Parents that are abusive often deny that the abuse has ever taken place. And if it is not denied, then it may even be minimized. Both of these actions can have devastating consequences on the lives of those that were abused.
So here I want to take a closer look at why parents deny or minimize abuse and why adult children of abuse are affected by this denial and minimization.
Denial And Minimization
These are known as defence mechanisms that the ego mind uses. And like any defence mechanism, these are used for protection and stability. The ego minds main purpose is to be safe; it does not care if something is accurate or inaccurate or whether it is functional or dysfunctional.
So anything that the ego mind perceives as a threat to its own sense of safety and internal equilibrium will be dealt with via a defence mechanism. The saying ‘The truth hurts’ comes to mind here and one of the reasons for this is that the ego mind does not run on what is true it only cares about what is familiar and therefore safe.
However, although we all have an ego mind, we are not the mind itself; we are the observers of the mind. And it is the level of awareness that one has, that will define if it is possible to be aware of when these defence mechanism are being utilized.
And when one has minimal to no awareness; the ego mind becomes like a parasite. Here the ego mind can completely take over and what is actually going on will become very difficult for one to see and therefore to take responsibility for. It is then possible for the past to completely forgotten; at least consciously and a kind amnesia can occur.
Why Do These Exist?
In order for the abusive parents to use these defence mechanism, there must have been something that happened earlier in order for them to need them. Because through there use, they are protecting themselves from something.
I have come to believe that the reason abuse is carried out in the first place is to regulate what was going on internally for the abusive parent. For example; the parents felt angry, frustrated, hopeless or powerless and as a way to deal with those painful feelings, the parent behaves in a certain way toward the child as a means to regulating this inner conflict.
And so for the abusive parent to admit to what happened they would have to get back in touch with the feelings, thoughts, sensations and emotions that occurred in the first place. This is likely to be an extremely painful experience and therefore the defence mechanisms hold the experience at bay.
Is There More To it?
It would be easy to say that this is all there is to it. However, where did the anger, frustration, hopelessness or powerlessness for example, begin in the first place? And the reason I say this is because abuse is typically something that is a regular occurrence and is not something that might happen once in a while.
Were all human and can all experience the above emotions from time to time, but parents that are abusive, experience this on a regular basis. And in order to carry out this abusive behaviour, these emotions are clearly occur without the
awareness to change them.
From One Generation To The Other
The abusive behaviour of adults usually starts in their childhood and abusive parents are no different in this respect. The Internal processes that the abusive parents are trying to regulate through their children, in the form of abuse; is a consequence of how they were made to feel by their parents.
And as a result of not becoming aware of this trauma and processing what happened all those years ago, there will naturally be a lot of defence mechanisms in place for their own protection. These are likely to be defence mechanisms that were first formed while they were being abused and had to be implemented for their own survival.
The Truth Hurts
So not only would the abusive parents have to re-experience the feelings that they felt during the abuse of the child; they would also have to experience the original unprocessed trauma that happened to them as a vulnerable and innocent child.
Whether these feelings could be classed as being different is debatable, as they are coming from the same place. They may have grown physically since those times, but emotionally and mentally there may not be much of a difference.
And as I have mentioned above about amnesia occurring; at first these defences would have been experienced in a certain way and over the years they would have just got stronger and stronger; until they took over completely. So here one forgets that they have forgotten and then it doesn’t matter what is going on externally or what evidence is available. The ego mind only sees what it wants to see and will filter out anything that opposes its views.
So Why Does It Matter?
When the child has grown into an adult and no longer needs their abusive parents to survive it would seem strange that there would still be any tension or that they would still be affected. Logically this may make no sense whatsoever.
And the reason for this is that although one may have grown physically; their emotional development will have been inhibited through what happened. On one side there is the abuse which will cause problems for the child when it grows up and on the other side there is the invalidation of what happened.
Within ones subconscious mind and in the cells of their body these memories have become trapped and will continue to recreate the same feelings, thoughts, emotions and sensation until hey have been looked at and processed. The reason for this is due to the repression that happened and nothing ever changes by repressing it; it only becomes stronger and more dysfunctional.
The inner child resides in the stomach area and when these past memories have not been looked at, one is at the risk of regressing to this inner child. And with a history of abuse that has not been looked at; it is unlikely that this inner child going to be in a good way.
Here the inner child will be attached to the abusive parents out of the need to survive. And will then need the approval, acceptance, validation and attention of the abusive parents to survive. So the very things that the inner child needs from the abusive parents is something that was never given by them in the beginning and will never be given from them in the end.
What this shows is the importance of awareness in ending the cycle of abuse. It is clear that gaining validation and acknowledgment from abusive parents is more or less impossible.
And although the inner child needs this from the parents, it is not something that one truly needs. The inner child can be validated and acknowledged through the help of a therapist, trusted friend, support group or healer for example.
This is because one is the observer of all these aspects and is therefore not limited or trapped by them. To fight and resist what happened will only create struggle and further enslavement to them. Through observing these aspects one can gradually let go of the past.
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Oliver J R Cooper
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 25 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.