I am now twenty‑eight years old. Twenty years ago my father sexually abused me. It went on until I was ten years old, when my younger brother told my mother what was going on. (My father threatened to kill himself if I told anyone.)

When my mother found out about the abuse, I thought she would take my side. Instead, she accused me of seducing my father…. Even today she sees me as her rival, and I have always felt her lack of love and rejection. In fact, she once screamed at me that her great mistake was having conceived me.

Whenever my parents get sick or they need something, I try to help them. I love my mother and, in spite of what happened, I have forgiven my father….

I am married now, but I haven’t gotten over all that has happened. I desire with all my strength to forgive my mother, but I can’t. My heart is too wounded…. I need help. I don’t know how to fight against my greatest enemy, the one I love the most, my mother.

Dear Friend,

When God created us, He put within us a survival instinct. It is that force inside of you that makes you think you cannot forgive your mother. You are confusing forgiveness with surrender. How can you surrender to your mother when it is very obvious that she is going to continue hurting you over and over again, just as she has done your entire life?

We don’t know what horrible thing happened to your mother to cause her to mistreat you the way that she has. But it doesn’t really matter now. All that matters is that you need to get away from her. She is a very destructive influence in your life.

Probably your husband has encouraged you to separate yourself from her, but you keep going back. Why? Because the little girl inside of you is still seeking her mother’s love and attention.

We are very sorry to tell you this, but it is unlikely that she will ever change. Unless she has a personal encounter with Jesus Christ, she will likely live the rest of her life as an angry, bitter, spiteful person. But you do not have to let these negative emotions rule your life anymore. Accept the fact that you will never get what you need from your parents, and separate yourself from them completely.

Hopefully you will still be able to maintain a relationship with your siblings, but it may be difficult for a while. They may try to make you feel guilty or blame you when your parents cause problems in their lives. Do not let this affect your decision.

We are concerned for the welfare of the children you may have already or may have in the future. They do not need to be around your father. The fact that he sexually abused you means there is a real danger that he will abuse them if he has the opportunity. And your precious little ones could be emotionally harmed if they were often exposed to your mother’s kind of treatment. So, as much as it hurts, you must accept a future that does not include interaction with your parents. If you want to, you can send them cards on special days, but don’t expect that they will send anything back to you.

If you have access to a counselor, we would recommend that you have this kind of support as soon as possible. The horrible experiences of your childhood have left scars that need treatment. In time, when your mother is no longer hurting you on a continual basis, you will be able to forgive her. Forgiveness is a worthy goal, and we commend you for desiring to forgive the one who has hurt you so much. For as we forgive others, God forgives us.(1)

May God heal your wounded heart,

Linda and Charles
1 Mt 6:12-15; Eph 4:32