7 key signs you’re part of an abusive and toxic family

“Family should be our safe haven. Very often, though, it’s where we break out of our deepest lovesickness.” – Lyanla Vansant

Belonging to a happy and stable family is a dream for many, but not everyone is lucky enough to be born into such a family. Instead, they are cursed with an abusive toxic family where dysfunctional family roles serve as icing on the cake. If you belong to an abusive family, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

A happy, normal, and healthy family gives you the opportunity to grow and thrive with the right guidance. Your parents love you, support you and accept you the way you are. In a toxic, abusive family, it’s the exact opposite. Your parents control you, intimidate you, hurt you emotionally, physically, and spiritually, and mostly make your home a living hell.

Not only that, in almost every dysfunctional and emotionally abusive family, each member is supposed to play a different role, perpetuating the vicious cycle and keeping the tradition of intergenerational trauma alive. So what are the signs that a family is being abused?

What are the roles in dysfunctional families?

– The hero: The hero is the high achiever in the family who takes responsibility for making sure that the family always looks good and normal on the outside. They try their best to mask their family’s toxic traits with their never-ending accomplishments.

– The Caregiver: Also known as “Enablers,” they take responsibility for keeping everyone happy by completely ignoring the real issues plaguing the family. They try to carry the whole family on their shoulders and find it difficult to relieve others of responsibility for their actions.

– The scapegoat: As the name suggests, they are always held responsible for everything that goes wrong in the family, even if it is not their fault. Scapegoats must always feel rejected, unloved, unwanted, and a burden on the family.

– The mascot: The mascot always tries to lighten the situation by making jokes and fooling around. They know it, but they choose to ignore all issues, using humor and silliness as defense mechanisms. Mascots always distract themselves and others instead of confronting problems head-on.

– The Lost Child: The Lost Child is the one who always tries to stay in the background. This is how they protect themselves from the negativity that grows rampant around them. They avoid socializing with their family members, which over time leads to social isolation, awkwardness and low self-esteem.

7 signs you belong to a toxic, abusive family

1. Your family members are violent with each other.

Violence is not always physical, it can also be emotional , mental and psychological. If your family is constantly hurting each other in one way or another, chances are you belong to an abusive family.

Persistent violence, in any form, leads to destructive behavior, trauma, low self-esteem, anxiety, unstable romantic relationships in adulthood, and mental health problems.

2. You are blamed for your family’s abusive and toxic behavior.

Even if you are the victim and play no part in the toxic situation in your family, you will somehow be blamed (the scapegoat) for everything. Whether it’s your parents or your siblings, it’s impossible for them to recognize and accept their mistakes.

Have you felt hurt and offended because they were unkind to you? Well, it’s not her fault that you’re “too sensitive.” Did they ridicule you in front of everyone and made you feel bad? So you don’t have a “sense of humor”? Did they hit you so hard that you fell in and broke your hand? Then you must have made her “very, very angry” and “deserved” it.

3. Your boundaries are never respected.

Abusing toxic family members don’t understand the concept of boundaries, especially personal boundaries. They don’t care what you’re uncomfortable about (The Lost Child) and only focus on what they expect from you and what they ask of you.

Everyone is entitled to their boundaries, but if you belong to a toxic family, you can say goodbye to that forever. Your parents will become overly involved in your life, going through your personal belongings, reading your journals, refusing to give you space, and no matter how hard you try to make them understand, they will continue to impose their expectations and opinions on you .

4. You’re always being pushed to be perfect.

A little perfectionism is a good virtue, but when it gets too much, it becomes toxic. If your family is constantly pressuring you and expecting you to be a perfectionist, don’t think for a second that this is normal. Perfectionism is a myth and, frankly, unnecessary.

Failure is part of everything, and when you constantly push yourself to be perfect, you begin to cultivate a fear of failure within yourself (The Hero). This form of rigid perfectionism is just another tool your abusive family uses to control you and your life even more.

5. You never get love, empathy, and compassion from your family.

Love, empathy, compassion and kindness are all foreign words in a toxic family that abuses you. Instead, you get ridicule, callousness, heartbreak, emotional abuse, and pain. Your feelings and emotions are treated like garbage and your expectations are laughed at.

Happiness will seem like a distant dream to you. You will have no attachment to your parents, rather the relationship between you and your parents will be either parental (The Caretaker), toxic, or codependent. There will always be a severe lack of emotional intimacy, respect, and trust.

6. You are always judged and criticized.

There’s a reason you hate family gatherings. Your family judges you and makes fun of you at every opportunity; nothing you do is ever good enough for her. They constantly make you a loser by questioning your job, your looks, your relationship status, and even downplaying your accomplishments.

It’s okay to be a little critical at times, but your family will push all boundaries when it comes to criticizing you. Deep down, they love to insult you because it allows them to take pleasure in their own weaknesses and insecurities.

7. The truth about your family is always hidden from other people.

Dysfunctional and toxic families always try to make sure the outside world never witnesses the dysfunction. Superficiality and pretense are the order of the day here (The Mascot), and abusive toxic family members will do whatever it takes to make sure no one gets the real deal.

From the perfect looks to the rehearsed body language, an outsider will never be able to guess what goes on behind closed doors. You must pretend to be a happy, perfect family when your family is anything but.

Having an abusive toxic family is not only emotionally and mentally draining but also heartbreaking. Everyone wants to have a stable and healthy family life, and when you don’t have that, it can feel pretty lonely. But don’t think that you are what your family is. It’s okay if you want to detach from everything and make your own way because at the end of the day your happiness and sanity are what matters most.

Want to know more about the signs that a toxic family is being abused? Check out the video below!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do I deal with a toxic family member?

The best ways to deal with a toxic family member are to set boundaries, minimize contact, get your point across, stand up for yourself when they try to mess with you, and make sure you always practice self-love .

How to deal with toxic siblings

When dealing with your toxic sibling, there are a few more thoughts to keep in mind: set emotional boundaries, know by acknowledging your truth, try not to let them get to you, communicate openly with them whenever possible, and normalize with them behavior not.

Do toxic people know they are toxic?

Yes, toxic people know full well that they are toxic. They just don’t care and they make a conscious choice not to do anything about it.

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