By: Beatriz Atienza
I had a difficult relationship with my dad. Even before I was born, he was controlling towards my mum, he wouldn’t let her spend her own money without writing it down, choose her clothes or, when things got worse, go over to see her family. She left him right after I was born, but of course then it started with me.
While growing up, I wasn’t allowed to take part in any community activities. He wouldn’t let me join extracurricular classes, go to my friends birthdays, etc. I also had a holiday turn with him which lasted 40 days and during those I couldn’t talk to my mum. He didn’t pick up the phone when she called and when I got older he used to take my phone away. I barely spoke up for myself because I was scared. He never physically hurt me but I had been raised in fear, always afraid I would get a bad mark at school, and he would be disappointed, or afraid that if I said something he would sue my mum (which he couldn’t because he had nothing against her, but I didn’t know).
I lived like that for 18 years. Going to his house every evening, every half holiday, with no life of my own. That affected the way I was at school, my ability to make friends, and basically the construction of my own life. But when I was about to start college, I wasn’t having it anymore. I spoke up and told him everything I thought. And nothing happened to me. We still have a complicated relationship, I see him from time to time, bur now I’m free. With the support of my mum, my family and some true friends, and also with professional help, I’m working on it.
What he did to us was psychological abuse. I didn’t know it then. Isolating us, controlling everything, asking for perfection standards no one can reach. To anyone going through the same, both if they have realized it or not, you’re not alone. There’s people out there, close ones and professionals, who can help. But please know you are free and the only owner of your life. There is a way out, not an easy one, because it has taken me years to realize I needed help and that I was indeed affected by what happened. But there is.