It’s a widely held belief that people who were abused as children are more likely to grow up to abuse their own children, but a new study in Science suggests a more complex picture. Different kinds of abuse and neglect have different patterns of intergenerational transmission, and there’s reason to think that certain families are scrutinized more than others, leading to biased reporting.
The widespread belief in intergenerational transmission is not completely unfounded. A number of studies have found evidence that abuse victims are more likely to abuse, but the overall picture is mixed: many other studies have found no such link. Understanding what causes child abuse is obviously vital to finding solutions, so it’s an essential question for researchers to resolve.
Source: Childhood abuse victims don’t always grow up to be abusers
Every once in a while, there’s a discussion about what women look for in guys. One of the criteria is relationship with family – that being active with family can be a value some find attractive. This thoroughly irritates me. While I’m glad these people have never had to survive an abusive household, the belief is incredibly naive and demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of what relationships are or how they work. The expression/slang I encountered recently – Disney girl – sums things up rather succinctly. Cultural beliefs reinforced by media… There are lots of stories about actresses who did not want to play the loving, supporting mother because it wasn’t always true. And with the recent disclosure of stories that predate the Brothers Grimm, there’s “folklore” about fathers competing with sons. The recent “tradition” is it’s only step parents…
Culture and media is no help to the abused for situations like this. From the perspective of the abused, you question what you are doing wrong. Why you deserve the treatment, and what you can do to change things for the better. I’ve known a few, and there’s an underlying desire to be accepted by family. Some attempt to incorporate themselves into the families of others, but not in the sense like cuckoos do. Sometimes there’s acceptance, sometimes there isn’t. The fundamental issue is the abused needs to come to terms with if the relationship can improve, and more importantly – accept what needs to be done if old patterns are repeated.
These are the realities the study abstracts about how abused manage not to perpetuate the cycle. That we sometimes abuse the abused a second time as we dismiss them, or make uninformed judgements and decisions. Some of the abused are able to make it through by themselves, but most need help and there’s lots of variables around getting legitimate help. Even with help, there’s bound to be scars. Some have to accept that parents are such by virtue of biology only.