Apr 15

mistreated child

As a stepchild I found that some of the worst abuse and experiences I had was from the people who were meant to take care of me. No, not from mom and step-dad, but from the people that were supposed to play baby-sitter, caretaker, or even just watch us for a few. The abuse of which I speak were at many times verbal, other times situational but rarely if ever physical. It’s the sort of abuse that children don’t speak to their parents about because they don’t realize that it is abuse.

What wasn’t ever discussed by children like myself at the time was the mistreatment of uncles, aunts, preachers, friends of your adopted parent, family members… all who do things to ostracize you because of the fact that you are not truly family. I am not talking about the level of terror visited upon a foster child (I would never compare) but something in between passive disinterest and the annoyance of being made to tolerate you.

My brother and I lived through this hell in much of our early years as kids to teens; I was “well behaved” and he was misunderstood. Our sister was the blood child to our stepfather and when it was Summer we were sent to various houses to stay so that we could be out of our parent’s hair for a bit. My step-father was a man’s man, and I owe much of who I am to him, but he didn’t realize that his massive heart was not echoed in those who would tolerate us after he left.

I don’t want to turn this into a biography entry so I will list out some of the things that may be going on behind your back to the children that you have adopted from your new wife or husband:

  • Verbal abuse – we were constantly reminded that we were outsiders.
  • Being excluded – rewards and attention was given to our sister and we were often excluded (my brother is the same age as she). One summer we were made to sleep in a storage room that had no bed and no light for a week by our stepfather’s preacher.
  • Relaxed security on pornography or worse – as a kid I hit play on a babysitter’s VCR and was blinded by gay porn (I wonder if his wife knew).
  • Inappropriate touching and sexual abuse – there have been times where much older women have been liberal with their desires on a boy… It is not always welcomed despite what society tells you… and with little girls, well many get abused and keep it to themselves. I am talking about family members and close friends, not strangers in ski masks.

Sometimes I wonder if I have PTSD from these well-meaning assholes of my childhood… hell I bet my brother does since he got the worst of it! The scary thing about all of this–which led me to write this–is that we never felt the need or the want to complain to our mother. I just know that Summer time was dreadful for us and we wished that they would just leave us home instead.

There have been times when I thought our situation to be unique until recently when a friend’s daughter went to see her dad for the Summer and sure enough his wife put hands on her in an inappropriate way. No… this happens all the time and many of you who have remarried or are divorced will be unaware that your child is going through it. Please sit your son and daughter down and have them tell you what goes on in your absence with these family members (and baby mommas/daddies); you may think that everyone has a child’s best interests in mind but it is not always so.

Looking back… at what we went through, and why we went through it… I only regret that I didn’t have the clarity to bring it up to my loving parents… now the best thing that I can do is warn those of you who chose it read.

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  • This is a much needed article. I am very aware, as I was treated a certain way because of who my mother or grandmother were, and it hurt. My children are aware of mistreatment based on who I am. I have made them aware not only because people might hurt them, but so the cycle will not continue with them. I understand about being mistreated as and outsider… When my daughter was born their godmother was extremely happy, but when her mother and grandson came by, her mother said… Stop looking at my baby, because it we were not family. It hurt, but when we left my son explained to me that it was very hurtful. So I am careful of the silent abuse as well as the obvious. I wish that more were as aware. Thank you for this article. It will reach those that need to either be aware or be prepared.

    • Thank you Grace, I truly hope it does too. I need parents to query their kids after a stay at any place that involves adults that are not blood relatives. Some people have these odd prejudices against people (even tiny kids) just because they see them as outsiders – it drives me nuts. People also bank on the fact that they will not be held accountable by the parents because it’s “not a big deal”. Feeling unwanted or in the way can crush a kid’s self-image and they won’t know to tell you unless you specifically ask.

      If it’s one thing I appreciate it’s having gone through some of these things and with recognition of them am able to write and hopefully bring some awareness to it. I think with your past your son will be fortunate to be protected from some of it – since you know. Thanks again for your commentary 😉