Bullied into silence

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Bullied into silence

Post by MerryRose »

CW emotional abuse, abandonment threats, mention of sexual abuse, relational (domestic) verbal abuse.

Last time I was talking to my sister, a bell kept ringing in the back of my brain about silence. Silence imposed by our mother- not just that she so often told us to be quiet, especially in public, but it was always clear there were acceptable things to say, and non-acceptable ones, and God help you if you dared broach an unacceptable one.

I've been grappling with whether a story of sexual abuse I never felt allowed to tell is true or not. My rational mind says that vivid body memory, the intrusive thoughts I can feel in my body are real. Rational mind says it's true but my brain shoved it deep into my subconscious because I was terrified that "Mommy will go away and leave you if you tell her what happened." which is that I, her adopted child was molested by her biological child, her firstborn. The part of my brain conditioned by my mother says that it's not true, and I'm a crazy, lying bitch who wants attention. Either way, I am silenced. I can't tell the story because it never happened, or I can't tell the story because my brain is terrified to let me tell, because Mommy will leave. She did threaten to leave sometimes when she thought we kids, or my dad weren't acting right. So I wasn't about to be the one to say the thing to make her leave. I was silenced.

My sister's response to not being allowed to speak was much more literal than mine. She had selective/elective mutism, meaning, although she is physically/mechanically able to speak, she did not speak in certain settings. The literature used to frame it as a "refusal" to speak- I hope it no longer does. What I saw in my sister's case was that her anxiety was so severe she was literally prevented from speaking. She was basically non-verbal outside of our immediate family and a few close little friends until age 10. And even when she started improving, it was still awful for her, for a long time.

You can imagine how this was (not) dealt with by our mother who "did not belive in mental health issues," didn't trust therapists and hated all psych-related medication.

I really, truly wanted to call CPS on my parents for medical neglect. as I could see my sister was suffering, and they weren't getting her any help. In the end, I decided not to pursue it, understanding, even as a late-teen/young 20, that my mother would turn on the charm and act the perfect mother for CPS, and then turn and make all our lives hell because CPS knocked on our door at all. Sis agrees and doesn't hold it against me for not calling. Dad was ineffective because he wouldn't stand up to Mom.

Sis and I were trading "weird things mom used to yell at us about..." and sis said that she used to get hiccups when she was anxious as a kid, and then mom would make angry faces at her and hiss under her breath, "Stop that nonsense right now! Do you want people to think you're drunk?!"

(Yes, 'cause that's the first thing I go to when I see a single-digit-aged child with hiccups.)

I asked sis if she thought her being non-verbal outside of that small group of people had anything to do with Mom's frantic anxiety and constant harping on us about how our behavior and appearance reflected on her.

Her reply broke my heart. "Absoultely, it did. There are still certain things that I am scared to say or do, to this day, because of how she would used to yell at me as a child."

Mom knew how to cut, too. If she didn't like the way we looked, she'd tell us, "Go change/clean up! You look like a bum. You look like a homeless girl. You look like a little waif, with no one to take care of you!" But like...she started telling us we looked like waifs or little homeless girls at probably, four. Ma'am, I am pretty sure *you* are responsible for the cleanliness and appearance of your four year old child.

And of course, to this day...

My sister went through a hard time a few years ago, after she split from an abusive ex. Beteeen eating to cope and the medication for depression, she gained a lot of weigt. She wore baggy clothes during this time, so as not to emphasize her body shape, as she was very self-conscious about her appearance. Once, Mom asked her, "What happened, that you've decided to make yourself so unappealing to men, on purpose?" (Of course,
l'm sure this triggered my sister terribly, as her abusive ex used to call her stupid and ugly and fat.
When you are our fatphobic mother's daughter, fat is one of the worst things a man can call you. So where ex left off, Mom picked up. It's like she sits and thinks of the most hurtful thing she can possibly say; the thing that will get under our skin the most, and then says it.

But like...the silence she imposed. I can't talk about abuse. Sis couldn't talk *at all* outside the home, for 10 years.

We were bullied into silence by a woman with a very warped view of reality.

Edited for trigger level
Last edited by Serenity on Wed Jul 20, 2022 12:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Changed ST to MT for some triggering detail
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Re: Bullied into silence

Post by Scars »

((((( MerryRose )))))
that amount of forced silence can be deadly
find healthy ways to help your sister rage against the injustice of it all
i am listening
i care about you

A scar is the tattoo of a triumph to be proud of. It says the hurt is over and the wound is closed. It means you conquered the pain, learned a lesson, grew stronger, and moved forward. There is a beauty in my scars that I can see now.
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Re: Bullied into silence

Post by Oceantide »

I'm also listening and caring, MerryRose. I'm so sorry you and your sister suffered her utterly horrific abuse.
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Joined: Tue Jan 24, 2023 2:47 am

Re: Bullied into silence

Post by igrowflowers »

Proud of you for speaking out.
I understand the family dynamic of silence, and it can really hurt when you need validation for healing.
You should be proud of yourself for telling your story, even if it's different from the story they want you to tell, or anyone else's version.
Your story is valid, and you matter.
It took me until I was older to speak out about my childhood abuse, and no one in the dysfunctional family wanted to hear me.
They either rejected me outright while gaslighting, or told me to get over it.
Getting over it for me meant actually looking at things, saying they happened and were not okay, even if that was met with more abuse, and forgiving the abuser(s) because that was in my best interests.
Forgiving does not mean you have to allow them to continue to hurt you. I can't do that, so I have stated my boundaries and have had to walk away from some pretty important people to protect myself.
I'm sorry you were hurt, that wasn't okay. Speak your truth without fear. Those who love you will listen and show caring.
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