Father’s Day is not a happy holiday for Incest Survivors

This is a rant about Father’s day. I know most of you reading are survivors, so you probably get where I’m coming from. I’m ranting here so I don’t do it on facebook, where many of my friends and in-laws are gushing about their good fathers living or dead.

Yes, I know a lot of people had nice fathers, intellectually. Mine was a sociopath who raped me, and it’s all I can do not to spout off when people go on about wishing everyone a happy fathers day, like they are assuming (and of course they are) that everyone had a father who had at least some good qualities and people could just suck it up and be nice on Father’s day.

My father raped me. He’s a sociopath. Rather than pretend otherwise, I’m going to politely shut up about him when the topic of father’s day comes up. If your friends do too, notice and change the topic, will you? Some fathers are like him, too many, frankly. The word ‘father’ itself doesn’t have the same associations for me that it must have for other people. In many of the incest survivor groups I was in, ‘father’ was so synonymous with ‘abuser’ so the words could be used interchangeably. This is literally our truth. Deal with it.

I’m not going to be such a killjoy as to squash all the nice incredibly privileged people who had good fathers, but hearing them gush on about it is a pain. I really wish they would have some tact and not assume that everyone celebrates Father’s day, and actually to stay the hell away from me about it.

End of rant.

17 thoughts on “Father’s Day is not a happy holiday for Incest Survivors”

  1. Thank you for saying this. I too was abused by my father and this time of year is very difficult for me. I feel like I can’t say anything to anybody, and everybody asks if I’m doing anything for the “holiday” and I never know what to tell them, or if I should tell them, because I always feel like it isn’t fair to be like, “No, I don’t celebrate Father’s Day because my father liked reducing me to something less than a human being and I try to pretend he doesn’t exist, except I buy a gift for my father in law because I feel like i have to when really I’d rather just pretend that this “holiday” doesn’t exist.”

    I spend June every year feeling like I can’t breathe. Fucking everywhere, posters of smiling kids being hugged by perfect dads that I didn’t get to have, except those dads might not be Safe and there’s nothing I can do if they aren’t, and OH HEY BUY YOUR DAD A TOOL KIT~! HAVE YOU BOUGHT YOUR DAD A TOOL KIT YET? SO MUCH BETTER THAN A TIE! And I can’t get away from any of it and I just feel sick all the time.

    And I always feel like I’ve barely had the time to get over mother’s day, which is the same goddamn thing except my mother didn’t abuse me physically or sexually, she just let it happen and blamed me for it, and then she abandoned me completely. The two “holidays ” are like getting punched in the face repeatedly.

  2. Dear SDW,

    I agree. It is hard when your parent is a psychopath. I can relate, though it was my mother. Still, father’s day, for me is tough and hard to endure.

    I was pretty dissociative for the last three days and all of last week I couldn’t keep track of what day it was, a sure sign that a triggering annual date was coming up soon to deal with.

    I really wish that people could keep it into their mind for more than ten minutes that child sexual abuse is a reality and that others have been incredibly harmed by it and continue to suffer aftereffects and that they have an obligation to retain that concept and to treat others with understanding and compassion. It really would be nice.

    Good and healing thoughts to you.


    1. Hi Kate,
      I’m sorry you have a trigger date around father’s day – being triggered and spacey for several days is no fun. I don’t seem to have specific trigger dates, although father’s day is annoying it doesn’t scare my inner kid, so that’s good. I don’t blame the fathers day gushers, really, they have a right to celebrate their good fathers, it’s just the assumptions that fathers necessarily are good to their kids makes people like me more invisible and more taboo to talk about. I’m guessing it’s way worse for people with mother abusers.

      Good and healing thoughts to you,

      1. “I’m guessing it’s way worse for people with mother abusers.”

        It feels that way to me. Every time I see one of those ads for mothers day stuff that try to guilt you into buying stuff for all these saintly women, I’m reminded of all the reasons why I don’t love mine. I also feel totally betrayed – how come we didn’t get a mother like the ones in the ads?

        Even my sister, who was also abused by this psycho, tells me that I should forgive our mother, that’s she old and harmless now. No she fucking isn’t – she scared the crap out of my little boy a few years ago, in exactly the same way that she did with me and my sister. That only happened the once – that I know of – but he’s still scared of her. My sister & I spent our whole childhoods living with that and much worse – no wonder we’re both so fucked up. Now my mother whines to anyone who’ll listen about what a bad son I am for not letting her near her grandson.

        1. Good for you for not letting her near your son. What I hate too, is that the taboo around talking about abuse allows your mother to get away with complaining about you being a bad son, because you saying she’s an abuse contradicts what they ‘know’ to be true ie: all mothers are saints. I’m starting to be frank about my father/abuser when I can, which helps a bit.

  3. Nothing makes my blood boil quite like people who knowingly allow an abuser access to children.
    I think that betrayal can be as bad as the abuse itself. I’d rather die than be guilty of that crime.

    I’m glad that you’re feeling brave enough to tell people the truth about your abuser.

    1. If you’ve read any of my posts about my mother, you’ll know I totally agree about complicit family members. Doesn’t mean it’s always easy to stand up to family though, so good for you.

  4. Latest news on my abusive mother: I got a call from my sister last night; it seems that my mother has had yet another health scare (like your abuser, she seems to be as indestructible as a fucking cockroach), and wants to reconcile with me. My sister eventually extracted a promise from me that I’d call our mother today. I’m not sure I can do it without getting drunk.
    Meanwhile, I can’t contact my sister to talk about it further, because she doesn’t have a phone herself, and her uber-controlling boyfriend (a couple of apartments away from her) doesn’t want me to call his goddamn phone. This is a hundred kinds of fucked up.

    1. I like the cockroach comparison! I hear you on the family pressure to be nice to abusers. Here’s my rooting for you and your inner child on this:

      You know, promises made under pressure don’t have to be kept. Your sister will get over it, and your mother doesn’t deserve you. My family is awesome at getting me to say yes to things I don’t want to and shouldn’t do, so I give myself an out. I can change my mind. Now mostly, I don’t agree to anything when I’m with a family member, I say “I’m not sure, let me think about it and I’ll get back to you.” Then I repeat it as many times as I need to until they stop pushing. However, my mother has ninja manipulation powers, so mostly I don’t see her if I can help it, and make double-sure not to commit to anything while I’m in the same room as her.

      Even though you said you’d make the call, you can change your mind. On reflection, you’ve realized you can’t do this without harming yourself, and you don’t want to.

      ‘Broken record’ (“Yeah, I’m not going to do that”, “no, I’m not going to do that.” repeat. no explanations or excuses or reasons for them to get argument hooks into) works wonders with people manipulating me, I find. Your sister was just trying to reduce her own anxiety about your mother, by foisting the responsibility for caretaking her onto you. She’s done that now, and she won’t know you didn’t call for awhile given the phone difficulties, so I’d say you’re off the hook. You can explain you decided not to when you see her next, and things have cooled down. If you’d need to get drunk to do it, my advice is, be loyal to yourself and don’t do it. I think you could definitely drop that ball. You are an adult now, and can decide what works best for you to do.


  5. Thank you for all of your posts! I can definitely relat, and it helps to know I’m not alone. I feel this way at Thanksgiving and Christmas more so that Mother’s or Father’s Days. All around, for months, we see ads about wanting to be with your wonderful family for the holidays. And people ask me what my plans are, and of course I feel like I have to dodge the issue. It makes me feel like there is something wrong with me, like the fact that my entire family are pieces of cr*p is somehow something to be ashamed about! I do not have contact with any memebers of my family at all, so even if I am not getting together with friends, I say thyat I am. I figure my cat is my friend, so if I stay home with her, that counts!
    It makes me feel very depressed and lonely. Also very angry that people make this assumption that everyone has a happy family.

  6. Yeah, I was talking to a friend about this this weekend, how one of the most distressing longer term impacts for a survivor (after healing most of the abuse gunk) is the harmful social attitudes and social isolation from having an experience that is so at odds with regular people’s experience.

  7. Agreed. And what makes it even worse is that regular people often reject us and what we are saying, rather than leave their emotional comfort zone. So we grow up dealing with insensitive, selfish people, then when we get free of them we find that the world in general is like that.
    I just read a great book about living with PTSD called “No Comfort Zone” by Marla Handy. It touches on that issue, and describes how life with PTSD is for her. Excellent book!
    Not looking forward to Father’s Day. I guess it is this coming Sunday. I am trying to ignore it! It really pisses me off how everything is about how great dads are, even though we constantly read about fathers abandoning and abusing their children. Obviously lots of them are not great, yet people shoose to ignore that.
    If there is one thing I learned growing up in a dysfunctional family, it was thaty pretending something is true does not make it true! And pretending that something is not true does not make it not true. Seems like Adulthood 101 but lots of people seem to struggle with this concept.

    1. Agreed. I pretty much ignore father’s day too. This year less people are going on about it. I think I’ll stay away from Facebook for a few days around FD until the sappiness dies down.

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