Emotional Abuse


The article Fragmented Child: Disorganized Attachment and Dissociation by Robert T. Muller Ph.D describes how abuse can destroy a child’s sense of self, and cause them to seek refuge from a painful reality by dissociating.

The “Fragmented Child” article was very helpful to me to identify many of the symptoms I have seen in my own children; I am sharing a link to this article along with some of my own experiences to raise awareness about the effects of abuse on children. I also feel a purpose in sharing my story to illustrate the devastating impact of family court rulings that place children in the care and custody of an abusive or unfit parent – much of the harm inflicted on my children could have been prevented if the family court had protected them from abuse.

What is Dissociation?

In “Fragmented Child”, Muller describes dissociation and its cause. The “fragmented child” is one who uses dissociation as a defense mechanism to deal with a stressful, traumatic or abusive situation.

Muller says about dissociation,“As a way of coping, dissociation occurs when the brain compartmentalizes traumatic experiences to keep people from feeling too much pain, be it physical, emotional, or both. When dissociation occurs, you experience a detachment from reality, like ‘spacing out.’ Part of you just isn’t ‘there in the moment.’” Children who grow up in an abusive homes often dissociate because they can not handle the trauma, pain and/or dysfunctional environment.

Dissociation happens when there is a trauma or assault, our first instinct is to go into “fight or flight” mode. When there is no escape, the flight is taken into the mind – away from a present danger. Dissociation is a defense mechanism where a person separates from their memory something they do not want to deal with. There is a range of mild dissociation to full blown dissociative identity disorder (separating a part of yourself from memory). Amnesia may occur with dissociation because the mind is shutting out or erasing a painful reality.

Through dissociation, memory of the trauma is held within fragmented parts of the mind. The trauma causes the mind to break or split off into smaller pieces that make it easier to process what has occurred. Over time those fragments may form their own distinct parts or identities. Triggers or memories of trauma release the memories which emerge (this occurs in a variety of ways).

People who experience dissociation commonly report feeling numb, spaced out, may have amnesia, and feel disconnected. A dissociative disorder changes the way a person sees reality and impairs memory, consciousness and a person’s sense of identity.

For more info on Dissociative Disorders please visit: Dissociative disorders (by Mind for Better Mental Health(

Understanding the Dissociative Disorders by Marlene Steinberg, M.D.

Public Domain: http://absfreepic.com

The Devastating Impact – When Courts Order Children into the Custody of Abusers: What I Have Seen in my own Children

My children are victims of abuse who have been further traumatized when the family court gave sole custody to the identified abuser. My children suffer from debilitating psychological, behavioral and social problems as a result of the abuse. My children have had their childhood stolen from them.

It is distressing to realize that your children are coping with a dysfunctional home environment by dissociating, and that your efforts to protect your children are being challenged, and prevented, by the family court system. Filing protective orders or asking for a change of custody based on abuse or endangerment has resulted in reprieve, and punishment from the courts (financial sanctions, loss of visitation and/or custody, ordered into supervised visitation, gag orders, jail are all common forms courts punish protective parents). Seeking therapy and professional help for my family has resulted in me being accused of harming my children, being told I need to “co-parent” better and otherwise being told my concerns of abuse, and the supporting documentation I offer, is not credible. My legal rights have also been violated in the court process. I am told to stay silent, stop raising concerns, be a more “cooperative” parent. No parent should be asked to enable the abuse of their own children.

I have seen the following indicators of dissociation present in my own children:

1) Talking to my children, they are sometimes triggered or can not deal with a difficult emotion, their response is a blank face (emotionless) and silence. The tone of voice may sound monotone. Or their mood may not match the current situation or the prevalent emotions of the day (for example, it’s a birthday party, everyone is happy but the children are silent and withdrawn).

2) The child withdraws into their own world – retreating into distractions, video games or computer time, imagination or an intense interest that draws their attention away from the present and into an inner world. The interest dominates the child’s focus, and they have trouble staying emotionally regulated without it.

3) After a long separation from my child, I am finally able to reconnect or have some contact with the children. I am overjoyed, and emotional. The child appears detached, appears emotionless, eyes are blank, voice is flat and mood is somber or withdrawn. At times a glimmer of my child once was will appear. Maybe I will get an unexpected hug. Or my child will create a card or picture for me, showing love or affection. It is confusing to see the dramatic changes – the conflicting closeness followed by the coldness, some children reject the targeted parent entirely.

4) The child is reminded or triggered by a memory of past trauma or abuse, and they freeze or lock up. They are unable to talk or move – sometimes they blank out. Other times they are aware of what is happening around them but unable to move or interact with their environment. Amnesia often follows these events. Or the child is unable to identify how they are feeling or what they are thinking.

5) When the child is overwhelmed by memories of trauma or abuse, they have violent or intense tantrums. Often there is very little or no memory of the tantrums. They may fall asleep after the tantrum due to exhaustion. There may be physical or emotional signs of dissociation that is associated with the onset of the tantrums – regressive behavior, mood swings, a drastic change in facial expression or appearance (this is an emotional change), banging their head on the wall, etc

Other signs of dissociation in children may include: Memory loss, inability to concentrate or focus, hyperactivity, mood swings, nightmares, a flat or monotone voice, appearing weak or lethargic, anxiety, and changes in personality.

When Family Court Professionals Fail to Recognize the Impact of Abuse on Children

The judges, Guardian ad Litem, evaluator, attorney for my abusive ex and other family court professionals working with my children, etc who do not understand the effects of abuse and trauma on children, commonly assign blame to one parent for causing reported behavioral and emotional problems in a child. Other times the court will deny any problem exists with the children (this happens even when there is ample evidence and documentation) and falsely accuse the targeted parent of having some kind of mental illness that causes a parent to report abuse and seek help for this child. In this way, victims of abuse are not being protected by the family court, and are being re-victimized.

Where there is no safety for children, some have chosen to escape the abuse, pain and ugly world they live in through dissociation.

— EJ Perth, May 2016

Karen Woodall, a specialist working with families affected by Parental Alienation, shares insights on how alienation affects a child, and what they may be experiencing from a deeply personal level.

Through her experience, and skill, Woodall gives voice to the traumatize and wounded children who can not speak for themselves.
“The mind of the captured child would, if we could look inside it, appear not as we expect it to be, but would appear to be almost empty. This is because the doors to the unpleasantness that these children direct towards the parent they are rejecting, remain firmly closed when that parent is not around. Put simply, when they are not busy rejecting, these children do not want to think about the parent they do not see because it brings up too many painful feelings for them.”

Woodall also advocates establishing a multi-model support system to help children recover, and heal from alienation. Woodall says, “The mind of the captured child can only be freed when the power dynamic around them changes and someone is willing to intervene.”

To Learn More, Please Read: https://karenwoodall.wordpress.com/2016/01/24/rescuing-the-mind-of-the-captured-child/

Karen Woodall

Those of us working in the field of parental alienation spend a lot of our time thinking about and working with, children whose minds have been captured by a parent’s emotional or psychological reactions to significant change.  As someone working regularly with children who reject or resist a relationship with a parent after separation, I spend more time than most in the company of such children.  I find them to be both fascinating as well as terrifying and somewhere in between, deeply troubled.  For these children, the task of coping with the schism in the sub and unconscious mind of the families they are torn between, can be impossible. Helping them to escape from the pressures that this brings to bear in their lives is what our work is all about.  Helping to restructure the power dynamics around the family is part of that process.

My fascination with alienated children…

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Title: “Helping Your Child Survive a Difficult Divorce” by Lynne Namka, Ed. D. (Tucson, Arizona: © 2000)
Description: “A Psychologist Who has Dealt with the Pain of Many Children Whose Parents Act Irrationally During Divorce Tells It Like It Is!”
Link: http://www.angriesout.com/kids4.htm

In the article “Helping Your Child Survive a Difficult Divorce”, psychologist and author, Lynne Namka shares insights on how the behavior of parents during or after a divorce impacts the children who are caught in the middle. Children are hurt when parents war against each other, or when one parent displays “negative behavior” towards the other during or after divorce. This article offers positive solutions to identify problematic behavior, tips on healing from divorce, and tips on how to identify your motives and behaviors so you can co-parent more effectively.

Lynne advises, “Do not let your child be a witness to your anger at his or her other parent. Belittling your child’s mother or father is a form of child abuse that can affect your child’s self esteem permanently. Your child is half of the other parent. If you criticize your ex, your child will feel ashamed of half of him or herself. You WILL hurt your child if you habitually yell at your ex, trash talk about them, if you are self righteous in explaining how wrong their point of view is or if you try to evade the legal custody arrangement.

“Helping Your Child” also explains how one parent’s efforts to exert power and control over the other parent can escalate to emotional and psychological abuse.

Seeking power and control over the parent is commonly motivated by:
· A parent’s need to control the person they are divorcing
· Anger towards the other parent
· An abuser may try to avoid their own feelings of powerlessness by exerting power and control over another person
· The need to be right, at any cost
· Avoiding responsibility for their actions in the marriage, in combination with a sense of guilt, may also cause a parent to cast blame on another parent
· Inability to let go of the past or living in the past
· Avoiding your own feelings of anger, hurt and resentment by dumping or venting them onto the ex partner

Lynn says that the maturity level of a parent affects how they deal with the divorce, and with their own emotions. A parent who is able to control their emotions is better able to co-parent, and in turn the child experiences more stability.

If you are dealing with anger towards another parent, Lynne advises seeking therapy, finding a support group or taking a divorce recovery or anger management class. She says, Make your goal to get a working relationship with the other parent of your child. If you are willing to see how your angry actions affect your child and do something about it, your child has the best chance for a happy future. The pain of the divorce can start to heal for everyone.

If your ex partner is engaging in abusive or harmful behavior, and you feel that your safety or that of your child is at risk, seek help from an experienced professional or domestic violence organization. In relationships where domestic violence is present, the most dangerous time for the victim is when leaving the perpetrator, as that is when the abuse escalates. Abusers may also use the child as a pawn to control, dominate or seek revenge against the other parent (domestic violence by proxy) or engage in alienation tactics.

“Helping Your Child” also offers a list of do’s and don’t’s for parents co-parenting after divorce, and some helpful resources, for parents to identify problematic behavior and find positive ways to change.

The article ends with a statement called “The Rights of a Child in Divorce”, which I will share here. When you talk about the “best interest” or “doing what is best” for a child the message and intent can get confused, or enmeshed with what the adult is seeking. “The Rights of a Child in a Divorce” offers both a perspective from a child while also offering a guide for parents.

The Rights of a Child in a Divorce
· To be told that my mother and father still love me and will never divorce me.
· To be told that the divorce is not my fault and not to be told about the adult problems that caused it.
· To be treated as a human being—not as another piece of property to be fought over, bargained over or threatened.
· To have decisions about me based on my best interest, rather than past wrongs, hurt feelings, or parent’s needs.
· To love both my parents without being forced to choose or feel guilty.
· To know both my parents through regular, frequent involvement in my life.
· To have the financial support of both my father and mother.
· To be spared hearing bad hurtful comments about either of my parents which have no useful purpose.
· Not to be asked to tell a lie or act as a spy or messenger.
· To be allowed to care about others without having to choose or feel guilty.

“These tears that I cry, ain’t worth it,
This circle around my eye, ain’t worth it,
These bruises that I feel, in the mornin’ time,
ain’t worth it,
But I’m worth it…
And His love is all I need,
And His love, it never hurts me,
And His love, loves unconditionally,
So I don’t need you to love me…

“His Love” by Tiana Leandra is a powerful video that combines statistics about domestic violence with a faith-filled message about what real love is (versus abuse, power and control).

Known for her humble and graceful presence, Tiana has embraced the hearts of many people. She sings contemporary Christian/Gospel music that is focused on God’s power working through real life situations, and encouraging messages to uplift, and inspire.

ALLEEO MUZIK/TMG presents: Tiana Leandra “HIS LOVE”
From Debut Album ” MY HEART’S DIARY”

Tiana Leandra YouTube Channel

Tiana Leandra Facebook

Tips for Practitioners Working with Families Experiencing Parental Alienation.

Insights on what an Alienated Child is experiencing, and how their perception of reality, and themselves, has been damaged by alienation.

When the mirrors reflect not your own self but that of the alienating parent and when the words which are spoken jar horribly with the language that the body of the alienating parent is speaking, the brain and the mind becomes used to responding to the ‘truth’ and not the lie which is heard. Of course the ‘truth’ is the lie and the lie is the truth in this world and keeping that firmly in the foreground of the mind as a practitioner is a critical element of successful practice.

Article by Karen Woodall

Karen Woodall

This week I have been working on several projects concerned with increasing parental awareness of what is happening to their children when alienation strikes.  All this alongside working with parents whose children are alienated and children who think that the parent they have rejected is quite simply horrible. I have also been working with parents who are so indignantly determined that their version of why a child no longer sees a parent is correct, that they will go to any lengths to ‘prove’ it.  The world of children’s rejection of a parent is indeed a world in which everyone is concerned about what they know. And of course,  everyone believes that what they know is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  Working in the midst of this can feel a little bit like being down the rabbit hole with Alice, I half expect the mad hatter…

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A love letter from my child… I have saved every letter, poem, drawing and gift from her.

Love Letters To Our Children

The Way I Love You 

The way I love you will never end.

It will keep going on and on

The love is always on, never needs batteries

It runs on love.

I love you like Taylor Swift.

Poem by (Child’s name)

Happy Mother’s Day Mom

Thanks for cooking are meals taking us to fun places spoiling us and having us. We have some fun times together and some bad but I love you.

Mom you rock!🙂 Love (Child’s name)

_Final-copwrite-and-disclaimer-image_Love-Letters-edited-2_edited-2

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Do you feel “stuck” in your marriage? Is there a nagging sense that something is wrong between you and your spouse but you don’t know what? Have you tried “everything” to “fix” your problems but still, nothing seems to change?

Dave Willis tackles the 7 common patterns of dysfunction that wreak havoc on his marriage in an article on Family Share: The 7 Types of Dysfunctional Marriages

These are the most common patterns, but it does not limit the other types of problems that may exist. Willis is not a therapist; this article is based on his experience as pastor who has interacted with other married couples from all over the world. Willis is also married.

In brief, the common types Willis mentions includes (there is more detail in the article):

1) The Scorekeepers – Who keep score of the other partner’s behavior and use that to control or manipulate.
2) The Fantasizers – Live in a fantasy life, not reality.
3) The Outsourcers – Escape into other people, careers and personal pursuits at the expense of their marriage.
4) The Blamers – Blame their partner for anything and everything that is wrong.
5) The Separatists – A marriage where both people are living two separate lives, and have lost the togetherness and equality that marriage requires.
6) The Deceivers – A marriage that lacks trust and is troubled with secrecy and lies.
7) The Quitters – A partner that quits when things get tough.

The article does not talk about domestic violence (which includes emotional abuse, a strong theme in these patterns of dysfunction) but I think the warning signs should be mentioned to raise awareness of the possibility, in case abuse is happening in the relationships. Early detection of domestic violence is crucial in helping a victim be safe, and get needed help.

Warning Signs of Family Violence (Fulton Co. Violence Task Force)

You do not have to live in chaos or dysfunction! Recognizing there is a real problem in your marriage is the first step to getting help. You do not have to make these choices alone, nor do you have to be trapped or stuck in a situation that seems out of your control, there is help and support available to break free from the dysfunction, and live the life you were meant to have.

— EJ Perth, 2015

211 is a free and confidential phone line for people in North America to find local community resources. Open 24/7: 211 Resources

Crisis Call Center: 1-800-273-8255 or 775-784-8090. Or, text “ANSWER” to 839863.
Staff and volunteers are available 24/7/365. This is a confidential and free service. Crisis Call Center’s 24-hour crisis line is here to provide safe, non-judgmental support for individuals in any type of crisis. In addition to our 24-hour crisis hotline, we also offer crisis intervention through text messaging. Text “ANSWER” to 839863.
Crisis Call Center

Crisis Text Line serves anyone in any type of crisis, providing them access to free, 24/7 emotional support and information they need via the medium they already use and trust: text. Here’s how it works:
Someone texts into CTL anywhere, anytime, about any type of crisis.
A live, trained specialist receives the text and responds quickly.
The specialist helps the person stay safe and healthy with effective, secure counseling and referrals through text message using CTL’s platform.
Crisis Text Line

The National Domestic Violence Hotline: National Domestic Violence Hotline
1-800-799-7233 | 1-800-787-3224 (TTY)

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

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