A couple of years ago, I moved to another country and therefore didn’t know anything or anyone around me anymore. Putting myself in such a situation basically forced me to grow up and I just couldn’t do it. I failed over and over. Friends disappeared and therapists couldn’t help me. Why couldn’t I build up relations like anyone else? Why couldn’t I grow like anyone else? Why was I thinking differently than everybody else? What was wrong with me?

However, mainly because of that experience, my perspective changed. I moved to the Netherlands asking myself “what’s wrong with me?” and returned with the question “what happened to me?”. I came back telling myself “I’ve been abused, as a child, by my own family”, but didn’t dare to say that out loud.

I still have trouble saying that out loud, because I’m afraid someone will scream at me that it isn’t true. Not that weird, because that has been the only reaction I’ve ever received when even insinuating I got mistreated at home. I couldn’t even explain it at the time, emotional abuse isn’t that visible, and since I never got to see how another family functioned and therefore never understood what the weird parts were.

However, when I now watch videos or read blogs about ‘emotional abuse’, I recognize all the signs. Let’s Google them together and go through it quickly, shall we?

Humiliation, negating, criticizing

I got so afraid of the humiliation over time that I stopped talking at home. I got scared to answer questions, even as simple as “how was your day?”. I tried to avoid answering and got stressed just by a question being asked.

I sometimes still do that today. It’s hard for me to answer questions honestly without turning it into a joke and hiding myself like that.

Public embarrassment

Control and shame

When we would go to a restaurant, because you were not allowed to stay home, she would ask you what you wanted to eat. If you then answered with a dish she didn’t want you to eat, she would scream and humiliate you that eating that particular dish was not normal behavior. Only the dish she wanted you to eat was considered normal and was the thing you should have answered. Shame on you!

At home there was no place to have your own thoughts or opinion. You had to obey the direct orders of the dictator or face the consequences.

This control could take extreme turns. Everybody in our house was so afraid they would do literally anything to please the dictator. When she was drunk and abusive, she would order my sister to give her more alcohol. Straight out of fear, my sister would drive to the night shop to buy another bottle of wine. Every. Single. Time.

Guilt and blaming you

“Think about this little trick I taught you: look at what other children do!”.

Isolation

Our family lived a quite isolated life. I didn’t see other people except for school and, later on, work. When she would find out I “complained” to some school psychologist, my grandma, or pretty much anyone about her, she would scream at me and threaten to send me to my biological father.

This last one is interesting. She had been saying awful things about my biological father my entire youth. Therefore, she could also use this as a threat. Every weekend me and my sis had to visit our biological dad, we were completely stressed out.

No privacy

When my mother was still working as a teacher, she did that in the same school I went to. She would hear everything I did in class from all her coworkers. If I failed a test, she would know it before I did and criticize me even before I knew what was going on.

My family had to know what I was doing every second of the day, every day. Privacy was not something I deserved. Even not at the time where I already had a job and had gotten 20 years old. After we moved into another apartment, I started locking the door to my bedroom at night. After only a couple of days, ‘the house owner requested me to turn in that key because it was “unsafe to lock any door”.

Months after I finally ran away from home, I received Christmas cards to my new address. However, I never gave any of them my address. Only a very few people knew where I lived, I was very careful with sharing that information.

One day my sister found out my Ghent address and showed up at my doorstep. I surely never invited her and made it quite clear I didn’t want contact. That time I got stressed out and immediately called the police out of fear.

Ever since I still get new friend requests over and over on several social media.

Withholding affection

Even when I would cry, she would make me believe it was my own fault and often demand to stop crying.

During my entire lifetime, I can be wrong, but I only can remember one time my mother and I hugged. That was on April 25th, 2012. This was when I was in the hospital due to a suicide attempt. That night we hugged.

Invalidating your struggles

This is the main reason why I also started to invalidate my own problems. Instead of facing them and learning how to solve them.

Codependence

Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy

I have been diagnosed with autism since I was three years old, although I don’t have any of the most common symptoms. If I am somehow slightly on the spectrum, I wanna leave that in the middle to avoid endless discussions.

It is interesting to understand that I found legal proof that I was diagnosed with a level of autism that would make me “incapacitated for work”, or really really really autistic. Later on, a doctor declared that was incorrect/no longer the case and my mother fought that diagnosis in court. It seems like she wanted me to be “really really really autistic”.

According to the same website, this syndrome is a form of child abuse.

The result

At this point, it might not come to you as a surprise, but I’m coping with all of those issues today. These are real challenges, it’s why I do therapy.

In conclusion

My whole life I’ve been scared of expressing my own thoughts or feelings. I’ve always been scared of not being normal, being different. However, let me tell you that when your child is hiding in a corner, trying to make himself as small as possible, crying, and afraid to say anything. If you, in that situation, still believe screaming and humiliation is the way to go, maybe, perhaps, just maybe, the joke is on you. 🤷‍♂️

Emotional abuse is something that is not taken seriously enough. I’ve been through years of therapy already, including trauma therapy. Yup, that’s right, I have childhood traumas, even though I’ve never been hit with a brick and by my memories never been sexually abused.

I am a victim, and no one should tell me otherwise.

I am a victim, and I’ll do whatever not to end up like her.

(Although I am a bit scared that by publishing this someone will come after me and criticize me about pretty much everything I wrote).

Disclaimer

Also, don’t blame yourself. To quote someone incredible I met:

Don’t say “I have daddy’s issues”. It’s not your issue, it’s theirs.

(Would mainly be mommy’s issues in my case, but you get the idea)

Sources

@dejakob

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store