Psychological invalidation was one of the very effective forms of abuse that I lived with under the rule of my ex-spouse for 13 years. Over time, it eroded my sense of self-worth to a point where I was just going through the motions of day to day life…there was no joy.at.all….
I have been free from the toxic relationship for a little over 4 years now, and it has been a long and difficult road to rebuilding my sense of self. Accompanying me on this journey, have been my two youngest children, whom I share with my abuser. They have not been free from the abuse for very long…they had to endure additional years of abuse, under the guise of “shared parenting”.
Now I am a HUGE supporter of shared parenting. I supported a very liberal parenting plan with the ex, and worked very hard with therapists, to make the transitions smoother for the kids. I encouraged the kids to have fun with their dad. Little did I know, that for the amount of effort I was putting into making shared parenting work, the ex was figuring out ways to undermine my relationship with the kids.
The technique that worked so well on me, psychological invalidation, worked equally as well on our kids. They could not do anything right…they ate wrong, played wrong, loved the wrong people…the list goes on. After 3 years of this type of “shared parenting”, I am picking up the pieces of shattered childhoods.
When I hear other parents talk about all the fun activities their kids are involved in, I realize the effect that abuse has had. I am still dealing with an 8 year old with separation anxiety, and an 11 year old who isolates himself by choice. In order for my 8 year old to participate in things, I pretty much have to volunteer to help. It is a blessing to get both kids to school without protest (which is about 60-70% of the time).
Here is an article that speaks well to the issue of psychological invalidation: