Verbal Abuse includes screaming, name-calling, teasing, ridiculing, sarcasm and witnessing someone else receive verbal or any type of abuse. Social abuse includes isolating the child, not allowing friends to come over or not allowing the child to visit others. Indirect social abuse occurs when the child chooses to not have friends come over because the child may be embarrassed about home, a parent’s behavior, or it might not be a safe environment to bring other children into and the parents have indirectly communicated this to the children. Mother or father might be passed out on the couch, depressed, angry, or some other handicap that makes it uncomfortable to have outsiders to the family home. Neglect and Abandonment – Are the child’s dependency needs met? Remember the child cannot survive without a caretaker… food, clothing, shelter, medical/dental care, physical nurturing, emotional nurturing, sexual guidance and appropriate information… how to succeed in the world we live in; financial guidance and information, education and occupation guidance, career and life goals. The impact of neglect and abandonment is often harder for people to comprehend. They often express relief at being left alone, felt it toughened them up and they became better people. In some ways it’s true but they didn’t get to feel taken care of or protected and don’t expect to find it in other relationships. Taken from “Adults Abused as Children” by Licia Ginne, LMFT http://www.latherapists.com/articles.html
I …understand how a parent might hit a child -
it’s because you can look into their eyes
and see a reflection of yourself
that you wish you hadn’t.
Abuse: Touching someone’s body without their permission, hitting, punching, pinching, slapping, tickling, pulling hair, hitting with objects, banging the head, so that marks are left on the person…Punching someone to the point of knocking them off their feet, slamming them into walls or hard objects, strangling or choking someone…Intimidating someone with the threat of violence, punching walls or throwing objects. …you might think that because some other member of your family was receiving the blows you are not a victim of physical abuse, but (you were) if the underlying fear is, “When will it be me?” Physical sexual abuse is bodily sexual activity with a child or touching in a sexual way. It includes: intercourse, oral sex, anal sex, an adult masturbating a child or having a child masturbate an adult, sexual hugging, sexual kissing, and sexual touching. Many people who have been molested or incested feel responsible for what happened, feel that they caused it to happen or wanted it to happen. I have also heard clients express acceptance since it was the only kind of attention that they received. You are not responsible and it is not acceptable behavior. A child will not seek out sexual encounters except what may be age-appropriate sex play with other children. It is the adult’s responsibility to set appropriate boundaries and protect the child. Taken from “Adults Abused as Children” by Licia Ginne, LMFT http://www.latherapists.com/articles.html
The consequences of your denial
will be with you for a lifetime
and will be passed down
to the next generation.
Break your Silence on Abuse!
Patty Rase Hopson
The purpose of defining abuse is so we all have a common language and so we can fully experience and embrace the depth of the hurt we have suffered. It is not about blaming but lets us understand why we may always feel like someone is blaming us, or out to get us. We have our feelings in a context that makes more sense and gives us options to choose our behaviors and not just always reacting to things. It helps us to understand why we may feel or think the way that we do. We all struggle with understanding and believing in how these behaviors have affected us. From the safety of our lives now we can look back and rethink our experiences. We tend to empower our past experiences — like being a latchkey kid – by saying it toughened us up, that it built our self-confidence or independence. Yet research supports that being left on your own actually causes us to doubt our perceptions, feelings, thoughts and lower self-esteem. Latchkey kids were forced to grow up too quickly and take on too much responsibility, and they were not allowed to be afraid. As you grow up and develop intimate relationships, you may find it is hard to form close relationships. Trust has been broken and there is a fear to depend upon anyone else. A fear of feeling let down and rejected the way you did as kid when no one was around. Taken from “Adults Abused as Children” by Licia Ginne, LMFT http://www.latherapists.com/articles.html
Research on child abuse suggests
that religious beliefs can foster,
encourage, and justify
the abuse of children.
When contempt for sex
this creates a breeding
ground for abuse.
(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. http://www.voicelessness.com/intimacy.html
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.
One of the negative emotional habits that codependents develop is categorical thinking. Everything is black and white with no shades in between. This always/never way of thinking leads them to over-react in social situations. Roger, for example, heard that some of the members of his Sunday school class were dissatisfied with his teaching methods. Instead of consulting with them on how to make the class more meaningful, he resigned and joined another class. Another childlike behavior of codependents is personalization – interpreting everything that is said and done in their immediate environment as if it were directed at them. This creates a paranoid perspective, which leads to defensiveness, hostility, and isolation. At a meeting with his prayer group, Mark questioned the unwitting use of sexist language that had begun to occur. Another member of the group, realizing that he was guilty, assumed that Mark was chiding him personally. He took offense and dropped out of the group. A third habit many codependents acquire is what I call obsessive over-analyzing. The mind goes round and round in circles until the emotional system either explodes or shuts down as a result of the overwhelming anxiety that is generated. Another emotional habit typical of codependents is exaggerating or “awfulizing”. Children who have grown up in addictive or traumatized family systems learn to expect the worst. They are constantly waiting for the other shoe to fall. In adulthood, they are prone to place the worst possible interpretation on every event. They see neutral or even positive situations as negative, and they anticipate disaster. This expectation often sets off an emotional chain reaction that creates the very thing they most fear. People who are “stuck” in these immature emotional habits consider them normal. They don’t know any other way to think/believe/behave. Such individuals are not at fault! They need gentle and respectful guidance. http://www.thebridgetorecovery.com/overcoming-codependency.html
The consequences of your denial
will be with you for a lifetime
and will be passed down
to the next generations.
Break your Silence on Abuse!
Patty Rase Hopson
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 http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/overcoming-child-abuse/201209/how-and-why-writing-heals-wounds-child-abuse
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.
Sometimes we continue in our roles because we are waiting for our parents to give us “permission”; to change. But that permission can come only from you. Like most people, parents in dysfunctional families often feel threatened by changes in their children. As a result, they may thwart your efforts to change and insist that you “change back.” That’s why it’s so important for you to trust your own perceptions and feelings. Change begins with you. Some specific things you can do include:
- Identify painful or difficult experiences that happened during your childhood.
- Make a list of your behaviors, beliefs, etc. that you would like to change.
- Next to each item on the list, write down the behavior, belief, etc. that you would like to do/have instead.
- Pick one item on your list and begin practicing the alternate behavior or belief. Choose the easiest item first.
- Once you are able to do the alternate behavior more often than the original, pick another item on the list and practice changing it, too.
As you make changes, keep in mind the following:
- Stop trying to be perfect. In addition, don’t try to make your family perfect.
- Realize that you are not in control of other people’s lives. You do not have the power to make others change.
- Don’t try to win the old struggles – you can’t win.
- Set clear limits – e.g., if you do not plan on visiting your parents for a holiday, say “no,” not “be.”
- Identify what you would like to have happen. Recognize that when you stop behaving the way you used to, even for a short time, there may be adverse reactions from your family or friends. Anticipate what the reactions will be (e.g., tears, yelling, other intimidating responses) and decide how you will respond.
Don’t become discouraged if you find yourself slipping back into old patterns of behavior. Changes may be slow and gradual; however, as you continue to practice new and healthier behaviors, they will begin to become part of your day-to-day living. http://www.counselingcenter.illinois.edu/?page_id=171
The fastest way to be a bad parent
is to never let your child be a kid.
People who grow up in a dysfunctional family may fail to learn the difference between love and sympathy. Children growing up in these conditions may learn to have sympathy for the emotional crippling in their parents lives and feel that the only time they get attention is when they show compassion for the parent. They feel that when they forgive, they are showing love. Actually, they are rescuing the parent and enabling abusive behavior to continue. They learn to give up their own protective boundaries in order to take care of the dysfunctioning parent, becoming a surrogate co-dependent spouse. In adulthood, they carry these learned behaviors into their own relationships. If they can rescue their partner from the consequences of their behavior, they feel that they are showing love. They get a warm, caring, sharing feeling from helping their partner, a feeling they call love. But this may actually encourage their partner to become needy and helpless enabling the negative behavior to continue. An imbalance can then occur in the relationship in which one partner becomes the rescuer or enabler and the other plays the role of the helpless victim. In this case, healthy boundaries which allow both partners to live complete lives are absent. Mature love requires the presence of healthy, flexible boundaries. Sympathy and compassion are worthy qualities, but they can be confused with love, especially when boundaries have become distorted or are virtually non-existent. Healthy boundaries lead to respect for the other and equality in a relationship, an appreciation for the aliveness and strength of the other person, and a mutual flow of feelings between the two partners, all features of mature love. When one partner is in control and the other is needy and helpless, there is no room for the give-and-take of a healthy relationship. John Stibbs http://www.hiddenhurt.co.uk/emotional_boundaries.html
I would cling to unhappiness
because it was a known, familiar state.
When I was happier, it was because
I knew I was on my way back to misery.
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. http://www.lynneforrest.com/clearing-story/dealing-with-strife-hardship-coping-with-life/2008/11/scapegoats-are-necessary-in-dysfunctional-family-systems/
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. http://www.lynneforrest.com/clearing-story/dealing-with-strife-hardship-coping-with-life/2008/11/scapegoats-are-necessary-in-dysfunctional-family-systems/
When we blame,
we give away our power.