Post-Abuse Issues With Children
Problems do not disappear when you leave your abusive relationship. I left 1 year, 8 months ago and my children and I deal with the after-effects of abuse even today.
Before I get into them, I want you to know that I am so proud of myself for leaving that toxic relationship. I am grateful that I now tackle the "after-effects" rather than the day to day abuse. I am grateful for the opportunity I now have to rewind and repair myself, and I see signs that my teenage boys will also take it upon themselves to rewind and repair with me.
I would not return to the abuse for ANY reason, and I completely adore the opportunities my new life gives me.
My Children's Experience With Abuse
My children, up until the time I left, had one example of a healthy marriage (my sister's), and they were isolated from experiencing that example to a large extent due to the isolation created by the abusive cycle.
I was embarrassed to see my sister, and my ex didn't want me to be around her. The boys were too small to go by themselves; they were stuck with their dad and mom because of their dad and mom.
My children heard angry fighting many if not most days of their lives. The days where there were no fights involved either icy stand-offs or lovey-dovey fakeness. I didn't help because I kept telling them that dad and mom loved each other, and that it would all be okay. I lied to them without acknowledging to myself that I lied.
They saw through it. They lived with an impending doom and knew the bomb - either abuse or divorce - would drop without knowing when.
They've both described their childhood as incredibly lonely. That breaks my heart because I was a stay-at-home mom. I was with them every day, every minute. Yet they were lonely because I was unable to truly connect with them. The words "I love you" become meaningless when they're not backed by actions.
My children grew up feeling alone and anxious with no one to go to for help.
Anger Problems Post-Abuse
Marc, now 18: Marc held in his temper until he hit adolescence. In my blog I wrote about his temper tantrums, ugliness, and self-hatred. When he gets angry, he tries to intimidate and verbally abuses those of us he loves. Last night, he became enraged and pushed his girlfriend onto the sofa when she tried to hold him back from a physical altercation with a 14 year old friend of Eddie's.
Marc says that he is a "piece of $h1t" and everyone would be better off without him. He says he doesn't want to kill himself, but he often wants to die.
Eddie, now 15: Eddie holds in his anger because he doesn't know how to express it. He thinks he has to be the calm one, and because he's seen mostly abusive anger, he doesn't have an example of "controlled anger" to go by. He feels obligated to keep all of us happy at expense of his own mental health. It's been only recently that he's been expressing himself in a positive manner. Eddie is an empath in the psychic sense and sometimes didn't know if the emotions swirling around him belonged to him or to someone else.
Drug Use During and After Abuse
Marc began using prescription pain pills when he was 13-14. He progressed into alcohol, marijuana, and eventually DXM. In short, if he could get his hands on a drug in order to help him escape, he would use it. Initially I was blind to what my son was doing. Looking back, the clues were there, but it wasn't until I found pot in the laundry that I couldn't make excuses anymore.
Almost immediately after I left his dad, Marc went to stay with him exclusively. I allowed myself to believe that Marc had cleaned himself up under his father's care. When Marc came to live with me last March, I soon realized the drug problem hadn't gone away and was tolerated under a type of "don't ask, don't tell" policy at his father's house.
Eddie is drug-free and insists he'll never start. He says that when he's been around his brother on a high, his own empathic ability gave him a taste of what being high was all about. He feels he's experimented with drugs without actually touching them. Eddie also maintains a high GPA and takes pride in his talent on the double-bass, volunteer activities and his ability to successfully counsel his friends.
Dealing With The Post-Abuse Issues
My children are individuals and similar but different. I've attempted to treat them as individuals and I love watching them grow. I know that at the core, my boys will overcome the issues that plague them. I will do everything in my power to get them the help they need.
Some may think that Marc needs more help than Eddie, but this is not true. Marc's behavior demands immediate intervention due to its effects on him (and the rest of us), and he is willing to attend any sort of rehabilitation program available to him. Finally. We'll know something about that on Monday.
Eddie doesn't want to go to counseling. He's taking his dad's stance that any changes that need to be made can be made by himself alone. It is true that you have to want help to receive it. I am hoping that his brother's willingness to attend counseling will have positive results and Eddie will follow suit.
There are some things I cannot do for my children. This is my hardest realization during this post-abuse period. Yet I see a bright future for them and me. I see clearly the day when the three of us break free of our past and become the people we are meant to be unencumbered by thoughts that hold us back.
Jo, K. (2011, September 18). Post-Abuse Issues With Children, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, March 29 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/verbalabuseinrelationships/2011/09/post-abuse-issues-with-children
Author: Kellie Jo Holly
I identify with your family. I'm the oldest from a divorced family that had a history of abuse. The way you describe Marc helps me understand why my father has said he doesn't really worry about me.
It's bothered me for some time. I worried about me so am I going to end up letting him down etc. There must be some fault in me he doesn't see... no ... it's the strength in me he does see that let's him say that and now, me appreciate it.