Trauma aftermaths when you’re not sure what to think about the people who hurt you

Is it still considered abuse if the person doesn’t mean for it to be, or doesn’t think it is? My parents have always been really harmful for me (manipulative, intimidating, not taking my health concerns/disabilities seriously, screaming at me, etc.), but they won’t even say that the stuff they said/did caused harm.
Or they will say they didn’t know/couldn’t have known. And now that I’m an “adult” they’re a lot better, but it just makes them deny them ever being harmful to me.  like, some of it I can kinda get.
They didn’t know I had fibro, so me sleeping too much they thought was just me being lazy. And like they didn’t know how them yelling made me shut down because Id just sit quietly.
They didn’t know I was queer and that the shit they’d say was hurtful to me.
But at the same time I’m just like, it all messed me up so bad. But was it “bad enough” to be considered abuse? Does it even matter now?
realsocialskills said:
It sounds like, whether or not it was their fault, you’ve been hurt very badly by people who had the responsibility for caring for you.
It also sounds like they haven’t acknowledged that.
I think that “is this bad enough to be considered abuse?” is probably a counterproductive question (because no matter how bad something was, you can *always* find a way to convince yourself that it was Not Real Abuse if you try hard enough). I think a better way of framing it is:
  • Was I hurt?
  • Were the people who hurt me culpable?
  • Are they still hurting me?
  • Where do I stand with them?

It seems like getting clear in your own head that you were hurt will help you. And that, regardless of the conclusions you come to about the extent to which your parents were at fault, your suffering is real and your hurt is real and things happened to you that shouldn’t have.

Even if all their mistakes were innocent, even if they had no culpability, that doesn’t erase your trauma. What happened to you matters. Finding a way to erase their culpability would not erase your hurt.

Further, denying that they hurt you in the past is something they’re doing to you *now*, in the present. Keep that in mind, too. It might have a lot of bearing on how you relate to them.

I don’t know them or you, and I don’t know how you should relate to them now. That’s a very personal choice.

Some people find that it’s better to drop the subject (either by not bringing it up or by refusing to discuss it). It might be that you can’t get them to understand, but that you can avoid the subject in the way that makes a relationship possible. If you go that route, it doesn’t mean that you have to forgive them or concede that anything that happened was ok. It just means that you’re not discussing it with them.

There are other approaches, but I’m not quite sure how to describe them.