As Luke Hart says, “We thought, ‘Well, he’s not drunk and beating us every weekend, we’re not failing at school, we don’t have behavioural problems.’
Domestic Abuse is Domestic Terrorism
Taryn De Vere

I thought those exact same thoughts as a child.

Surviving my childhood was like navigating a minefield. My father was an unmedicated manic depressive. His behavior could manifest in one of three ways: he was physically violent (only until we were thirteen), sexually abusive, and emotionally cruel (which basically included most of the behaviors you have described in this brilliant piece).

I couldn’t see all this clearly until I returned to therapy in my late 20s, after suffering from suicidal depression for years.

Any time I was around my family it felt like I was the only sane person in a room full of crazy people.

When I still talked with my siblings they would dismiss my feelings with a “Oh you always focus on the negative.”

My family stopped speaking to me when I declined to attend Dad’s funeral. My sisters kept trying to guilt trip me into attending with sentences that began: “I know he was a tyrant, but …”

My father died 6 years ago. The only emotion I felt when he died was relief. Relief that I never had to watch him mistreat another child again.

Yeah. He was still tormenting toddlers a few months before he died. I once counted how many times he was cruel to my nephews during an hour dinner. It was 6. So he averaged a violent eruption or harsh admonition every 10 minutes.

He was an asshole.

I had nightmares for a year after he died. The theme was the same with slight variations: my family would lure me down to Atlanta, for some occasion. I would be sitting in the living room and hear his voice come booming from the other room. All of my sisters would be looking intently at me, with big smiles plastered on their faces. Surprise! He’s not dead! He just wanted to get us all together for this land deal in the swamps. Huge resale potential. We’ll all make a fortune. I would feel rage and want to kill him, then wake up and realize he was already dead.

It pissed me off that he occupied any more time in my mind. Even if it was only in my dreams.