Psych Central

Emotional Abuse by Father

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I’m 21 and I didn’t have an easy life. My dad has always demanded so much of me that it ended up draining me and sending down a spiral of depression, OCD, eating disorders and suicidal thoughts. My dad’s constant pressure has never allowed me to grow as a person and know what I want for myself in life or what I believe in. For example, ever since I was 5 my dad was programming me to get my phd. He trained me to be an excellent and perfect student to the point that when I was 5 and I had bad handwriting, he would spend 6 hours staring into my eyes and asking me if I was aware that my handwriting was chicken scratch. These episodes used to cause me to dissociate and stare at something nearby until my dad would finish yelling at me. Furthermore, I have always been a religious person inside but my dad is an atheist and when I was very young he would yell at me for praying or doing anything religious until in college I became an atheist too. My dad is a sex addict and I once walked in on him kissing my aunt. I always used to find his sperm all over his laptop and have to clean it up so my mom wouldn’t see. I had to endure him masturbating for hours and talking to underage girls on the internet and not tell anyone. At some points in my life I even suspected that he sexually abused me and my sister. I am constantly dissociated from my body and I am hypersensitive. I am so sensitive that I can feel other people’s emotions. I always had nightmares and at age 10 I wanted to die. Well, I am 21 now and I am almost finishing college. I am starting my masters program a year from now and after much thinking I decided that I dont want a phd but rather I met a lovely man who I plan to marry. With him, I can be who I really am without the pressure of my dad. I find myself able to grow and find the parts of me that my dad’s unrealistic expectations killed. In my mind when I am alone, I imagine me being married to this man and I know it is what I want. I want to work and also have a family with him. We can do that together. He is getting an mba, so on top of being a great and respectful young man, he is financially stable. He is the one thing in my life that I have control over and that my parents had no say in. When they found out that I was going to marry him after I finish my masters degree, my dad wen insane. He threatened to kill himself, to cut off all my financial support, to stop paying for my education and so much more blackmail. He guilts me by constantly reminding me of how hard he works to pay for my education. My dad doesn’t want me to marry my boyfriend because he says that he looks ugly and because his family is not well known. He says that this man is not who he imagined his daughter marrying. He says that all the money he spent on me is going to waste if I marry him. He even once started throwing my clothes in a bag and threatened to send me away if I dont leave him. I am so confused. I love my dad but I am scared and confused. What if my dad is right? But at the same time my dad is acting so irrational. What should I do? Please someone help me because I am thinking of killing myself.

A. Your father is emotionally abusing you and he may be guilty of other forms of abuse. His addiction is no excuse for his inappropriate sexual behavior. He was wrong to make you endure “him masturbating for hours and talking to underage girls on the internet and not tell anyone.” That is a form of abuse. Interacting with underage girls is illegal and if caught, he would be promptly arrested and labeled as a sexual offender.

For your entire life, your father has imposed his will upon you. He’s tried to prevent your every attempt at independent thinking. When given the opportunity to flourish, you did despite your history of abuse. That’s evidence of your resiliency and strong natural desire to develop an independent identity.

You can’t allow other people to control you. Your father’s threats of suicide and threats to withhold monies are forms of manipulation. He wants control and when he can’t have it, he seems to resort to emotional blackmail. You have every right to live your life the way you desire.

Your father might be right about what you should do with your life but I highly doubt it. He was wrong in how he raised you and the proof of this was your development of various mental health conditions. He was most certainly wrong when he choose to expose you to his inappropriate sexual behavior.

What’s most needed in this situation is professional psychological help. A therapist can help you to decide what is best for you and assist you in navigating the tumultuous relationship with your father. Therapy can also provide you with much needed emotional support. Professional help, now more than ever, is imperative given your suicidal ideation. If you feel that you might harm yourself, do not hesitate to go to the emergency room or call 911. The hospital staff can protect you. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle
Mental Health & Criminal Justice Blog

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Aug 2013

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2013). Emotional Abuse by Father. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 18, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/08/30/emotional-abuse-by-father/