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Annie Lane: Child abuse never really leaves a person

Dear Annie: My father did everything he could to make my life miserable, and to deprive me of anything and everything. He treated my brother and sisters far differently, but even so, everyone in the family knew he was one sick man.

My brother committed suicide when he was 21, and after that, my father made a couple of attempts to have a relationship with me, but he still couldn’t help himself. He would constantly try to undermine me and make verbal slights and backhanded remarks any chance he got. My mother was the same as he was when it came to emotional abuse. They fought constantly and blamed their unhappiness on being stuck in the marriage because of the children.

After he was old and his health was failing, he wondered why I didn’t want anything to do with him. Throughout my life, I avoided him like the plague and would rather have pulled my own teeth than go to his funeral.

Child abuse lasts forever; you never forget those who did everything in their power to destroy you when you were a child.

If you were never treated like that, you will never understand. Reading about it in a book might give you a tiny bit of insight, but you will never understand it if you haven’t lived it.

— Still Hurting

Dear Still Hurting: I am so sorry you had to endure that emotional abuse. Your father and mother sound like they were awful parents, and no child deserves to be treated that way. I am also so very sorry for the loss of your brother. You are correct that there is no one better to help people going through things than someone who has experienced that type of abuse themselves. That is the premise of Alcoholics Anonymous — former alcoholics helping other alcoholics.

The faster you heal, the quicker you will be able to help those who have suffered similar abuse. Try and find a good therapist who can help you process some of your trauma.

“Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com.