The following is the anonymous, personal story shared by a survivor of childhood emotional abuse and the response from one of HCWC’s Children’s Counselors. HCWC currently employs 8 professional counselors that specialize in working with children and teens across our programs.
“Having a narcissistic parent can be very rough; especially when you don’t know how to explain your situation as a child. Because you are taught to behave and obey your parents, you do not know how to respond when you are put in a position of being emotionally abused. It took time to realize that the love given was conditional, and that standards had to be met to be a ‘good kid’. If I listened well and did exactly as I was told, I was “smart” and “respectful”. Although, if I made decisions on my own that didn’t fall in line with these demands then I was suddenly “ungrateful” and “spoiled-rotten”. This was not always just told but yelled, screamed, and even texted to me. As a child (and sometimes even a young adult) you can’t help but put that blame on yourself.
Growing up with attention deficit disorder (ADD), education sometimes proved to be extremely difficult by not having control over how short your attention span can be. When my mother tried as much as she could to help, sometimes her frustration was taken out on me. I’ll never forget the night my mother grabbed my wrist tightly and yelled “why are you so stupid,” as tears rolled down my cheeks and onto my unfinished homework – I was 12. As an adolescent, those kinds of words become so internalized that they become your constant.
It can be hard to recognize abuse when it has been portrayed as love your entire life. You grow up walking on eggshells, hopefully not stepping on any toes to keep some form of tranquility in your own home. Years have gone by, and I am still dealing with the anxiety created from an emotionally unstable household. However, through therapy and medication, I am steadily gaining the confidence to live my life and move on from the trauma.”
The story above highlights the countless children and adults who come to the recognition that they were victims of abuse – just not in the abuse we first think of. While emotional abuse is exactly as the word hints at – a form of abuse – it can be hard to recognize it or realize it is occurring to you due to the lack of awareness and education.
While emotional abuse is not yet prosecutable, mainly for the lack of evidence of, it has profound effects on an individual from emotional and mental to physical impacts. Our upbringing sets a path to how we react to and engage with the world around us. Children of emotional abuse struggle with many things such as self-confidence, creating healthy and long-lasting relationships, and believing they are not good enough. Research highlights long-term emotional abuse directly impacts the brain and how it develops which sets up children to experience a wide range of difficulties later in life.
Activist, artist, and dedicated animal rescuer, Annmarie currently resides in Texas with their exceptionally perfect cats and works as a children’s counselor. Before working at HCWC, they received their undergraduate degree in child development specialized in teaching English as a second language from Humboldt State University. After that, just to shake things up, they went all the way to UTSA to receive a graduate degree in clinical mental health counseling. However, Annmarie’s passion in education and activism began in their first semester of undergraduate when they were a marine biologist major tasked with working with the Yurok tribe to research toxic algae residing in the Klamath River. Through working with the Yurok, Annmarie realized their calling resided in advocating for different marginalized groups and educating the general public. Thus, bringing us today where Annmarie spends their time being their cat’s personal 24/7 photographer and assisting in #stopthehate and other movements to bring justice, equity, healing, and freedom to all.