We Are Survivors 

This blog is dedicated to the tens of millions of adult survivors of child abuse and neglect who get up every day and try to work and function in a world that seems to not care about us.

Rules Enforced In Incestuous Families

The family is the primary vehicle to socialize children about what is appropriate behavior within a family and society. Since it is critical for children to feel they are connected to the significant people in their lives, they usually conform and accept the family’s rules. In abusive households, family members many times have to sacrifice what is needed for healthy functioning to survive their living environment.

Primarily, abusive families create systems of denial and unspoken rules of behavior. If survivors do not have therapy or some form of supportive intervention, they tend to continue using the same rules they learned in their family when growing up. Listed below are some of the major assumptions/rules which were employed in survivors’ abusive families.1

  • Deny one’s actual experience:
    • Do not think, see, hear, feel, reflect or question your experience, and
    • Do not believe the obvious; accept the impossible.
  • Do not trust yourself or others.
  • Be loyal:
    • You must protect the family,
    • Keep the secrets,
    • Obey, and
    • You must not fight back, disagree or get angry.
  • Do not have any needs.
  • Love means being hurt or used.
  • Do not ask for help.
  • Do not show pain.
  • Do not be a child:
    • There is no capacity for innocent, curious developmental explorations.
    • Do not play.
    • Do not make mistakes.
    • Be adult-like but without power or authority, and
    • Be responsible for everyone else.
  • It is your fault:
    • There is an underlying systemic assumption that while others do the best they can and can’t help themselves, you do not ever do the best you can and you do what you do on purpose, and
    • So, you are the scapegoat.
  • You are bad, evil, immoral, guilty, and to blame for how you are treated.
  • You are responsible for other people’s behaviors:
    • They are not responsible for their own behaviors,
    • It is not their fault, and
    • You must help them.
  • Stay in control of yourself and those around you:
    • Stay on guard,
    • Hypervigilant, and
    • Anything bad that may happen is your fault, and thus your responsibility to prevent.
  • You are incompetent.
  • Do not reflect, question, or process anything:
    • Have an external orientation.
    • There is no time or safe place to reflect or process (especially traumatic) experiences
    • Because the rules of logic in such families depends on unquestioning loyalty and the capacity of members to behave as instructed,
    • Which leads to extreme leaps of unquestioning interpersonal faith and results in frequent re-traumatization.

After reading this list, survivors should have a better understanding of why there is so much work to be done to recover from such a sick and abusive home life.


1 “Adult Survivors of Incest and Child Abuse, Part One:  The Family Inside the Adult Child,” David L. Calof, Family Therapy Today, p. 1-5, Vol. No. 3, Issue No. 9, Van Nuys, CA:  P.M. Inc. (1988)

 

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Cycle of Child Abuse Trauma—Part 2
Parenting a Sexually Abused Child
 

Comments 3

Mars Tin on Saturday, 17 January 2015 13:05

The problem in a nutshell, isn't it?

I can see there have been many changes since my last visit a few years back, and congratulations especially on the Institute. However, I'm a big fan of the blog, and as an inconsistent visitor, I would be very sorry to see it go.

0
The problem in a nutshell, isn't it? I can see there have been many changes since my last visit a few years back, and congratulations especially on the Institute. However, I'm a big fan of the blog, and as an inconsistent visitor, I would be very sorry to see it go.
Diane on Monday, 19 January 2015 09:50

Thanks for staying in touch. The reason there has not been any blogs lately is that a little over a month ago, someone infected my computer with a virus. I thought I had lost all my work. My only saving grace is that a year ago, we backed up my computer on a disk, however, we still had to remove everything from my hard drive, reinstall Microsoft, and then one-by-one reinstall documents, contacts, etc. on my computer. Gradually, I'm catching up and will be in full operation soon. I appreciate all of my readers and their comments.

0
Thanks for staying in touch. The reason there has not been any blogs lately is that a little over a month ago, someone infected my computer with a virus. I thought I had lost all my work. My only saving grace is that a year ago, we backed up my computer on a disk, however, we still had to remove everything from my hard drive, reinstall Microsoft, and then one-by-one reinstall documents, contacts, etc. on my computer. Gradually, I'm catching up and will be in full operation soon. I appreciate all of my readers and their comments.
Mars Tin on Monday, 19 January 2015 10:43

Really sorry to hear that. However, very happy to learn you will keep on sharing your insight. Also, no virus can undo what your blog made possible. Thanks for keeping the torch up and flaming!

0
Really sorry to hear that. However, very happy to learn you will keep on sharing your insight. Also, no virus can undo what your blog made possible. Thanks for keeping the torch up and flaming!

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