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#311008 - 11/19/09 10:26 PM Is this abuse?
AndyJB2005 Offline

Registered: 11/14/06
Posts: 1249
Loc: Minnesota
When I was 11 1/2 I moved in with my mom and her partner Julie. I had spent the majority of my life with my grandparents' house before then. Well, one time my mom had found a photograph of me at this outdoors party we had gone to sometime, I think when I was seeing her on a visit, but I can't remember when it was taken. Anyway, in the picture I was looking at something on the ground as this woman walked by, and, from the perspective of the camera, it appeared that I was looking at this woman's backside. I remember they teased me relentlessly about the picture, and would not let it go for at least a few weeks it feels like -- even magnet-ing it to the refrigerator. I remember I felt really icky and dirty and angry that they would accuse me of this and when I said I wasn't looking they didn't believe me, and I felt almost violated by their continual need to embarrass me in that manner.

I guess to most it would sound like harmless teasing, but to me it felt dirty; possibly due to my abuse, but this feels at least way over the "appropriate boundaries" line in the sand. I dare call it abuse, but I'm not really sure.

I guess with my history, and being on the brink of puberty, it really struck a nerve.

Life's disappointments are harder to take when you don't know any swear words. -- Calvin (Calvin and Hobbes)

#311014 - 11/19/09 11:02 PM Re: Is this abuse? [Re: AndyJB2005]
myboyhoodfears Offline

Registered: 03/13/09
Posts: 457
your experience is similar to several experiences i had while growing up, i wouldn't necessarily call it abuse but it definitely is mean spirited and humiliating,...which i think can be very traumatizing in certain circumstances...some of my (similar) experiences had a deep affect on me and i still harbor some resentment toward those involved...funny how some things seem so minor in our childhoods, but when we really examine them they end up being rather pivotal in many respects.

Post Nubilia Pheobus

#311032 - 11/20/09 01:56 AM Re: Is this abuse? [Re: myboyhoodfears]
Anarion Cti Offline

Registered: 03/23/09
Posts: 157
Loc: Eastern US
I'd call it verbal and emotional abuse. The opposite of the affirmation of your innocence, and part of the emotional deprivation to which you were subjected. I affirm your assessment of it, Andy.

"Thou, O Lord, are the shield about me;
You're my helper,
You're the one who lifts up my head."
"Whom have I in heaven or earth but You?"

#311035 - 11/20/09 02:09 AM Re: Is this abuse? [Re: AndyJB2005]
kidneythis Offline

Registered: 11/09/09
Posts: 1558
Pretty harsh even for joking. I've been subjected to the same sort of thing hundreds of times and it felt just as bad each time. I am real good at forgetting because of the abuse. I never do understand what is supposed to be so funny or what they get out of it.
I've come to understand that they enjoy my pain and discomfort because it is so incongruous for an adult. I never learned and don't seem able to learn how to handle it. Apparently the response is indicative of character. I think it only means you've been taught how to respond or not.

As Mark Twain once quipped, history may not repeat itself, but it does rhyme.

#311163 - 11/20/09 07:38 PM Re: Is this abuse? [Re: kidneythis]
onlyakid Offline

Registered: 03/31/04
Posts: 1577
Loc: New Jersey
Yeah I don't know if it fits the defination of abuse but it is certainly not appropriate for family members let alone anyone to do to you. Just like the abuse it wasn't your fault and you did not deserve it.


"Being with people that understand you...Priceless"

"and i don't want the world to see me, cause i don't think that they'd understand"

"You don't know what love just do as your told"

"My life has changed. What you take as a simple thing, is not so simple for me anymore"

#311180 - 11/20/09 09:41 PM Re: Is this abuse? [Re: onlyakid]
Casmir213 Offline

Registered: 05/14/09
Posts: 851
Loc: Northeast, USA

In certain households, like my dysfunctional alcoholic family system, the members use shame as a means of keeping everyone in line and as a way of teaching lessons. It's basically used as a form of control and discipline. It seems that this is what your mother and her partner were doing to you. They probably had resentments against typical "guy" behaviors (e.g. checking women out), which if taken to extremes and done in a mean spirited way could be demeaning and humiliating to women. And, although this was NOT what you were doing when you were 11 1/2 years old, they still used that picture as an opportunity to instill in you that what it "appeared" that you were doing was wrong. And they tried to accomplish this through shaming you. It is a very powerful way of manipulating and controling a person's behavior, and when it is done in childhood it could have very long lasting effects. Nevertheless, it is a mean and cruel thing to do to a person under any circumstances.

All kinds of harmful messages could have been sent to you from this experience. Ones that come to the top of my mind are that it's not okay to be a man, that men are filthy pigs, that men are bad, that it's not okay to be sexually attracted to females, etc. But you'd have to figure that out for yourself.

By putting that picture up on the fridge for a week, in essence you could have learned at that point that it was not okay to be a heterosexual male. Those shaming experiences that we experience in childhood can be very powerful and have lasting effects.

I'm glad you selected this experience out as a post, because it has brought your attention to something that I think is worth looking into further to uncover hidden meanings and messages that might have been taken away from that experience.

Take care,


Edited by Casmir213 (11/20/09 09:42 PM)
I see recovery as a lifelong journey rather than a final destination, a journey, though, which can have many successes along the way.

WoR Alumnus - Hope Springs, OH, October 2009

My avatar is the farmhouse at the Hope Spring, OH WoR. It's a nice place.

#311184 - 11/20/09 10:18 PM Re: Is this abuse? [Re: Casmir213]
Trucker51 Offline

Registered: 05/21/08
Posts: 2826
Loc: Denver, CO
I am going to concur with Anarion and Rocco. Sure, in the beginning, it was a little harmless fun. But as the days and weeks dragged by and the photo was posted where everyone could see it and continue to give you a hard time for it, a line was crossed into cruelty and emotional abuse. I'm thinking that a good laugh and then a hug would have been a much more appropriate response, and then it should have been dropped. Over time you became ashamed of the photo and obviously still carry the negative effects of that shame to this day.


"We stay here, we die here. We've got to keep moving". Trucker Mark

#311235 - 11/21/09 04:45 AM Re: Is this abuse? [Re: Trucker51]
Bewlayb1 Offline

Registered: 08/04/07
Posts: 243
Loc: NYC
That was really messed up of them. I can certainly relate to teasing from family members. My mother was an alcoholic, she always made fun of my ears and my older brother's weight. As a result, my brother took out his self-hatred on me. During and after the abuse, his taunts affected me more deeply. While I was being abused, I gained weight. My brother frequently grabbed my stomach and called me fat. Because of the abuse, I hated anyone touching me. He called me gay and stupid. My parents didn't really care. For awhile, I despised him.

Comments in high school stung just as deeply. My mother would often say I'd become a priest, because I had no interest in sex. She'd laugh at me instead of asking what had gone wrong. Casimir had a point about dysfunctional families using shame as a means of control. I wouldn't call what you described as "abuse." It sounds like the actions of two immature and destructive people who didn't know how to care for a child. They probably didn't fully realize how they were hurting you. If not for the abuse, you may not have even been that upset. You were wounded and sensitive; you required understanding, attention and comfort. They weren't capable of providing it. Parents like your mother may love their children, but they hate themselves, so their love can only manifest in the form of cruelty.

It's important to realize that they failed you. Still, I would advise against dwelling on it. It seems to me like they were too self absorbed and childish to grasp what they were doing. Even if they apologize, you won't feel better. They were terrible guardians and pathetic people, but holding onto you anger will only drain you. I'm not saying you have to forgive them. Just try to let go of the pain.

#311237 - 11/21/09 05:04 AM Re: Is this abuse? [Re: Trucker51]
its_a_marathon Offline

Registered: 08/20/09
Posts: 31
It was abusive to treat you the way they did. They violated your boundaries by making what they perceived as your sexuality an issue to be joked about and teased. Had this gone on at your school(or other place where you would be around peers) it would have been very humiliating to have been taunted in this way by your peers. So that your mother, the one you are supposed to be able to run to when you would be treated like this, did this herself must be traumatizing. You have every reason in the world to be grossed out by this and to in a safe way let out rage at what was done to you and grieve at this loss of innocense at the hands of your mother.

Wish you well in this maze of dealing with what we have been through...

#311261 - 11/21/09 01:49 PM Re: Is this abuse? [Re: its_a_marathon]
Riley Offline

Registered: 01/11/09
Posts: 599
Loc: USA
I too can relate. My parents were real big at teasing and making fun of. I was always very ashamed by underwear, I didn't like talk about it, walk around in it, or have anything to do with it. Once my Mom got wind of the embarrassment it was all over for years.

The one time that stands out in my head is, I was probably 11/12ish and it most have been some kind of birthday party or something and everybody was there, family and friends. I opened up a present and it was underwear, so I tried to non-nonchalantly close it without making a scene. Well, she decided it would be ok to tell everyone at the party how if you even mention underwear I'll get all embarrassed. I was furious. When me and my friend left the room he said underwear and I gave him a bloody nose. It made me feel like I could never trust my parents. If she thought it would be ok to tell everyone what makes me embarrassed then what is she going to say if I tell her what happens at night, is she gonna tell everyone that too.

So yes, definitely I view that as over the "appropriate boundaries" line.

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