Abusive Ex Leverages Children Against You

Uploaded 8/19/2010, approx. 4 minute read

My name is Sam Vaknin. I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited.

Your abusive ex often recruits your common children to do his bidding against you. He uses the children to tempt, convince, communicate, threaten, and otherwise manipulate his target, you, the children's other parents or some devoted relatives, such as their grandparents.

The abuser controls his often gullible and unsuspecting offspring exactly as he plans to control his ultimate prey, you. He employs the same mechanisms and the very same devices, and he dumps his props, his children, unceremoniously when the job is done.

This kind of devaluing and discarding causes tremendous and typically irreversible emotional hurt and trauma in the children.

So how does your abusive ex, how does your ex-husband use the children against you?

Well, first there is co-opting.

Some offenders, mainly in patriarchal and misogynist societies, co-operate to their children into aiding and abetting their abusive conduct. The couple's children are used as bargaining chips or leverage. They are instructed and encouraged by the abuser to shun the victim, you, to criticize and disagree with you, to withhold their love and affection, and to inflict on you various forms of ambient abuse.

In another article I wrote, even the victim's children are amenable to the considerable charm, persuasiveness and manipulativeness of the abuser and to his impressive thespian acting skills. The abuser offers a plausible rendition of the events and interprets them in his favor.

The victims, you, are often on the verge of a nervous breakdown. You are harassed, you are unkempt, you are irritable, you are impatient, you are abrasive and sometimes extreme conditions may be hysterical.

Confronted with this contrast between a polished, self-controlled and suave abuser and his hurried casualties, you, it is easy to reach the conclusion that the real victim is the abuser or that both parties, the abusive ex and you, abuse each other equally.

The co-opting acts of self-defense, assertiveness and her insistence on her rights are interpreted as aggression, liability or even a mental health problem.

This attitude, this reversal of roles where the abuser is the victim and the victim the abuser, this goes especially well with young and therefore vulnerable children and particularly if they are with the abuser.

They are frequently emotionally blackmailed by the abuser. The abuser may say if you want daddy to love you, do this to mommy or refrain from doing that with mommy.

The children lack life experience and other defenses against manipulation. They may be dependent on the abuser economically and they always resent the victim, they always resent the abused you for breaking up the family, for being unable to fully cater to their needs.

If you have to work for a living, they hate you for being absent and for cheating on your ex with a new boyfriend or husband.

The abuser also coops the system. He perverts the system, therapies, marriage counselors, mediators, court appointed guardians, police officers and even judges succumb to his charm.

The abuser uses them to pathologize you, to separate you from your sources of emotional sustenance, notably from your children.

The abuser seeks custody to pain you, to punish you, not because he cares about the children or really wants to raise them.

Abusers often threaten. They are insatiable, vindictive. They always feel deprived and unfairly treated. Some of them are paranoid, sadistic. If they fail to manipulate their common children into abandoning the other parent, you, they begin to treat the kids as enemies.

They are not about threatening the children, abducting them, abusing them sexually, physically or psychologically, or even outright harming them. All this in order to get back at you, the erstwhile partner, in order to make you do something they want you to do.

Most victims commit a mistake. They attempt to present to their children a balanced picture of the relationship and of the abusive spouse.

In a vain attempt to avoid the notorious and controversial parental alienation syndrome, the victims do not besmirch the abusive parent. On the contrary, they encourage the semblance of a normal functional liaison.

This is the wrong approach. Not only is this approach counterproductive, it sometimes may prove outright dangerous.

More on this in my video titled, Tell Your Children the Truth.

If you enjoyed this article, you might like the following:

Body Language of Narcissistic and Psychopathic Abuser

Abusers emit subtle signals in their body language that can be observed and discerned. They adopt a posture of superiority and entitlement, and they idealize or devalue their interlocutors. Abusers are shallow and prefer show-off to substance, and they are serious about themselves. They lack empathy, are sadistic, and have inappropriate affect. They are adept at casting a veil of secrecy over their dysfunction and misbehavior, and they succeed in deceiving the entire world.

Abuse By Proxy

Abusers often use third parties to control, coerce, threaten, stalk, tempt, seduce, harass, communicate, or manipulate their targets. They use the same mechanisms and devices to control these unaware instruments as they plan to control their ultimate prey. The abuser perverts the system, and therapists, marriage counselors, mediators, court-appointed guardians, police officers, and judges end up upholding the abuser's version and helping him further abuse his victims. The victim's children are the abuser's greatest source of leverage over his abused spouse or mate.

Coping Styles: Narcissist Abuses "Loved" Ones Despite Abandonment Anxiety

Narcissists abuse their loved ones to decrease their abandonment anxiety, restore their sense of grandiosity, and test their partner's loyalty. Abuse also serves as a form of behavior modification, as it signals to the partner that they need to modify their behavior to avoid abuse. Coping styles for dealing with abuse include submissiveness, conflicting, mirroring, collusion, and displacement, but some of these styles can be harmful and should be avoided.

Stalker Psychology

Stalking is a form of abuse that continues long after a relationship has ended, with the majority of abusers getting the message. However, a minority of abusers, the more vindictive and obsessed ones, continue to stalk their ex-partners for years to come. These stalkers are typically lonely, violent, and intermittently unemployed, but they are rarely full-fledged criminals. Contrary to myths perpetrated by the mass media, studies show that most stalkers are men, have high IQs, advanced degrees, and are middle-aged.

Spot a Narcissist or a Psychopath on Your First Date

There are warning signs to identify abusers and narcissists early on in a relationship. One of the first signs is the abuser's tendency to blame others for their mistakes and failures. Other signs include hypersensitivity, eagerness to commit, controlling behavior, patronizing and condescending manner, and devaluing the partner. Abusers may also idealize their partner, have sadistic sexual fantasies, and switch between abusive and loving behavior. Paying attention to body language can also reveal warning signs.

Abusive Ex: Tell Your Children the Truth!

Parents who have been victims of abuse should not attempt to present a balanced picture of their relationship with their abusive ex-spouse to their children. Children have a right to know the truth about the overall state of affairs between their parents, and both parents have a moral obligation to tell their offspring the truth. If spousal abuse is wholly or partly to blame, it should be brought out into the open and discussed honestly with the children. The child should be brought up to insist on being respected by the other parent, on having him or her observe the child's boundaries and accept the child's needs and emotions, choices and preferences.

Bullying as Art, Abuse as Craftsmanship

Abuse is about control and is often a primitive and immature reaction to life's circumstances. The abuser's primary colors include unpredictability, disproportionality of reaction, dehumanization, objectification, and abuse by proxy. The abuser engineers situations in which he is solely needed and generates his own indispensability in the victim's life. The abuser fosters an atmosphere of fear, intimidation, instability, unpredictability, and irritation, which erodes the victim's sense of self-worth and self-esteem.

Narcissist's Reactions to Abandonment, Separation, and Divorce

Narcissistic abusers often resort to self-delusion when faced with the dissolution of a meaningful relationship. They may adopt a masochistic avoidance solution, punishing themselves for their failure, or construct a delusional narrative in which they are the hero. Some may become antisocial psychopaths, while others develop persecutory delusions and withdraw completely from social contact, becoming schizoids. Finally, some abusers resort to an aggressive stance, becoming verbally, psychologically, and sometimes physically abusive towards loved ones.

Coping with Stalkers: Psychopaths, Narcissists, Paranoids, Erotomaniacs

Stalkers come in different types, including erotomaniac, narcissistic, paranoid, and anti-social or psychopathic. Coping techniques suited to one type of stalker may backfire or prove to be futile with another. The best coping strategy is to first identify the type of abuser you are faced with. It is essential to avoid all contact with your stalker, but being evaded only inflames the stalker's wrath and enhances his frustration.

Contract with Your Abuser - Part II

To negotiate with an abuser, it is best to co-opt their prejudices and pathology by catering to their infantile emotional needs and complying with their wishes, complex rules, and arbitrary rituals. It is useless to confront the abuser head-on to engage in power politics. To move the abuser to attend couple or marital therapy, tell them that you need their help to restore your relationship to its former warmth and intimacy. Gradually, try to free the rigid edges of your sex rules.

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