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01 Feb 2008

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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01 Jan 0001

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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