Targeting a Specific Child for Abuse

by Sara
(Cobleskill, NY, USA)

I would like your thoughts on a parent targeting a specific child. I haven't found much information about that. I'm sure it is more common that people think. My mother, who grew up in a loving stable home and was not on drugs, could be a giving, dutiful person to others, but she chose me to unleash all her frustrations on.

My earliest memories as a toddler are of her shaking me, calling me bad names, comparing me to my father. She would tell me she wished I would die. Out of the blue, she'd slap me in the face and call me a bitch. When I got older, there would be the three of us kids laughing at the dinner table, and suddenly she'd erupt and throw dishes at me. She would belittle, curse, and verbally abuse me. She'd expect me to be responsible for the housework, the other kids weren't. She was kind to them. She would never show impatience with them, but be sweet and give them whatever they asked. She certainly never slapped them or threw objects at them. She seemed to have a different set of standards for me. It was as if she never viewed me as a child, but rather, as competition or an enemy.

To be fair, she WAS under a lot of stress in her marriage to a difficult man who was easily annoyed and controlling. I understand that she was probably depressed and under a great deal of stress with thre young children and a husband who didn't respect her. However, why didn't she take it out on everyone? Why did she target me?

She was also very strategic with her abuse. She would never behave inappropriately in front of other adults. Only when we were alone or when the other children were too young to comprehend what was going on, so she could get away with it. Her ability to conceal the abuse was amazing. No one would suspect it. Outside of the home, she was perceived as a funny, kind woman. But behind closed doors, she was miserable and somehow felt justified in taking it out exclusively on me, blaming me for her situation in life.

I truly would like to understand what was going through her mind during these abusive episodes. Did she hate me because I looked like my father? Or was she jealous of me when I was little because I had a close bond with him? Or did she attack because she couldn't successfully fight her husband so she picked me; someone too young and dependent to do anything about it? But then, why not abuse the other children?

At any rate, she clearly ENJOYED the abuse. On the rare occasions when she'd verbally abuse me to the point of tears, she'd lean back and gloat, SMILE, and mock me "Poor abused you." SMILE. And the look in her eyes . . . she was clearly getting pleasure from it.

So I am particularly interested in any cases or stories any of you can share about an otherwise "good" parent fixating on a specific child to abuse. It is all so disturbing. I desperately want to understand it.

I am grateful I found your site.

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