Psychological Abusers hone the skill of inflicting emotional destruction on their chosen victims with such subtlety it is often difficult to detect. Their cunning ability to manipulate other people’s beliefs, perceptions and feelings leaves a trail of human destruction in the dust behind them.
People who are psychological abusers may see the agony and misery of their victims of proof of their God-like power over other people. It is the ultimate example of a heartless human with a highly sadistic character.
In abuser-parented families, the legacy is continual pain and turmoil.
That’s because the abuser will use any means necessary to get what they want and will stop nothing short of deceiving, manipulating, gaslighting and bullying. Even of their own spouse and children.
So, what happens when a child’s parent is a n abuser? They live in a warped version of reality, thanks to the extensive gaslighting and manipulation of their predatory parent.
Having an abusive parent means that the child experiences emotional neglect, cruelty and psychological abandonment, and are gaslit to believe it isn’t even happening. As a result, there is no room for respectful, open, honest, loving relationships where everybody’s needs are validated and met.
The children must learn to maneuver the injustice, the cruelty and dysfunction of this complex family system in order to survive.
Let’s look at three examples of how emotionally abusive parents hurt their children:
1. Unconditional love is never truly possible.
Psychologically abusive individuals teach their children very early on that they have to behave in certain ways to get the parent’s love and attention. Sadly, these expectations are temporary and ever-shifting, so there is no true way the child can achieve this standard. The goal posts are constantly moving. They child is continually correcting, to try to adjust for this unclear goal.
The awful truth is that the parent is intentionally shifting the bar because they don’t want the child to reach it. They want the child to be in a lifelong struggle of trying to please their parent. This reinforces the parent's need for feeling omnipotent and all-powerful.
The true horror is in how this plays out. From the very beginning the child learns that if they do something wrong, a so called “loving” parent can abuse them. They find out that their individuality is something the parent wants to control, that their personality is something the parent wants to mold, and that their true self is never, ever good enough. Having a psychological abuser as a parents means continual rejection, dictatorial practices, and oppression for the child.
Psychological abusers sometimes see their partners and children as extensions of themselves, like jewelry. This jewelry has to represent the mask or the “false self” that they have created and maintain for the purpose of conning others. If the child reflects the carefully curated mask, they are safe and shown love. As soon as the child makes an error, the parent is outraged because the child is not reflecting their carefully contrived false identity.
This is intermitted reinforcement, or trauma bonding, at its absolute worst.
2. The parent demands reverence from the family
Psychological abusers must be venerated by others and anything less will be an insult to their person. Normal childhood behaviors of talking back, not doing what they are told or outright rebelling are taken as a personal affront, because they demand the child to worship and obey them above all else.
And because there is an unwritten rule in these families, that nobody’s needs matter (except, of course, for the abuser's needs) all family members learn and internalize that they are unimportant, that their needs are trivial and that they should be ashamed of having needs in the first place.
If the spouse in this family unit does not tow the party line, where the abusive parent is placed and maintained in hero status, to be worshipped, adored and obeyed at every opportunity, the parent will subjugate them and reduce them to a status that is often at the level of the children. Now the children learn that “power over” is normal and that it is acceptable to disrespect their parent, and thus take this learning into their own adult lives with their spouses and families moving forward.
3. Psychologically abusive parents are threatened by individuality
In the mind of a abuser, there is an ideal family, where everyone in the family unit accepts the identity, expectations and belief system assigned to them by the abuser. If someone shows even an ounce of individuality, the abuser is insulted because the person is not obeying them. This "injury" results in the child being emotionally neglected and rejected.
What follows is scorn, subordination and cruelty toward the individual who has not met the abuser's expectations. The child is then subjugated into the role of the family scapegoat, the person in the family that is to blame for everything that is wrong in the family as well as every bad thing that happens. This is psychological annihilation for the scapegoated child.
The reality of being a child of a psychological abuser is stark. Reality is twisted, injustices are overlooked or endorsed, lies, dis-loyalties, double standards and treachery are just typical daily occurrences. If the other parent has even an ounce of conscience, it is likely the child sees that parent get manipulated, dominated and demoralized. How a child turns out after exposure to this kind of prolonged abuse is unpredictable. There are many different types of personalities that come out of living in such a chaotic, dysfunctional family system. If a child experiences this abuse for the duration of their childhood, only time will tell the full extent of the damage.