It is wrong for anyone to be abused…anyone. Women, men, children, animals, etc. I do not think I am in a position to analyze how being abused affects people in general, I can just think about how it has affected me. My father was VERY emotionally and psychologically abusive on a consistent basis- he did very weird things like following me, opening my mail, recording my phone conversations, things like that. Occasionally he was physically abusive. I was lucky that it was not that often and I know many other people who have been hurt way worse. But even one time is one time too many.
What I can say is that when you are hit by a parent, especially when you are a daughter being hurt by your father, it changes something deep inside you. Your father is supposed to be the person who biologically is conditioned to be protective of you, not to be the one to inflict harm on you. I have really tried to look at this from an outside perspective. I am not condoning it at all, but I really do believe (or maybe I just NEED to believe) that my dad never meant to hurt me. I have no doubt that he loves my mother, my sister and me very much. But the fact of the matter is that he has abused us all. I don’t have any intense trust issues towards men as a result of this- I am able to compartmentalize it to just my father and I don’t think I have made my partners pay for my childhood. When I was on the phone with my dad talking to him about getting divorced, he asked me if my husband had hurt me and started to cry. I find this very ironic, naturally, but I also understood that regardless of what he has done, my father would never allow another person to hurt me.
I know it sounds a little like I have Stockholm Syndrome. I assure you, I do not. I have a healthy amount of resentment towards my dad. A lot of that resentment stems from the sadness I feel when I watch a movie like “Father of the Bride” or when I hear a song at a wedding written about a father and daughter (it was no easy task to choose the song for the father/daughter dance at my wedding- I went with “Stand By Me”…”Butterfly Kisses” was not even a contender).
It’s even harder to find an appropriate father’s day card. Maybe I should start a line of cards for children who have strained relationships with their fathers. Like “Dear Dad, you really sucked as a parent and I’ve had to pay for lots of therapy because of you, but I love you anyway. Happy Father’s Day!“