The damaging effects of domestic abuse trauma can linger in children long after separation.
While separation may reduce the impacts of abuse on children, the abusive parent often remains in the child’s life to a degree and can continue to inflict pain in several ways.
Controlling the child
In many cases, an abusive parent who is not invested in their child’s life will vie for excessive custody time to inflict pain on their former partner. In post-separation domestic violence situations, children made to spend time with the abusive parent are often denied autonomy and forced to do things they do not want to do, like sharing information about the other parent or forgoing their own right to privacy. When a child must spend time with an abuser, their mindset is permanently disrupted. Instead of living peacefully as any child should, they have to stay on their toes to avoid upsetting the abusive parent or giving them ammunition for future use against them.
Altering the child’s perspective
A common tactic among abusive parents who can no longer directly control their partner is to portray them in a skewed light to the child they share. By presenting misinformation to the child, they attempt to make themselves look like the good parent while making their victims appear to be the perpetrators of mal-intent. Children commonly see through this strategy, but the way they view the other parent and the world, in general, can be negatively impacted.
These abusive tactics can alter a child’s perspective and inflict permanent trauma. For this reason, custody decisions need serious consideration.