I'm Sarah, The Nurturing Coach, and founder of NAPARRC. I am a narcissistic abuse and parental alienation specialist. As part of NAPARRC we offer free group support both in person and online. My work is one:one for those of you who need that little bit more support.
Emotional abuse is the primary tactic used by a narcissist. There may be instances of physical, sexual and verbal abuse but emotional abuse is often the reason victims stay attached for so long.
So what is emotional abuse?
One definition of emotional abuse is: "any act including confinement, isolation, verbal assault, humiliation, intimidation, infantilization, or any other treatment which may diminish the sense of identity, dignity, and self-worth."1
Emotional abuse is also known as psychological abuse or as "chronic verbal aggression" by researchers. People who suffer from emotional abuse tend to have very low self-esteem, show personality changes (such as becoming withdrawn) and may even become depressed, anxious or suicidal.
These experiences are traumatic and have a lasting impact upon our mind, body and soul.
Although emotional abuse is not physical, the connection between the mind and the body has long been established. Our bodies respond physically to abuse. The old adage "sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me" is sadly false. Words hurt. In fact there is substantial evidence that the long term impact of chronic emotional abuse is significantly worse than physical abuse. I am not by any means dismissing physical abuse, I am just stating that it is important not to underestimate the impact of emotional abuse.
When we are verbally attacked or feel threatened or scared, our body goes into a stress response. This triggers adrenaline and our fight/flight/freeze response. The above graphic shows how this impacts our bodies. Long term exposure to this is trauma and can cause PTSD and Complex PTSD.
Our emotions are our innate guidance system. They tell us whether we are in a good place or a bad one. Safe or not. They also connect us to other people and form the basis of relationships. When they are abused they impact both our cognitive and emotional processing skills.
This brain scan shows the impact it has on the brain and the areas most affected by abuse.
Victims of emotional abuse often describe the "fog" they live in. This is due to the damage abuse does to the frontal lobe. It numbs the emotions and slows responses. It is why trauma bonds occur. The victim seeks extremes to feel anything. Boundaries get pushed to achieve that emotional high. It is why victims can become co-narcissistic or unrecognisable to themselves and others. They are addicted to the abuser and behave out of character to keep that bond. Also known as Stockholm Syndrome.
Breaking that bond is like giving up heroin
Your emotions are your indicator of your connection to your true self. When you feel good, excited, happy, loving, flowing you are living your soul purpose. When you feel angry, sad, frustrated, hateful you are ego and fear based. Not only does emotional abuse separate you from your soul, it ruptures your navigation system. Victims struggle with knowing who they are and what they want. They can get stuck in those negative emotional states.
But it us do important to know that your true self never separates from you. Your alignment is available to you at all times. You just need to learn to listen and feel again. Take a moment to connect to your body. What are you feeling? Where are you feeling it? How can you move up that scale? So if you're angry, what is a slightly better emotion? Determined? Focused? Keep going until you feel more positive. Don't try to jump from anger to happiness. It's too much of a leap. Small steps.
If you want to reconnect to your soul, book your Moving Forward session today.
For me, I think understanding how to detach from the narcissist is one of the most powerful steps in your recovery.
However, it takes looking at what attachment is, how it relates to love and where you may have been going wrong.
So firstly, what is attachment?
Attachment theory is a psychological model attempting to describe the dynamics of long-term and short-term interpersonal relationships between humans. In other words, it is how we relate to others. Attachment styles are developed in childhood and are often dependant upon the parenting style of our parents. If we had all our needs met (physical, emotional, spiritual) we would grow into secure adults who trust ourselves and others. However, if our parents were inconsistent with meeting our needs or scary, we would grow up viewing others as unreliable and dangerous.
When we are insecure in our attachment we tend to seek validation from others. We look to them to make us feel complete and loved. And this is where love and attachment become confused.
This is a great video to explain the difference.
Tenzin Palmo Jetsunma - The difference between Genuine Love and Attachment - YouTube
So in order to properly detach, we need to learn to love ourselves. But when leaving a narcissistic relationship or when your parent was a narcissist this has to happen in many different ways.
There may have been a discard or perhaps you chose to walk away yourself. Either way, this is the first step to physical detachment. You are no longer in the physical presence. Whilst initially this will hurt and you may crave them, it is necessary in order to detach yourself.
The next step is making sure you go no contact. This doesn't just mean not talking to them. It means not going on their social media, not checking emails, not driving past their house, not asking other for updates. It's like trying to give up chocolate and standing in front of Thornton's window all day - torture!
If you have children together or are related and want some type of relationship with them, time to start practising grey rock. Narcissists crave drama and want to know as much about you as possible in order to be able to find a chink to exploit you. When you go grey rock you essentially become an interesting as a grey rock and share nothing of any value to them. You restrict the flow of information and cut off their supply. They won't like it, they will fish and they will triangulate others so be aware of who you are talking to. You may need to go grey rock with many others as well.
Finally you can look at your own boundaries around this and other relationships. We have covered boundaries in our blog before so I won't go on about them now but distance can be a great way to see where you need to rebuild your boundary.
You will grieve. It is a loss. Even if you know it is for the best, you will still be grieving. For the relationship you thought it was. For the person you thought they were. For the future you planned. Don't fight it. It doesn't mean you regret it, it is your body essentially detoxing from the relationship and letting those emotions go.
Kubler-Ross developed a model of the typical grief process.
A lot of people get stuck at anger for a long time after narcissistic abuse. Whilst this is understandable, be mindful of the poison that anger is (see blog post).
You will find yourself being triggered a lot when you try to detach. This is partly your brain replaying old patterns but also an emotional connection which is unhealthy. It is also known as a trauma bond. During the relationship our brain became hardwired to associate love and many other things with the narcissist. It can be so confusing to victims because they know they don't really want to be gaslighted, ridiculed, ignored and abused but they physically NEED the relationship. The video above explains one element of this. But you also are addicted. Like a drug addict. And each trigger replays the rush. Only now you are more aware of the danger and so your brain struggles to reconcile your want to be close with your knowledge to run. This is cognitive dissonance. And it takes time to rewire your brain. I strongly recommend you read Betrayal Bonds by Patrick Carnes.
This is where many people struggle the most because they don't address the soul connection and so they keep either reliving the pain of the attachment to the narcissist or they seek our similar relationships time and time again.
This is known as a Karmic Loop.
"The Karmic Loop Of Negative Energy Patterns - The karmic holographic loop is when our thoughts and vibration does not change, hence allowing us to remain in a place that is stuck and divided, on the lower side of duality; without ever stopping to question and think if it is right for us."
These karmic loops span lifetimes and you have been replaying them time and time again in every incarnation. This is to force you into healing the original wound. You will not be consciously aware of this wound which is why so many people get limited results from counselling. This is a spiritual attachment and therefore should be treated by those who understand the depth of what you are dealing with.
You also have cords attaching you to the narcissist. A Cord of Attachment is an invisible energetic connection that allows for the exchange of emotional energy between the astral and etheric bodies of two or more beings. Again this is not a cord you are aware of but it is why you keep getting drawn back. There are many cord cutting meditation on YouTube you can try but again I would recommend working with someone who has the skill set to end these cycles once and for all.
If you are ready to Move Forward, book yourself in for a one:one session with myself. Sessions are on offer at just £39 at the moment.
Narcissists use control to keep others close to them. It often stems from a fear of abandonment. They believe that everyone, given the choice, will leave them. And so they create an environment where they are initially adored, then feared. This dichotomy creates what is known as a trauma bond. The victim is drawn in, like a drug addict, by the amazing feelings the narcissist gives them of love and adoration. When the drug (love) is withdrawn, the victim seeks to chase the next high. This can lead to them doing anything and everything to get the love back. Including handing over all control of their lives to the narcissist.
Current thinking in neuroscience and attachment theory tells us that in a dangerous situation, we are hard-wired to preserve our attachment relationships above all else. After a person has attempted fight, flight and freeze, they will often surrender as a final defence mechanism.
This involves appearing compliant, as though they are making autonomous choices to behave in the way the abuser has asked them to, when in reality they are utterly subservient to the abuser’s will. When the victim survives the attack with their attachment to the abuser still intact, their brain records it as a success and automatically behaves in the same way again next time.
Being compliant and abused leads the victim to feel worthless and often guilty and ashamed for allowing this to go on. This is further exacerbated by society who say “well why don’t you leave them?” Guilt and shame further erode the self confidence of the victim and leave them feeling unworthy of love. As love is a basic human need, victims often feel like they are better off staying and chasing the high with the narcissist, than leaving and being on their own. Knowing that in order to keep the relationship they must behave in certain ways and be completely subservient, they further surrender. They essentially hand over everything to the narcissist. Financial control. Parenting. What they wear. And how they think. Including how they think about themselves. They become co-dependent.
This surrender is the ultimate separation from your soul. Your true self is a constant resource of love, knowledge, wisdom and joy. When you become co-dependent you cut yourself off. You look outside of yourself for external validation. You don’t trust yourself any more and second guess every decision. But your true self knows exactly who you are and what you truly want.
You literally do sell your soul to the devil.
If you are ready to take back control of your life, book your 241 Moving Forward session now for just £39!
Everyone bangs on about boundaries being essential but in truth, do we actually know what they are?
In child development, boundaries are about the safety net parents put around their child(ren) to protect them from harm and to help them develop within an environment where there is sufficient risk to promote growth whilst knowing there is a crash mat under them if/when they fall.
But how the fuck does this relate to our adult relationships?
One of our first lines of defence against harm, is protecting our body and environment.
This can include:
Respecting our personal space
What sexual acts we are comfortable with
How often we have contact with another person
How we communicate with people
Touch (where, when, how)
This can often be the first boundary a narcissist will break as a test to see what they can get away with. It might be texting or calling you in the middle of the night. It could be a gentle push/slap. It may even be mentioning a risky sexual act. It could be a "favour" which is bordering on illegal. They may also use someone else to go around your boundary.
The narcissist is a master at by-passing your emotional boundaries. They use subtle language clues, gaslighting, projection, baiting, idealization, lovebombing and devaluation/discard. They are all designed to confuse and disorientate you so they can gain control of you. They are so subtle that you won't even know what it is happening and before you know it, you are hooked.
1. You’re often emotionally exhausted after speaking to certain people
2. You don’t know how to say ‘no’
3. You are being abused
4. You give a lot, but don’t receive back
5. You seek approval from others
6. You have no privacy
Once the narcissist has ridden-rough shod over your physical and emotional boundaries, they own your soul. You are no longer your true self and have often become a stranger to yourself.
Your soul is pure love, joy and abundance. But the "post-narcolyptic" you is sad, miserable, bitter, untrusting and hateful. Carl Jung describes this as the divided self. In psychotherapy it is called incongruence. This separation from your soul or source or God (whatever term you wish to use) can cause physical pain and create karmic loops which are repeated until you break the cycle.
If you are ready to learn how to set some solid boundaries to protect yourself now, in the future and on every lifeline, book your 241 session now for just £39.
Anger is a natural emotion. We all feel it. It can lead to the biggest breakthroughs. But it can also be terrifying. It can make us feel out of control and concerned about we we are becoming.
So what is anger?
As part of the A to Z series, we will look at each topic from a body, mind and spirit perspective and offer you some general guidance on how to deal with the issue.
Anger is an emotional response and so our brains often shut down the logical and thinking parts of our brain in order to deal with the intense emotion.
This info graphic (provided by https://www.nicabm.com/how-anger-affects-the-brain-and-body-infographic/) gives a really clear description of what anger does to the brain and body.
Anger is usually a response to fear or attack. It's the fight part of the fight/flight/freeze response. But sometimes we can find our anger misdirected either at the wrong person or at ourselves. This can lead to guilt or shame. In fact even a "normal" angry outburst can lead to these emotions if you have been conditioned to see anger as a bad thing.
The graphic below shows a "normal" cyclical response. It shows opportunities to intervene (which we will explore further later) to reduce the blow out which often leads to shame, guilt and exhaustion.
It's important to know that anger is normal. You have been living in abnormal conditions. You have been abused. It's therefore important to acknowledge your anger for the protective response that it really is.
Anger is a separation from your soul. It is often part of the Dark Night Of The Soul process. And whilst it is a normal human reaction so needs to be felt and acknowledged, from your souls perspective anger does not exist. Your soul feels peace and love. So when you feel anything negative, you are pinched off from your soul and blaming external conditions for your pain. Now with narcissistic abuse, you absolutely have every right to feel angry. But the reality is, no-one else can make you feel anything. Your emotions are yours and you alone are responsible for them. For clarity, I am not saying you are responsible for the behaviour which lead to the emotional response, just what you do from here.
Anger contains powerful information, it can help us learn more about our past life patterns, and our Soul Mission, but only if we approach anger with mindful awareness. That can be a challenge itself, because our social norms do not have a place for anger, and in a relationship with a narcissist when we show any emotion but particularly anger, we are accused of being abusive. Added to that we as a humanity are not properly taught how to process our anger, and therefore we tend to stuff it down deep inside of us.
Unfortunately, all that does is turn us into a dormant volcano, just waiting for the right phrase or word for the angry lava to spew out of us
So what next?
You can remain in anger and feel like a coiled spring, your body flooded with harmful chemicals, and wait for the next outburst. Or you can acknowledge that your have more power and that this isn't your true self. I know which I'd prefer.
If you are tired of feeling angry and are ready to deal with the emotions, book your 241 Moving Forward session for just £39.
Children of narcissists often experience extremes in the behaviour of the narcissist both towards themselves and others. In fact there is often confusion over the diagnosis of bi-polar and narcissism due to the manic behaviours associated with both (Federman 2013).
These extremes can be experienced by the same child within the same hour, leaving children of narcissists extremely confused and insecurely attached (which we will look at later).
Children often find that they are either the Golden Child or the Scapegoat. So let’s look in more detail about what these terms mean.
On the surface the child appears to be able to do no wrong. They are the perfect child of the perfect parent (the narcissists twisted view of their reality). They parade them around like a trophy. Initially this may sound like positive parenting, being supportive and encouraging, but when you look a little deeper, you start to see the unrealistic and unhealthy parenting traits.
The narcissist will push the child to be the best. They will coach them tirelessly. Whatever skill the child has will be utilised to the extreme. If they are academic, they may push them to read endless books, one after the other, until the child cries for a break and even then it will be “don’t you want to be the best?”. If they are athletic, they will be up at the crack of dawn doing a punishing training schedule. Again, whilst you may be reading this and thinking “that’s how champion’s are made” let’s look at the impact on the child in this situation.
The child may enjoy reading or running but they may also enjoy sitting eating pizza with their friends. But the narcissist won’t allow that. The narcissist is focused on ensuring the child becomes the best. Because to them, that will mean that THEY are the best. Narcissistic parents can see their children as extensions of themselves. When their child gets praise, they believe it is them who is being shown adoration. Every success is THEIR success. And the narcissistic parent is desperate for people to see how clever/beautiful/skillful/powerful and ultimately BETTER they are. And their children are the fast track to that.
So the child is placed on the pedestal (with the narcissist parent closely by their side) for all to worship.
But what about the child who isn’t naturally gifted? How do they fit in?
This child is the epitome of all that is wrong within the narcissist. The narcissistic parent will seemingly hate this child because they also see them as an extension of themselves. But the parts the narcissist doesn’t want anyone else to see. The child can do no right. Everything is their fault. Think Cinderella’s evil step mom but on steroids!
To the narcissistic parent, the scapegoat is their true self. The parts of themselves they detest. When they look at this child it is like looking in the mirror. They see all their own failings in this child and can’t help but point them all out. When they criticise the scapegoat, they are in fact criticising themselves.
I think it is important to point out at this point that gender is not an issue here. Golden child or scapegoat can be either son or daughter. Extensions of self are not about physical appearance (although any compliments paid to the child – “he/she is really cute”- will be absorbed by the narcissist). They are extensions of their soul, their inner self, their subconscious.
Also, a child can be BOTH golden child and scapegoat and often within the same day. One minute they can be on the pedestal, the next they are languishing in the pit of despair as they have caused narcissistic injury to their parent (although they may not know why). The narcissistic parent has a very fragile sense of self, fleeting between self love and self hate with great intensity. And the more stressed the parent, the more intense, extreme and regular those fluctuations occur. This can be very confusing for a child who is never quite sure whether they are loved or loathed.
Impact on attachment and personality development
Our attachment style is a direct indication of how we were parented and so this element in the narcissist’s psychology is two fold when they become parents.
Firstly, they are usually unable to form secure attachments to their children because of their own internal battle between love and hate. A child, who they co-created and is therefore part of them, represents the physical embodiment of all the parents’ hopes and fears (this is normal and natural). To a narcissist, they see themselves in this little person and often feel terrified. Terrified that they will turn out just like them. So they may pull away. Leaving the child feeling rejected and unsafe with the narcissistic parent who in turn will pull away leaving the parent feeling rejected and insecure.
For a child to develop a secure attachment, they need to have faith in their parent that they will be there for them when they cry, feed them and keep them safe (Bowlby 1969) but a narcissistic parent lacks empathy (the ability to read other people’s emotions) and so would not be able to respond naturally and instinctively to a baby’s needs. This can lead to anger from both child and parent as they are “out of sync” and can cause long term damage to the attachment as they become detached from one another and eventually avoidant (Ainsworth 1970).
Added to that, a narcissist has an idealised view of love and has to be centre of attention. A baby can take the other parent’s attention away from the narcissist which destroys their sense of importance. They quickly become jealous of the child and “punish” both parent and child by withdrawing even further and reinforcing the avoidant attachment.
As the child grows up and may begin displaying some talents which the narcissistic parent feels they can use, the narcissist may try to get involved again. The child, who has always craved the attention of the narcissistic parent, relishes this new interest and will “perform” as requested to ensure they remain involved (conditioning). But as discussed above, the narcissist parent will prone to “push-pull” parenting and therefore the child is left feeling confused, rejected and often angry. They struggle to trust and can self loath. Thus repeating the cycle within their own adult relationships.
What can you do if you are a child of a narcissistic parent?
The most important thing you can do is to practice self love. Work on your self esteem and change how you view yourself.
According to Bowlby (1969), early attachments act as a prototype for future relationships via the internal working model.
There are three main features of the internal working model: (1) a model of others as being trustworthy, (2) a model of the self as valuable, and (3) a model of the self as effective when interacting with others.
Start working on these three elements by surrounding yourself with trustworthy people, identify your value to others and society, and recognise the quality relationships which you have with those around you. Daily affirmations to confirm these beliefs can help to re programme your internal working model and therefore improve your future relationships.
If you are struggling with dealing with a narcissist and would like some support please do get in touch:
Trigger Warning: Some of the topics covered may trigger painful memories, please ensure you have support in place.
You’ve ended the relationship and think that the abuse is over. But the truth is you are witnessing a whole new level of evil you never knew existed.
The first point about smear campaigns is that they probably started long before the relationship ended. They would have made subtle comments to friends, relatives, the children and even professionals (such as GP’s and teachers) belittling your parenting skills or implying you had some sort of issue (mental health, a temper, alcohol/drug). Even if there is an element of truth they make the statements to apportion any blame for the children’s behaviour or arguments directly onto you. Essentially they are offering a hypothesis for everyone around them to find evidence of. They are forming their army of Flying Monkey’s in secret.
(Check out my video about Smear Campaigns and Flying Monkeys https://youtu.be/-qmDn_TFtaM)
Trouble is you don’t know they have this opinion of you and so you act normally but they interpret it through this filter. For example, narcissist tells school that you have mental health problems. You turn up to pick them up one day looking a bit disheveled (as we all do from time to time) and because they have the “mental health” filter on, they jump to the conclusion that you are ill again. They may even record it in their own records. Therefore when the relationship eventually does end, it only takes a little push and everyone is falling over themselves to blame you. And all the while, you are oblivious to their actions and how opinions have been influenced so your normal and emotional responses to the pain and anger at all the conflict, adds more weight to the hypothesis and your character is darkened further and further. It is a very clever but evil tactic which you would never for one second be aware was happening.
Secondly, the smear campaign is a projection of all their own bad behaviour. Everything they accuse you of is exactly what they are doing themselves. It’s all part of the smoke and mirrors. They deflect everyone’s attention onto you so that they don’t look at them. The closer people get to the truth, the more outrageous the allegations they will make to keep diverting attention.
Thirdly, it’s all to discredit you and make sure they come out looking like the victim for putting up with you and the hero for “rescuing” the children. The Flying Monkey’s will scurry around offering sympathy and support, which the narcissists love and feeds off. Anyone who questions them will be ejected from the “inner circle” and equally discredited. The narcissists keeps feeding them tales of your devilry and the drama takes on a life of it’s own.
Those who stay within the “inner circle” will remain because they are in fear of the consequences of disagreeing with them. The narcissist will use anything at their disposal to ensure their obedience, including access to your children. People will go along with the alienation, because they know if they don’t it will be them who is alienated. The narcissist makes it a dog eat dog world.
At this point the narcissist is thriving on the attention but will go too far. Give them enough rope and they will hang themselves. Their tales will become taller and more unbelievable. People will begin to question them and the narcissist will begin to unravel. At this point they will ramp up their hatred of you and could even turn violent. It’s essential you keep yourself safe if you recognise the signs that they are unravelling.
If you need any help, advice or support in dealing with parental alienation and narcissistic abuse, please do get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
Firstly I put “expert” in inverted comas because my understanding is due to personal experience and research, I don’t have a psychologist or psychiatrist qualification. However I do know a lot about narcissistic behaviours and felt I should have known better.
So how did it start?
Well over on Twitter I was tagged in a post which in a nutshell stated that Parental Alienation was made up by men to further abuse women. I must admit that triggered me. From experience, women are just as capable as men of alienating the other parent and I know how devastating that can be so I replied to the post saying that PA is a very real issue and both men and women can experience it. I said I felt it was unwise to make it about gender.
They retaliated with lots of claims about how women are abused by everyone when they make claims of domestic or child abuse. Again I reiterated that it wasn’t a gender issue.
“@xxxx I am not denying that there is inconsistency in handling abuse but men can be equally badly treated. The issue here is not gender though, that is my point. Statements like yours imply all men are abusers are all women victim but that is far from true and unhelpful” The Nurturing Coach
This carried on for a few days and I began to see that they were no interested in a healthy debate, they simply wanted to win (which I pointed out to them). Now at this point my advice to clients is always ignore and go grey rock, don’t feed them.
But I didn’t.
I kept responding to their more and more outrageous claims – at one point they actually used the phrase “men are physically stronger” to support their argument that all men are abusers and all women are victims. I attempted to reason with them that gender stereotyping is dangerous but they kept coming back with two tweets at a time.
And I kept taking the bait. Until they accused me of gaslighting. That was my jolt that I needed to step away and cut contact. Which is exactly what I did, asking them not to contact me again to which they responded with some more insults and now they have blocked me (they still follow me though).
“You are accusing me of gaslighting simply because I think your inaccurate claims are dangerous. Which is projection and i refuse to engage with you as you do not want a balanced discussion, you want to win” The Nurturing Coach
I am not qualified to diagnose narcissism but this person, who was fighting for the rights of mothers to essentially alienate the ex, displayed characteristics which I recognise as narcissistic (from DSM-5)
(1) has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements) – they shared with me their “research” which was just a google doc they had prepared
(4) requires excessive admiration – kept engaging with me even when I asked them not to
(5) has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations – was only interested in getting my agreement, not is having a healthy discussion
(6) is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends – tagged 6 people in the post and attacked one of them who asked to be removed from the conversation
(7) lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others – was totally unwilling to consider that parental alienation is an issue for both sexes
(9) shows arrogant, haughty behaviours or attitudes – basically attacks anyone who disagrees with them
I share this not to name and shame but just to highlight how easily I was drawn into their supply. Their comments triggered me and before I knew it I was down the rabbit hole! I recognised their behaviours but still engaged, fuelled by my passion to try and help them see how dangerous their statements were. If they had presented their cause in a less alienating, controlling and aggressive way, I would have enjoyed listening to their perspectives. But instead I was left feeling like I had let myself down by engaging with them.
So if you are struggling with enforcing those boundaries, I understand. It happens so easily that you don’t even know what is going on until it is too late. So don’t beat yourself up. Remember that they are very clever at knowing which buttons to press and how to engage you. And if you do find yourself embroiled, get out as soon as you recognise what is going on. It’s never too late to go grey rock.
If you’d like any help in dealing with narcissistic abuse or parental alienation, please do get in touch at email@example.com or join our Facebook Group.
Whilst I do not want to give any time or credit to someone who believes alienating their children from a parent is appropriate I do think it is important we understand the motivation behind the behaviour and the impact it has on them.
Firstly nothing you did made them chose this path. No matter what they tell you. This was always in their game plan, you just weren’t looking for the clues. They will tell you that it’s because you did x,y or z but the reality is that it’s part of their character and would have come out sooner or later anyway.
(Stage one and two of this process are talking about women alienators only, simply because of the subject matter. Stage three onwards is gender neutral. This is all based on real life case studies which i have undertaken with both men and women)
So many alienated parents are crippled with guilt over something they did and believe that if they had done things differently, they would be reasonable and the kids would not be suffering . NEWSFLASH. It is the alienating parent who is at fault NOT YOU. Please believe that.
Many alienators have this as their game plan all along. They decided when they met you that they needed you because you met their needs – you gave them status or you were easy to manipulate or both. But deep down they knew that you were “out of their league” so they concluded that whilst you may not love them and therefore leave them, you would love your child and be very reluctant to leave them especially if the threat of losing them should you ever dare to leave was planted in your head.
STAGE ONE – ATTACHMENT
Things would have moved really quickly. Moving in, getting pregnant etc. Often without much agreement from the yout. You may even have been breaking up when they got pregnant. You could even have been raped (men and women). However it happened this was stage one of their plan. Keep you in a relationship with them by giving you a relationship with the child. At this point some of their plan will have been revealed if you knew what you were looking for. They perhaps would have spoken about how they would graciously “allow” you to see your child as often as you like. You are the father. It’s not about allowing. It’s about being right and necessary for the child. But by using the term “allow” they are revealing their view on the power differential and already acting as a gatekeeper.
The attachment is insecure and based on fear. Their subsequent behaviour will come from this place.
STAGE TWO – CONTROL
Once pregnant the boundaries you tried to put in place were torn down, always with the veiled threat of not seeing your unborn child. At this point they will have you running around after them, almost slave like, as they relished their now guaranteed power over you. At this point they may have raised marriage and moving in together (if you didn’t already) or some other way to really seal the deal.
Psychologically at this point they are getting a huge amount of positive reinforcement that they made the right choice. You are attentive (of the child not her but in her eyes it’s the same thing) and the arguments have stopped (because you don’t want to cause stress to your unborn child but she takes it that you love her more now) and she keeps pushing, knowing you won’t go anywhere. They learning that they can get away with pretty much anything as long as they use the child as an excuse.
They is also developing the sense that her and the child are one and the same. You love the child therefore must love her. You want to be with the child therefore you want to be with her. This will be reinforced more once the child has arrived where the child will become a mini-me. Everything they wanted for themselves, they push their child to do. If it’s a girl, they dress them the same and model them on themselves. If it’s a boy, they will view them as a mini-me of you. This can lead to very poor boundaries and inappropriate behaviours as the children grow up. But whilst the child is small, they get lots of praise for “how gorgeous” the baby is (which the alienating parent takes to mean “I am gorgeous”) so they become tied to this tiny symbol of themselves because the attention they get makes them feel good.
As they grow up and the attention dwindles, the alienating parent may develop fabricated illness syndrome as a way to get more attention or push the child to perform so that they get lots of praise, which the alienating parent takes as being praise for themselves. Parent’s evening can reveal a lot of this behaviour.
STAGE THREE – BATTLE FOR CONTROL
Obviously though the relationship becomes more strained again as old feelings of unhappiness rear their head and you contemplate the future of the relationship. At this point, picking up on your withdrawal, you may find another pregnancy take you by surprise. This is their “insurance”.
They will start to belittle your parenting skills and begin a secret smear campaign. They will be telling others that you have “issues” and may even succeed in getting you diagnosed with a mental health problem. This is ammunition for their ultimate game plan should the relationship end.
During arguments they will use the children to “control” you and win the fight. They may even attempt to goad you into attacking them (which is wrong and is not condoned – I am simply explaining the process). This will give them more ammunition should you leave.
You won’t have any say in the parenting. They will make all decisions. They will plant the seeds of the “consequences” of you leaving them – “you’ll never see your kids again”. Your confidence will be in tatters and you will feel trapped.
Paradoxically they will feel incredibly powerful and almost god-like. They will present to everyone else as the “perfect” parent, all the while putting you down, and are keen for everyone to think you have a perfect family life and they are the perfect wife/mother. They have exactly the status they desire.
STAGE FOUR – REJECTION
As the arguments increase or the alienated parent becomes so depressed everyone starts to notice, they may decide that you can no longer meet their needs and provide them with the status they desire so they could discard you. Equally you may decide that you are so unhappy and it isn’t fair on the kids to witness the animosity that you want to leave. Either way the break-up will not be easy. It will all be your fault and even if they left you, they will tell everyone how awful you were to live with and that they had no choice. They will not accept responsibility for their actions and this will all contribute to the smear campaign they are ramping up.
At this point they will begin with their attempts to alienate you. Usually starting with gatekeeping. Telling you exactly when and where you are “allowed” to see the children and if you step out of line your privileges will be revoked. They will attempt to make the children choose at every opportunity and overshare with them about the details of your break up. There will be no emotional boundaries in place.
The alienating parent at this point is in full on survival mode and will attack to protect their status (not their children). False allegations are likely to be made and believed.
All of this feeds their view of themselves as invincible and omnipotent. They are lavished with attention whilst they play the victim and this is more positive reinforcement for them to continue with their behaviour.
STAGE FIVE – PUNISHMENT
You and the truth are a real threat to their status and so you must be removed. They will stop you and anyone associated with you from seeing the children. They do all of this under the guise of “protecting the children”. The smear campaign which they started whilst you were still in the relationship now appears to back-up their claims and no-one believes the alienated parent. This fuels their power trip and their behaviour becomes more and more outrageous. Phoning the police for every little thing. Making repeated false allegations which are quickly dismissed. Threatening you, projecting and gaslighting you with “evidence” of your abuse.
At this point many alienated parents give up. They are facing a barrage of accusations, no-one believes them and they are alienated from not only their children but also friends and society who believe the alienating parent. Add to that the financial element and the emotional toll this takes on everyone including the children and it is understandable why a parent would walk away. Of course this just proves to the alienating parent that they are all powerful and reinforces their behaviour.
The key is to fight. The alienating parent WILL trip themselves up. As their behaviour gets more outrageous, more and more people will start to question it and slowly but surely the truth begins to come out. The children need you to fight as well because you are the only parent who is concerned with their welfare. They are being abused and need you to protect them.
As the curtain finally starts to fall though, the alienating parent will panic and can become dangerous. They refuse to let anyone see the truth and therefore those who are exposing them become a target. Including the children. Their psychological state has resorted to childhood and are in fight or flight. Some will kill themselves at this point. Some will kill their children. Some will kill their ex. All in with the aim of protecting their false self.
We at NAPARRC understand this process and the real risk involved. We want to be YOUR army to fight them so come and join the Facebook group to access free support and guidance from specialists and peers www.facebook.com/groups/NAPARRC