We rely on advertising to keep the lights on.

Please consider adding us to your whitelist.



Advanced search

Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

i am worried my mother has a sadistic streak

(114 Posts)
Elasticbandaided Sun 27-Nov-16 23:14:34

I had what anyone would think was a normal, happy childhood. Yet I have been diagnosed as an adult with attachment disorder, depression and phobias. I have memories of mainly emotional and (some) physical abuse which does not match any of the recollections of my parents.

One of the main things I recall from my childhood is my mother deliberately frightening me as a toddler and throughout childhood. If she knew that something frightened me, it seemed like she would cause it to happen, then shame me when I had a frightened, panic attack or anxious response to it. As I got older I used to challenge her and she would laugh - "why would I do that to you? I'm your mother." But she would do it over and over again until I had to try very hard to pretend it didn't frighten me anymore, just so she would stop doing it. I just dealt with the feelings of terror / helplessness by myself, turned them inward and dissociated.

This was very hard to understand and very confusing as a child. It's hard to believe that your own mother wants to cause you fear and emotional pain, so you and everyone else put it down to something else, or a series of accidents or crossed wires. And I have always thought that maybe I was mistaken? Or maybe I was just an overly sensitive child who needed to toughen up, or "get a grip" as my mother would say.

This has all come to a head today when I had one of those experiences where everything dawns on you at once : I watched my mother deliberately frightening my own child until she was shaking and crying and trying to run away. Neither of them could see that I was watching, but I saw the whole thing. When DD did get away, saw me and came running to me, my mother appeared and told me that my DD had got herself into the situation and that she wasn't able to stop her, despite her best efforts.

This is not true, as I watched the whole thing. My mother created it all, and was fascinated watching my dd's fear response and repeating it to get a further reaction. I confronted my mother and she told me again that I was mistaken, that she would never do anything to scare DD. My DF came later too and said I was ridiculous for accusing my DM of something like that. But I know I was not mistaken. I know what I saw with my adult eyes.

Obviously I am not going to let her be alone with my DD again. Of course my DD is my main concern here and I know what to do to protect her, but the help I'm looking to get from you is about me.

Why would my mother do this? I have no doubt she loves me and DD in her own way, so why would she do this? She was a perfectly good mother in most other respects.

What kind of effect is that likely to have had on a child (me?)

What can I do to help myself get over my phobias and anxiety now I know that this sort of behaviour was the cause and that they didn't just happen because I am not "tough enough" as a person.

EmNetta Sun 27-Nov-16 23:26:02

I'm so sorry this has happened to you, and to your daughter. I think you need a professional to tell you why, but hope you now have the confidence to know you were not at fault as a child and were able to say something helpful to your DD.

splendidglenda Sun 27-Nov-16 23:27:42

Primary goal is to ensure that they are NEVER left alone again. Even possibly no contact.

Yes she is sadistic. She is a danger to your daughter. Get counselling, Op flowers. Wishing you all the best brew

Chipscheesentomatosauce Sun 27-Nov-16 23:30:46

What did she do to your DD?! shock

I could not forgive that. I'm sorry for what she put you through, OP. She sounds quite unhinged and manipulative.

ReallyTired Sun 27-Nov-16 23:33:58

I am sorry this has happened to you and your child. Both your parents are abusive. Your father allowed the emotional abuse to happen. He facilated your mother.

ageingrunner Sun 27-Nov-16 23:34:01

I think you need to think about going no contact. She wasn't a good mother if she's a sadist who enjoys frightening children. That's so creepy 😫

SandyY2K Sun 27-Nov-16 23:43:15

Sometimes there is no explanation for people's sadistic steak, but it could be that:

■ Her own mother did this to her
■ That she was bullied as a child
■ Or that she gets pleasure and a sense of power from it

Whatever it is, I don't think I'd be able to keep much of a relationship with her after that. I would certainly be wanting to keep my DD away from her, either unsupervised or not.

I'd be telling her, you saw exactly what happened and you're not mistaken, so she had better admit it and get help, or I'd be gone from her life.

ReallyTired Sun 27-Nov-16 23:43:29

I think you need to dramatically reduce contact with both your parents. They are extremely toxic people.

Going non contact is best done in stages. If you go dramatically non contact turn they will try to contact you all the more. Don't answer their calls, make excuses not to see them. It will be hard if they live near by.

SandyY2K Sun 27-Nov-16 23:45:54

What can I do to help myself get over my phobias and anxiety now I know that this sort of behaviour was the cause and that they didn't just happen because I am not "tough enough" as a person.

Your mother caused these issues and it's not your fault.

I suspect being around her subconsciously brings those feelings back to your mind.

Your mother was your abuser.

HeyRoly Sun 27-Nov-16 23:46:23

I'm so sorry you've seen history repeating like that. Your mother sounds toxic and twisted and she's gaslighting you. She's making you doubt your very thoughts and experiences.

BumDNC Sun 27-Nov-16 23:49:39

Its a power thing. That's the only thing I have to explain it but similar was done to me by grandfather and my father.
When I saw him start this on my kids I went absolutely mental at him at a family gathering and he was so ashamed he's never done anything like it again, but then again I never leave them alone sadly.

I'm sorry this happened flowers

geekymommy Mon 28-Nov-16 01:59:38

I suppose it's possible that she thought she could toughen you (or your DD) up by exposing you to things you're afraid of. Exposure is done as therapy for fear, but it's probably not something amateurs should try at home. More likely, she gets some kind of enjoyment out of seeing people get scared.

YouHadMeAtCake Mon 28-Nov-16 02:14:30

I would tell her you saw exactly what happened and I would cease all contact. Easier said than done I know, but she is an abuser and it will get worse. Don't allow her to do to your DD what she did to you. I'm sorry OP, it's terrible.

WiltingTulip Mon 28-Nov-16 02:29:08

I'm assuming a scenario like:
You are scared of spiders; your mother threw spiders at you / put them in front of you continually.

I imagine I'd say in front of both parents (and siblings if you have any) without pausing for reactions:
"I've been reflecting on how you deliberately did x (be very detailed but brief so it's obvious to everyone you did see) to dd the other day when you didn't realise I was watching and denied it. It really upset me growing up when you did the same to me repeatedly. Now I'm a parent I can't imagine a mother choosing to do this to a loved one, so dh and I have agreed that dd will only have supervised visits with you".

I have no idea if this would be considered a suitable approach but I would want to remove the secrecy around it. If she gets angry I'd walk out the door.

Stinkingbagwash Mon 28-Nov-16 02:53:04

She sounds deeply damaged - for the behaviours to be still happening after all these years. What an awful thing to witness. I know it will be hard but I can only recommend going nc, something I've had to do myself. 2nd to that I'd recommend therapy but look for someone who specialises in 'trauma' not just a general counsellor.

flumpybear Mon 28-Nov-16 04:32:36

Awful!!! Never let her be alone with your child again! Dare I ask what she did?

Believeitornot Mon 28-Nov-16 05:41:43

I would tell your mother exactly what you saw her do. Exactly

I would write this down so you don't run the risk of minimising, if that makes sense?

I would also consider cutting contact.

Also what stopped you stepping in as soon as you saw your mum scare her the first time (instead of waiting until dd was crying etc?)

Cricrichan Mon 28-Nov-16 07:11:55

Hugs op. That sounds awful. What you witnessed confirms that you were abused as a child and your mother denying what you saw does mean that she wasn't using a method of toughening you up, she was being deliberately cruel.

She only had your daughter for a little bit and you saw her doing this to her, imagine what she got away doing to you.

I agree that you need to find a professional who's experienced in this to talk things through and help you process it. How is she with you now? If you've grown up with it, you may not recognise that she's continuing. My dp's mother is a narcissist and even at 50 he can't recognise what she is continually doing to him and everybody round him. His sister can, but it took her over 40 years to see it.

Cricrichan Mon 28-Nov-16 07:15:58

Also, as a mum yourself now, can you imagine doing that to your child?

Donthate Mon 28-Nov-16 07:27:27

That sounds awful. Never leave her alone with your dd.

TupsNSups Mon 28-Nov-16 07:31:22

What on earth did she do to your dd?

orangeterry Mon 28-Nov-16 07:39:33

What did she do ?

Thattimeofyearagain Mon 28-Nov-16 07:40:59

This happened to my childhood best friend, her mum would tell her that she was leaving ( aged 5 onwards) and hide in the garden to frighten her, told her that vampires and werewolf's were real and would " get" her , loads of things. Guess what ? She is N/C with her mum now, some thirty odd years later.

designonaut Mon 28-Nov-16 08:00:10

Well done on confronting your mother. She may not be aware/in denial of what she's doing.

Elasticbandaided Mon 28-Nov-16 10:11:37

The frightening scenarios she created when I was younger were numerous: pretending she was choking, that people I loved were dead, that someone was angry with me and was coming to the house to get me, trapping me behind doors and in rooms and making me panic - that sort of thing.

Yesterday it was with a dog as DD is a bit cautious of dogs. I saw her drag DD up to the barking dog and when DD ran away, go after her and drag her back in front of it several times. It got quite forceful as DDwas squirming away and kicking and crying but my mum overpowered her and made her touch the dog. She even ordered DD to stay in front of the dog which was barking in her face while she (mum) walked away and when DD tried to catch her hand she laughed and said "I'm not helping you."

I mean - WTF?

I think I am still in shock.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now