Hope kept me in my abusive situation longer than necessary. Because you HOPE the person who is hurting you, will one day realize what they are doing and stop.
I’m part of a group of women who are dealing with or who finally escaped their relationships with narcissistic relatives (mostly mothers) and the people they employ (flying monkeys) to help persist in the abuse. Sometimes, these flying monkeys, don’t even realize they are abusing you. They’re simply going by what the narcissist has told them and assume the stories (aka gaslighting and smear campaign) must be true. Because, why would someone so motherly (in public) be a liar?
The majority of us have gone no-contact because it is extremely difficult to set boundaries with a parent who uses their influence with other family and friends to hurt you. On the outside, this person is adored. Behind closed doors, they are different. And they abuse using clever, physically bruise-free tactics like financial abuse, playing on your guilt, playing on your need to be loved, gaslighting, dismissing the importance of your safety and needs, etc. They know no one, (unless they’ve been a victim too — in my case, my father and sister), will believe she is the actual abuser. Even I will admit, for years, I thought the problems we had were because of my father and sister. She used them as scapegoats for everything … until I started seeing the cracks in the facade and questioned things like why I was expected to normalize the disfunction, questioned the double-standards and the inordinate responsibilities I was held to, questioned inconsistencies in her stories. Then I was the scapegoat, the bully, the monster.
Family relationships, specifically, are seemingly the more complicated to deal with and or disconnect from. You have society, family, and friends who don’t believe a mother would ever be capable of financially, emotionally, psychologically, or physically harming her own children. Manipulating and diminishing them. So, you are often not believed and dismissed as “crazy” or “too sensitive.” Worse yet, you’ll actually have people ask what you must have done wrong to bring on the supposed abuse.
Many of us in this group fell prey to the social expectation that our mothers are supposed to be sweet and kind. We were never told it was possible for parents to me morally-ill unless it was depicted as a wicked step-mother character with too much eye makeup, on Disney. We never understood why our mothers would treat us so horribly. We blamed ourselves, thinking we’d done something wrong. In doing so, we hoped they would change. We went out of our way to be the ‘best daughters we could be’ only to be treated increasingly worse, by our mothers, our siblings, and anyone else who believed in our parent’s clever gaslighting to further discredit us. It took me decades to understand what was happening. When I did finally stand up for myself and tried to set boundaries with my toxic mother and her flying monkeys, it didn’t go well. It was easier to completely eliminate them from my life. When the truth came out and her control over me unraveled, it was amazing to see just how cold and heartless she actually was. So disappointing. The facade completely fell away. There was no guilt, no taking responsibility for her actions or orchestrated decades of manipulations (through her other children or family friends). Knowing what I do now, I should have left years ago. But I stayed because of hope.