According to Alan Kemp in his book Abuse in the Family, domestic violence is defined as “A form of maltreatment perpetrated by a person with whom the victim has or had a close personal relationship.”
Furthermore, the clinical and textbook definitions and categories of child psychological maltreatment found in Table 3-1 of Kemp’s book, Abuse in the Family, on pages 72-77, can easily be applied to show it as a horrific form of domestic violence via psychological maltreatment.
This book is just one of many textbooks used to teach students and professionals about psychological maltreatment and the categories that make it up. Whether one believes in the term parental alienation or not, the following criteria help to show that certain behavior perpetrated by a parent can cause a child to withdraw their love from the other parent.
For the sake of this article, we will term this abuse as toxic parenting.
9 Signs of a Toxic Parent
- Rejecting (spurning)
- Denying essential stimulation, emotional responsiveness, or availability
- Unreliable and inconsistent parenting
- Mental health, medical, or educational neglect
- Degrading/devaluing (spurning)
An Explanation of the 9 Signs of a Toxic Parent
By deliberately isolating the child from other family members and social supports, isolation is occurring. The whole premise of toxic parenting is to isolate and distance the children from the targeted parent or any other individual who supports the targeted parent.
If the toxic parent uses threats or denigrating tactics, to force the child to comply, this can be seen as terrorizing. As well, verbal denigration, harassment, and exploitation of the targeted parent are very prominent and key indicators of toxic parenting.
In addition, domestic violence includes the exploitation and use of the child for personal gain.
Thus in toxic parenting, when the child is used to destroy the targeted parent by denying visitation or a relationship between the other parent and the child or is used for monetary gains such as excessive expenses beyond child support, they are in effect committing domestic violence. It is for these reasons that toxic parenting or isolating the children from the Targeted Parent can be considered as a form of domestic violence.
Let’s take this a bit further in its application. When a parent rejects a child because the child shows any love or affection for the targeted parent that is a form of abuse. This is not only a form of rejection but terrorization. In fact, a child’s refusal to come to the targeted parent’s home for fear of losing the aggressive parent’s conditional love is fear and fear is terror.
When a toxic parent refuses to comply with court orders and tells the child they do not have to either, this is corrupting. It is teaching the child that they are above the law and therefore immune to the court’s authority. When a parent files false allegations of abuse and convinces the child to do the same, this is corruption.
When a toxic parent tells the child lies about the targeted parent, and that anything having to do with the targeted parent is illegal, immoral and disgusting, this is corrupting. In fact, this is a form of discrimination and prejudice, which corrupts the child’s mind.
Denying Essential Stimulation, Emotional Responsiveness, or Availability
By refusing to allow the children to have a relationship with the targeted parent, for no reason other than their own need to control the ex-spouse, the toxic parent is denying them the basic elements of stimulation, emotions, and availability with the targeted parent. In fact, the targeted parent has little to no opportunity to defend themselves against the false allegations.
Though they will have you believe that they or the children feared for their lives and that the targeted parent was abusive, this is usually unsubstantiated or proven by the courts to be a fabrication. With no basis for this denial, the toxic parent refuses their child a warm and loving relationship with the targeted parent.
Unreliable and Inconsistent Parenting
Since the children have been denied a relationship with the targeted parent, they have also been denied a reliable and consistent parenting situation and the toxic parent has proven that they cannot parent consistently and reliably in the supporting of a two-parent relationship with the children.
Mental, Medical and Educational Neglect
When a toxic parent refuses to comply with numerous separate court orders for counseling, they are denying their children’s mental health. Thus mental neglect has occurred as defined in the DSM IV as Malingering.
If, despite numerous court orders or requests and recommendations, the toxic parent continues to insult, verbally abuse and denigrate the child’s targeted parent in front of the child, this behavior degrades and devalues someone the child once respected and loved and in most cases, secretly wants a relationship with.
This disdain and disrespect for the targeted parent in front of the child is another form of psychological maltreatment as it permanently affects their view of the targeted parent, which transfers to their view of themselves. This creates a distorted sense of reality, of themselves, and their ability to trust and accurately judge others.
When a toxic parent deliberately sabotages a relationship with the targeted parent by refusing to allow visits, calls, or any form of healthy communication, with no evidence of abuse, this is called isolation. Furthermore, when a parent has initially allowed continuous contact with the children during the separation and divorce period, but reneges on this, refusing visitation, especially when they find out their ex-spouse has a new partner, this is isolation and abuse.
This is also called Remarriage as a Trigger for Parental Alienation Syndrome and can be further reviewed in an article by Dr. Richard Warshak, There is no doubt this is isolation and thus psychological abuse.
When a toxic parent uses the children as pawns to get back at their ex-spouse for not loving them anymore or to control them further, this is exploitation. When a toxic parent uses the children and makes false allegations of abuse, terrorizing the children to state they hate the targeted parent, this is exploitation. When a parent uses the children for monetary gains such as child support, but yet does not allow the children a relationship with the targeted parent, this is exploitation.
When you add all these signs up, it is easy to see how toxic parenting, can be classified as child psychological maltreatment in a divorce situation. When you put it all together, the DSM sums up the toxic parent quite nicely under Cluster B Personality Disorder, Antisocial Personality Disorder.
The toxic parent willfully and without regard to the child or the targeted parent’s welfare, or the innocent extended family’s welfare, continually violates their rights and disregards their needs for a relationship. The toxic parent callously puts their own desires, wants, and needs above those of everyone else including their own child.
This all adds up to one thing, domestic violence in the form of psychological maltreatment. So why does Child Protective Services refuse to protect the children from this form of abuse when the signs and symptoms are so clearly evident?