verbal abusive mom= end rltnship?

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-24-2003
verbal abusive mom= end rltnship?
Tue, 09-16-2003 - 11:52am
hello all, i'm very damaged by the emotional & verbal abuse from my mother over the last 15 yrs. I'm now married (and don't plan to have children - b/c I haven't healed from how scared, inferior, etc. she's made me feel). I live about 45 minutes away from her & my father. I have tried so hard for the last 15 yrs to have a relationship with them (I'm 31 & my twin brother is so close to them b/c he lives close to them & my mom isn't as critical of him). I want to have a relationship with them but my parents just cause me so much deep pain.

If I try to ever have a conversation with my mother - she ends up putting me down & usually hanging up on me because she has 'better' things to do. The worst part is that my father will viciously attack me if I try to stand up to my mother. (it's especially sad b/c she's mistreated him terribly in the 40 yrs. they've been married - for many years she had 'boyfriends' openly, she is a packrat & yet won't let my dad keep even his toothbrush in their house because she doesn't want his 'junk' around- he uses it in his car, she's always yelling at him/putting him down also). My dad is truly her servant & always has been. He's kind of like her father eventhough they're the same age- he has to dye her hair for her & fetch everything for her. Makes her food for her..etc... While she puts him down every other word (she even insults him in front of us regarding the sexual inabilities he's had since he had prostate cancer).

If I tell her to stop putting me down, my dad will actually start attacking me verbally.

Even if he isn't present when I speak to her- she'll complain to him that I gave her a hard time - and he'll go after me the next time I see him.

I am so sad to see that I can't really have any relationship with them. They live kind of far away. My mother won't talk on the phone to anyone because she says it annoys her to be on the phone. I can't talk about my life or I know I'll get put down harshly & it always hurts a lot even after all these years.

Can anyone who's had to accept pretty much ending ties to their parents help me out on accepting this?

Thank you kindly. ((hugs)) Katrina

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-17-2003
Tue, 09-16-2003 - 4:48pm
Ending a relationship with your family cold turkey is too much, especially since you live close. Distance yourself for a period of time, whether it's two weeks or two months or a year until you find peace of mind and clarity. If you decide to go back, don't let them upset you emotionally.

In the meantime, I think that you should focus on healing yourself, take long walks, write in a journal, sew, run etc. whenever you feel like you can't handle it. You need to replace the hurt in your life with something positive, I think this is the only way to let the insults slide off your back.

When you talk or visit with your mother (she sounds like a real peace of work), do not respond to her, she will eventually get the hint and stop bashing you. If she says something like, "you are ugly and stupid," walk out of the room and pretend you never heard it. Go to the bathroom and scream into a towel if you have to. Some people think that only guilty people defend themselves, and some people get a devilish pleasure out of watching people suffer. It must really hurt that your twin brother is more accepted than you are, and your father is some second-class servant. I am really sorry.

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-09-2003
Tue, 09-16-2003 - 5:00pm
I am so sad for you. My mother is very manipulative and controlling. My siblings and I all had a good relationship with her until we hit our teens and then it became very difficult. She did really mean things, attempted to destroy relationships. I did not have a wedding ceremony because I could not face the embarrasment that she probably would not come. She is very antisocial and deliberately does things to cause others pain.

I talked to her about some specific actions that were hurtful and indicated that I needed her to stop. She pretty much upped the ante on me, doubling the activities deliberately to call my hand. Since then I have not had a relationship with her. That was 3 years ago. She spent the first year calling me weekly and then monthly to tell me what a bad person I am. Only one of her four children still maintains contact with her. It hurts but my life is better without her. I put up with years of her deliberately hurtful behavior and now I wish I had ending this toxic relationship earlier. We used to live in the same town as her but now have moved about 45 min away. My life is so much more peaceful now, my marriage is happier, and I feel better about myself and my future. I pray for her to find happiness and contentment in her life as I've done in mine. I can't tell you what to do, I can only tell you what has worked for me. Thank goodness I still have my brother and sisters. Take care.

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-14-2002
Tue, 09-16-2003 - 7:49pm
Katrina dearest, my step-mother was (is?) exactly like your mom, and my father defended her too. For 36 years, she abused him verbally, emotionally, physically and even sexually - and the really sad part is that NONE OF US KNEW IT. Oh, we knew about the verbal/emotional part, because she did in front of us and to us, as well. But the rest of it they both kept hidden, like a dirty secret.

That's what really jumped off the page as I read your post - the obvious abuse your father's enduring, and the striking similarities between your parents and mine. What worries me most is your father. I've learned (while taking care of my Dad after he escaped her abuse - long story) that those who suffer abuse, especially emotional, for a very long time become dependent on that and actually cannot function without it. It's like they've fallen so very deep into a hole that there's no hope of escape. That's the condition my Dad was in when we (my sister and I) were finally able to rescue him.

Anyways, what I really want to say is that my father also defended my step-mother when she mistreated him, and verbally attacked us when we stood up to her. Even to the point of disowning his own son. I learned that this was a self-defense mechanism he used to protect himself. You see, when they were alone she would beat him and berate him so terribly that once or twice he attempted suicide to escape it. As long as he pretended to support her verbal abuse of us, then the consequences for him later would not be so severe. I've learned this is VERY common behavior for victims of domestic abuse. Is it possible your father is doing the same thing?

This went on for many years - and all but two of my parents' eight children had completely cut all ties; the longest separation (my SM's own son) is going on about 25 years now. During all these years, my siblings and I thought our father didn't care about us one twit - he made that very clear to us many times - and only a few of us still maintained infrequent contact, simply out of genetic responsibility.

Then my Dad fell gravely ill, and lying in the hospital told me he wanted to come home with me and never, ever see his wife again. He was so afraid of her, but also afraid none of his children would want to take him in because of how he'd treated us for so long. Over the next couple of days, he poured his heart out and told us where he'd hidden letters he'd written to us, but never mailed. I went to get those letters and found a secret stash of photos, letters, birthday cards and other memorabilia of his children that he'd collected over the past 36 years and kept hidden from his wife.

We never knew.

I've had no meaningful contact with my step-mother since June of 2002 (when my father escaped), and none at all since my father's funeral in December.

So Katrina, I can only advise to do what your heart tells you, but keep in mind you MUST protect your own well-being and sanity above anything and anybody else. If that means cutting all ties and disappearing, then so be it. This is exactly what my step-brother did 25 years ago, and he has rebuilt a successful and happy life. The key for making this work for him was to cut ALL ties with the entire family - down to the last cousin - and become a missing person. (Except that I tracked him down through the internet and had a brief phone conversation with him last December - only my sister and I know.)

I'm not saying you should do something so drastic, but for some people this is the only sane solution.

What I did was much less extreme. I moved away and cut my visits to only one or two a year, and telephone conversations to once a month or so. Doing my genetic responsibility. Given the choice free of guilt, and I'd have disappeared like my step-brother did. Anyway, I'm glad I handled it this way - when the day finally came that my father reached out for the lifeline I had so unwittingly offered him, I'm glad I was still holding on to the other end. In the end, it did not save his life, but my sister and I were able to make his last few months on earth the first peaceful and loving months he'd had in 36 years.

I would suggest that you decide what you need to do for your own well-being, then just do it - whether that's disappearing completely, or just cutting back on the personal visits and phone calls. You might find a way to talk to your Dad in private and explain, but I'd advise not telling your mother anything. She'll just use it against your father later, and you and the rest of your siblings.

What's been so hard for me to deal with is the guilt after leaving my elderly and very ill step-mother to fend for herself, all alone. In spite of all the abuse, I still feel obligated to care for her. Still struggling with that, but my sweet husband and dear siblings help to keep me strong, and know that there is nothing I could ever do to help her change her ways, and to protect myself from her poison I must cut ALL ties. Forever.

Best of luck to you, dear Katrinanyc - I hope you find a solution that gives you at least a measure of peace. Post back and let us know how you're doing.




iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Wed, 09-17-2003 - 8:25am
My story has a little different twist but I did end my relationship with my bio parents and a very manipulative sister, so I can tall you what I did.

My sister and I were in and out of a foster home since birth because of how big of a mess my bio parents were. We finally ended up being adopted when I was in 8th grade by my foster parents. But our adopted parents were very understanding and believed we should keep an open relationship with our bio parents. We continued to go stay with our bio mom for a week at a time during the summer and we always saw her at Christmas time. She lived in another state so we wrote letters too. It was horrible! We went and saw our bio Dad when he would see us too.

As a child we listened to her and our bio Dad bash each other and use us as pones to play their games with each other. They still bash each other to this day. Our bio Dad was the worst at playing head games with us and then blame us for everything that was wrong in his life.

After I graduated my bio mom decided to move here by us. She started popping in on us unannounced, stole a large amount of money from my husband and I, brought strange very scary men to my home etc etc. My bio Mom is schizophrenic so I over looked everything because of that. The last straws were when my kids came home from being at a friends B-day party at a pizza joint and she was there. My kids refused to play and hid because they feared her seeing them. Then after I had my 4th child I asked everyone to please give us 1 week alone with him and she sent the cops to my home and claimed my dh husband was beating me and keeping me from contacting any family members. My mil was staying with me to help out and saw all of this. Then the next day she showed up here telling my mil off because she blamed her for me not talking to her. It was awful! I could keep going with stories like this.

I also broke ties with my sister because I could not take the drama she brought to my life anymore (long story, but you would understand). I did the same thing with both of them. I sat down for about 3 weeks and worked on a letter to each of them. I recanted experiences that really hurt me from our relationships. I did it in a way that it was not blaming them for everything. I also admitted that I had many faults and that I was just as much to blame for our relationship (so that the letter would not be just bashing them). I deeply apologized and regretted anything I ever did wrong by them. I admitted that my life may not be what they wanted it to be but it is my life and I have a chance to be happy for once, but I cannot take their constant drama and put downs etc in my life anymore. I then told them that I was done with them in my life because I am tired of trying and I deserve and have better here at home with my family. My heart was now cold when it came to them. I asked them not to call me, because I will be screening all my calls and not to write me because I will not read the letter, I will just send it back to them or throw it away. I apologized that it came to this but I realized that in order for me to heal, I had to stay away from their constant hurt.

It was a harsh rather unexpected thing to do. I also wrote my adopted parents a letter to explain what I did and why. I applied to them because I did not want to hurt them and I wanted to keep an open relationship with them.

Maybe you could do something like that. Just write to your brother and explain to him who and what you have become. Tell him how much you love him and long for a relationship with him, but you cannot take the hurt anymore from your parents.

I have to tell you that since I wrote the letter's 2 years ago, I am much happier and I have come to terms with my life now. I am not constantly worrying "what next"! I made my points and I live by them. My life is so much better now. I still see my sister at my adopted parents house and I am civil but I never allow myself to get close enough to get hurt again.

This may be the wrong way to go but it really helped me to heal and get them to realize that I meant business. Since my talking to them never worked, I felt I had no other choice. I am sorry that you are going through this. Even if you go this route, it is a stressful and hard route to take at first. I will never now if I did the right thing. But what I do know, is that I am SO much happier now that those headaches are gone from my life. I feel like I have come full circle and I control my life now and they cannot judge me anymore. Best of luck.

Avatar for leslie2353
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Wed, 09-17-2003 - 9:25pm
You need to hear how Howard Stern was always put down by his parents. He's been in therapy for years. It didn't help, but he is getting along with his parents better now, even if his parents still attack him and makes him inferior.

Since your mom and dad both are against you, they won't go to see a therapist, but maybe you should. It will help you to deal why they do it.

Spending time away from them, and try to CUT THE TIES with them, might help, but you will have this guilt feeling that will continue eat you bit by bit alive. That's the part that will keep you awake at night. Lucky, my dad UNDERSTAND my mom, and she doesn't tell them because he's right there when she ATTACKS ALL OF US. He knows what goes on. He takes our side, but there's nothing to STOP mom's verbal abuse. That's the way she is and because she's too old to change.

Maybe you should try venting it out to a therapist and see if it helps you, too.

I know I should because when mom and I get into one room, I get very loud and irrational!

Your dad LOVES YOUR MOTHER VERY MUCH, that's why he does the things you described and he doesn't want any one SPECIALLY YOU attacking and putting her down. I don't know why mothers like to attack their daughters, but not as much to their sons. It happens here, too. Mom doesn't attack my DH, but she does to all grandchildren (girls) but not to grandsons.

Good luck to you.

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-09-2003
Fri, 09-19-2003 - 12:45pm
I wrote the earlier reply that I cut ties with my mother 2 years ago. While it is true that I have tiny pangs of guilt and find myself thinking of her often, I am 110% happier, better wife, better mother because of it. I went through the steps you go through, ignoring the behavior, rationalizing it, and finally confronting her for the last time with a sincere plea that things had to be different for us to continue to have a relationship. She made a strong move to prove that she had no intention of changing (I mean an unmistakable, ha-ha I will do whatever I want, move)and that was it. Then she spend months calling me to tell me what a bad person I am. No effort on her part to reconcile or even a motion that she was interested in it. All her energy was focused on detailing my many faults as a human being. The calls finally stopped. Then there were a few letters. The main purpose of these was to let me know she still knew what was going on in my life. She did not even sign them "love" or anything. Just power moves on her part. Those seem to have stopped now. It still hurts. I can go through a whole week sometimes without thinking about it. Sometimes I think about it several times a day. I always include her in my prayers that she will find some kind of peace and happiness for herself. My level of peace and happiness is so greatly improved that I know I did the right thing. Best wishes to you in finding your own peace and happiness.
Avatar for leslie2353
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Fri, 09-19-2003 - 9:22pm
You've made peace with your mom. What ever happens, the ball is in her court now. That's up to her to make peace with you. It's true, though, focusing AWAY from that kind of relationship, shows it's a good thing, the proof is you're happier and a better mom. Ditto with me! I wish you the best in your future relationships. Stay happy!



iVillage Member
Registered: 09-22-2003
Tue, 10-07-2003 - 10:00pm
Hi there! Sounds like you mother needs serious therpy. It seems she needs to put other people down to stay in control. Your father needs therpy also because no one deserves to be treated that way. She needs nurturing skills. Have you tried therpy yourself so that you can heal your emotions? You deserve much better that was your getting. If you can't find love with your parents then, find it in your husband and your children when you have them.