Hand in Heart Icon

Addicted to Hate: Parental Abuse

Parental Abuse
It is easy to hate … so easy that many people recklessly harbor a plethora of poisonous feelings. But when loathing turns into verbal threats and physical attacks, the target must speak out.

Adult children who abuse a parent or other relative occupy an odious, stone-cold category of their own. Trying to comprehend their behavior and mend family fences is painful to the victims, and challenging.

I am the victim of parent abuse, and until now I have been embarrassed to tell anyone, even the people closest to me. My response to bullying, manipulation, verbal threats, and physical attacks has been silence. Closeted deep within the quiet has been horrendous personal suffering. Nightmarish netherworld suffering. That is what parent abuse feels like. In between a chain of explosive episodes, I have felt fear … of being attacked if I said something my daughter didn’t want to hear.

As I tried to theorize what was happening to me, I thought about the monstrosity of one person putting his or her ideas above another’s. I pondered notions of infantile behavior, unfathomable cruelty, and, finally, love. Eventually, my mental musings and my natural inclination to fix things led me to the conclusion that love does not always conquer hate. Love can be offered purely and honestly with hopes of reconciliation and durability, but it can be rejected, sometimes cruelly and despondently.

My pain is raw, terrifying, and disorienting. Do I confront my daughter, or do I turn a blind eye to her brutal assaults? How long can I continue to suffer in silence?

I know now that muteness is not a helpful response. It merely promotes additional malicious behavior. My skittish diffidence encouraged my daughter to use me again and again as her verbal and physical punching bag … in the name of self-righteousness. How cruel. How cowardly.

An adult child should never … ever … mishandle a parent, even if he or she is convinced the mother or father deserves it. I was not placed on Earth to become my daughter’s scapegoat, and neither were any of you. Yet angry fingers often point to the parents, forcing them to ask themselves, “What did I say? What did I do? How can I change?”

How was I supposed to keep hope alive? I was nowhere near comprehending how my child could behave this way toward me, the one person who had always been in her corner. I went through the mad stage, often crying my eyes out in frustration when things didn’t change. And the hurt stage. Here is what “hurt” looks like to a mother who is being abused: “You will die like you came into the world – unloved and unwanted!”

Living In Limbo
I have been living in limbo land, helpless to combat a disorder in my child that had no name other than “cruelty.” But it had several feelings—soullessness, emptiness, and bleakness. Did I have clues when my daughter was young that she would grow up to be a parent abuser? Maybe. It’s hard to know. But after she grew into an adult, a pattern became clear. I was always the one to blame. Never once had I seen her take responsibility for her actions.

I have reached my limit. I will take on no more abuse. To ensure this objective I will leave my adopted country, Canada, and seek refuge in a safer place. Previous thoughts of moving had always been prompted by my wish to escape a heavy workload or avoid long, dreadful winters. My current motivation is to flee in order to heal, to take a break from the heavy, hate-filled air that was suffocating me and leaving me gasping for breath. It’s time for me to minimize the stress that has been triggered by my internal battles.

Why Me? Why Anybody?
I have been a kind, loving mother brimming with gentle thoughts. I have been there for my daughter and her family, always. I took them in when they had nothing. I gave them everything I had.

My reward? The answer is more than I can bear at age 72 — a physical decline to an already disabled body. I have paid the penultimate price.

My daughter is not the only adult child who acts out cruelly against a parent or other loved one. Certain human beings choose not to take responsibility for their emotions—their anger, frustration, and hurt. They have no idea how to manage their moods, passions, and desires. Instead, they blame others for their misery. They lash out and attack because they have not come to grips with a reality that is of their making. They carry boatloads of outdated adolescent baggage forward into adulthood.

A similar pattern can be identified in people with other addictions. Rather than face their fragile brokenness, these people reach out for their “drug” of choice. For some it’s a drink or drugs. For others, shopping or gambling. For parent abusers, it’s cold-hearted hatred.

“It’s All Your Fault. I Hate You.”
“You are ugly.”

“I hate you.”

“I wish you were dead.”

My daughter’s ongoing tirades became as stale as a slice of moldy bread, but they never stopped hurting.

I deserve compassion, a respectful dialogue … not a schoolyard spitball fight delivered through countless messages bordering on criminal harassment. My daughter has no proof of the accusations she hurls. They live only in her mind. Yet, she harbors an insatiable desire to hurt me. She has even turned some my friends against me by telling them malicious, unfounded, fallacious yarns. According to her, I am the cause of everything she doesn’t like about her life. My silent humiliation enabled her accusations to take root.

I believe parent abusers throw deplorable accusations into the air to appease their feelings of insecurity, feelings they try desperately to hide—from themselves and others. In my opinion, their behavior is all about their insecurity. They try to control and contain it through abuse.

Stunted children. Incomplete adults. It is mind boggling to try to understand them.

The Turnaround
No more abuse.

My daughter went too far for too long. Finally, I realized I am not a pathetic victim. My epiphany sounded like this: I am a strong, dynamic person. I am sick to death of being abused, humiliated, and threatened. I am sick to death of being shoved up against a wall and knocked to the ground. It is time to do something. It is time for me to change.

The pressure cooker of hurt and grief that I have been living in has had consequences beyond the landscape of my physical humanity and into the realm of the invisible. I plan to return to my country of birth, South Africa, where I hope to enjoy an enclave of hate-free space. Finally. Peace. Freedom.

Meanwhile, I am confining my child to the deep recesses of my mind because I understand that allowing the aggravation, pain, and heartache to continue is unhealthy for me. My daughter’s sweetness to everyone else but me is painful and unfathomable. How can she be so pleasant to an acquaintance and so cruel to me?

It’s Time to End the War
My relationship with my daughter could fill the pages of a wartime book, but the final chapter has yet to be written. In the meantime, I look forward to reclaiming of my life and rebuilding my shattered heart. I have already started taking small, healing steps.

Some people have advised me to pray for my bully, but I can’t yet pray directly for her. I am blocked. I can, though, accept that bullies are part of the world – part of my world—and I can pray for them as a general group. Every night before retiring, I release some of the negativity that has been forced on me by reciting this Jewish prayer of forgiveness to all people who have hurt me.

I hereby forgive anyone who angered or antagonized me or who sinned against me – whether against my body, my property, my honor, or against anything of mine; whether he or she did so accidently, willfully, carelessly or purposefully; whether through speech, deed, thought, or notion … I forgive. I genuinely desire to place my heart and mind in a place where I can hope and pray for the happiness of those who have hurt me. They do not apologize; they do not even know they’ve hurt me often.

It is time for me to live a life free of toxic hatred. It is time for me to liberate myself. Holding on to anger, resentment, and bitterness will not affect my abuser. It will only continue to harm me.

I will protect myself by letting my daughter go. If you are an abused parent, it’s time for you to consider following in my footsteps.