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Question
Posted by: FIO | 2008/02/01

Long term effect of childhood abuse

My ex was abused by her father from the age of 6 to 12, as were her sisters. We are currently fighting over the darfting of a parenting plan for our 17 month baby boy. In mediation it became evident that she has not processed her past, and this is the main reason for the conflict between us. She has a history of lies and odd behaviour, which through my research can be attributed to her not having completed any form of therapy to overcome the effects of childhood abuse.

My question is this: is there any evidence or record of such mothers transferring their anger, mistrust etc through to their male children. I am concerned about how her attitudes and outlook towards the the world around her will affect the way she raises and treats my son. She already has major resentment towards men, and simple things like changing my sons nappy becomes an issue for her if the little guy gets a very normal erection. She cant handle it and walks away from him in the middle of napy changing if this happens.

It concerns me, and concerns me how she may use elements of emotional manipulation as he grows up and becomes more "male", especially when he wants to spend time with me etc. Her emopitional perspective of the world is already distorted, and she is very manipulative and illogical when she feels the slightest bit threatened, even when there is no threat! She twists everythign around to look for threats. Its quite scary.

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Our expert says:
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It does sound as though therapy --- with a common-sense format like CBT, rather than the endless mess of analytic therapy --- and rthough early life abuse is most unfair and unfortunate, it shouldn't become an excuse for behaving badly or unkindly to others. Some people may indeed experience some personality and other problems, who were abused as children --- but so do many people who were not abused, and many people who were abused grow to be charming and stable people.
When you describe her abandoning a nappy change when the kid has an entirely normal erection, that is serious over-reaton, and does strongly suggest that she needs to work with a therapist, on the assumptions and automatic thoughts she is carrying through life with her, which may be fruitfully revised.
I think part of my concern would be that therapy should focus on her problem attitudes and behaviours ( which cause problems for her and for others ) rather than focussing on what may be assumed to be the cause --- that she was abused is something nobody can change. How she chooses to respond to that, she can change and improve.
Its important that she be encouraged to realise how unhappy this emoptional baggage makes her, and that it needs to be revised for HER sake, rather than letting her see it as something she's being pressed into for someone else's sake. As one of the com,ments says, she is continuing the abuse of herself, by allowing it to continue to affect her in this way, and needs to allow herself to be helped to escape from that trap.
And as regards the child's upbringing the over-riding concern has to be what's good for him, not what she wants ( or what you want, as such ).

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Our users say:
Posted by: FIO | 2008/02/01

There is always a solution to everything, if one just looks hard enough with the right frame of mind to find answers rather than problems, and commitment.

just spent couple hours researching long term effects of child abuse to better understand curent situation, and way forward.

Thanks.

Have a great weekend al of you...

Reply to FIO
Posted by: Hope* | 2008/02/01

FIO, hope all works out and that you manage to find a way to help her.

Reply to Hope*
Posted by: FIO | 2008/02/01

Thanks all.

Firstly, I am very sympathetic towards her, and very understanding, which is why I have not fought her, but I have defended myself. She loves our son, she will go to the ends of the earth for him, and in many respects I would rather have a very loving, over-protective mother for my son than a mother that doesn't care enough.

But my ex is using me as a platform to fight her own personal battles. So instead of facing them, she projects onto me, and by fighting me she is able to distract from herself. But its self destructive. I cannot encourage her to go for counselling, I did before and she said she did not have any issues and did not need counselling.

So now with us fighting for our son, how am I supposed to support her and encourage her to go for counselling that she feels she does not need, because going for counselling for her would be admitting to a weakness, and heaven forbid she be weak, lest she fall victim to life again. so if she an continue to fight, that is her safety system, it keeps the wolves at bay. The problem is she is not able to distinguish between a wolf and poodle. She just sees dogs/wolves.

I do not hate her, have never run her down or said anything nasty about her. I have praised her for being a great mom (depsite my concerns), I have understood her abuse of me, accepted it for what it is, and not because it personally affects me. But at some point things need to change, and if being nice and supportive is not going to encourage ehr to get help, then what will. Being nice etc just feeds her strength, it means she's got me by the balls. As long as I'm nice and cooperative in her ways, whats the incentive for her to make any effort? None. So now I am reaching the point where maybe I need to challenge her directly, not in a nasty way, but in a way of pulling ourt al the realities and lining them up infront of her for her to see. Maybe then she'll do something, either fight harder and lose the plot, or seek help before she loses it all...

I dont know...

Reply to FIO
Posted by: Hope* | 2008/02/01

Sorry FIO, I do this every now and then, that was my post, I inadvertently put you nick on top.

Reply to Hope*
Posted by: FIO | 2008/02/01

I would refer to myself as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I will not for one minute ever judge a man or woman who has been through this form of abuse. Your ex is in her own personal hell at the moment and probably all her life, would that make her a "survivor" I'd say no, because at present she is still suffering from her abuse and that is to say she is still being abused without the abuser being present. If that makes any sense at all. This does not say that she does not love her child, there are very important issues that she has that have to be attended to urgently. Sorry FIO, I had more to say about victims of sexual abuse but decided against it, just think of all the ugliest, dirtiest, nasty things that can be done to a victim, see that person grow to adulthood without having been treated, ever being understood, or even being told that he/she is an emotional manipulator, and had never received protection as a child. Please dont be too harsh and try and get her into counselling.

Reply to FIO
Posted by: DD | 2008/02/01

Dear FIO
You sound like a wonderful level headed father to me who is concerned for the well being of his son -
She is an emotional blackmailer and if you don't play her game she becomes nasty? Right?
Other than do what you think is right for your son, stay out of her life as much as possible. But fight for your rights. There's a group of father's who have a website and who have gone through similar things. Try and find it - can't think of name right now.

Reply to DD
Posted by: Sam | 2008/02/01

I have read your post with much interest as I too am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I pick from your posting that you are very angry with your ex, however if your suspicions are correct and she is a victim of abuse then I really feel that you should try and encourage her to go for counselling. Understandably you want the best for your son and I am glad that you are taking such an active role in his life but for his sake your ex needs to go for counselling.

My journey with counselling started when my son was 5, he was very insecure and clingy he would not leave me alone and always felt he had to protect me, I decided to take him to therapy and almost immediatly she picked up that something was wrong, to cut a long story short she told me that I was projecting my fear and anxiety onto him (Unknowingly). This was the push that I needed to get help. It's not easy to speak about abuse and some victims carry the secret with them forever, I understand your frustration and anger but please try to understand that she is broken and seriously needs help.

Good luck!

Reply to Sam
Posted by: Lolo | 2008/02/01

she need to realize that you are the father not spam donor, and you will be for as long as the child is there even if she marries someone else one day that won't change, she must start thinking about what child need not her needs only, many kids suffer because of this type of woman who don't want fathers to play their role and at the end they can't answer the question when kids ask them.

just ask her what more does she need?

i separated from the father of my baby by choice and won't let my child suffer, she will decide not to see him when she want and it will be her desition but right now i try to do what is right for her, i was also raised by two parents and want her to enjoy that too.

Reply to Lolo
Posted by: FIO | 2008/02/01

I dont know what she needs.

She needs maintenance, which she gets.
She needs a reliable, good, responsible father for her son, which she has.
Other than that, she wants me to stay out of her life, not have any say in our sons life, not have any decision making authority etc.

I understand that she is in a very difficult position now, whether she realises it or not, but its a position she has put herself in. And she must realise that she is the only who can get her out of it, no-one else. And if she does not change, or make effort to sort her issues out, her situation is only going to get worse, because I am not going to back down and risk my sons future security just because she has issues she refuses to deal with.

Reply to FIO
Posted by: Lolo | 2008/02/01

i now realize that some woman don't know how lucky they are!

what does she really need from you?

Reply to Lolo
Posted by: FIO | 2008/02/01

I have been supporting her, but she continues to run me down. She always told me the father of her daughter ran away when she fell pregnant, but I know that was not the case, that she sran away when she fell pregnant and the father does not even know he has a child. I had to use this information to basically tell her that if she did not consent to mediation I would have to go to court, and in court I would have to raise this matter. She exploded at me, but the very next day phoned Family Life to arrange for mediation.

She will never be able to trust me, or turn to me for support, because I know too much about her that could destroy her. And no matter how much I say that all I want is for us to be co-operative parents, she will resists, because she knows there is this constant threat of the truth coming out.

I am left with little choice, if mediation does not work I will have to go the whole way to secure my sons future security. My objective is not to destroy anything in my ex's life, but to build what I can for our son. But what must I do if she keeps blocking everything? Everything I try build she tries to break down, because she feels threatened by it. She needs to remain in control, otherwise she feels threatened, vulnerable etc. So, its the typical scenario of damned if I do, damned if I dont.

If I try build something, she feels threatened. If I dont try build something, she says I'm a lousy father and supporter.

Reply to FIO
Posted by: Lolo | 2008/02/01

hi FIO

i used to read all ur postings at Divorce Support Group, Right now Your x need your support in any way, in her mind she think all men are the same by supporting her will make a difference and stop divoce, try to help her she is in serious pain and she don't believe is gonna go away.

being abused is something other man don't understand and think woman make stories out of it. put yourself in her shoes she needs you.

Reply to Lolo

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