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Was I emotionally abused? HELP

Posted: Tue May 28, 2019 5:46 pm
by VAVeronica
Hi, I have a favor to ask you. I am 19 years old girl and I am currently in lot of pain. I am mentally ill a lot. I suffer from depression, anxiety, self-harming, suicidal thoughts, social phobia and mainly from conversion disorder which caused me to be restricted to bed rest for two years now. Please, would you be so kind and read my life story and give me your opinion if I was emotionally abused or not? When I talked to my therapist, she told I wasn’t, so I am very lost right now.

My parents divorced when I was 4 years old and since then I was raised by my grandmother. My mother is a nurse and throughout my childhood we haven’t spent much time together because she was always very busy. So, my grandmother became more like a mother a to me.

During my sessions in therapy I realized that my problems are connected to my childhood, mainly to my grandma. Our relationship wasn’t always good, but that was because I thought it was my fault that she was hurting me. I believed I was stupid and I felt hurt only because I’m just hypersensitive.
Now I am trying to remember everything she has ever done to me. I am in a lot of pain, when all these thigs are coming back to me, these flashbacks I feel like I have PTSD or something.I think that her mean behavior started when I was five or six, around the age kids go to school. My grandmother is a very performance goal-oriented person. So, she wanted me to basically study all the time, 5 to 6 hours a day and she always wanted perfect results from me.

I remember the first time when I was learning to read and write, she was already yelling at me, how can I make so many mistakes. I had to study until there were no mistakes, and I need to know everything before we would learn it even at school. It was just too much for me… When I had enough and wanted to rest, she would be calling me names like moron, brat, lazy and what an ungrateful, spoiled child I am. She would exploit my love for my mother into convincing me that I needed to learn so much. She said horrible things like: „Your mom is suffering because of you, “ „Something bad is going to happen to your mom if you’re not going to have good results”. She would threaten me that if I wasn’t going to listen to her, she would stop helping my mom (financially, looking after me, doing housework and so on…) Even when I was obeying her and diligently studying, she would burst out on me, how can I be so incredibly dumb, and how many times does she need it to fucking explain it to me. Perfect grades weren’t enough I had to participate in singing and writing competitions etc. She would tell me, that the price would help my mom and somehow, I believed it. She was always compering me to other people like my sister, my cousin, my classmates and herself, telling me to try fucking harder because they’re better than me. This was happening all the time…

She would also threaten me to beat me up, punch me but she usually didn’t act on it. There were some incidents, when she would be dragging me on the ground, holding me to tightly, pulling my arm or she would maybe lightly slap me on the head, but never nothing serious! Never! But she was very aggressive, she would for example punch the table, wall, throw my schoolbooks at me and often bang doors loudly. Sometimes when she wasn’t able to scare me, and I was still resisting her, she would start crying, telling me that she’s about to pass out, that her head was spinning and everything was hurting her. She was telling me things like: “How can you do this to me?” “You are going to kill me.” “How can you be so cruel to me, when I am so nice?” She would play the victim and she has always won like that, the guilt eaten me up. Oftentimes she started acting like a child. She was screaming, stomping, making faces, spitting out angrily, making exaggerated gestures. She would be making fun of me by impersonating me.
When it started, I told my mom about it, but it only became worse, grandma denied everything. She told me that I am just a crybaby who makes things up. Her behavior would get even worse after that. She was punishing me for telling on her, for as she said I was only worrying my mother, bothering her. She banned me telling her things. After trying few times, I gave up. Every time I was about to cry or started crying, she would either say: “Why are you crying, do you want me to give you a reason to cry?” “What kind of games are you playing” or she would show affection to me, but also told me things like I’m doing this to help you, broadly speaking: “I’m sorry but it’s all your fault.”

After 5 years of this I kind of gave up, I decided to become good daughter and stopped completely getting on her nerves. After 5th grade she stopped teaching me, because she wasn’t able to keep up with the schoolwork… So instead she became my supervisor. Constantly guarding if I am learning. She would ether sit in the same room watching me or she was peeking at me through keyhole. She would spontaneously rush to my room, open violently door and scream at me, if I am learning or the opposite she would be sneaking behind my back and then start screaming into my ear. It may sound kind of funny, but I always got so scared. I had a panic attack one time because of this. If she caught me doing something else, like watching videos, she would of course yell that I need to study, but if she caught me studying, she would tell that I am overworking myself and should rest or that I should do something else like play my guitar or clean. I was always doing something wrong.

I was getting scolded because of little insignificant things (at least that’s how I see it now, back then I thought I was just terrible daughter). She would scream at me and curse when I closed the door to loudly, walked to loudly, forgot to turn off the lights, according to her wasted to much stuff or didn’t clean after myself. And even if I did clean, she would yell that I did it wrong. She was able to yell from morning to evening, all the time, name calling me how incapable, stupid and useless I am. She said thig like that “even a table or celling is more capable to listen to her than me”. From the moment I woke up she would already be criticizing me. I felt like I was walking on eggshells all the time, I tried my best not to do anything, be good and useful but she would always find something.

This behavior would last couple of days, but sometimes she was actually in a good mood and acted nicely. Every time it happened, I thought to myself: “Wow, I guess I am really the bad guy here. I am sorry grandma, I will try to be better.” Sometimes she was ignoring me, I guess. All day she was making those blaming faces, those looks… like I did something terrible, when I asked her about it, she would either not answer at all or tell me than she isn’t angry. She was always banging doors when leaving the room, moving things loudly and violently… It’s hard to explain, it was passive aggressive behavior, I guess? She would also use sarcasm a lot. She would insist on something and the other day say, that she doesn‘t care about it, that it’s not for her but for me and I can do whatever I want.

I could never satisfy her. I feel like I have always listened to her, but she still punished me and said mean thigs to me. She wanted me to be this perfect, overworking, goal-oriented monster, and when I became one, she criticized me for it, saying things like: “How can you be such a perfectionist?” “Why is school so important to you?” “Why is your self-esteem so low?”
In front of others she would change her behavior. She would be praising me how good I am, skillful and obeying.
I thought that this was emotional abuse, but when I talked to my therapist (I had 3 so far, and they all basically told me the same). That it’s not and emotional abuse, my grandma did some mistakes, and wasn’t acting very good, but other people had it much worse than me, also that I am very sensitive person and that, I was very well taken care of, my basic needs were fulfilled.

I was telling myself this my whole life so I can’t disagree with her. I do remember her acting also good to me, when I was sick and things like that… when I was doing good at school, she would be praising me… She was also with certain things overprotective of like doing sports, to not get hurt. But I just don’t understand why I’m so mentally sick right now, If it’s not an abuse.

Re: Was I emotionally abused? HELP

Posted: Tue May 28, 2019 10:27 pm
by George
VAVeronica sounds like you were emotionally abused at least in my opinion.I just want you to know that everyone in this forum is willing to support you and care for you.Wish you the best!!

Re: Was I emotionally abused? HELP

Posted: Wed May 29, 2019 1:41 am
by Harbor
Mental illness is not always caused by emotional abuse, nor does emotional abuse always result in mental illness. Within the confines of my culture, I would consider some of what you describe to be emotional abuse. However, I think I detect some cultural nuances that some might see as mitigating the severity of the abuse. Maybe that's what your therapist is thinking. I would not treat my children or grandchildren that way and I'm sorry you had that experience. I hope that you will be kind to yourself and any children you may have influence upon.

Re: Was I emotionally abused? HELP

Posted: Wed May 29, 2019 3:09 am
by coconuts
I agree that it seems like your grandmother was emotionally abusive at least at times. Insults and constant degrading definitely fall within the definition for me.

I also agree that is some cultures it is seen as normal. Is it healthy .. no I would argue not.

Regardless if you feel that the relationship was damaging to your well being and psyche you deserve help processing and healing.

Mental illness is a tough thing. And not necessarily caused by any outside factors at all. One can have depression and anxiety and never have been mistreated. One can also have depression and anxiety and have suffered through extreme abuse. Or one can have suffered abuse and be generally mentally well also.

If your therapists are not taking you seriously in that you feel harmed by the actions of your upbringing then I would seek additional help. If those things your grandmother said and did constantly echo through and taint everything you think about yourself then there definitely needs to be work done to help you learn to change your thought patterns to more healthy

Re: Was I emotionally abused? HELP

Posted: Fri May 31, 2019 1:33 pm
by VAVeronica
I think, it can be quite common, that mothers want their children to be very successful, get good grades and things like that… I don’t agree with the pressure they put on their kids, but I understand why someone could think it’s normal. Just like my therapist.

The reason why I believe now, that it was abuse, it’s because that she was still very mean to me even though I've gotten good grades. I had stray A all my life, I was always best in my class and I won so many competitions… I had so many other school activities where I exceled… Person can always be more successful, but I just still don’t get what more could she want from me… I always did what she asked for in hopes of making her happy.
So, she may seem kind of like caring mother, but she just wanted to yell at me. I really don’t think it’s normal to act like that to someone, just because he closed door to loudly... She was just looking for reasons to yell at me… Now I can see that and it’s ridiculous. Thank you so much for your kind answers, it helped me a lot. I understand my situation a lot more now thanks to you.

I already talked to my therapist and she agreed I was abused. It was a misunderstanding. I feel like I can be free know.

Re: Was I emotionally abused? HELP

Posted: Sun Feb 09, 2020 8:26 am
by fiercecheetah
I might be really late but I would still reply nonetheless.

I think there is no doubt that you were emotionally abused.

Even if some of the behavior might have been considered as "cultural norm", that does not reduce the impact it had on you.

If at all I have to give some leeway (I'd rather not), it might "excuse" only some of the behavior on her part but it still does not mean that those did not effect you negatively.