(an encore post by Cecil Murphey)
When a close relative abuses us, many of us experience emotional confusion. We love our aggressor—whether it's a parent, a sibling, or a brother-in-law. That person showed us attention and seemingly gave us the interest and affection we didn't receive from the rest of the family.
And yet we also hate that person. We detest him because he used our body for his own gratification, he violated the trust we put in him, and he destroyed our innocence.
As a result, we became confused and are unable to sort our contradictory feelings. How can we love someone we hate? How can we hate someone we love?
We deal with it in several ways, and the most common (in my opinion) is that we blame ourselves for the abuse. We don't know how to feel about our perpetrator so we turn on ourselves.
Here's part of my story. An old man rented a room from us, abused my sister and me, and my sister told. Dad beat him and threw him and his possessions out of the house. I was perhaps seven years old.
A few weeks later I was on a different street and saw my perpetrator sitting on a porch and yelled a greeting. He got up, turned his back on me, and went inside the house.
I wondered what I had done wrong. I didn't understand then what he had done to me and I felt some affection. And yet, because Dad threw him out of the house, I realized he had done something bad.
That's emotional confusion.