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Thread: Was I abused by my mother and family? Lack of privacy in childhood.

  1. #1
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    Was I abused by my mother and family? Lack of privacy in childhood.


    I have had a rather difficult life so far and am looking for reasons why I'm struggling. I have had psychotic experiences in the past which have led to hospitalizations, I have derealization, anxiety, depression,...I have a lot of problems. I also have seen a psychotherapist for a long time in the past and that didn't help. She seems to think that what I have experienced wasn't abuse, I guess.

    What happened to me is the following: I lived with my mother in my grandfather's house. My grandmother died before I was born. My parents separated when I was a small child.

    Back to the house. I had a room which was next to my mother's room, but in order for my mother to get into her room she had to go through my room. That means I never had a room all to myself in the classical sense. Plus the door between our rooms always stood open. Also when I was younger I slept in my mom's tiny bed or she slept in mine. I don't know if I wanted this, but I remember one occasion where I started to chew my Mom's hair while she had her back turned towards me. Maybe an early indicator that the situation was problematic.

    My Mom is a very "slow" person, meaning she realizes things very slowly. When I was in my teens we moved to another place and lived there for about two years. Then we came back to my grandfathers house. She made "progress" by then closing the door between my room and hers.

    When I was about 19 (!!!) years old and many of the aforementioned health problems kicked in, I decided I've had enough. I took my Mom's stuff and put it into the living room. I felt bad, but can you believe being 19 and never having had your own private space?? I always wanted to change my living situation during childhood, wanted to have a normal room like everybody else, but my family (meaning my mother and grandfather) didn't seem to care. I don't think they ever put me first.

    I really suffered because of this room thing. I rarely brought friends over, because I was too ashamed. I didn't want anybody to know how I lived.

    I still have trouble "getting away from"/leaving my mother. I suspect this might be because I was forced to be by her side for so much of my life so that even though the room situation changed, the mental "bond" still remains.

    I wish I knew if this was an abusive situation or not, because maybe then I could forgive myself for my struggles maybe a little bit more.

    My therapist in my opinion has always tried to make my father the bad guy. It's true that he was a problem in my early life, but...I don't know.

    I've read a book where the author talks about boys sleeping in their mothers bed counts as abuse, once they've reached a certain age and maybe that book is what got my thinking going. What I have experienced is such a unique situation, at least that's what I think. Had the rooms been "regular" (meaning every room separated) this would have never happened, but they weren't and my family didn't care to do anything about it.

    I am reluctant to share my story, because I think many people will not regard this as abuse.

  2. #2
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    Jul 2009
    i shared a 9x12 room with my sister and our grandmother. one of my friends shared a studio apt with her two parents, all three slept in the same room till she turned 18 and moved out. in both of our cases it wasnt abuse, it was just poverty. if my parents could afford a five bedroom place, so that each of us would have their own room - they would have. i do believe that its wrong for older children to sleep in the same bed with their parent of opposite gender (like for girls to sleep in the same bed with dad or for boys to sleep in the same bed with mom) - but i also think a part of it is just that theres no possible need for that. if theres no room to put two beds - they can sleep on folding beds or something, and fold them away during the day. or on a blanket on the floor, or whatever. theres no need to sleep in the same bed, no matter how limited the space is. i think that's why its listed as a red flag for abuse.

    in our 9x12 room that i shared with sister and grandma, we had three beds, two desks, a piano, and some bookshelves. two of the beds were folding. during the night there was pretty much no floor space left in the room, only under the desks. but each of us had a separate bed, separate blanket, separate pillow. i saw kids in other countries all sleeping in the same bed - not a bed really, kinda just space where they had a pile of blankets that kids slept on/in/under, all kids in one pile. guess what im saying it - how much space the family has depends on their culture/income. i think i was lucky to have my own bed and clean bedsheets and everything, compared to those kids i saw who all slept together with their siblings. but i dont think their parents were abusive, doing it to harm their kids or out of neglect. that was the best they could do, and in their culture it was good enough, cps didnt find it necessary to intervene.

    not trying to be nosy, just curious: you moved your moms stuff out of her room when you were 19 - she didnt kick you out for that? i mean, you were no longer a child, she was under no obligation to provide housing for you, it was her house?
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  4. #3
    purpleclouds's Avatar
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    I hear what you're saying with the lack of privacy....but I don't think that lack of privacy on its own would constitute as abuse? especially if it was not possible-- like in situations Manya described. Many of my peers growing up shared rooms with their siblings up until they left for college...and then you typically have a roommate in college. Siblings are different than a mother, but they never had their own space. And that was common with larger families even when poverty wasn't a piece.

    I can tell you that in one of the houses I grew up in, I did have my own room. That did not, however, stop my parents from abusing me physically/sexually/emotionally etc and it also didn't stop them from coming in or out whenever they wanted to OR from going through my things OR from asking me to do things that would also be considered violations of privacy--like to undress to check for self-injury which I guess is maybe good in theory but not okay either.

    So I can assure you, even kids with their own room, get their privacy violated. Even kids with their own rooms that aren't in abusive households, get their privacy violated.

    It was also not uncommon for us to share beds on vacations or otherwise. I know my siblings and I would regularly crawl into bed with our mother as children. It did usually stop after a certain age I guess? I can't remember. I know when I was having significant physical health issues as a teen and was recovering at home post surgery, my mother slept with me in my bed. And I shared a bed with the parent of the opposite gender who is my primary abuser while staying in a hotel during normal travels. Normal scenarios.

    I do hear what you're saying, though--sharing a bed seems a bit strange as a regular occurrence especially since you mention there being two room just no door (?) and the frustrations of not having your own space. If something else was going on too --I could see it as being a piece of an abusive situation. But abuse is so tricky and somewhat undefined in some areas. Even emotional/verbal/psychological abuse isn't something child services will usually intervene with.

    So I guess it ultimately doesn't matter what you call it because it clearly affected you and is still bothering you so it has to be processed and whatnot?

    Therapy is useful for lots of things--not just abuse? So I guess I'm confused as to how that's the reason you pinpoint it as not being helpful when you list other MH stuff?

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  6. #4
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    Hear you...making the assumption you are a male (hope I've got that right). I also never had my own room until I left home. Had my own bed - unless we had visitors staying over and I had to double up with my roughly same aged sister or very much younger brother (he was like sleeping with a bag of snakes) . Shutting bedroom doors was a thing that we just did not do in our house...mind you was a biggish villa with long passages so was never really an issue. As a child I shared rooms with either gender of my sibs and visiting cousins...chose who rather than being made to share a room with anyone in particular...was a case of sib dynamics - who you were getting on with best. Only shared with my sister once I hit adolescents. Privacy - like someone asking to enter your bedroom just was not something that I experienced until I left home.. My belongings and anything I left hanging round including my diary - my mother would not hesitate to examine/read. Developed my own ways of keeping things private...hiding them and such.

    Not many of my friends had their own room so did not look on my situation as strange.

    Would however have a few questions as an adult if my mother or father elected to share my bed with me as a child or later (except if I was desperately unwell and needed someone watching me overnight). So can understand why you wonder about your mother's behaviour and motivation.
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  8. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
    I also have seen a psychotherapist for a long time in the past and that didn't help. She seems to think that what I have experienced wasn't abuse, I guess.
    Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
    I am reluctant to share my story, because I think many people will not regard this as abuse.
    None of us can say if you were abused or not. Just a matter of not having enough information over the internet to say. I do want to say though that it looks to me like you believe it was abuse, by the two quoted sentences. I guess I'm not sure what you're looking for? You asked if you were abused, but you believe you were, so that's why I'm confused. Maybe I don't understand what you were asking? I'm not making any judgment here, I wasn't there I don't know. Sometimes it helps me to look back at my own wording of things to recognize how I feel about something.

    The way the law is written here that would not legally constitute abuse, there's no requirement to provide a separate private space for each person. Not to say that if it's not legally abuse it shouldn't effect you, because I know that's not how it works. I very rarely have had my own private space, I think I had my own room for like 2 or 3 years (?), but like others have said it was a matter of finances.
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  10. #6
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    Aug 2014
    hugs and kisses,but mind the feathers please.
    In no way judging or knowing your situation what stands out for me was that you said your mum was "slow" ..just wondered if perhaps she had problems understanding this arrangement wasn't normal?
    One of my daughter in laws is "slow" and insists on trying to share secrets of her intimate relations with my son with me..I find this completely inappropiate but she feels obviously its not ( I stop her as she starts to talk!)..
    Some people don't have boundaries that are acceptable to others,they seem unable to see their behaviour doesn't fit in with what is classed as either normal or sociable but often this isn't due to being actively abusive ,rather its due to their lack of understanding as to this.
    Just perhaps another way of looking at this..hope it helps
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    "Why,sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast" Lewis Carroll,Alice In Wonderland.

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  12. #7
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    Oct 2016
    I personally don't think lack of privacy in itself is abuse.Sometimes families just don't have enough space in their house for everyone and don't have the money to be able to change the situation.

    Maybe the whole 'no privacy' thing is what you would like to pinpoint your struggles to,but it's possible there's other things contributing to it.

    This stood out for me

    My therapist in my opinion has always tried to make my father the bad guy. It's true that he was a problem in my early life, but...I don't know.
    That's where I would be looking.

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  14. #8
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    Well, as others have already said, we can't tell you if that was abuse or not... because clearly it's still bothering you, so there's something there to explore with a therapist, even if it's not really "labelled" as abuse or such. Maybe if you dig a little more (as long as you are safe in doing so), you'll find more reasons why the situation with your mum and grandfather is still bothering you.

    I shared a room with my older sister until I was 16 years old. When traveling etc., would bunk up with her in a double bed. Shutting bedroom doors was also not something that us kids ever did growing up -- if we did then it was a red flag that something was wrong. The only time I can remember HAVING to shut my bedroom door as a kid, was when I was sent to my room for misbehavior and slamming the door was the only way I had to express my anger.

    Think there is probably something to these memories though. Whether or not what happened to you can be clinically defined as abuse doesn't matter (though I know the validation means a lot/helps with thinking about it). What matters is understanding that it's still bothering you, acknowledging that it's still bothering you, and then taking steps to figure out -- and heal from -- whatever it is that is really irking you.

    Liked what Eagle said about your mum being slow so maybe she just didn't understand that this was an odd situation.

    Also like what Wiggle said about exploring further the fact that your father being an issue when you were younger.

    Something doesn't have to be classed as abuse in order to have harmed us in some way. And like I said above, since this is still bothering/irking you now, there's clearly something about it that needs to be talked about/explored.

    Hoped this helped some. I really hope that what I am saying is not offensive or hurtful. I think lack of privacy (especially if opposite gender parent was in the other room -- but IDK if you're male or female, sorry, was inferring you were male but ) is very difficult, more so for some kids than others. I would've struggled a lot had I not had a way to escape from people (in general) and get some alone time. I also would've struggled if I were ashamed of how I lived, and therefore felt like I couldn't interact with peers normally.

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  16. #9
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    Jun 2013
    Kindness & hugs.
    in our 9x12 room that i shared with sister and grandma, we had three beds, two desks, a piano, and some bookshelves.
    Love that the piano and bookshelves were valued enough to be given some of the very limited available space.

    Idk sometimes when I look back on situations similar to the one Manya describes makes me realise that to make things work we have an enormous capacity to compromise and make do with what is available...accept that these are theresources we have. Not suggesting that it is easy to find solutions that serve our important human needs without putting too much pressure on the values that matter to us...our sense of right and wrong.

    Just finished reading a book about a struggling Welsh mining family. Lots of kids and little money or possessions. Dad and brothers bathed in the kitchen in a tub and whoever was handy scrubbed the coal dust off their backs. However when the girls had their Saturday bath in preparations for church the next day men gave them privacy by going to the pub. All slept in a loft bedroom with a strategically placed sheet providing some privacy between the male and female sides of the room. Although not specifically discussed this family worked out how to maintain an environment that sat ok with their sense of what was and was not 'decent/moral'

    Think the point I am making is that having to make do does not automatically mean you need to throw your values out the window...not respect those of others. Sure; takes more thought and planning to maintain them but is also a thing that the many who have limited choices (often none of them very good) have always found (often creative) ways to protect.
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  18. #10
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    May 2016
    Just want to relate since my relating is a bit in a different way....

    I was a foster kid with the same family for a while.
    My room was shared with other foster kids.
    Well, when the other foster kids were gone and it was just me, it really bothered me that my room was not at all my own space. I really really wanted to have had some say in what went on the walls or what was in my closet.
    My closet was used as storage for "mom" and had a whole bunch of stuff in the entire room that was off limits to me, drawers that weren't mine to use, etc.

    I really hated this.
    It made me feel like this wasn't home.

    I got to reading some site the other day on foster care. Some girl wrote things foster parents can do to help. On her list was to buy the kid their own comforter for their bed that they picked out.

    Really tho, something as simple as being allowed to put up something on the wall coulda helped me feel like I was important enough to take up some space.

    It really wasn't about the room for me. It was about being in a house, a family where I didn't feel I belonged. Where the enviornment had to have no trace of me as an individual in it.

    Not being able to hang something, or pick a blanket or such...
    Contributed (along with lots of other stuff) to the unspoken thinking that I was meant to be invisible, not an individual, not to have a presence in that habitat.

    So it wasn't the room exactly that was my issue... but what I felt the room symbolized to me...and how it seemed to reflect many other bigger things that were bothering me. (Like not having a voice, my mutism, treated like a burden, etc)

    Because of my sensitivity to not having any space of my own. (Gosh, even one drawer mine woulda been better than nothing). I have always been thoughtful to my own kid in how he wants his room decorated or not. Would never go put something up in his room without checking if he likes it. (Within reason, and financial means). It is just nice for folks to be able to have input in their surroundings to some degree, if possible and reasonable and such. Yet, if we had to live in a studio apartment, sleeping in same room, just to make it, sure I could be ok with that and would make do, so would he. Yet, I think there is a mutual respect there, and I would always be mindful that it is space we share and I would expect him to be taking up some of that space too. My issue is when folks act like kids matter less than other people. Or like I would never deal with my kid acting like he matters more than me...which also I see happen with some folks.

    Anyways, just wanted to share that yea, I was one to be very unhappy for not feeling there was a place for me in that house... but it was really representative of how I felt I existed in the dynamics in their mind...not so much actually about the room.

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