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:

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.

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.

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.

Masochistic Personality Disorder (Masochism)

Masochists have been taught to hate themselves and consider themselves unworthy of love, leading to self-destructive behaviors. They avoid pleasurable experiences and seek suffering, pain, and hurt in relationships. They reject help and render attempts to assist futile. Masochists tend to choose people and circumstances that lead to failure and avoid those that result in success or gratification. They adopt unrealistic goals and generate underachievements, leading to rage, depression, and guilt.

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.

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.

Mentally Ill: Bail Out, Save Yourself - Not THEM!

Mentally ill people often emotionally blackmail others into becoming their rescuers, and once they have, they want to infect them with their illness. This is because they want to share their pain and feel accepted. However, mentally ill people do not want to be helped, and they have strong resistances and defenses against healing. Therefore, it is important to harden your heart and walk away from mentally ill people to save yourself.

Abuse Victim as Hostage: Stockholm Syndrome and Trauma Bonding

Abusive relationships require two people to sustain, and the abuser and the abused form a bond and dependence. Society often refuses to tackle this phenomenon, and people, mostly women, remain in abusive households for various reasons. The abuser treats their spouse as an object, devoid of a separate existence and denuded of distinct needs, preferences, wishes, and priorities. The abuser exploits the vulnerabilities in the psychological make-up of their victim, and abusive behavior often indicates serious underlying psychopathologies.

The Abuser's Mind

Abusers suffer from dissociation, a mild form of multiple personality, and often have a dichotomy between their behavior at home and in public. They view their victims as two-dimensional representations, devoid of emotions and needs, and convert them into their own worldview. Abusers are often narcissists with low self-esteem and lack of self-confidence, and abuse is bred by fear of being mocked or betrayed. There are various forms of manipulation that constitute verbal and emotional abuse, including withholding, countering, discounting, blocking, blaming, and accusing.

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