When dealing with an abusive ex-spouse, litigants are often forced to deal with in-laws who are toxic. Normal people cannot imagine the dimensions and the truly evil thought processes that are invoked by these people and their inhumane capability of using children as weapons against the other parent.
There is no thought as to what suffering these children go through and certainly no capacity for empathy. How could there be?. The in-laws of an abusive spouse created the abusive situation by the family environment that was fostered in their household. Abuse does not create itself. It is a learned behavior which is dynamic and circular.
Children in an abusive household learn abusive behavior and another generation of abusers is created. Statistically, it is these people that are more susceptible to criminal behavior and substance abuse. It’s that simple.
The new DSM V definition of child abuse extends to the behavior of the toxic in-laws in particular if they have contact are allowed to raise children in any capacity. The American Psychological Association broadened their definition of child abuse to include “child psychological abuse” defined as “non-accidental verbal or symbolic acts by a child’s parent or caregiver that result, or have reasonable potential to result, in significant psychological harm to the child.” Under this category, one finds a description of “parent-child relational problem” symptoms. For example, the child’s perception of an alienated parent “may include negative attributions of the other’s intentions, hostility toward or scapegoating of the other, and unwarranted feelings of estrangement.”
The toxic ex in-law fosters the abusive actions of the abusive spouse, and will refuse to recognize that the other parent or their family has any relevant part in their children’s lives. They actively destroy the parent child bond in a vindictive pattern of behavior, mirroring the abusive ex spouse, where children are used as weapons and pawns and actually delude themselves into thinking that this type of behavior is normal.
The situation is exacerbated if the in-laws were part of a fractured family to begin with and categorized the parents of the abusive ex spouse as THE DELUSIONAL MOTHER or THE SPERM DONOR instead of actual parents. The children in that environment grew up with the negative stereotype and learned behavior associated with destroying a parent child bond.
A hostile, hate filled, abusive and negative environment is created towards the other parent, where every effort is made to undermine any relationship the other parent has with their children. Numerous studies have already documented the effect of that type of environment on children.
Several studies have documented the correlation between child abuse and future juvenile delinquency. Children who have experienced abuse are nine times more likely to become involved in criminal activities (Gold, Wolan Sullivan, & Lewis, 2011. The relation between abuse and violent delinquency: The conversion of shame to blame in juvenile offenders. Child Abuse &
Neglect, 35(7), 459–467.)
Research consistently reflects an increased likelihood that children who have experienced abuse or neglect will smoke cigarettes, abuse alcohol, or take illicit drugs during their lifetime. In fact, male children with an ACE Score of 6 or more (having six or more adverse childhood experiences) had an increased likelihood—of more than 4,000 percent—to use intravenous drugs later in life. Felitti, V. J., & Anda, R. (2009). The relationship of adverse childhood experiences to adult medical disease, psychiatric disorders, and sexual behavior: Implications for healthcare. In R. Lanius, E. Vermetten, & C. Pain (Eds). The hidden epidemic: The impact of early life trauma on health and disease.)
Nationally, 75% of battered women say that their children are also battered. Straus, M.A.R.J. Gelles and S.K. Steinmetz (1980). Behind Closed Doors: Violence in the American Family. Garden City, NY: Anchor Books.
Children older than 5 or 6 have a tendency to identify with the aggressor and lose respect for the victim. Crites, L. and Coker, D. (1988) “What Therapsts See That Judges May Miss: A Unique Guide to Custody Decisions When Spouse Abuse is Charged,” The Judges Journal, Spring.
Some adolescent boys assault their mothers and siblings. Older children, especially girls, may take on the burden of trying to protect their younger siblings. Jaffe, P., Wolfe, D., and Wilson, S. Children of Battered Women: Issues in Child Development and Intervention Planning. Newbury Park, CA: Safe, 1990.
75% of boys who witness parental abuse have demonstrable behavioral problems. Fagan J. and Wexler, S. (1987). “Family Origins of Violent Delinquents.” Criminology, XXV, pp. 643-669.
Serious child abuse almost always postdates the infliction of serious abuse of mothers by fathers or male partners. Stark, E. and Flitchcraft, A. “Women and Children at Risk: A Feminist Perspective on Child Abuse.” International Journal of Health Services, Vol. 8, No. 1, 1988.
More than 40 children are abducted by a parent each hour in this country. More than 54% of these abductions occur in the context of family violence. Greif, G. and Hegar, R. When Parents Kidnap. New York, NY: The Free Press, 1992.
Sixty-three percent of all males between the ages of 11 and 20 who are serving time for homicide in America killed their mothers batterer. Edwards, Leonard P. “Reducing Family Violence: The Role of the Family Violence Council.” Juvenile and Family Court Journal, Vol. 1, 1992.
Children from abusive homes can exhibit low self-esteem, sadness, depression, stress indicators, poor impulse control, and feelings of powerlessness. They are at high risk for alcohol and drug use, sexual acting out, running away, isolation, loneliness, fear and suicide. Crites, L. and Coker, D. (1988) “What Therapists See That Judges May Miss: A Unique Guide to Custody Decisions When Spouse Abuse is Charged,” The Judges Journal, Spring..
Adults who experienced abuse or neglect during childhood are more likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease, lung and liver disease, hypertension, diabetes, asthma, and obesity (Felitti & Anda, 2009). Specific physical health conditions are also connected to maltreatment type. One study showed that children who experienced neglect were at increased risk for diabetes and poorer lung functioning, while physical abuse was shown to increase the risk for diabetes and malnutrition (Widom, C., Czaja, S., Bentley, T., & Johnson, M. (2012). A prospective investigation of physical health outcomes in abused and neglected children: New findings from a 30 year follow-up. American Journal of Public Health, 102 (6), 1,135–1,144.
Additionally, child maltreatment has been shown to increase adolescent obesity. A longitudinal study found that children who experienced neglect had body mass indexes that grew at significantly faster rates compared to children who had not experienced neglect (Shin, S., & Miller, D. (2012). A longitudinal examination of childhood maltreatment and adolescent obesity: Results from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (AddHealth) study. Child Abuse & Neglect, 36(2), 84–94.)