A friend’s child is cutting themselves. They are an involved mom and their child still fell prey to some pretty nasty stuff. It’s not the parent’s fault.
Relationship violence is a real thing and we need to have open lines of communication with our children because when they have problems – a lot of times, their instinct is to hide the problem. Why – well – I’m guilty of this too – but if something happens – we go into momma bear mode. I do. My son hates it. I can’t really help it. Someone hurting my child – I must fix it and fix it now. And I know better.
Fortunately – my friend found out and is getting her child help with professional therapy and the child is apparently feeling better. The parent – not so much. It’s a lot to process.
So – what I want you to know right now is this:
For young people:
If you are a young person going through some really bad stuff to the point you are hurting yourself – ask for help! If you don’t trust your parents – find another adult. Help is available. You may need professional help – but that should not scare you. Counselors help people deal with some really heavy things. My only real regret in life is waiting a couple of years to get therapy when I was being stalked. I could have had my life back – 2 years before I did! Don’t wait to get help. Don’t think – I can get through this. There really are things that you need help with – relationship violence is one of them.
And yes – I understand the manipulation makes it hard to even see straight. If you are having trouble sorting out what is going on – get help.
If your child is going through something – the hardest thing is to let them. Or rather – not be able to help them. Sometimes you have to be patient. Give support and allow the child to open up to you over time.
Your job is to be calm – and safe and to not freak out when your child tells you something – horrifying. I have trouble doing this myself – but I have another friend – who is an absolute master.
Growing up is hard. Remember all the things you didn’t tell your parents. Kids do have to learn how to negotiate risk on their own. The problem with relationship violence is that the abuser behaviorally conditions their victim.
One of the reasons I teach the things I do – how to stop bullying using behavioral science – is because I know – the only way to resist behavioral conditioning is to understand how it’s happening. That way – hopefully – you can identify what is happening and intellectually resist. If you don’t recognize what is going on – you won’t figure it out until it is too late.
I cannot promise that if you read my book or take one of my classes – that your child will be protected. No one can. What I promise is that reading my book and/or taking a course – will help you understanding the behavioral dynamic your child is being subjected to so that you can help them understand it and teach them how to defend against manipulation so they at least – have a fighting chance.