My father would say, “I’m sorry.” Only, he never meant it. He mistakenly believed that those two little words had some “magical” properties which would instantaneously fix everything. Upon uttering them, he expected that we would simply smile and tell him that [whatever verbal/emotional abuse he inflicted] was “okay”. And if we didn’t forgive him when he expected us to, we endured further abuse. I knew, early on, that his apologies meant nothing; my mother taught me, from a young age, that saying “sorry” is effective, only when one’s actions reflect remorse.
Years later, I would gain a greater understanding of the dynamics of abuse after being with someone whose vocabulary didn’t even contain the words “sorry”, “apology/apologize”, “remorse”. He played the blame game but, even more chillingly knew just how far he could go without crossing unacceptable boundaries. I didn’t have marks or bruises on me but I considered my emotional/psychological health to be at greater risk, even if nobody else believed I was suffering. Without the mark, the abuse was difficult to prove and it was to a point where I wished he would hit me so that he would leave a mark to show the authorities. Of course, I (along with everyone else) felt disturbed by that; after all, who ever wants to be hit hard enough to have a mark? Sadly, the absence of marks prolonged my situation, which forced me to appeal the decisions made by those in a position to help me.
Abuse, whether there is physical evidence or not, is abuse is abuse. Any treatment which damages any part of another human being is wrong. Anyone who inflicts such damage without apology or remorse is abusive.
And nobody deserves to be broken that way.