16 Lies That Are Too Easy to Believe If You Grew Up in an Abusive Household
When you’ve survived childhood abuse, it’s common to carry emotional baggage with you into adulthood. And it makes sense — if the only messaging you received in your upbringing was abusive, it’s no wonder children who were abused grow up to have greater struggles with self-esteem, interpersonal relationships and mental health.
In addition to carrying the harmful memories, abused children will often internalize lies about themselves that end up hurting them long into their adult lives. We wanted to know what lies people who grew up experiencing abuse believe about themselves as adults, so we asked our mental health community to share them with us.
The lies listed below may be painful to read if you grew up in an abusive household, so please be mindful and check in with yourself about how you are feeling while reading. If you relate to any of the lies shared below, we hope you know you’re not alone. We hope you know these things are lies, and are not truths about who you are — even if you were made to believe they were true in your childhood. You are valuable, worthy of love and did not deserve to be abused.
Here’s what our community shared with us:
1. “I won’t ever be enough.”
“I was not good enough, smart enough or capable of performing simple tasks around the house without being showed how and being asked what was wrong with me that I couldn’t do it right.” — Aaron P.
2. “No one cares about me.”
“No one cares about me or what I’m going through and I’m dramatic so no one wants to hear my problems or sadness. Because of it, I internalize everything and don’t let anyone in. My husband and I have been together for nine years and he still doesn’t know everything.” — Nina S.
“I still believe no one cares. It is hard for me to understand that someone could care about me, because I believe there is always someone better than me. Or I feel like I’m not fun enough so people easily forget about me. It is difficult, but I know these thoughts are lies.” — Stephany C.
3. “People will always leave.”
“I don’t have a voice of my own and everything I do is so everyone else is happy but me… I [feel] replaceable and easily forgotten. Everyone leaves anyways.” — Leesha K.
4. “Everything is always my fault.”
“Everything is always my fault. If something goes wrong in my mom’s life, it’s because I was born when she didn’t want kids. I’m not good enough, I’m too fat. Now I feel like I worry all the time that I’m not a good wife or don’t make my husband happy or that I’m a bother for my friend and everyone around me.” — Marie R.
5. “I’m here to take care of everyone else, and never be taken care of.”
“I believe I am not worthy of love or sympathy from others and that I’m just here to serve and give to everyone else around me. It affects my life now as an adult negatively in my relationships I try to build, from friends to lovers. I always end up being used and abused and allow it to happen until they leave me.” — Samantha W.
6. “I don’t deserve good things in life.”
“I don’t deserve anything. When life is good and I’m happy, I nitpick and find problems and wait for it all to shatter. I always feel I don’t deserve love or respect and definitely have no confidence or backbone as an adult as a result.” — Ebony R.
7. “No one will ever love me.”
“[I believe] I’ll never be loved by anyone because I’m so hard-headed and because of my constant anxiety. Also because of my bipolar and depression (I experienced both at a young age) I [thought I] would never have friends or I would just be alone forever.” — Danielle W.
8. “Men only want one thing from me.”
“That men only want one thing from a woman. Years and years of resentment have made it impossible for me to have a healthy relationship. And sometimes a satisfying sex life. No matter how many different ways a man shows me he loves me, I think it’s just an act to get what he wants. I don’t believe any man has ever loved me. And at times, I’m convinced I’m unlovable.” — Amanda K.
9. “Avoiding conflict is the only way to keep the peace.”
“Domestic violence fueled my false belief that silence, [having] no voice and avoiding conflict at all costs will keep the peace. In reality, these beliefs have caused me anything but peace. They have caused me much suffering, constant people-pleasing, anxiety, depression and a feeling of helplessness as an adult. I have learned that the coping skills I used to survive childhood have not worked for me as an adult seeking healing.” — Stacey L.
10. “I have to be perfect to earn people’s love.”
“That I have to be perfect in order to earn people’s love. And if you mess up just one time, there’s the possibility of losing their love forever. If someone gives love without you doing something first, they are out to get you.” — Sarah H.
“I can’t do anything right. If it’s not done perfectly, there’s no point in doing it. I can’t put a number to how often I’ll go to get something done and I spend hours just standing there, frozen, unable to start.” — Lauren S.
11. “I’m not allowed to get angry.”
“I’m not meant to get angry. Growing up, I was forced to suppress many of my emotions because they were ‘annoying.’ Especially anger. My stepfather and mother were allowed to yell and scream and break stuff. I was not allowed to get angry, it was not OK. And now, I’ve turned my anger in on myself, believing that feeling anger makes me wrong or broken.” — Courtney A.
“I can’t get mad at anyone because then they’ll be mad at me. It’s now impossible for me to get mad and it torments me, so I get anxious instead.” — Liz T.
12. “I’m ugly.”
“My mother always told me I was ugly. My little sister was the pretty one, I was ugly, but smart. To this day, I have very poor self-image/self-confidence and I don’t believe anyone when they compliment me on my looks or style.” — Jill H.
13. “I’m nothing without my achievements.”
“That I’m nothing without my academic achievements. I was made to feel like getting high grades was the be-all and end-all of everything. I managed it because it was expected of me, but at the detriment of being able to form many friendships or learn how to be social because I wasn’t allowed to go out and meet people at any point. Life was about school and home. Consequently, social anxiety is still a massive burden for me to this day because I struggle to connect to people, despite the fact I want to.” — Becki K.
14. “I’m destined to fail.”
“That I’m no good and all I will ever do is fail. It makes it hard to try new things or put myself out there.” — Stephanie R.
15. “I’m worthless.”
“To always do my best but remember whatever I do, I’m worthless and everyone else is always better than I ever will be. You get what you deserve… every slap, every bad thing that ever happened to you, is your fault and your fault alone. How this is haunting me now: I can’t believe anyone loves me. I allow people to walk all over me over and over because I [feel I] deserve it.” — Ia J.
16. “I’m ‘too much’ for other people.”
“I was always told I was overwhelming. When I shared my thoughts or feelings about anything, it was too much for anyone to handle. I still clam up and close down for fear of overwhelming the people around me with my thoughts and feelings.” — Shanna D.
If you’ve struggled with believing any of these lies, you’re not alone. Check out the below stories if you are struggling to heal from childhood abuse and don’t know where to start.