Why do family ignore & invalidate abuse?

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LOLmylife

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Why do family ignore & invalidate abuse?
« on: May 03, 2021, 06:20:55 PM »
I'm NC with my BPD sister who has been living with our enabling mom for many years now (we are getting close to 40 years old).

When eMom brings up "making amends" with my BPDsis, I remind her of why I went NC to begin with (years of physical & emotional abuse that culminated with BPDsis attacking me while I was very pregnant).

My eMom just gets very quiet when I remind her that that incident was the final straw for me. Then she plays "both sides" and says she "understands both sides" because I apparently hurt BPDsis when I went NC and wasn't around to support her trying to get off drugs...
For eMom, violently attacking a pregnant woman is equivalent to the hurt caused by distancing onesself from a BPD drug addict with unpredictable violent outbursts...

I just can't wrap my head around these justifications & attempts to minimize what was clearly abuse (my childhood was rife with weekly beatings by my sister--it wasn't even safe to share a room with her, so I shared with my mom until I was 18).

She just refuses to see it as abuse and wants me to apologize to my BPD sister.

Any tips on how to understand my eMom's perspective without getting myself angry & feeling gaslit/abandoned/overdrammatic about this?

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FoggedFrog

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Re: Why do family ignore & invalidate abuse?
« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2021, 06:41:06 PM »
Hi LOLmylife!

I'm so sorry you are going through all this. It is tough.
I sympathize with you truly, we seem to have very similar circumstances.
And for what it's worth, I do not think you are "overdramatic" at all. You are simply responding with what you can respectfully control - yourself.

We have to realize that in a dysfunctional family, there is mental illness. I've come to learn, it is not just our PD family members who are sick. Depending on to what extent, enabling family members - even if they do not have a PD - are still in some way sick. Their mind is warped by years and years of trauma and survival/coping mechanisms. So I don't necessarily understand it, but I feel sorry for them and I can accept that this is the way things are. I don't think it will ever totally stop hurting. But time and care for ourselves can do a lot of healing. Our worth goes farther than our FOO, even if it's hard to see now and it is definitely hard to learn.

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Call Me Cordelia

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Re: Why do family ignore & invalidate abuse?
« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2021, 10:50:24 PM »
“Well, I guess sis isn’t willing to apologize  to me either. Looks like a non-starter mom. I’m not going to talk about this anymore.”

If she’s playing the “both sides” game, what about sis apologizing to you, eh? If it’s imperative for you, it would be at least as much so for her. :stars: I do wonder if FMs ever try to get the abusive party to make amends. In my situation I highly doubt it. I know it’s not my business anyway. But I think the responsibility is put on us because we rocked the boat, we “caused” the discomfort for the enablers by having boundaries all of a sudden, and past experience has taught them we are accommodating sorts. It has nothing to do with truth or justice. It’s also not personal, as in they don’t really recognize the harm to us. It has to be minimized or dismissed if their false belief system is to hold, similar to how a narcissist must maintain the image of their false self, to get kind of psychobabble-y. Your mom getting real quiet screamed out “cognitive dissonance!” to me. Truth and trauma fought it out... and trauma won again. I completely agree with the enablers also responding from a place of trauma/survival. That definitely rings true in my experience.

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sandpiper

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Re: Why do family ignore & invalidate abuse?
« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2021, 01:32:04 AM »
My therapist would have said 'What is the pay-off for them?'
FOO will always try to get you to Change Back when you find healthier ways of living that make their lives uncomfortable.
When you remove yourself as the target of an abuser, they'll need to find someone else to scapegoat.
The new targets won't like that and they will try to restore the old status quo in order to make their lives easier.
When people try to frame abuse as a disagreement it's a good indicator that they don't want to acknowledge that the abuse is real.
In the past I've dealt with this by shrugging and saying 'This isn't about me holding a grudge or keeping score. This is about me doing what I need to do in order to protect my mental/physical health and/or my personal safety. If you choose to see that as something else, that's your choice, but you don't get to tell me what to think, how to feel, or what to do.'

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LOLmylife

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Re: Why do family ignore & invalidate abuse?
« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2021, 12:35:01 PM »
Thank you for understanding!
You're right about my mom still being sick and using what coping/survival skills she can. I know living with my BPDsis is difficult on her, but ultimately it's her choice.
Thankfully I have another sibling that's NC from her and they are in my corner/don't invalidate my truth. It's just so damn hard--I feel like my mom wouldn't brush it under the rug if it was, say, my husband who was treating me like BPDsis does.
I'm working on detaching with love and, as you said, controlling myself.
So glad there's this safe space where other people "get it".

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LOLmylife

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Re: Why do family ignore & invalidate abuse?
« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2021, 12:44:24 PM »
“Well, I guess sis isn’t willing to apologize  to me either. Looks like a non-starter mom. I’m not going to talk about this anymore.”

If she’s playing the “both sides” game, what about sis apologizing to you, eh? If it’s imperative for you, it would be at least as much so for her. :stars: I do wonder if FMs ever try to get the abusive party to make amends. In my situation I highly doubt it. I know it’s not my business anyway. But I think the responsibility is put on us because we rocked the boat, we “caused” the discomfort for the enablers by having boundaries all of a sudden, and past experience has taught them we are accommodating sorts. It has nothing to do with truth or justice. It’s also not personal, as in they don’t really recognize the harm to us. It has to be minimized or dismissed if their false belief system is to hold, similar to how a narcissist must maintain the image of their false self, to get kind of psychobabble-y. Your mom getting real quiet screamed out “cognitive dissonance!” to me. Truth and trauma fought it out... and trauma won again. I completely agree with the enablers also responding from a place of trauma/survival. That definitely rings true in my experience.

Thanks Cordelia, I will study up on cognitive dissonance to gain a more compassionate understanding of where mom is coming from.
As for BPDsis apologizing, I've actually suggested it, telling mom "If BPDsis wants to reach out and take responsibility for her actions, I'm open to hearing her. I haven't blocked my phone number and she knows my address. Ball is in her court".
Mom never has anything to say about that, so she clearly expects me to step up and unrock the boat (meanwhile, BPDsis is running a smear campaign against me & trying to turn anyone she poached from my social media against me). Obviously this behavior tells me she hasn't changed & will continue to hurt and "punish" me for having boundaries.

But to mom, I'm somehow the one who needs to come forward and smooth it all over because BPDsis is just "reacting out of hurt". Ugh--do they hear themselves??

Growing up, mom never intervened in my BPDsisters violence towards me or punished her for it, so I just got used to locking myself in my room for safety (pushing a dresser against the door to keep her out cuz she broke the door), sneaking out the window, and spending every minute away from my home because of the danger. I even called Child Services once, who found the environment abusive but nothing ever came of it except I had to go to therapy & figure out safety strategies.

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LOLmylife

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Re: Why do family ignore & invalidate abuse?
« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2021, 12:48:03 PM »
My therapist would have said 'What is the pay-off for them?'
FOO will always try to get you to Change Back when you find healthier ways of living that make their lives uncomfortable.
When you remove yourself as the target of an abuser, they'll need to find someone else to scapegoat.
The new targets won't like that and they will try to restore the old status quo in order to make their lives easier.
When people try to frame abuse as a disagreement it's a good indicator that they don't want to acknowledge that the abuse is real.
In the past I've dealt with this by shrugging and saying 'This isn't about me holding a grudge or keeping score. This is about me doing what I need to do in order to protect my mental/physical health and/or my personal safety. If you choose to see that as something else, that's your choice, but you don't get to tell me what to think, how to feel, or what to do.'

That's a helpful way to frame the discussion. My mom is definitely uncomfortable seeing abuse for what it is and I won't let her hold me hostage to the status quo, even if she chooses to continue enabling.

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moglow

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Re: Why do family ignore & invalidate abuse?
« Reply #7 on: May 05, 2021, 01:31:09 PM »
You could flat out say - I'm not interested in "making amends" and I'd appreciate it if you'd stop bringing it up. She made a deliberate attack on me and has failed to recognize or admit her behavior. All you've done since has been to throw it back in my lap as if I have something to do. I'm not interested. So tell me - how's your flower garden going this year? Anything new there?" And keep on changing the subject on her. If she persists, feel free to back off contact to your comfort level.

I tend to agree with others above - you've changed the status quo and they're uncomfortable. Mom may need someone to take the burden off. Not.Your.Stuff. You keep doing what you do and what's best for you.
"Expectations are disappointments under construction.”  ~ Cap'n Spanky

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Starboard Song

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Re: Why do family ignore & invalidate abuse?
« Reply #8 on: May 05, 2021, 02:13:37 PM »
Not.Your.Stuff. You keep doing what you do and what's best for you.

Read more about My Stuff / Your Stuff in our Toolbox.
« Last Edit: May 05, 2021, 02:17:50 PM by Starboard Song »
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Sheppane

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Re: Why do family ignore & invalidate abuse?
« Reply #9 on: May 15, 2021, 04:32:12 PM »
Hi LOLmylife I agree with a lot of what has been said here. You asked any tips for understanding her perspective? I would ask is there need ? IME bending over backwards to understand others perspective is a large part of the problem - clearly no one is making any attempts to understand your perspective but as others have pointed out you setting boundaries has caused the family system to destabilise and now your Mom wants you to "make amends " because she / they don't like it or the family system feels unsettled.
Coming OOTF is about you and your needs and I can really relate to the dynamic of the full force of an enabling duo. No need to explain yourself that is a tactic to put you on the defence and reel you in by doubting your perceptions/ your truth " maybe they are right / what if I'm wrong ". NO!!! Honour yourself and your needs and feelings here. Their views/ thoughts / perspectives belong to them. Keep the focus on you  :)

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JenniferSmith

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Re: Why do family ignore & invalidate abuse?
« Reply #10 on: May 15, 2021, 10:56:25 PM »
But I think the responsibility is put on us because we rocked the boat, we “caused” the discomfort for the enablers by having boundaries all of a sudden,

When there is abuse in a family, its rarely isolated to a single individual in one nuclear family. More likely is that there are inter-generational patterns of unhealthy relationships passed down for decades in different forms and variations. Each person is embedded into these dynamics at birth, and will remain in them until they make a conscious choice to change.

So those of us who attempt to do that - to change, to heal, to grow, to become better, yes, we rock the boat big time. And this is distressing for the others in the network because we are no longer acting in the role we've been assigned to for years or decades. Its threatening to the others because it plants that little seed of doubt in their mind .... if that person is changing, then what does that mean for me now?  The person may not even be conscious of that seed being planted, but its there.

Each person in this dysfunctional network will respond to that seed in different ways. Some are more threatened than others. Ideally, you have an ally somewhere in the family network. That definitely can make it easier to make changes to become more healthy when you have some support and validation like that.

I think its much harder when there are no allies.

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Hepatica

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Re: Why do family ignore & invalidate abuse?
« Reply #11 on: May 31, 2021, 10:22:58 AM »
I think it might be simply, what does your mother want? She wants you to be her helper, it seems to me. She's trying to pull you in, using guilt. In both cases your mother and sister show no empathy or compassion for what you went through. Red flags.

It's okay to back away from that. You have every right to take care of yourself and your family. They have every right to get the help they need to really evolve and change. If neither of them have said a humble, honest apology and told you they are aware of how much you were hurt, then I would ignore the request by your mother and note that she shows no compassion for you. If she needs help caring for your sister, she should seek counselling.
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nanotech

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Re: Why do family ignore & invalidate abuse?
« Reply #12 on: May 31, 2021, 01:45:53 PM »
My therapist would have said 'What is the pay-off for them?'
FOO will always try to get you to Change Back when you find healthier ways of living that make their lives uncomfortable.
When you remove yourself as the target of an abuser, they'll need to find someone else to scapegoat.
The new targets won't like that and they will try to restore the old status quo in order to make their lives easier.
When people try to frame abuse as a disagreement it's a good indicator that they don't want to acknowledge that the abuse is real.
In the past I've dealt with this by shrugging and saying 'This isn't about me holding a grudge or keeping score. This is about me doing what I need to do in order to protect my mental/physical health and/or my personal safety. If you choose to see that as something else, that's your choice, but you don't get to tell me what to think, how to feel, or what to do.'

“That's a helpful way to frame the discussion. My mom is definitely uncomfortable seeing abuse for what it is and I won't let her hold me hostage to the status quo, even if she chooses to continue enabling. “

“When people try to frame abuse as a disagreement....”
Yes this is what happened with my FOO. I hadn’t really got it into my head that this is what they were doing- but that’s it in a nutshell.
OP I hope you are okay. The thing about smear campaigns are- in time they are always invalidated. The way you live your life will diminish such duel gossip.
I know how hard it is though- we want them to see what they do. My lot never will so it’s low to no contact for me. I keep well away now, from these unhealthy relationships.  Nanotech
« Last Edit: May 31, 2021, 02:11:27 PM by nanotech »

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JustKeepTrying

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Re: Why do family ignore & invalidate abuse?
« Reply #13 on: June 01, 2021, 02:06:30 AM »
An interesting thread

I am approaching this as an ex-wife with three kids who experienced trauma and are struggling today from the abuse of their OCPDfather.  As a mother, I saw my children emotionally manipulated, yelled at and so much more.  I looked the other way thinking it wasn't real.  Granted the worst was when I was in chemo and I could barely function.  But still, I did at one point get ready to go to a shelter and I should have.  I wasn't ready to come Out of the FOG.  I wasn't strong enough.  I had so much trauma in my own life I couldn't do it.  Now, after therapy, while I am still shakey at times, I can and I am able to admit - hey, I did what I could with what I knew.

And I knew it intellectually.  But I couldn't get that to mesh with me emotionally.

My sister is NPD.  My mother would never give up on her.  My sister was very abusive and I am NC with her.  And my mother took her side.  It was awful and one of our worst fights.  Mom refused to give up on her.  Now I understand, that at that time, 20 years ago when my mom was alive, PDs were not something we knew a lot about - at least in the mainstream.  I knew the term narcissist but I did not know it was a real disorder.

My advice to you is to be kind to your mom.  You don't have to do what she asks and she isn't ready to meet you where you are.  That doesn't mean she doesn't love and is trying her best with the tools she has.

I am the product of generational trauma.  I hope that I can stop it here.

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theonetoblame

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Re: Why do family ignore & invalidate abuse?
« Reply #14 on: June 01, 2021, 03:18:51 AM »
I would tend toward the perspective of JenniferSmith that many people grow up in dysfunctional family systems and never reach a point of recognizing how they have internalized and replicated the toxicity and dysfunction as part of an inter-generational pattern of abuse. Because they have always steeped in this stew, many people with this background are simply blind to dysfunctional and abusive behavior within themselves and others. From this perspective, it seems possible your mom simply doesn't see the problem.   

It is also entirely possible your mom is disrupted by your actions, has an agenda etc., but the idea that she is 'abuse blind' feels more benign to me. Personally, I would prefer ignorance to malicious intent even though stubborn ignorance will probably lead to the same dysfunctional outcome of family breakdown.

In a perfect world, I would hope your mom is simply ignorant but not stubborn. In this rosy, idealistic world there would be a chance of educating her about how and why your sister is harmful in your life. Then I would hope she either accepts that the two of you aren't in contact or (hear the angels sing) changes tact and begins pressuring your sister for behavioral change, entering therapy etc. One can always fantasize.   

My post is purely conjecture though, guesses and thoughts drawn from my own experiences. Good luck, you'll figure it out :)