Toxic Parents Can Cause Damage To Adult Relationships
For those who were abused as children, the pain and effects of the abuse can last throughout adolescence and well into adulthood. It can cause severe damage to future adult relationships and interpersonal relationships, and create an inability to experience intimacy. One of the hallmark of adults who were abused as children is the ability to bond and develop intimate relationships. This is often created by the relationship dynamics that were established by the parent during childhood. Even more unfortunate is the frequency of adult abuse that continues from childhood. It is difficult for abusive parents to change their methods of communication with their child, which is why the dysfunction can often last well into adulthood and beyond.
It is not unusual for the pain from childhood abuse to magnify once the child becomes an adult. There are many things that can trigger this; including a serious relationship, having children of their own or even going through a serious breakup. It is quite common for the pain of childhood abuse to cause so much dysfunction in the adult child's relationship that the relationship gets damaged beyond repair. This can lead to the inevitable breakup or divorce to terminate the relationship.
It is very difficult for the adult child who was abused to accept that the abuse may still be ongoing. The child will forever attempt to equalize themselves in the eyes of their parent, and will continue to be treated the same way, using the same negative dynamics but for different situations. For example, a mother may be told how poor her parenting skills are in front of her children. An overweight adult might be berated about their weight and appearance by the abusive parent. The adult child will usually shrug this off, assuming that because they are truly overweight that they deserve the negative feedback and abuse that comes with it. It can take years of behavioral therapy to help the adult child understand that the treatment that is being done by the parent is still abusive behavior and must be stopped. Psychotherapy may focus on using empowerment techniques and creating boundaries to help prevent the abuse from continuing.
Does The Cycle Of Abuse Always Continue?
Many of the adult victims of child abuse are afraid that the cycle of abuse will continue and that they will abuse their own children. This is not always the case, and can be prevented by ensuring recognition of unhealthy patterns of behavior, even if they are continuing into adulthood. In fact, some adult victims of childhood abuse are excellent, nurturing parents because they continue to make an effort to provide their child with the love and stability that they never had.
Dr. Susan Forward wrote an excellent book called Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy And Reclaiming Your Life, which is written for adult victims of childhood abuse. It helps adults identify the unhealthy patterns of behavior that they experienced during their childhood and empowers the adult to overcome the hurtful legacy caused by the abuse. The book outlines many different case studies, ranging from parental berating to incest. Everyone has their own personal experience, and there is (arguably) not one type of abuse that is worse than another. All forms of child abuse cause serious scars in the child that they are inflicted upon. Reclaiming your life is the most empowering thing that one can do in order to overcome the hurtful legacy of their past.
It is unfortunate, but not uncommon for the abuse to continue well into adulthood. This can take its toll on the person without them being able to realize it. It is important to recognize the signs of abuse, even if you are an adult. You didn't have the option to tolerate the abuse that your parent dished out during your childhood, but you do have the choice now that you are an adult. There is no rule that permanently bonds you to an abusive parent. Many adults feel guilty about terminating a relationship with an abusive parent because they were raised to believe that tolerating abusive tactics was part of showing respect. If the parental relationship has become toxic, there is no benefit in remaining an active participant. Sometimes, terminating the relationship can be in the best interest of the adult, and can help bring serenity and emotional health. Once the toxicity has been removed from daily life, only then can the long healing process begin.