When a child is abused by their mother or father, the child will often develop “Betrayal Blindness.” Children who are being abused are frequently not able to recognize that their experiences are abusive because accurately seeing what is happening to them would further jeopardize their ability to survive.
Abused children become experts at not recognizing that their parents are harming them. They are not able to live independently yet, and so they need to remain attached to their parents to survive. This is a primary dilemma for the young who are abused.
Instead, abused children are required to believe that it is fine for their parents to harm them. This is not because they choose to be harmed, but because they have to remain under the care of their abusers to survive.
Abused children also frequently internalize that the way their parents treat them is the way they expect to be treated in relationships for the rest of their lives. Read more about adults that were abused as children and how their experiences of abuse may be re-enacted over their lifespans.
If you are interested in learning more about this topic, I invite you to read Jennifer Freyd and Pamela Birrell’s 2013 book titled “Blind to betrayal. Why we fool ourselves: We aren’t being fooled.”
Dr. Patricia Turner, Registered Psychologist, Calgary, Alberta
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