Abuse, abuse implies that someone with power misuses that power, moreover that it has an effect on other people.
I grew up in a home that was for the most part a good home, yet in subtle way's abuse touched our lives. I've not liked to talk about it, or else if I have I have dumped out the tumult of mixed feelings and messages leading to confusion about what I'm talking about.
Our family has a difficult time with communication. If there is a touchy subject we tip toe around it and suffer our burdens in silence. This is a large contributor I believe to unresolved pain that has filtered through from past generations, my parents, to my generation.
We've been told that our Grandpa D was a truck driver, that he would come home infrequently, drunk and angry. That he would line up the kids and smack their backsides with a belt. We've been told about my mothers brothers, how they tormented and tortured her. I know that Grandma D died from a horrific accident, that she was hit by a drunk driver. I know all of this, I know my mother walked the streets for miles trying to get over the accident... honestly though I think that sometimes she functions, but is not over what has happened to her. So my mother has carried these burdens into life as a mother and they in turn affected us.
My father, his father was an alcoholic. He returned from WWII with deep scars and a few jagged pieces of shrapnel in his hip. In a lot of ways he withdrew from life, in other ways he was a straightforward man who worked hard to provide for his family and he loved his wife, my Grandma C very much. My fathers life was filled with subtle abuse, anger and railings, bits of discouragement, snippets of cutting statements that undermined his belief in himself. My dad rebelled against these things, hung out with some low types for a while, drove a motorcycle (gasp). Then he turned his life around, gained a testimony of the gospel and went on a mission. When he returned from that mission he found that he had effected his dad and that Grandpa C wanted to be baptized.
The subtle abuses my dad suffered were brought into our lives through the anger that he would let loose upon us at times. I still remember that my dad broke my toy broom and threw it down the stairs, I was four at the time.
The subtle abuses created a home for us where our physical needs were cared for, but where chaos reigned at times because the lines of communication seemed to be permanently down between mom and dad. If dad got over angry, mom would withdraw into herself. Mom spent a lot of time reading, to me it seemed like she was gone a lot...
Dad railed the most on my little brother Daniel, though my older brother Jonathan received some. Jono is autistic so escaped comments about being stupid.
I subtly hid
At school I hid, I was picked on so I would try to hide and blend in. School was not fun for me.
Academics were characterized by struggle. In third grade I was put into the lower of two math classes and there were girls that liked to cheat off of my homework. I dealt with this by staying home and doing all of the homework in the book, turning it in and asking to be put in the greater class. Unfortunately I wasn't really ready for that class. Math was a swirling blur of incomprehension that carried through to college. In high school I was inadvertently put into an algebra class that was to hard for me. Dad didn't want me to transfer out of it but to push through. I remember studying with him many nights and I still didn't get what he was saying, I just couldn't do it. I felt like such a failure when I dumped the class and went to an easier one. Then I was so ashamed that I didn't like going to class, I didn't learn much in that class either. My cousin and I would ask my dad for help and he would explain things in so much detail that we would get lost and end up crying.
I got my share of that when trying to explain Math to my 9 year old. Now I understand that he was frustrated as well... then... we just thought he was mean.
In my marriage, abuse was subtle as well. I was 16 when I got married, I was far too young. He was angry on our wedding night because he wanted to play basketball with his cousins, not go on a honeymoon.
He was unfaithful to me, I didn't understand. His family sent him back to Tonga, I spent a grueling amount of time getting him back. Then when he came he was a curse and a blessing. He worked hard, but he would get angry with our kids. There were so many sessions where he hit them and I didn't know what to do...
All of these things have worked to undermine my own sense of self and my own determination. It is hard to stand up, now that I've divorced my husband and all of those previous episodes have dimmed, in order to walk firmly with resolution into the future.
That's what I must do though. I've had my bouts with math, went back to the beginning to try to conquer it, even now it is affecting me as I need to prepare to take the GMAT but don't feel up to it. Battle with math again? or fight a different fight? That's the question that is looming on my horizon...
In any case, I want to be proactive about my emotions. I don't want to minimize and not deal with my emotions, but I don't want to play the victims role. I want the psychological traumas to simply go away...