Folks Admitted Gruesome Experiences They've Had With Their Dads, And It's Deeply Upsetting

    "My dad disappeared when I was 13, and I never saw him again. As an adult, I learned he told everyone I died...he did this for two decades."

    We recently asked the BuzzFeed Community, "How has having a toxic dad impacted your life?"

    Danny DeVito in "Matilda"

    Unfortunately, there were many stories filled with horrific things fathers did to their kids. They're extremely toxic and unbelievable, and have left a very damaging mark on people today.

    Jake Johnson and Max Greenfield on "New Girl"

    So, here are some deeply horrible things dads did to their children:

    Warning: Some stories include topics of child abuse, drug abuse, eating disorders, animal abuse, and suicide. Please proceed with caution.

    1. "After my parents' divorce when I was about 9, I didn't see much of my biological father. Then, when I was about 13, he disappeared completely. Support Kids would find him here and there, but then he would pick up and move again so they wouldn't find him. Eventually, I just gave up hope and resigned myself to him not wanting me in his life. Fast-forward to when I'm 25, and a half-sister I never knew about found me on Facebook and said something strange, 'I knew you weren't dead.' I didn't think too much of it. A few years later, one of my mom's friends contacted me to let me know he passed away — curious what happened, I contacted the funeral home. The director answered and told me, '[Your] father lost his 12-year-old daughter in a car accident.' I heard someone on the other end demand to give him the phone — it was my dad's best friend. What he told me shocked me — my father had been telling everyone I died. For two decades."

    "My dad did this all so he wouldn't look like a piece of human garbage for completely abandoning me. To add insult to injury, he was always in my immediate area and could have seen me whenever he wanted. 

    Thirteen years and one existential crisis later, I'm over it (for the most part). But, I do sometimes still wonder how a man could be so completely warped."


    2. "My dad walked out on my mom, my sister, and me when I was 5 and my sister was 1 and a half years old. I watched him pack his suitcase on the living room couch and walk out — it's still one of the most traumatic experiences of my life. He left us homeless for six months with no money to support us. I'm 23 now, and he stopped paying child support when I was freshly 18 (even though he was still mandated to do so). Then he was pretty much an absent father who's addicted to meth and gambling, and he's also homeless. To add to it, he only calls us when he needs money, a favor, or a ride to court for his continual warrants."


    Person taking cash from a wallet, implying financial planning or saving concept

    3. "I think my dad really tried to be a good dad. He adopted me when I was born because my mom wanted to terminate the pregnancy, even though he knew there was a chance I wasn't his biologically. But, he married a woman when I was very young so I could 'have a mom in my life' (but that woman was abusive toward me). He turned the other way about the whole thing. He ended up leaving that marriage when I was 16 because he found a new wife, and claimed that he left partially because of how his ex treated me. I eventually moved in with him and his new wife (his ex originally had custody of me, but she had the cops called on her when she beat me badly). I felt like I was impeding on his new life since his new wife made it clear I wasn’t welcome in their home. I’m in my mid-40s now, and have low-contact with my dad because he’s proven time and time again he will always choose his spouse over me."


    4. "Starting when I was around 5, my dad’s preferred method of punishing me was to give me the invisibility treatment for several days. It was more than just not speaking to me — he completely ignored my existence and refused to make me dinner or take me to school. Again, I was 5 years old when this started, and it continued well into my 20s. I’m still unpacking all of this with my very patient and wonderful therapist, but I have learned how this terrible approach to parenting (among other toxic things my dad did) has left me with deep scars. I struggle with believing I'm worthy of love, and fearful of those I let in will abandon me. I purposely keep my relationship with my dad now to surface-level, and try to limit the amount of times I’m around him. I can empathize with his childhood situation of not having emotional needs met, but I have yet to reach a point of forgiveness — maybe someday."


    Man looking at phone with young girl beside him sitting on tree stump outdoors

    5. "My dad (despite being overweight himself) is very 'anti-fat people.' For as long as I can remember, he's commented on overweight people on TV, in public, and everywhere else. I developed an eating disorder at 15, and it spiraled. At one point, I kind of got it under control and gained a little weight. As soon as I visited him and he noticed, he commented on it. I was mortified, crushed, and it got worse than ever. I ended up with my periods stopping, fainting regularly, and ending up hospitalized with my liver and kidneys in danger."


    6. "Nothing was ever good enough for my father — he was hyper-critical, judgmental, and perpetually angry. Two of my earliest memories are of him yelling at me when I was crying. As a teenager, I once had an anxiety attack and was crying, and he threatened to 'swat' me. I spent the bulk of my life struggling with chronic depression and anxiety, as well as being terrified that I would never be happy."


    7. "I was terrified of my father for as long as I can remember — he punished all forms of 'imperfection.' I remember dropping my ice cream when I was 6 and becoming paralyzed with fear of getting beaten. I would get screamed at for getting sick, being shy, feeling cold, being depressed…he could always find some reason. Every time he screamed at me or beat me, he would conclude his tantrum by forcing me to hug him. I hated him passionately for it."

    "He was an angry, self-righteous, petulant man-child. To this day, he denies he ever laid a finger on me. And while he lives in his fantasy of having been a good father, I continue to pick apart the lies that I am an unlovable burden who exists to please. 

    I now have a daughter of my own, and I could never even begin to imagine looking at her with the same disdain my father had in his eyes."


    Bare feet next to a dropped ice cream cone on grass, conveying a sense of a small mishap or loss

    8. "I have a brother who's six years older than me. When I was 8, I watched my dad physically abuse my brother in our backyard by throwing a bike on top of him and shoving it down on him. My brother never spoke to him again, and spent years working through his own mental health. When my brother thought I could 'handle being on my own' in our childhood home with just my parents, he moved out and never came back. The final nail in the coffin of the relationship with my dad was after I watched my mom support him through his treatment and care for lung cancer. But when she was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer the year after his went into remission, he treated her like garbage. He ignored her, talked shit about her to his family, and didn’t support her in any way."

    "When she passed away, he told me I was a piece of shit for not helping her get better. I spent every waking moment with her while I was pregnant, praying she’d live to meet my daughter. 

    She was my best friend, and somehow, my dad ended up being a person who lives in a different town and doesn’t know his grandchildren."


    9. "I'm a 32F, and growing up I had a great relationship with my father. We went fishing on the weekends (just the two of us), and he coached my older sister's softball team. When my sister and I came to puberty, everything changed. He wouldn’t talk or try to relate to us — it seemed like he was mad at us for aging. She was four years older, so I witnessed it happen to her first (back then I didn’t know what it was going to mean for me). She was in high school, so I was around 11 years old. I remember he pushed her out the front door late one night (just for missing curfew), and I threw sandals after her so she wasn’t barefoot. I didn’t understand it then, and I can’t understand now. Dads: Please be nice to your daughters — it’s not their fault they grow up."


    Two young children holding hands and walking on a forest path

    10. "My dad had an affair and left my mom when I was about 4. He kept in contact with my brothers and would see them regularly, but he didn't bother with me. Eventually, we lost contact completely. When I had my eldest son, I figured life is too short, so I reached out to him and introduced him to his grandson. He seemed interested in him, but that soon ended when my brother had a child — we were once again dropped. I tried again after the birth of my second son, and the same thing happened. So I gave up... I mean, how many times can a man’s only daughter be rejected??? I ended up in an abusive relationship and reached out to my dad for help in desperation. I was told he isn’t there to 'deal with my crap,' and not to contact him again."

    "He was never able to say he was proud of me, even when I qualified as a nurse having done my degree as a single mother. He didn’t attend my graduation, but would always openly express to my brothers how proud he was of them. 

    I managed to save money to purchase my first home last year on my own, and not a word was spoken. I reached out for the last time after my stepmom passed away (he had been with her since he left my mom, so I felt he would be devastated and need support).

    However, after a few months of speaking, he openly told me he blamed me for his marriage breakdown, as I made my mom ‘mental.’ I was 4 years old! I’ve been called a bad mother, and ‘only a nurse’ (like anything I do will ever be good enough).

    I have given up trying to be in his life — he clearly only wanted my two brothers, and was incapable of being a father to a girl. Talk about toxicity."


    11. "The best thing my dad ever did to me was die when I was 13 years old. He tried to kill my mom (in front of me), never went to jail, made tons of money but never paid child support, and my mom couldn't take him to court for it because they were scared he'd try to 'finish the job.' Then after he died, I found 'journals' he wrote to me all about how he loved and missed me (but not enough to pay child support while we went hungry?!?!). Now I have PTSD and a hatred for men. I will never have kids because I don't want a man to scar them like my dad did to me — asshole."


    12. "During my senior year of high school, my stepmom decided that she was going to go help fundraise for my senior all-night party, and I was expected to come with her. If either her or my dad had asked at all, they would've known that I was going through an intense depression episode and didn't want anything to do with the party. When I stood up for myself and said I didn't want to go, they berated me, called me selfish, and told me that I was going nowhere in life, so I should just accept that high school is as good as it's ever going to get in my life."

    "In a way I'm thankful for COVID canceling my senior year early, as it gave me an excuse to leave that same day and move in with my mom. I haven't lived with my dad in years, but I guess now he's trying to be 'the cool guy.' 

    After one of my younger sisters died by suicide, he's been either super caring toward me or super distant. Our family got thousands of dollars saved for us all to go to therapy after she died by suicide. 

    I was struggling, and when I asked my dad for help, he told me that 'it wasn't his problem.' Now that I'm not in therapy and he is, I'm treated like the odd one out, like there's something wrong with me for not going. Overall, it's just a huge mess, and I rarely speak to him."


    Graduates in caps and gowns at a commencement ceremony, symbolizing an important family milestone

    13. "I am still so scared of him. Every time I do anything I know he won't like, but I should just be able to do as an adult (like getting a tattoo or spending a bit too much money on a night out), I have to have a big think about whether it's worth the argument and threats of financial abandonment. When men in my life get angry, even if I know they would never hurt me or their anger isn't directed at me, I still have flashbacks of my dad destroying my stuff when he was mad. I have shelled out thousands for therapy just to deal with how much that man messed up my head."

    "Even now when he's in a good mood, I get really nervous, just in case he's plotting something or he's found something out and he's going to be horrible about it later. My mom never saw it when I was growing up, but now I've moved out, and he directs it all at her now. 

    He was very calculated and even involuntarily admitted he manipulated my mom into staying several times. I just don't know how much more of the anxiety I can take. I can't cut him off because he still helps me out financially, but under the condition that I still tow the line and act like the perfect child, under threat of being left to crash and burn."


    14. "My dad was/is a narcissist who made us spend all of our weekend time with him. I was never allowed to hang out with my friends from school unless they were part of his church group. And when I was at my mom’s, he expected me to call him every single day — if I didn’t, he would call incessantly until I picked up. He also lived less than two miles from my mom’s house, so he was always close by."

    "Growing up with him was traumatic. I developed two distinct personas based on which parent I was staying with, and that still is the source of many psychological issues (as I have a hard time being one 'whole'). I’ve learned to set major boundaries, but I still feel guilty for 'hurting' him."


    Man in suit with shoulder bag talking on phone, looking concerned. Image related to parental responsibilities

    15. "My father had no interest in being a father, but absolutely adored being a stepfather. He foisted his own kids off on various wives and girlfriends (who didn't want us, either), but has made a career out of being a dad to other peoples' children. As a kid I was confused by this — why couldn't he just treat us all the same? As an adult I realize we heap praise on stepfathers for simply being present and have zero expectations of them (which is what appealed to him). The bar for dads is pretty low, but the bar for stepfathers is nonexistent, and it must be nice to be hailed as a martyr-like hero for being a warm body in the room that happens to be male. There were other things that were more toxic, but this is the thing that still ticks me off in my 30s. His stepchildren think he's the best dad in the world, while most of his biological children haven't talked to him in over 10 years (he also has no relationship with his grandchildren)."


    16. "My dad was only a 'good dad' when he was coaching my softball teams (which he was great at). In my adult years, he would come to my house drunk and then threaten to physically assault me if I said things he didn't like. One time, he was house sitting for me while I was on vacation, and was supposed to be taking care of my dogs. I came home a week later to a house covered in dog urine and feces, dog food thrown on the floor, and a toilet full of his pee. Turns out he would just throw food for them, then use my bathroom WITHOUT flushing...FOR A WEEK."


    17. And, "I used to think of my dad as Superman — I was 'daddy’s little girl.' But as my parents' marriage became more hostile, the more he began to resent me. I look identical to her, and have wondered if that’s why he has been so violent and emotionally abusive toward me. I once asked him in a very deep conversation if he would please be nicer to me, to stop interrupting me, and ask if things could be better. I was tearful but rational, and wanted him to see how much I wanted him to be proud. He screamed that I was unstable and hysterical, 'not normal,' that I need mental help (he's a nurse and is obsessed with diagnosing mental disorders usually to women). After this, he called the police, then fled. He then called my mom and tried to turn my entire family against me. A lot of people trust his word — he is one of the most cunning and intelligent people I’ve ever met, which makes him even scarier."


    Adult silhouette appears to scold a child sitting with head down, indicating a disciplinary moment

    Note: Some submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

    If you are concerned that a child is experiencing or may be in danger of abuse, you can call or text the National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-422-4453 (4.A.CHILD); service can be provided in over 140 languages.