[Trigger warning for child abuse.]
When members of estranged parents’ forums come across abuse survivors’ forums, something chilling happens.
Purely for curiosity’s sake, I hopped over to the “parent-bashing” (and everything else!) site [….] In 60 years, I have NEVER witnessed such PURE VITRIOL streaming out of people’s “mouths”… On the thread where they go to bash (that’s too tame a word!) MOSTLY moms, it is just, well… evil.
There is never a grounded reason for the hate; they just couldn’t “deal” (that word again!!!) with, get this:
1. Mom is getting older and NEEDS HELP (God forbid!!!)
2. She won’t give me $ before she dies..
3. SHE KEEPS ASKING ME HOW I AM WHEN WE TALK!!!!! ( Shame on Mom for loving you…)
4. She wants to meet my boyfriend. (Tragic)
5. She wanted to know when my plane landed. (THE AUDACITY!!!)
These are just the ones I could stomach before I had to sign off. The name-calling – EVERY SLUR imaginable! – the whining that only a dog could hear; it was overwhelming and sickening… I honest to God found myself praying that something AWFUL happens to each of these little pukes.
I dropped by the same forum and took a look at the posts the member would have seen. Some of the stories that would have been on the first couple of pages when she visited:
- A mother whose fury was so terrifying that her 10-year-old didn’t tell her about the sexual assaults the child suffered at an after-school program because the child was more afraid of the mother’s rage at being put on the spot. The same mother deprived the child of food until the child developed food issues, then forced the child to eat sugary food until the child vomited and passed out from glycemic shock.
- A mother who killed her husband’s cat because the cat occasionally peed outside the litter box.
- Parents who slapped their child if he answered a question wrong, then kept slapping him until he answered right, and slapped him more if he cried.
Stories of child rape and beatings are common on that particular forum. It’s the kind of place where “You were a mistake, I never should have had you,” sabotage, chronic lying, and theft of the adult child’s belongings are standard parental behaviors, and it’s not uncommon for people to talk about how many of their siblings who remained at home have killed themselves or tried to kill themselves. I limit my own reading there because I can’t handle it. And yet several times a year, members of estranged parents’ forums rediscover this particular adult children’s support forum and declare that everyone there is a bunch of spoiled brats whining because their parents didn’t buy them something.
These are people who have equally horrific stories about their own childhoods. They know abuse from the inside. When their fellow members recount their own stories, they support them with all the caring of fellow survivors.
But the moment someone is tagged as an estranged child rather than an estranged parent, a switch flips and the person is wrong, evil, spoiled, sickening. The member stops being able to see the abuse as abuse. Tucked away in their minds, subconscious and therefore unchallengeable, is the assumption that there are different rules for me and for thee, and that reality conforms to these rules.
It’s not just that estranged children are expected to accept different treatment from their parents than the estranged parents accepted from their own parents. If that were true, estranged parents would stop after telling estranged adult children that they misunderstood standard parenting of the day, or their parents meant well, or whatever other minimizing cliche they can dredge up. But when members of estranged parents’ forums skim over horrors and act like they don’t exist, they’re fixing reality. Estranged parents are good and loving. Estranged adult children are selfish and abusive. Estranged parents cannot have abused estranged adult children. Estranged adult children who say they were severely abused are lying, or they just… don’t exist.
(If you don’t acknowledge something, then it didn’t happen. Right?)
When someone rewrites another person’s reality like that, they’re showing where their boundaries lie. They can’t accept a reality in which a total stranger did something bad, because that stranger has a “same as me” tag, and if the stranger is bad then they, personally, are bad.* How much more rewriting would that person do when the one who did something bad was themselves?
* Note that “did something bad” equals “is bad.”