Mourning an abusive parent

Hi, this is along story I’m sorry if it’s inappropriate. I’m 45 and between the ages of 12-15 my father sexually and physically abused me. My pareriednts were divorced and this used to happen when I stayed with him at weekends. The first time it happened I told my mum and she told him, he accused me of lying, she believed him and so the abuse continued, he also physically abused me for lying (even though I wasn’t lying!) I told my mum again when I was 15 and she finally believed me and I haven’t really since him since (30 years). He had another daughter with someone else and she found me on Facebook a couple of years ago, we met up and tried to build a relationship but it didn’t work out. He hadn’t abused her and she didn’t really believe me and thinks the sun shines out of him, she said if he did it was only cos he’d been drinking and I should have stopped him. He was an alcoholic and believe me I tried to stop him. I hadn’t spoken to my sister for about a year and she contacted me this weekend to tell me that she was at my father’s bedside and he was dying. He lives approximately a 3 hour journey away from me. I briefly considered going but decided against it as apart from the cost of petrol and probably staying over I thought it would be too difficult for me. He has never even admitted what he did and when she asked him a couple of years ago he said that I had been very sexually aware and I had started it! I found out yesterday that he had passed away and I feel more upset than I ever thought I would, I feel some regret that I didn’t see him and great sadness that we never had a normal relationship and he never met my son (his only grandchild). My mother passed away 4 years ago and I was at her side and I had cared for her prior to her death. Despite what he did for some reason I now feel sorry for him as he drunk and smoked himself to death and had nothing to show for his life and in my own way I still love him. I have decided not to go to the funeral as again I think it will stir a lot up for me that my sister just doesn’t understand. Any thoughts would be most welcome. Thank you.

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Hi Sue,

No, it’s certainly not inappropriate to share your story here, and I’m glad that you felt able to do so. I’m so sorry to hear about how your father abused you, and the times that people didn’t believe you, or blamed this on you. I’m hope you know that the abuse was in no way your fault.

It sounds as though you feel a little confused by your emotions since his death. However, it is common for people in your situation to feel upset and to grieve for the relationship that could have been. It’s good to allow yourself to feel these feelings and not be too critical of them.

I’ve found a few previous posts by users on this site about the death of family members they had a difficult relationship with or were estranged from. You might find it helpful to read some of their experiences:

Here are some articles on other sites that you might also find useful to read:

The NAPAC (National Association for People Abused in Childhood) is also a good organisation that can offer lots of support. They have a helpline on 0808 801 0331 if you want to talk more about your feelings following your father’s death.

Thank you so much for taking the time to reply Priscilla, that’s really helpful.

Dear Sue, I am so sorry for what you have been through but I will be honest with you, he has never accepted what he did to you, he has no remorse whatsoever for what he did to you and if I was in your shoes I would hope he rots in hell. You say you still love him in your own way but perhaps that is because you lost out on a normal relationship with your dad and now there is no way of that ever being put right.

Even though your father drank it does not excuse him for what he did to you and I am so sorry that you had to go through this alone. You may be feeling sympathy for him now he is dead but he does not deserve it. At least your mother believed you in the end and you had a close relationship with her. But be honest with yourself, would you have felt okay leaving your son with a father that molested you because I know for a fact I wouldn’t. Your half sister does not believe you either even though she knew he blamed you for what happened so in fact he did admit it to her.

You should move on with your life and thank god he can’t hurt anyone else.

Take care.

Sheila xxx

Thank you Sheila, wise words and I know you’re right I didn’t expect to feel this way but I’m sure it will pass.

You are welcome and it will pass,b because you have your son to put first now and you will ensure that this never happens to him.

I will tell you something, when I was 11 years old in 1954, a teacher touched me where he should never have touched me. I ran home and told my parents who got on a bus to the bus station and reported him. He had done it before as there had been complaints but he was still teaching because the girls parents refused to let them testify in court, my parents asked me what I wanted to do and I said I wanted to go to court, I had no idea what that entailed, but it never came to it, he had an heart attack a few weeks later and died.

I know it is not the same as what you went through with your father. I had a wonderful life and did not let what happened to me change that, but when I got married and had children of our own it made me watch their every move, I refused to let them go to Scouts or anywhere else that meant men were looking after them, I told them what had happened to me and I have also told my grandchildren so they know they can always talk to someone if something happens they are worried about. I tell them there is nothing to be ashamed of because it would not be their fault it would be the fault of the person doing these things. They have all asked me questions and they know now they do not have to hide their feelings when something is not right, they can talk to their parents or talk to me about it. Even now, my grandsons are 7 and 9 and I refuse to let them use a men’s toilet, they go in with me to the ladies and you would be surprised just how many mothers take their sons into the ladies. My granddaughter is 12 and also knows what to do.

All I can tell you is to try and forget him, he was not a father, father’s take care of their children not hurt them and you deserve to live your life the best way you can for the sake of your son.

Take care.

Sheila xxxx

Sorry, not bus station but the police station.

Thank you Sheila, you sound like a wonderful mother. My son is now 19 and I’ve always been very protective and like you would never let him in public toilets! Thank you so much for responding.

Take Care Sue and have a wonderful life with your son.xx

Hi Sue
My heart went out to you when I read your post.
This is a very difficult situation for you and, as others have said, will bring up many mixed emotions for you.
I do think it would be really helpful for you to get some professional help as you struggle with your feelings (and those feelings are very normal in the circumstances). Your GP may be a good starting point as there are a number of expert psychological services now available on NHS that you can be referred to.
After what has gone on I feel it will be important for you to get some resolution and to equip yourself to face the future, without carrying this “baggage” with you, knowing that it may affect you again in the future. What happened was not your fault and you deserve to be happy.

Hi Leila

Thank you so much for your response. It’s a week now since my father died and I’ve been through every emotion this week but over the last couple of days i have felt much better and have even got to the point where I feel relieved that he isn’t alive anymore. I do see a counsellor weekly at the moment because of some depression and anger issues I have. I saw her this morning and it helped greatly. Thank you for your understanding and advice.

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I realise this is from a while ago but apart from having a brother who was also abused I could of wrote this…
My father died on the 23rd of September. I had not seen him for 9 years. I feel conflicted & v sorry for him and I ve no idea how to grieve or not. I seem to be okay then I m really not. I wondered if you had any advice Please!
Thank you…

Hi. Sue. Sexual abuse is such a difficult subject to discuss because it can arouse so many emotions in women that they may have thought they had forgotten. A girls father is a role model for all men. If he is abusive and cruel then that impression can be what the adult woman may think all men are like. In the course of counselling I talked to many women who were abused as children. Some even feel it was their fault it happened. Although this is obviously untrue it does stick in the mind. Have you had any counselling? As Priscilla says, this is not at all inappropriate because so many women have had this awful experience. Its so sad that more don’t open up as you have because getting such experiences out in the open is therapeutic. It’s a sad fact but true that ninety percent of abuse occurs in the home environment, and is a lot more common they we may think. It is hidden most of the time because of the fear and shame that may follow. When girls are not believed who can they turn too? The very person who should give comfort is the abuser. Mothers tend do go into denial in such situations. A girl is accused of ‘making it all up’. It affects all their adult relationships, and can take a lot of patient care on the part of the counsellor to begin to remove the doubt and guilt that is felt.
You may be mourning for the father who never was. It so often happens that in spite of the abuse the love remains. This can be so confusing and can lead to self doubt and a lack of self esteem. ‘I must have been bad for it to happen’ This is a common response to abuse.
It’s so good you are on here and have raised this subject. It may bring other women who have suffered too to open up.
Bless you. Be kind to yourself and take care. John.

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