Family Violence - The Intergenerational
Transmission of the Cycle of Family Abuse

Dr. King

by Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D.

If your home consists of one (or more) parent that batters, chances are higher that your children will acquire the same tendency to be controlling and use battering to get their way.

Now this doesn't mean that all children of abusers become abusers, as they may very well instead become victims in their adult intimate relationships instead.

Fortunately, it is also true that one can choose to over-compensate and end up highly sensitive to battering as an adversity to avoid...thereby not becoming an abuser or a victim.

However, we know from decades of psychological theory that it is clear that we acquire behavioral and "interactional" styles through modeling what we both observe and experience. So itís not surprising when your latency stage, or adolescent, son or daughter starts to call you the exact names that your battering spouse used as household words of degradation toward you.

He/she may even say those words in the same tone and with the same demeanor as your spouse or ex-spouse. And moreover, he/she may even expect you to respond to the use of his/her verbal abuse in the very way that you responded to it when dished out by the perpetrator-modeling parent.

Your child may break things in the home exactly as the abusive parent did, that is reaching for the same objects to fling or weapons of assault to use. And further, he/she may very well expect the same "privilege" of getting away with it.

So if you witness this intergenerational transmission of family abuse in your home, do not be surprised. And, most importantly, avoid establishing the same dynamic with your abusive child that you had with your abusive partner.

The sooner you can get professional help for your battering offspring, the better. That is the better for him/her, the better for you, and the better for any other children in your family.

If you cannot find or cannot afford professional help, seek out public services to address the abuse in your home before it spirals out of control. And in the meantime, learn about domestic abuse dynamics and healing. Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D. helps people recognize, end and heal from domestic abuse.

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© Copyright 2009 Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D.

Dr. Jeanne King is a licensed psychologist and domestic abuse consultant. Feel free to contact us if you need help with physical and/or emotional pain, stress-related illnesses, or relationship abuse issues at home or in court. Contact Us to reach Dr. King.