September 24, 2013

Leaving Abuse, and Sometimes Family, Behind

Today, Patrick shares about his agonizing decision to break ties with his family, but how, ultimately, this led to his healing. It has been a great pleasure to have Patrick on. Be sure to leave him a note if something he has shared has made a difference for you!


As an adult survivor of child abuse I decided to break ties from my birth family, that decision may come as a shock to people in my social circles.  From the outside of my family circle—and even within it, at times—everything looked perfect, tidy, and loving.  To those who gazed at my birth family, the portrait of a good and loving family is all they saw.

In that light, the decision to break away may seem out of nowhere.  However, that life-changing, painful decision has not come lightly.  I agonized over the decision, discussed it with my psychiatrist, and also have gone back to analyze all the years of small events and large ones leading to this drastic measure. 

And when I, the adult survivor of child abuse, separated myself from my birth family, it often upset my family’s self-image, reputation, or order of business, which led to a backlash from relatives and friends.

In my case, I found mutual friends or family members not believing my account of my upbringing.  Typical comments I received were similar to other victims of child abuse including:

“No, you appeared at times to be happy, obedient child!  You never said anything about being abused.”

(Abused children are very often difficult to detect for they appear to be well-behaved, at times cheery children.  Those children are often desperate for approval and love, which means they will be on their best behavior all the time in the hopes of winning their family's love.)

“Why didn’t you say anything before?”

(Abused children often do not make the realization of their abuse until they are adults.  Psychologists say this is because the child must adopt a sense of denial in order to survive their childhood.  For example, how could a child cope with the realization that they lack love, support, and warmth from the very people who are suppose to give them that?  A child may have a feeling of soul-crushing depression and loneliness, but he will bury those feeling in order to survive the day to day of their childhood.)

My abuse didn’t stop when I was a child; it extended into my adult life. I suffered anxiety, low self-esteem and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) due to the traumatic child abuse and bullying I endured throughout my life.  I never thought I’d be able to live a normal life again.

Like most abused children, I gravitated into abusive relationships… verbal abuse, black eye, scratch marks, bleeding nose, and broken arm.  You tend to feel that abuse is all you know, and in some ways, I felt in these relationships I could help my spouse/partner become a better person.  I felt that when they abused me, maybe I deserved it because it was all I knew my entire life.

Several times I wondered why did I blame myself so much? I wanted to scream to the world, "I want to be free even if it takes my life."  I did attempt suicide once as a teenager and then again as an adult just a few years ago.  My attempt a few years ago was impeded by the thought of leaving my daughter without a father.

Now I speak about my past, being a survivor of child abuse and bullying.  Change is what happens when I realized that I can talk about my abuse/bullying and make a difference in this world and impact the lives of other victims.  My goal is to be an example of how and when to talk about the issues of child abuse and bullying and how we can prevent or stop it.  My main message is always awareness.

I’ve decided to stop the cycle of abuse in my life by speaking up.  It changed my life!  Once I started talking about my abuse, I started to heal. If I can do it, so can you. 

I’m now a survivor of child abuse and years of bullying.  I’m now a nationally recognized Child Advocate seeking to promote increased awareness of child abuse and bullying, and deliver a message of hope for victims.

I’m saddened to say that my mother recently passed away a sudden death and it was painful for me to deal with because she was the last link that held me to my family.  I attended her wake but before my siblings and extended relatives came to the funeral home.  I went with my daughter to say goodbye for the last time together to my mom.  Later that day, my partner and I had all of our friends and extended family to our home to celebrate my mother’s life the way she would have wanted.

I’ve requested that my family no longer have any contact with me.  As my psychiatrist advised me, they are toxic to me and if I allow them into my life they take control over me.  I pray for them and have forgiven them for the pain and hurt they have caused me.  I let them go and said goodbye.

My soon to release book is for millions of victims on the path to recovery, I AM ME – Survivor of child abuse and bullying speaks out is the next step.       


Patrick has now broken his silence and has written a memoir about the abuse and bullying he endured from an older brother throughout his childhood and adult life. The memoir is also a torturous coming out story of a man raised in the midst of a devout Catholic family whose members he loved and spent years trying to please by realizing their dreams for him. He attempted suicide twice, and found freedom and himself one day in three simple words: “I have survived.”

In living to please others, Patrick married twice and today is the proud father of a beautiful and loving 16 year old daughter. Recently, he met a man he loves and is now sharing his life with his partner. Now an advocate for several organizations devoted to preventing childhood abuse and bullying. Available as a public speaker to help victims of abuse and bullying.

Patrick graduated with a BA in Broadcast Communications from Columbia College in Chicago. 


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