Multigenerational Abuse

Child abuse doesn’t just affect one generation. It often spans many generations and triggers numerous dysfunctional relationships over time.

People who have been abused as children have a really hard time as adults, especially as young adults trying to formulate romantic relationships. Without a solid foundation established early in life, emotions can feel like quicksand and you soon feel like you are drowning. People become desperate for love and accept all sorts of inappropriate behavior that seems like it must be some kind of love, or it wouldn’t be so intense. So this is the story of one such person, after an abusive and destructive marriage

Even after years of counseling, he still feels the desperate self-criticism of his youth, pulling him back into depression and suicidal thoughts. At the end of his first marriage, he actually tried to kill himself by sleepwalking in front of a bus

The transit bus driver drove his bus into the side of a building to avoid hitting the patient, most likely saving his life.

He went to see a doctor after this because he felt that he was in danger because of his actions. He consciously knew that he was a danger to himself and potentially others, but so deeply depressed about losing his wife that he was wandering around in a complete daze.

This was despite the fact that the relationship was fundamentally dysfunctional, and she used and abused him virtually every day from the very first moment he laid eyes on her. His self-worth was so low that he actually believed that everything that ever went wrong was his fault. He allowed himself to be her emotional and physical servant, charged with somehow making her feel good about herself.

Although she was highly intelligent and won many academic awards she required constant affirmations of her intellect, and couldn’t accept any opposition to her opinions on any subject at all. To whatever degree he differed from her point of view, she called him out and accused him of trying to undermine her and make her look like an idiot to their friends or families. He also took on responsibility for taking care of every aspect of her life, including paying all the bills, providing her with funds to pay for her advanced education, and a constant stream of extravagant gifts. Their life together was one of extraordinary social adventures, with a stream of her unusual friends variously moving into and out of their home and their lives together.

They were together for nearly ten years and had a daughter. Their divorce was highly acrimonious and as a result of an emotional breakdown, she intimidated him into giving into virtually all of her demands, including extremely restrictive access to their infant daughter, who is now almost forty years of age.

Because of his blindness to her faults and unwillingness to acknowledge her abusive behavior, He simply was not in any position to provide adequate co-parenting to their daughter, who ended up with her being physically, emotionally, and sexually abused by his ex-wife and her mother, who had previously done the same things to his ex-wife.

It wasn’t until their daughter ran away from her mother’s house to live on the streets that he became aware of all that she had gone through in her mother’s care.

The daughter suffers from multiple psychological disorders including acute anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, PTSD as a result of multiple sexual assaults starting with her grandmother as early as five or six years old. After she ran away, at thirteen years old, from her mother’s home when she came to live with his current partner and him. It was only then that he heard her story and got her into counseling. The road was very difficult, and they were not very successful in helping the daughter overcome her many conditions.

Never in all the years he had been married to his ex-wife did he realize how destructive her constant personal attacks and total narcissistic behavior had been to him. After he more or less recovered from his breakdown and hospitalization after their marital breakdown, he still blamed himself for everything that had gone wrong in their marriage.

But no more. His daughter suffers from many psychiatric and emotional defects, some of which would have been there no matter who raised her as a young child. She also has many physical disabilities including muscular and skeletal problems that have resulted in her living life in chronic pain, and incapable of independent mobility. She also had two children, which he had to have taken from her because she is incapable of providing the minimum care level necessary for their physical and emotional health. He doesn’t blame his ex-wife or her mother for all of it, as it would unfair to do so.

Gaslighting is an insidious form of abuse, but when combined with sexual and physical abuse can lead to almost untold self loathing in its victims.

But what is fair to say is that without the abuse by her narcissistic mother and a grandmother who barely survived Nazi rule in Holland as a young girl before abusing her own daughter and granddaughter, their daughter didn’t have a chance at any reasonable life. Despite years of counseling himself, He still knows that he has blinders on regarding his ex-wife and still has hard time understanding what he allowed to happen in his marriage, or what really took place in all the years she had total control over their daughter’s care and custody.

He had even blamed himself for that restricted access, and his lack of involvement in his daughter’s life. The extreme anger his ex-wife expressed towards him made a more normalized co-parenting arrangement impossible. Even spending thousands of dollar on legal fees trying to get better custodial arrangements failed.

If you are a survivor of an abusive relationship and have gotten out, don’t try to deal with this all on your own. Find a good counselor and make every effort to deal with your own demons before they drag you into yet another dangerous quagmire.

Unfortunately, you may find yourself repeating your mistakes, over and over again. Learn to recognise the cycle of abuse in your own life, and take action to change your circumstances. Leave.

9 thoughts on “Multigenerational Abuse

  1. Hello there, I’m glad you shared this. Abuse seems to be normally spoken about through the eyes of the female as the abused. It’s good to share the male perspective of the man being the victim. No one should suffer.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’ve heard people say relationships are hard work. I used to believe it. Now I know that if it’s not easy, then something isn’t right. When you’re with someone who respects your agency and autonomy, gives you honesty, and encourages you to do what’s right and best for you, it’s easy to give all that right back. Often when a relationship becomes “hard”–it’s because it’s time to amicably end things and move on to new things, but the people (one or both) want to stay there and keep struggling, because they are afraid to strike out on their own for new adventures. The current state can seem very alluring because it’s “safe” in the sense of knowing what to expect. But that doesn’t make it right to stay where both people are no longer experiencing joy from one another. Knowing when to leave is something that takes time to develop for people who have come from an unhealthy upbringing. And sadly society supports staying in situations that aren’t healthy longer than we should by cheering about couples who have stayed together a long time (without asking about the quality of those years–which is what really matters). My parents were together for 60 miserable years. People acted like that was a praise-worthy accomplishment. It wasn’t. Thanks for this post.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree that people living with a dysfunctional relationship probably should move on, and try to find someone better. However, the additional problem is that often it is impossible to leave the person causing a significant part of the dysfunction, yourself. As human beings, we tend to blame other people when things don’t seem to be working rather than scientifically reviewing all of the elements that are involved in the dysfunction dynamic. There is no doubt in my mind that while there are people who are clearly abusive, whether emotionally or physically, even physical violence is a two-side demon. It’s not useful to blame the victim, but it’s also not helpful to suggest that everything starts and finishes with the abuser.
      Most often it’s not altogether black and white, with a certain amount of contribution to the conflict, whether physical or not, by both parties. Early in one of my relationships my Nesting Partner, who was a lot smaller than me, would become enraged to the point of violence, at the drop of a hat, with very little reason or provocation from me.
      She would pound me on the chest with her fists, or slap my face, right out of the blue. This type of physical attack was always preceded by a personal verbal attack, intense and emotionally difficult to deal with all by itself. Eventually, after a blow to the head, I stuck back at her without even really meaning to hit her at all. My counter-attack was an instinctive response to an unexpected punch in the head.
      Unfortunately, my punch packs a lot more energy and power than did hers, and she ended up flying across the room, crumpling to the floor.
      After she fell to the ground I immediately went to her, concerned with her health., She turned away from me, crying inconsolably.
      I fled the scene, and immediately contacted my psychiatrist, who I was seeing periodically in regards to bipolar depression. He sent me to see a counselor who I saw for a few months in regards to interpersonal violence and anger management.
      Curiously, she never physically attacked me again, nor did she ever express her anger so intensely and with such venom. With a lack of these types of attacks she and I never again went through anything like this, so not only did the violence in our relationship go away but so did the verbal abuse as well.
      And this was true despite the fact that she entirely refused to see a counselor, claiming that the problem with violence and anger management was entirely mine. Because I felt so much remorse for actually hurting my partner, no matter what the provocation I really did feel that it was my responsibility to find a way out of the relationship dynamic or leave the relationship altogether.
      Leaving or staying was entirely my choice, since she seldom, if ever, expressed a clear commitment to the relationship. This has left me with a feeling for more than forty years that she has always had one foot out the door, and is just waiting for a good excuse to leave.
      Of course, she never left, but then again, neither have I. The extreme arguments from our earliest years have long since gone and certainly, there isn’t any violence in the past twenty-five years or so. But our early passionate love affair eventually evolved into something completely devoid of romance and is now largely two close friends living together, spending most of our spare time together but without sex or physically intimate contact for at least the last fifteen years.
      We have always had an open marriage, with a clear agreement from the earliest times that I would pretty much always have other, external relationships. She never expressed any interest in other relationships but I have always had other people in my life, some friends, some lovers, etc. So from one point of view our Nesting Partnership works out reasonably well in the sense that neither of us feels the need to move on to someone new since we can do so while still involved with our existing partner. These days we don’t define ourselves as married, anymore, but rather as in a polyamorous relationship that explicitly allows us to fulfill needs with a number of loving and/or sexual relationships. My other relationships have always been important to me, but my nesting relationships have functioned as release valves taking pressure off both of us.
      I have never believed in monogamy and my NP has always been willing to leave it alone and let me be myself, without trying to restrict my others, until recently, when she realized, suddenly, after all these years in an open marriage, that I actually have sexual relationships with other women, not just friendships, despite having made an explicit agreement to an open marriage at the very beginning. So she asked me for a divorce, and we settled on renaming our relationship as something other than marriage, calling what we have a Nesting Partnership.

      Liked by 1 person

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