Friday, January 14, 2011


All kids want Dad's approval and love. They want Mom's, too, but she's safer, probably around more than Dad (unless we're talking a "Mr. Mom" situation) and she's usually smaller and quieter, too.

The allure of Dad has to do with the fact that he's bigger, often more distant geographically or emotionally, and not usually as quick with the compliments and rewards as Mom might be. This sounds pretty sexist, of course, but most observations have their feet firmly entrenched in reality and experience.

Allure is not quite the same in the batterer's home. It's hard to be drawn to someone who is so punitive to Mom that you grow up wondering what he thinks of you. What he'll do if you aren't perfect. What he'll think if someone else complains about you.

Allure has to do with charm, too. The batterer's charm can be total, unexpected, and powerful. It can draw in, fool, and win over naiive teens and women, especially those who intensively need love and attention for whatever reason.

By the time the batterer's allure changes to fear or confusion or hate, however, the tenacles of its original warmth and love can still be so entwined with memory that its victim does not know how to extricate herself.

Maybe this keeps her going back, hoping he will again shower her with love and she will feel happy and cherished.

It's about as easy for the victims of battering to get away as it is for substance abusers to say "no."
Have you hugged reality lately?


Claire King said...

This is a very thought provoking post. Whilst wives of violent men are encouraged to leave them and move on, daughters and sons are often encouraged to give them another chance 'because after all he's your dad.'

patwriter said...

The father/child bond is usually very strong.

But if any bond involves violence, it is more confusing and anxiety-producing than more "normal" bonds. For that reason, the child or adult may need considerable support, strength, and self-worth to sever it.

All bonds are not worth holding onto.