Intellectual Abuse: When the child is not encouraged or supported to think independently, told they are stupid or incapable, not taught to problem solve, how to be accountable your actions and thoughts and how to communicate is abuse. It also includes not being taught a philosophy or belief system in life. Spiritual abuse occurs when the parent is so rigid that they are the final word in everything. The child is not allowed to have their own desires, wants and needs; it must coincide with what the parent wants and needs. Addiction to Religion is similar to any addiction, it means that there is no room for questions or alternative thought. Religion can be used to scare and control, which is abusive. When a representative of a religion abuses, besides the trauma of the crime, it also casts doubt on “God” for the victim as well as the fear of authority figures. Taken from “Adults Abused as Children” by Licia Ginne, LMFT
Religion has the capacity
to silence critical thinking
and create blindness
in entire groups of people.
(A) child’s unconscious adaptation to a dysfunctional family interferes with his or her adult relationships. Because the real self is safely tucked away, the adult must “invent” a different one that will appear as normal as possible and be able to negotiate the day-to-day interactions of adult life. Invented selves, however, have no interest in true intimacy. Instead, they exist as a kind of interface between the true self and the outside world, carefully monitoring and controlling what is allowed in and out. As a result, passion and empathy have to be manufactured–while the person may take the time in the early/romantic phase of a relationship to “act” this out, many soon tire of the effort. Often partners notice the “wooden” nature of their response or their obliviousness. It is not unusual for these people to be particularly accomplished. They channel all of their energy toward a particular pursuit, and away from everything else that is happening around them. . Workaholics often fit this category. From “Why Can’t Some People Maintain Intimate Relationships?” by Richard A. Grossman, Ph.D.
The mentality and behavior of drug addicts and alcoholics is wholly irrational
until you understand that they are completely powerless over their addiction
and unless they have structured help, they have no hope.
Codependence is the pain in adulthood that comes from being wounded in childhood and leads to a high probability of relationship problems and addictive/compulsive behavior. It is a combination of immature thinking, feeling and behaving that generates an aversive relationship with the self (self-loathing), which the codependent individual acts-out through self-destructive unduly self-sacrificial behavior. The most creative description I came across was this one: codependence is about growing up depending on someone who’s depending on something that’s not dependable. This could include anything from abusing alcohol and drugs to compulsive overworking, overeating, and overdoing almost anything. An example would be the child left in the car for one or more hours, enduring heat or cold, while his/her parents are working in the office. Today, I use this simple, generic definition of codependence: “Codependence is the pain in adulthood that comes from being wounded in childhood, which leads to a high probability of relationship problems and addictive disorders in later life.” Children of addiction, neglect, and abuse acquire social and emotional habits that turn on them in adulthood. Survival behaviors such as compulsive caretaking, martyring, door matting, scapegoating, controlling, people-pleasing, and approval-seeking are classic examples. http://www.thebridgetorecovery.com/overcoming-codependency.html
Research on child abuse suggests
that religious beliefs can foster,
encourage, and justify the abuse of children.
When contempt for sex underlies teachings,
this creates a breeding ground for abuse.
Writing that both describes traumatic events in detail and also examines how we felt about these events at the time and feel about them now (describing both negative and positive emotions), is the only kind of writing about trauma that clinically has been associated with improved health . And this is accomplished in Pennebaker’s (Dr. James Pennebaker of the University of Texas) experiments by only one hour of writing – fifteen minutes a day – over a four-day period. Later studies showed that the more days people wrote the more beneficial were the effects of writing. Dr. Pennebaker’s work is compelling. I knew nothing about it during the years when I was working on When the Piano Stops, my own memoir of recovering from incest (and Never Tell: The True Story of Overcoming a Terrifying Childhood, which was the title given its best-selling, UK print). From time to time during those years, my beloved uncle, who had a very limited understanding about what’s involved in healing from childhood sexual abuse, expressed concern about my continually revisiting the most horrifying experiences of my life. The information in this blog would have been great to share with him at that time, but of course I couldn’t. Today, however, I have the opportunity to share it with you, and I do so with the hope that if you’re a survivor of child abuse you’ll take it to heart, gather your internal resources, your memory, your pain, and your creativity, and write on! By Catherine McCall, MS, LMFT
We must be content to grow slowly.
Most of us will still barely be
at the beginning of our recovery
by the time we die.
But that is better than killing
ourselves pretending to be healthy.
Many people hope that once they leave home, they will leave their family and childhood problems behind. However, many find that they experience similar problems, as well as similar feelings and relationship patterns, long after they have left the family environment. Ideally, children grow up in family environments which help them feel worthwhile and valuable. They learn that their feelings and needs are important and can be expressed. Children growing up in such supportive environments are likely to form healthy, open relationships in adulthood. However, families may fail to provide for many of their children’s emotional and physical needs. In addition, the families’ communication patterns may severely limit the child’s expressions of feelings and needs. Children growing up in such families are likely to develop low self-esteem and feel that their needs are not important or perhaps should not be taken seriously by others. As a result, they may form unsatisfying relationships as adults.
Types Of Dysfunctional Families
- One or both parents have addictions or compulsions (e.g., drugs, alcohol, promiscuity, gambling, overworking, and/or overeating) that have strong influences on family members.
- One or both parents use the threat or application of physical violence as the primary means of control. Children may have to witness violence, may be forced to participate in punishing siblings, or may live in fear of explosive outbursts.
- One or both parents exploit the children and treat them as possessions whose primary purpose is to respond to the physical and/or emotional needs of adults (e.g., protecting a parent or cheering up one who is depressed).
- One or both parents are unable to provide, or threaten to withdraw, financial or basic physical care for their children. Similarly, one or both parents fail to provide their children with adequate emotional support.
- One or both parents exert a strong authoritarian control over the children. Often these families rigidly adhere to a particular belief (religious, political, financial, personal). Compliance with role expectations and with rules is expected without any flexibility.
If you cannot get rid
of the family skeleton,
you may as well make it dance.
George Bernard Shaw
A parent who is controlling their child’s actions and is constantly concerned with what their child is always doing could be considered a codependent parent. Codependent parents may view themselves as being caring and helpful. However their codependent behavior is damaging the overall well-being of their child. To help understand what are some signs of a codependent parent and how someone can stop being a codependent parent, I have interviewed therapist Nicolle Zapien LMFT. (She said) “Codependence is a complex pattern of excessive selflessness and preoccupation with another person that does not serve both people optimally Codependence is a well-meaning attempt to be kind but really tends to stem from difficulties with anger, boundaries and strong self-structure. The impact of codependency on a child can be great. He or she may have difficulty with boundaries (addressing others’ needs more readily than considering one’s own), may end up as easy prey for people to manipulate, may more easily fall victim to self-harm, rape, date rape or abuse. There is some research to indicate that codependency is related to lack of assertiveness and as a result many codependents end up unhappy because they are less likely to ask for what they need or many changes to get what they want. But it is difficult to say how it will impact anyone in particular, because there are many variables that go into defining us, protecting us and prodding us toward particular emotional, cognitive or behavioral experiences. Codependency is never a positive experience, however, and is not to be misunderstood as altruism or caring. It does not allow the codependent to have full access to his self or feelings and instead is more like a parasitic relationship.” Jaleh
I took a piece of living clay,
And gently pressed it day by day,
And molded with my power and art
A young child’s soft and yielding heart.
I came again when years were gone;
It was a man I looked upon.
He still that early impress bore,
And I could fashion him no more.
Witnessing physical and emotional abuse is harmful to children, even when they’re not being targeted. Just because your wife/girlfriend isn’t currently attacking your children doesn’t mean it’s not affecting them. We learn about relationships from our parents and other caregivers. What do you think your children are learning by observing mom’s and dad’s relationship dynamic? If you could choose a relationship partner for your children when they’re grown up, would you want it to be like your relationship with their mother? By staying in the relationship, you’re telegraphing that it’s okay for the person who “loves” you to abuse you and that one individual’s needs and feelings are more important than the other’s. Additionally, when and if the children ever begin to assert their own identities and challenge mom in any way—that is if they’re not terrified to do so after witnessing the way mom treats dad—they’ll typically be subject to the same hot and cold abuse. Your kids are going to have issues, especially around relationships, whether you stay in the marriage or not. You’ll be in a much better place to help them later on if you’re healthy, strong and happy. Dr Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD http://shrink4men.wordpress.com/2009/08/10/10-lies-men-tell-themselves-in-order-to-stay-in-emotionally-abusive-relationships-with-their-wives-or-girlfriends/
There are far too many silent sufferers.
Not because they don’t yearn to reach out,
but because they’ve tried
and found no one who cares.
Richelle E. Goodrich
Children from highly dysfunctional households often feel that things will get better someday, that a ‘normal’ life may lie in the future. Indeed, some days things are fairly ‘normal’, but then the bad times return again. It’s the normal days that encourage the fantasy that all problems in the family might someday be solved. This is a common cycle in highly dysfunctional families. When they grow up, these adults carry the same types of fantasy into their relationships. They may portray to others the myth that they have the perfect relationship and they may believe, to themselves, that someday all of their relationship problems will somehow be solved. They ignore the abuse, manipulation, imbalance and control in the relationship. By ignoring the problems, they are unable to confront them and the fantasy of a happier future never comes to pass. Unhealthy boundaries, where we collude with our partner in believing the myth that everything is fine, make it difficult to come to terms with the troubles of the relationship. Healthy boundaries allow us to test reality rather than rely on fantasy. When problems are present, good emotional boundaries allow us to define the problems and to communicate with our partner in finding solutions. They encourage a healthy self-image, trust, consistency, stability and productive communication. John Stibbs
There is only one thing more painful
than learning from experience
and that is not learning from experience.
It’s a natural law that our behavior is intrinsically linked to what we believe. Whatever we believe, we act out. Scapegoats see themselves as bad and therefore they act in ways that prove that it’s true. In this way they provide all the evidence needed to verify that, indeed they are the family problem. The family scapegoat feels hurt and unloved inside, even while on the outside, they act out in painfully reactive and defensive ways. They feel blamed, rejected and mistreated and retaliate by hurling insults and assaulting those they perceive as their accusers. The more blamed a scapegoat feels the worse they act. The worse they act, the more alarmed the rest of the family becomes. The family goes from concern to anger to outright fear for (and of) this “problem child”. Family members believe that if the scapegoat would just stop being such a problem everything would be fine. Family members are unaware that on a deep level they actually perpetuate the scapegoats troublesome behavior. They are unconscious of the part of them that needs something outside themselves to blame and so don’t notice how their responses end up reinforcing the problem behavior. The cycle of those who blame and the one who is blamed continues, on and on, the family will continue to need a scapegoat until individuals within the system begin to take responsibility for their part in creating the dysfunction.
Don’t blame people
for disappointing you,
for expecting too much from them.
Family scapegoats are not born bad; no matter how tempting it is to think so. Scapegoats are created, plain and simple, through guilt & shame. A child, often the second-born, is designated to be the problem child in a struggling family. This is not a conscious assignment but one that occurs naturally in a system in need of someone to hold responsible for the dysfunction that abounds there. The more dysfunctional the family, the more problematic the scapegoat will need to be. Basic needs go unmet. A common rule in dysfunctional families is the belief that it’s selfish to take care of one’s self. Therefore no one has permission to take care of themselves. Instead everyone is waiting for someone else to meet their needs and feeling resentful when that doesn’t happen. The finger of blame is pointed squarely at the designated scapegoat who becomes the one held responsible for the unhappiness and unmet needs of the other family members. Scapegoats most often arrive in the family after the “good stuff”(validation, acceptance & nurturing) has already been given over to an older sibling. So instead of positive reinforcement, this child gets primarily negative attention from parents and other family members. The child who is scapegoated absorbs the family’s pain as if it were their own. They take on the pain of the family and, like the rest of the family, come to see themselves as “the bad seed” — the family problem”. Because the scapegoat buys the story that the problems in the family are their fault, they act out the part they’ve been assigned.
When we blame,
we give away our power.