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.