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Abusive Ex: Tell Your Children the Truth!

Uploaded 8/19/2010, approx. 2 minute read

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

Most victims of abuse commit a serious error. They attempt to present to their children a balanced picture of their relationship and of the abusive ex-spouse.

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

This is absolutely the wrong approach. It is not only counterproductive, it sometimes proves outright dangerous.

Children have a right to know the overall state of affairs between their parents. They have a right not to be cheated, and not to be deluded into thinking that everything is basically okay, or that the separation is reversible. Both parents are under a moral obligation to tell their offspring the truth. Their relationship is over for good, and there is a guilty party.

Younger kids tend to believe that they are somehow responsible or guilty for the breakdown of the marriage. They must be disabused of this notion. Both parents would do best to explain to them, in straightforward terms, what led to the dissolution of the bond.

If spousal abuse is wholly or partly to blame, it should be brought out to the open and discussed honestly with the children. In such conversations it is best not to allocate blame.

But this does not mean that wrong behaviors should be condoned or whitewashed. The victimized parent should tell the child that abusive conduct is wrong and must be avoided. The child should be taught how to identify warning signs of impending abuse, sexual, verbal, psychological and physical.

Moreover, a responsible parent should teach the child how to resist inappropriate and hurtful actions. 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. The child should learn, in other words, to say no and to walk away from potentially compromising situations with the abusive parent.

The child should be brought up not to feel guilty for protecting himself or herself and for demanding his or her rights.

Remember, an abusive parent is dangerous to the child.

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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.


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.


Abusive Ex Leverages Children Against You

Abusive ex-partners often use their children to manipulate and control their former partners. They may co-opt their children into aiding and abetting their abusive conduct, using them as bargaining chips or leverage. The abuser may emotionally blackmail the children, threatening to withhold love and affection if they do not comply with their demands. The abuser may also pervert the system, using therapies, marriage counselors, mediators, court-appointed guardians, police officers, and even judges to pathologize the victim and separate them from their sources of emotional sustenance.


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.


Gaslighting and Ambient Abuse

Ambient abuse, also known as gaslighting, is a subtle and insidious form of abuse that is difficult to identify. It is the fostering of an atmosphere of fear, intimidation, instability, unpredictability, and irritation. There are five categories of ambient abuse: inducing disorientation, incapacitating, shared psychosis, abuse or misuse of information, and control by proxy. The abuser uses these tactics to manipulate and control their victim, often leaving them with low self-esteem and a sense of isolation.


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.


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.


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.


The Intimate Partner as a Persecutory Object: Love is a Battlefield

The persecutory object is a tormenting, devaluing, and sadistic inner voice that informs patients with certain personality disorders that they are bad, worthless, weak, immoral, and generally a disappointment. Patients project this voice onto their intimate partners, who become the outer embodiment of the internal construct. This defense mechanism is known as projective identification. The patient tries to force the partner to behave in ways that support their view of them as a persecutory object. The patient then rebels against their externalized persecutory object, punishing their partner in myriad ways, leading to a sick dynamic that is unfortunately very common.

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