There are basically three reasons for a parent to withhold a child from the other parent.
One is that msintenance is not being paid and withholding children is the only way a parent suffering from economic abuse may feel they have some sence of power to try rectify their situation. Although this is wrong, it can be rectified with with maintence payments and communication.
The second is when a parent is a source of danger to the child, and it is necessary to protect the child from that parent.
The third is parental alienation. This is done with malicious intention as a form of punishment inflicted on a parent. It is the is situation that allows parents to take on the mantle of victimhood, and the one that will be covered in this post.
Emotional abuse, according to psychotherapists, is the worst type of abuse because of the degree of damage infilcted on a person. Parental alienation is a form of emotional abuse, both to the alienated parent and to the child. This post will deal with the alienated parent, and, hopefully enable people suffering from alienation, to find some pointers that will allow them a way to escape victimhood, regardless of them still being in a situation of victimization. It is only in healing ourselves that that we can help, not only our children, but also, other parents in the same situation.
Before healing can take place, we need to acknowledge our hurt, which requires knowledge and understanding of our own individual situations.
Like all abuse, emotional abuse in a relationship, has a gradual onset and escalation. Over time layers of emotional, and sometimes physical traumas, that are inter-linked with each other, build up. When the relationship ends the victim is often left suffering with some degree of CPSTD (Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). In sever cases this causes disruption in ability to lead a normal life, depression and an increased risk of suicide. Some of the effects of CPSTD are:
- Re-experiancing events in the relationship that were traumatic (flashbacks), which are accompanied by feelings of fear and/or anxiety.
- Avoidance of trigger situations due to fear, or a need to seek out trigger situation because the abuse has become your 'comfort' zone. Triggers are situations that create an emotional and physical response to experiances in previous trauma situations. Seeking out trigger situations is normally a result of having had an abusive childhood and so it 'feels normal'.
- Lack of trust due to continued abuse. This can extend to trust of yourself creating self-doubt.
- Hyperarousal which causes sudden anger and/or irritability, often over seemingly insignificant situations. Hyperarousal is more common in men as boys are often brought up to not show emotions that are considered 'weak'.
As I said earlier, parental alienation is intentionally and maliciously created to punish a parent, normally for leaving the abuser and/or as a means of controlling that parent. It is important to know that an abuser needs a victim as their source of power. Stop being a victim and you take away thier power! Easier said than done because an abuser does not like to loose thier source of power and will fight to keep you trapped in victimhood. So let's look at some ads to move you from victimhood to freedom, and, ultimately into a position of power, not just for yourself, but to be able to free your child/children from thier victimhood.
It is healthy, and nessarry, to acknowledge your feelings of victimization, and the hurt that goes with it, but you cannot heal if you stay trapped in the hurt.
It is nessarry to recognize your triggers and to know that it is normal for us to avoid, or engage in situations that ignite our triggers. It is also important to know that, especially in CPSTD cases, triggers will always be there. By acknowledging our triggers and facing them we can learn to control our responses to our triggers and gain personal strength.
Take ownership and responsibility for your needs and wants and start working towards them.
Practice saying 'NO' to your abuser so that you can empower yourself.
Stop blaming your abuser for things and your situation. You can not change your abuser, you can only change your willingness to be thier victim.
Be awear of your sence of powerlessness caused by your abuser, and actively look for ways to change that feeling by being proactive in changing the situation.
Be kind to yourself. Victim mentality intensifies the pain so don't beat yourself up for not being stronger than you are. Healing is a process that takes time.
Turn your focus on helping others. The more abuse you have suffered, the more you need to help others. The importance of mutual suppor is that it empowers all victims.
Practice grattitude where ever possible.
Write a list of ways you can change your situation, and start working on it. You can only move forward with action. Shifting your focus to changing your situation helps take your focus away from your victimhood.
Practice empathetic listening, especially to your children.
Practice forgiveness, especially to your ex. There is a saying, " Hating someone is like drinking poison and hopping that person dies." Don't poison yourself. Your child is from both you and you ex and you cannot truly love your child if you hate your ex.
As you heal, find the lesson in your situation. Learn to grow as a person and become a better parent because of your victimisation. Your children will see that you are fighting for them and they will learn from you, even if they cannot be with you for now. Be your child's hero.
My hope is that you have found something in this article that will help you move forward, as a person and, as a parent.
If you think you might be suffering from CPTSD, or just want to move forward but need more help, I suggest you read the book "It's not you, it's what happened to you : Complex trauma and treatment. " by Dr Christine Courtions.
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