Ask Amy: Airing past hurts on social media a bad idea

FresnoJuly 25, 2013 

Dear Amy: I'm in therapy learning to deal with the fallout from being raised by parents who belittled, bullied, and verbally and emotionally abused me for most of my life.

They have never admitted doing anything wrong, insisting that they were great parents and I was too weak or too immature to see that they were only doing "what was best for me."

Before I started to see a psychiatrist, I planned to write my parents a letter telling them how they had hurt me and how it has affected every aspect of my life. I also considered telling my concerned family and friends via social media what they did to me and how much it hurt.

I was very surprised when my therapist told me not to post anything. He said many libel and character defamation lawsuits have resulted from such revelations, and he advised me not to say anything unless it was face to face, so as to not leave any paper trail.

Why would it be wrong to tell the truth?

— Posting for closure

Dear Posting: Your therapist seems to be offering legal advice, and while he may be right (I don't know), your therapist would do best to ask you a question: "Why?"

Exploring your motivations is one key function of therapy, and answering the question "why?" might lead you to insight and closure, without the inevitable personal mess that would result from public postings.

I completely agree with your therapist that making these postings is unwise, though for different reasons. When you post something deeply personal online, you immediately lose control of the information. This text can fly through cyberspace and land anywhere; it can be altered, made fun of, or invite commentary that would be hurtful to you or others.

Furthermore, this would not cause your parents to admit their wrongdoing or apologize for it, because they would see a public airing of their failings as further proof that you (not they) are flawed. I would encourage you to write a letter to your folks, and you could make a long-term decision about whether to send it.

Dear Amy: When "Suzi" asked if you have to love family members you don't even like, you said "no."

I agree. No one is required to feel any particular way about anyone. You mentioned the requirement, however, to "tolerate" family members. I disagree. I have some family members who are so horrible and toxic that I don't even tolerate them.

— Healthy now

Dear Healthy: Self-preservation is key.

 

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