So those who did it, more easily got away with it.

I had family members do that and worse, I had a teacher do it to me and other girls in my class who was actually later on convicted for child porn by using his own students at parties as his subjects, he abused both us girls as well as the boys and no one did anything about it.

I had an uncle that used to “Nibble on our ears” Which I found extremly uncomfortable and horrific, I too avoided him.

I had a family aquaintance do something similar and it honestly makes a child feel filthy inside. So I feel for you and I understand… It is wrong, and back then nobody thought anything more about it than that was just old Uncle Ricco being himself.

and as a result… I grew into a woman with all sorts of cleanliness issues, I have scrubbed myself raw sometimes when I feel that way, I have trust issues GALORE, I spent most of my life allowing people to mistreat me and felt I never deserved anything better, yet in the event that it hurt, I have lashed out horribly as a reuslt feeling that these men should somehow know better when you are open and honest with them and they opt to take advantage anyway…

It has been a long life of sickness and I really truly understand how you feel…

JLeslie's avatar

@GabrielsLamb I only had that one incident as a young child. I really think how often it occurs matters. I don’t feel I have any issues regarding what happened, but no other man in my childhood was ever innappropriate with me. My male teachers, uncles, grandfathers, friends of my parents, parents of my own friends, were always people I loved to see amd trusted. So, I did not have a constant message of this bad shit is going to keep happening.

I did forget to mention that I have seen two male doctors who I think were perverts and completely innappropriate. One was in my late teens, and the other in my late 30’s. Assholes.

Coloma's avatar

“Personally” I wouldn’t change a thing in my past. Every experience, even the most incredibly painful ones, have all served me in my growth and solidified my commitment to truth.

My pain has been the hammer that has driven the nail of my own integrity deeply into the beam of my consciousness.

It also serves to keep me aware that even though I do not minimize or devalue my experiences, I also am very aware that my sufferings are not any better or any worse or any MORE than anyone elses.

Bottom line, all pain and suffering is the same, and every “story” is the same story, minus a few details. One of my favorite mantras is ” pain happens, suffering is optional.”

It is really never what actually happens but our minds “stories” of why it is bad, wrong, “shouldn’t” have happened, how it is unfair, unjust, etc.

All pain and suffering is human pain and suffering, whether one is a leper in the gutters of Calcutta or the “victim” of an abusive relationship.

The stories vary, but the pain is the same and the pain is universal pain, not ” my” pain.

This is something I have noticed with peeps that have not done any recovery work, they always think their pain is the biggest and worst pain ever, above anyone elses understanding.

Sorry to burst your egoic bubble, but, pain is pain, and a cut finger is not any better or worse than a cut toe. Different digits, same pain. lol

When we “personalize” our pain we make it much larger than it truly is.

GabrielsLamb's avatar

@JLeslie I’m sorry for that… That is fu*king deplorable.

GabrielsLamb's avatar

@gondwanalon I’m sorry that you had to endure that… It makes life difficult more than it has to be.

I hope that you got help? ♥ Hugs! *If of course you required it? Some just get stronger and some succumb…

JLeslie's avatar

@GabrielsLamb For whatever reason I take it as moments in time, they are not lasting for me. I have friends and relatives who would add all those things up I have been through and be very affected maybe? Not sure. Again, I think there are different degrees of harm, I would never compare what I have been through to a rape, or other very violent act. Or, a child who goes through multiple innappropriate circumstances. Childhood we are less likely to be able to speak out or protect ourselves. An adult v. a child is almost like having a gun to the child’s head, even if there is no gun.

GabrielsLamb's avatar

@Coloma That was a wonderful answer and I agree realistically of course but what if because of the damage, unbeknownst to you, because you certainly aren’t actively and with intent LOOKING for them, but what if by said abuse, you tend to draw in the types of personalities that for some reason always seem to end up repeating those old things on you and reliving it all over again?

Ever see the movie Groundhog day? Yeah… Like that!

Even iin Intentionally attempting to meet people that are the polar opposite of what I am “Used” to putting myself through, they usually TURN INTO that old demon inadvertently.

How do you stop doing that to yourself other than do what I have been doing and stay by myself and engage in impossibilites and things I knew in my heart would never come to fruition.

“Don’t drive angry.” LOL

GabrielsLamb's avatar

@JLeslie I’m glad that you are stronger for your experiences… They all serve a greater purpose when the end result is what you have achieved. I hope to get better someday… Thank you for sharing all that with all of with us! It really is helpful!

tinyfaery's avatar

I always thought that I managed to escape my father unscathed, for the most part, and in comparison to my sister.
I am in a great relationship. I have a college degree. Then I had a breakdown about 4 years ago. I went to therapy and there I realized that all of the abuse I suffered has really affected me and who I am, fundamentally, as a person.

I am, for the most part, completely disassociated from the world and other people. I don’t have many friends and I do not allow myself to become attached to other people. Not even my therapist.

I have been able to rid myself of other issues, but I will never be an open, friendly person. I’ve learned to accept it.

My therapist says that a person has to wade through a lot of uncertainty and fear to get to know me. She also says I’m worth it. Hopefully, that is true.

Jude's avatar

@tinyfaery It is. You are.

Coloma's avatar


You just conduct yourself with integrity and trust your instincts.

If you confront another on something that has harmed you and they show no respect or empathy for your feelings you drop ‘em like a hot potato. You don’t waste your energy looking for validation, you validate yourself!

I no longer need to know the entire evolutionary history of the rattlesnake to know I’d best just get out of it’s way. Don’t ignore the nature of the beast. lol

wundayatta's avatar

I always tell people that they shouldn’t compare their experiences. You experience is neither better nor worse than anyone else’s. It’s just your experience and you react to it and feel about it as you react and feel about it. I don’t believe I am doing you any good if I judge you and I don’t want to tell you you should have done this or that or you should do this or that. All I want to do, I tell myself, is to try to give you some space to talk about your experience in a safe way.

Of course, I do not allow myself the same privilege. I get to judge myself, although no one else does and despite the fact that I don’t want anyone else to judge themselves. Maybe it is my judging of myself that makes me so adamant that everyone else try not to do it. I know how destructive it can be. But my pain is clearly not as bad as anyone else’s.

So, when I complain about it, I try to do so in a way that is not complaining, but just telling, and by saying I know I’m responsible for my own feelings. Of course I know I’m really hoping for sympathy, so I’m lying, and therefore I try to confess to my own double-thinking so that people will know they need not pay attention to it.

Still, I think it’s worth expressing my experience since maybe it will speak to someone else. And also, in writing about it, I may arrive at some new place that could be helpful to others. In this way, perhaps I will be forgiven for my maunderings.

Damage is damage no matter how you get there. People have different processes in working through it. Some take it all on themselves and some complain. Some seek therapy, and some seek to stuff it away out of mind and memory. Some try to forgive and some just try to go beyond.

I can’t say which is better. I doubt there is a better. It depends on what works for you. I do think people deserve sympathy whether they are complaining or are managing to cope. Whether they put up barriers or they take down all barriers and form all kinds of inappropriate relationships. We are all on our own paths and I try not to judge people for the turns they take. I try to understand why they’ve made the choices they’ve made. Sometimes I get impatient and judgmental. I wish I didn’t. I try not to. It happens. I don’t expect anyone to forgive me and I try to do better. I don’t know what else to do.

GabrielsLamb's avatar


“I always tell people that they shouldn’t compare their experiences. You experience is neither better nor worse than anyone else’s. It’s just your experience and you react to it.”

This is very true… It’s hard sometimes that being said. Hard to not do that because all of these stories seem to similar and familiar it’s uncanny so in that way I think it helps.

GabrielsLamb's avatar

@tinyfaery “My therapist says that a person has to wade through a lot of uncertainty and fear to get to know me. She also says I’m worth it. Hopefully, that is true.”

I know that it is true! And I don’t even know you… Just from what I see of you around I can see that you deserve that as a human being and an individual. ♥

JLeslie's avatar

@GabrielsLamb Glad it was helpful. Not sure how it was helpful, but I am glad it was for you. One thing that is kind of a coping mechanism for me (well, I think it is a coping mechanism) regarding many things like this is, there are a whole bunch of people who have been through similar stuff. I don’t feel I got an especially raw deal, I feel like most kids and girls in particular have some crap happen to them. But, again, some people do have very bad circumstances that don’t compare to mine. Sounds like you had innappropriate behavior all around you in your childhood.

I don’t feel stronger. I feel like it is just there. An event that should not have happened but did.

JLeslie's avatar

@wundayatta Is that what I am doing? Comparing? By acknowledging that some circumstances are worse than others? I know you were not writing to me directly, but I wondered if I fall into that category?

wundayatta's avatar

@JLeslie Yes. I think it is not helpful to say someone’s circumstances are better or worse than one’s own. I say this because I do it all the time and because I see others do it. They say they are not as badly off, and I think we lessen ourselves in our own minds. We discount our feelings, and that is dangerous, psychologically. We tell ourselves not to complain; that we have nothing to complain about, and in doing so, we hurt our ability to deal with what is, to us, serious, even if it seems lightweight in comparison to someone else.

I think it is a subtle way to diminish our own self-worth. We diminish our problems and then, when we have difficulty dealing with them, we accuse ourselves of being slackers or whiners or simply incompetent. Of course, then we feel worse.

There is no need to compare. There is, on the other hand, every reason to share, without judgment. In sharing, we support each other. In comparing we separate ourselves from each other.

JLeslie's avatar

@wundayatta When I did it, I was not diminishing myself in my mind, I was trying to acknowledge that I am not comparing my circumstance to @GabrielsLamb. Trying to reassure her I am not judging her reaction to her circumstance against my reaction. I didn’t want to sound cavalier, or that she is more affected than I think she should be. I agree everyone has their own experiences and their own reactions.

tranquilsea's avatar

@JLeslie I understand what you are saying and I appreciate the understanding you have.

Personally, when some people have known the things that I’ve gone through and they state that they have gone through something similar and they are just fine it feels like a giant jab.

JLeslie's avatar

@tranquilsea I’m glad. Thank you for saying so. I don’t want to diminish anyones experience.

Cupcake's avatar

I have flashbacks. I have a hard time letting people close… and am always looking for a reason (or not) to push them away. Sometimes I shut down. Sometimes I’m sad and don’t know why. When I don’t feel comfortable around someone, I avoid them. I often look for an escape route. I take things too personally. I easily feel rejected. Sometimes I avoid my phone/voice mail. Nightmares. Panic attacks.

I can relate to people and experiences. I have empathy. I am conscientious of my self and my actions and the potential effect I have on others. I work hard. I plan for the future. I set goals for myself and work towards them. I listen well. I give good advice.

Coloma's avatar


I agree. We should never minimize others pain, but, it helps to remember that we are not “alone”, pain happens in one form or another to everyone at one time or another.

tranquilsea's avatar

@Coloma I agree that it’s very helpful to know we are not alone. Some of the things I’ve been through have made me feel very isolated from everyone. You learn, through trial and error, who you can talk to and who you can’t.

smilingheart1's avatar

You will carry it into your adult relationships and maybe ruin them as I almost did years ago until I got serious about seeing the way I was wasn’t healthy and normal and I got the help I needed. It is always a journey though. Just like life. Hook in with people who love you no matter what and if you’re serious you’ll eventually get there.

GabrielsLamb's avatar

@wundayatta I complain a blue streak… I’ve gotten rather good at it over the years. But honestly I agree completely with Coloma, I think it’s time to stop now…

GabrielsLamb's avatar

@Cupcake I always wanted to hug a cupcake… *Smiles. ♥

AshLeigh's avatar

I wouldn’t say I’m an adult yet, but I know all the things I went through with my dad made it hard for me to ever believe in anything.
I don’t trust people to be different than he was. I rarely believe that they can be…
And after what that man did… That I never told anyone about. I don’t like to be touched most days, if I’m not extremely close to them. Then there are the days I just need someone to give me hug, and not let go until I’m ready to pull away… Sometimes I don’t trust guys at all. Because I think in the back of my mind that they’ll be just like my father. Just like he who shall not be named…

Berserker's avatar

Dealing with my mom was like dealing with a very mean and strict teacher. If I didn’t know what she was wanting to hear, I’d hope that what I would say would be correct, or at least, acceptable. People had to go with the flow of her bad moods and drunk spells, and I was no exception. But as if I understood that then. She always had ego trips, screaming at me that I didn’t love her, and begging me on one Christmas to not kill her lol when she was all tanked. Shitload of things like that. Once, on Valentine’s, she bought me a small heart shaped cake, but I was sick, and didn’t touch the cake for the whole weekend. She was all reproaching me that I wasn’t grateful and all, and didn’t even seem to notice I was ill haha.
So I think that because of stuff like this, I grew up really shy and reserved, and tried not to be noticed by people, because I guess maybe I thought that everyone was like my mom. I obviously knew that wasn’t true, since a lot of people proved otherwise, like my dad, but it was like, I couldn’t help it or something. The whole shyness thing was really bad, like, abnormally bad. Took a long time but it just mostly kinda went away, I didn’t really do anything about it. I’m still pretty shy and all like, afraid of what people will think even if I voice otherwise, but the degree is much lower than before. I don’t stumble over my words or go to great pains in order to avoid a situation or occasion where I’d have to deal with people for a long time, for example.
But maybe that was something else entirely, maybe my mom didn’t have anything to do with it. But if I have to try and guess, that’s what I usually come up with.

wundayatta's avatar

I’m not sure I was understood. I’m more concerned with people diminishing their own experience by comparing it to someone else and saying theirs is not so much to complain about. When you diminish your own experience, I think it makes it harder to heal. You are telling yourself that your pain doesn’t matter and you aren’t deserving of concern in the way someone else is.

My rule is no comparisons. @tranquilsea had an experience that was horrendous for her. Or whatever it was for her. I think it is horrible she had to go through it. In comparison, my experience is nothing.

Whoa! Wait a second. My experience was not something I’d want anyone else to go through. Why don’t I just leave it at that instead of telling myself it wasn’t as bad as @tranquilsea‘s and as a result, I shouldn’t be hurt by it. Since I am hurt by it must mean I’m some kind of complainer and weak failure. I don’t even deserve to be part of this conversation. I’m just going to stop talking about myself. I wouldn’t want to annoy anyone with my complaining.

Do you see what I mean? I don’t think I’m the only one who does this kind of self-diminishment. I get very judgmental of myself and I stop letting myself do anything that smacks of self-pity. Even things that might not be self-pity. Even things people might think I’m entitled to because I don’t think I’m entitled to any break at all.

That’s what I did when I first got sick, and I got worse and worse. When I stopped doing that and allowed myself to complain and feel weak and incapable and sorry for myself, I started getting better. Rather than beating myself up for being unable to fight my pain, I could laugh at my troubles. Like magic, they started receding.

Competition with pain is counter-productive, I believe. We shouldn’t judge anyone else’s pain because we have no idea what they are going through. We have no idea what someone is hiding. People hide cancer sometimes and others complain that they aren’t carrying their fair share of the work, and are out “sick” too much—like they don’t believe it.

My cancer (this is hypothetical—I don’t have cancer) is my business. I don’t owe anyone an explanation of my health situation. You think I’m tanking it, and that’s ok. What will you think if you ever do find out? You don’t know. None of us know what is going on inside someone else’s head. I listen to you, though, and think I’m doing a bad job and that my excuse (cancer) is not a reasonable one. That makes it worse. This kind of comparing just isn’t helpful.

JLeslie's avatar

@wundayatta I do see what you mean, and I agree with you. I think maybe I did not explain myself well. I really have pretty much have no negative lasting emotions regarding what happened to me. None might be too low, but maybe a 1 on a scale of 1–10. Even at the time I was mildly uncomfortable for only a short time, meaning a few minutes to an hour maybe, and then I was in a place of, God, why do people have to be such assholes, and then pretty much not dwelling on it at all. So, I am not diminishing my experience in my opinion, that was my experience, it was less traumatic for me than @GabrielsLamb or @tranquilsea and many of the other people here. I think partly because what I went through was simply more minor (more minor? That sounds funny) maybe partly because of my personality, and partly because I did not have the multiple things I named happen close together.

PTSD, which I think applies to this Q, is usually triggered by an extremely traumatic event, or a series of less traumatic events that happen consecutively and have a commonality.

OpryLeigh's avatar

It definitely made me less trusting of others. I didn’t trust men at all for a very long time. I was even scared to be alone with my own father until I was about 15 years old. It pains me to think that I could have gone my whole life without trusting my dad, who I consider to be one of the most awesome people on the planet.

tranquilsea's avatar

@wundayatta Because I’ve been through some uber traumatic things I hold myself back when other people are talking about their traumatic experiences because I don’t want to make it seem like I’m trying to trump them or minimize their experiences.

IRL there are only a handful of people who know some of what’s happened and only a couple who know all that has happened to me.

JLeslie's avatar

@wundayatta To add to mu understanding of what you are saying though, I have a lot of anxiety and ongoing issues regarding medical doctors. All too often I have felt abused by them. Not physically (except for those too instances I mentioned) but mentally. Other people seem to be able to accept, or be unaware, that a doctor falls short, but for me it shakes me to the core. Another person might see me crying after a doctors appointment and ask me, what happened, what did he do to you? And when I explain they are mystified as to why I am so upset. Why it the sadness lasts for weeks even invading my dreams.

Some of it seems to do with expectations, which I touched on above. I seem to expect more than others from doctors I think? While, when it coes to men I have always expected some to be horrible; and when one is, I just tuck it away as proving it’s true. But, if I was physically harmed, not just touched, or my body was forceably entered, I would be recked for a very very long time. I am sure of it.

wundayatta's avatar

This is exactly what I mean. @tranquilsea has her experience which, if she shared it, might seem really horrible to a lot of people. I think you kind of do it in order to keep people from somehow invalidating their own experiences. And @JLeslie‘s experiencing are quite traumatizing to her, although if they were compared to someone else, she might not feel like it was even legitimate to complain.

Yet both of you suffer. My thing is that it makes no sense to compare suffering. Suffering is suffering. It affects us all differently, and we all have journeys to make through our suffering. It makes no sense to invalidate anyone’s feelings. It just isn’t helpful to any of us.

What I hope is that we can have empathy for each other instead of competing for who is more worthy of empathy. Life is hard for all of us, even those who seem particularly well off. We can say, “poor little rich kid,” but we have no idea what is going on inside, and whether they have been abused or what. And similarly, some people who have been hurt a lot, whether through health issues or poverty have incredibly healthy outlooks on it all. They cope with it very well, and so feeling sorry for them doesn’t really make sense.

We are, I think, all equal in our humanity, and we are all equally deserving of compassion. We may choose to be compassionate to people for various reasons, but those reasons should have to do with who we know and who we actually can care about, not with some competition to be the poster child for Muscular Dystrophy or something.

That’s my opinion, anyway. FWIW.

Coloma's avatar

Reminds me of my ex MIL who would always lament that she ” just doesn’t understand WHY” I had a pet goose, WHY I liked geese! lol

Once when she was visiting, and about the 42nd time she made her bewilderment clear as to my choice of pets, with the usual ” I just don’t understand WHY” lament again, I told HER that I didn’t understand WHY she collected Micky Mouse watches! lol

WTF! That shut her up once and for all, so…mission accomplished. haha

GabrielsLamb's avatar

@Coloma You should have pissed the goose off and pointed it in her direction.

Geese are neat little MIL watchdogs.

JLeslie's avatar

@wundayatta I agree. This is why I wondered/worried, if it seemed like I was comparing, when I don’t really want to do that. I just realized it comes out that way I guess.

wundayatta's avatar

@Coloma Why was your ex-MIL visiting? You know that saying that “the apple doesn’t fall very far from the tree?” Like son, like mother?

Coloma's avatar


This was some years ago now. No more MIL visits, and yeah, they were both arrogant asses, the she ass and her little donkey. lol ;-)

linguaphile's avatar

Abuse… I was put down, ignored and invalidated almost daily. No punches and kicks, just constant powerlessness. @wundayatta, I appreciate you talking about not comparing and minimizing our own experiences, because that’s the first thing I do—I don’t think it was ‘that bad’ because I think I came out stronger and more resilient than some others I know. At the same time, I don’t like talking about my experiences because they get too close to sounding like I’m asking for pity, when I’m not. I get very sad and overwhelmed when I start to remember, though.

To make it short, I wasn’t allowed a voice throughout my life, wasn’t allowed to stand up for myself, wasn’t allowed to express my emotions or my natural hyperness, ebullience, or intensity (call it what you will), and when I did, I was punished. Often, I didn’t know why I was being punished—only that I whatever I did made me undesirable or bad. How undesirable? One example- I was disowned by my dad 4 times in my life—all of them were for reasons completely unrelated to me.

As an adult, I have an excellent mask in real life. I seem like a tough, tough cookie, but deep inside, there was a part of me that believed that I didn’t deserve support or admiration, had to tolerate anything from others and was extremely afraid of failure. That’s the main reason I stayed in an abusive marrige—I didn’t think I deserved better and didn’t want to fail. My own best friends didn’t know what was happening inside my marriage and most of my friends still have no clue. I get sick looking back on all those years I had myself fully convinced I was a piece of crap- I feel terrible for the person I used to be, if that makes sense.

But… It stopped being a mindset and became a journey, a work in progress, a goal- Childhood or chronic abuse really does create a lifetime of struggles and lessons. In some ways, it made me a deeper person, but at the same time—what the heck was all that for?!

Coloma's avatar


Yes, but…you are very insightful and your blossom is obviously blooming. ;-)

linguaphile's avatar

@Coloma Blooming? I think I’d like to be considered a steel magnolia. At one time the phrase ‘steel magnolia’ made me think of a movie/play. Now I get really get it, but I hate steel gray- I’d paint my steel magnolia in bright, whimsical colors :D
The journey’s much better with Fluther womenfolk, like you, who have been through similar experiences and can offer me their stories and humor- it’s much, much appreciated.

WonderingWanderer's avatar

As someone who just allowed themselves to remember a whole chunk of their childhood by acknowledging the fact that their brother abused them… I would just like to say how much I appreciate this thread. It’s good to know not everyone feels super emotional about their childhood abuse. Sometimes it’s just a fact that… you know, it happened. And recognizing that is important, but the emotions aren’t always there, I guess.

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