The Abuse No One Talks About
I Discovered I Had Been in an Abusive Relationship For Years… With My Daughter
People say love shouldn’t hurt. Is that still true if your child is hurting you? If a significant other did some of the things adult children do to parents, it would be considered abuse.
Emotional abuse is a way to control another person by using emotions to criticize, embarrass, shame, blame, or otherwise manipulate another person.
My name is Teresa and I’ve been abused. My abuser is my daughter. I have been lied to, talked about, disrespected, and betrayed. I have been shamed and blamed when I have expressed my feelings. I have been manipulated. Somehow, that still feels like it’s my fault. She’s the abuser but I raised her. How did that happen?
The abuse began when she was a teenager. I didn’t recognize it as abuse. She wasn’t physically abusive at all. She had never hit me or even tried. She was very respectful when she was around me. We had many conversations about life, sex, friends, boys, etc. and she always seemed to have a good head on her shoulders. We had mother/daughter dates all the time and spent a lot of quality time together.
I did notice that my daughter was a liar. I caught her lying as a small child. I considered them small white lies and wasn’t concerned. By the teen years, my daughter had become a great liar. It was impossible to tell what was a lie and what was the truth. She was an amazing actress, crying and playing the victim with ease. There were times I had proof that she was lying and she would still deny the truth. She would always double down on the lie. Even with proof and witnesses, I questioned the truth. In my mind, only a pathological liar would behave like this. MY child couldn’t be a pathological liar, could she?
My daughter was a master manipulator at an early age. She manipulated all the women in the family. At fifteen, she convinced her paternal aunt to put her on birth control without me or her father knowing. She convinced her paternal grandmother that I was horrible to her all the time and she needed her support against me. She convinced me that her grandmother was lying because she wanted an excuse not to like me. She promised me she didn’t tell her grandmother anything negative about me. I wanted to believe her. She divided us easily and conquered. With no one liking or trusting anyone, it was easy for her to use everyone to her advantage and she did.
This behavior has continued. My daughter is now 27. Early last year she posted a nearly naked picture on social media with the words “hi mom.” I told her I was deeply hurt and upset by this. It felt like a slap in the face. She immediately flipped it on me. She said I verbally abused her for three months during her teen years. She also claims we (her father and I) locked her in her room for three months without letting her come out at all. Of course, she involved her aunt and grandmother in this issue, telling them she finally felt comfortable talking about the abuse she suffered as a teen. She also had her aunt call me with her on three-way to try to gaslight some fake confession from me. Her accusations were hurtful and false, but the manipulation worked. I was no longer thinking about what my daughter did that deeply hurt me, it was now all about her.
In 2020, I was so drained by my relationship with my daughter that I decided to see a therapist. I learned about co-dependency and abuse. I still didn’t think those things described my relationship with my daughter. It was a simple text that changed my mind. I was speaking with my therapist when I received the text. This was just a couple of months after my daughter had hurt me, tried to assassinate my character, and set up a three-way call to gaslight me. The text said, “Mom if you really love me, you’ll send me $50.” I got texts like this all the time from her and thought nothing of it. I was annoyed she was asking for something again after hurting me so deeply. I expressed my annoyance to the therapist and she explained how manipulative that text was.
I have always considered myself too strong, smart, and independent to ever be abused by anyone. I was wrong. I was in a co-dependent and abusive relationship with my daughter. I have five children. None of the other four are like this at all. We raised them all the same. The only difference is that we didn’t allow the other children to spend as much time with the aunt and grandmother.
Once I admitted to myself that the relationship was abusive, I felt like a failure. Somehow I had convinced myself that if all five children aren’t good, productive, loving, and amazing humans, then I was a bad mother. Then my record as a mother is somehow unworthy. This admission is both painful and embarrassing. I did my very best all the time. I still do. There are so many factors that play a part in who our children become; genetics, environment, parenting, friends, teachers, schools, culture, social media, society, etc. There is no way that any mother could protect any child from all of those factors. I know my best is good enough. I have four other children that prove that.
I invited my daughter to therapy. She came once. She didn’t like what the therapist had to say. She made an excuse why she couldn’t come the second time. I will keep inviting her. Maybe one day she’ll be ready.
In the meantime, I keep our conversations short and sweet. I have now set boundaries with my daughter. I am not available to be used or abused by anyone, even my daughter. I hope this article helps someone else to recognize the abuse you may suffer from your child, forgive yourself for raising an abuser, and seek help to change the situation.