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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5809
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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My stepfather began to sexually molest me at age 13 - I

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My stepfather began to sexually molest me at age 13 - I finally told my mother at 19 and she kicked me out of the house. She finally left him after two years. I moved away from my home state and have been gone 44 years. At 57 when I go home it's always there, seething under the surface and the conversations always return to "that time" and this last time when I was home I was finally brave enough to ask her why she chose him over me and she basically said it was about money....I was incredulous. It didn't have anything to do with saving me, or her younger daughter she had with him. I acted out for years - sexually for revenge - went through multiple marriages - alcohol, drugs, etc. I finally got my life together in my early 30's and have been happily married, graduated from college and have had a successful career. Going home is toxic for me. It's like returning to the scene of the crime and all my mother and I do is dance around each other in this awkward, painful slow dance that usually erupts into fights - she was always good at yelling, screaming and being a drama queen - something which I cannot handle. I do not know how to pursue a healthy relationship with her and think it's too late. I do not want to go home anymore because the cost is too high. Is this wrong?

Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.

No, it is not wrong for you to not go home anymore. Your childhood was horrific and your mother was part of the abuse. She is a reminder of what you suffered.

Your mother was supposed to protect you from the abuse you suffered. She not only did not listen to you, she made you leave, picking your abusive step father over her you, her own child. This is not the behavior of a mentally healthy individual.

By going back to your home as an adult, you are re traumatizing yourself. Your mother has given no indication that she intends on changing or even that she is sorry about how she abused you. She continues acting out and displays poor coping skills. She also continues to abuse you emotionally. She is not there for your needs and at this point only seems to be thinking of herself.

Adults abused as children often feel they are obligated to keep a relationship with their abusive parents after they leave home. But if the parents have not made amends or tried to repair the damage they have done, the child is exposed again and again to the same abusive behavior, which often becomes emotional in nature since the parent no longer has physical control over their children.

What helps is to realize that if you had been treated like this by a stranger, the perpetrator would have been arrested and jailed and no one would expect you to communicate with them or see them voluntarily again. You were victimized. Just because you are related to your mother does not mean you have to see her.

At this point, it is important that you start protecting yourself and caring for yourself. You have worked through the trauma of your childhood and came out healthy and successful. Re traumatizing yourself does not help you. Seeing your mother is a fruitless effort that only hurts you. You are allowed to choose to not see her. This will mean a loss but it it a purposeful loss. You may need time to mourn. Deciding to end contact with your mother will mean the loss of a chance for recovery. But the alternative is to keep in contact in hopes that she will see her actions for what they are and suddenly change. The effort is not worth the trauma it causes you.

Keep working on yourself and your feelings about this. There are several good resources to help you. Here are some to get you started:

Adult Children of Abusive Parents: A Healing Program for Those Who Have Been Physically, Sexually, or Emotionally Abused by Steven Farmer

Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life by Susan Forward and Craig Buck

An Adult Child's Guide to What's 'Normal' by John C. Friel Ph.D. and Linda D. Friel M.A.

You can find these books on or your local library may have them for you.

You may also want to consider support groups on line or in person to help you through this time. Here is a link to help:

With time, you will gain strength from your decision to move on. With the right support and learning what you can about abuse survivors, you will feel better.

I hope this has helped you,

TherapistMarryAnn and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you

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Customer: replied 5 years ago.


Your answer has had me so overwhelmed because I knew what it would be - I've been crying all this time. I know I need to say goodbye - part of me doesn't want to let go of all those years that I remember my mother as a fun, exciting, wonderful, loving mother - until she married this man - then everything in our world changed. She has been unstable all our lives. I begin to tell you the emotional trauma we have suffered at her hands, not to mention the sexual molestation I suffered. We also believe, sadly, he got to his own biological daughter, my half sister, who is seriously manic-depressive. In any case, I have always known that I must say goodbye - it's just that there is my other older sister who lives by my mother who I have a close relationship with and I don't know how to negotiate those rough waters - although she has as little to do with our mother as possible. My mother loves to play uproar with us and keep things in an excited state all the time. If she's not the center of the universe she will create events where we have to go and rescue her all the time. It's exhausting. When I come home to try to help things get even more spun up and, incredibly, my siblings say "You're the strong one in the family." They have no idea how really fragile I am. It's why I live 800 miles away. My life is quiet, calm, and helping. Their lives at home are always in turmoil and emotionally draining. I have chosen a soothing, somewhat misanthropic path. I live rather reclusively. Don't have lots of friends - a few very well chosen people I trust. I have an amazing daughter and husband and am content in my tiny world that I control who enters. I guess this makes sense based on all I've learned and from your response. I told mother on my recent visit home that I have never worked through the grief of losing that sweet adolescent girl I was and that I felt like I had to do that - and now on top of learning that I must mourn the loss of my mother is just making me feel sadder than I thought. But I am also strong enough to realize the terrible truths that come with some histories that are untenable. My story with my mother ended 44 years ago - and we've been pretenders to ever since. It's just time for it to be over. I do hate to break her heart - that part of her which is still the mother who loves her little girl - but, she did make her choice - and she sought therapy for herself and not me/us and she never asked me anything or inquired about how I was doing. So, after 44 years, it's too late. It's just, sadly, too late. I am not going home and I am saying goodbye...

Thanks for your referrals - I've written everything down and will begin the conversation with other survivors. I think that will really be beneficial.


Oh Mary, my heart breaks for you. You have suffered a lot because of your mother's choices and the abuse from her and your stepfather.

I would encourage you to keep your relationship with your older sister. I am sure you both could make arrangements to keep in contact and keep your mother out of it as much as possible. You need some family to help you deal with the loss of your relationship with your mother.

You can also set boundaries with your mother if you must see her at all. It is hard, but you can keep yourself emotionally distant and removed from her actions. It takes some practice and a lot of self talk to get you through, but it is possible.

Saying goodbye to the relationship you could have had with your mother is no easy feat. It is basically letting the mother she should have been to you go. But allow yourself time to work this through. Express how you feel about it. Write a letter to the mom you wished for. Imagine her. Draw her with you making cookies. Whatever it takes to help you process your pain and give you peace.

Also, talk to the sweet and innocent girl you once were. She is still part of you. Although the abuse took away a part of her, she still survives.

Your mother sounds very damaged. To put your own children through such horrific abuse and not feel sorry or guilty over it takes an unstable person. Your description of her makes me wonder if she might have narcissistic and maybe borderline personality disorders. She could also have histrionic personality disorder as well. Although it does not excuse what she did to you, it does help you understand why she may act like she does.

If you feel it would help you, I would be happy to work with you on Just Answer if you choose. It does not substitute for in person therapy, but sometimes having someone who is available more frequently and who can provide answers and input helps you heal faster. If you would like to do this, let me know. I can describe how it works.

I am so glad you wrote back and reached out to me. Your situation touches my heart. I also find hope in your strength and survival from such abuse. You are amazing.

If I can help any further, please let me know.


TherapistMarryAnn and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Kate: Thank you for further insights and suggestions. I have a lot to think about - I got home Sunday night and have been very sad these last few days...seems a few more sad days are ahead of me. I think I can handle it. You have been more helpful than I can ever express adequately in an email.

I'm going to be okay. I always live in the present and look forward. It's only when I go home that the past rises up to overtake me. I just need for that to stop. Your confirmation of what I felt like I needed to do for my head and my heart is all I needed to hear. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.


You're welcome, Mary! I am so glad we made this connection and even more glad that you felt helped. Abuse so is painful and can be hard to live with. You have done a remarkable job overcoming your experiences.

Take care,