Harmful family patterns and the counselling of female victims of emotional neglect
Emotional, physical and sexual abuse and neglect in the home is very harmful for family relationships and all people involved. The same applies to false accusations of sexual abuse in the home. For example mothers who are very insecure may become jealous of their daughters and may consequently seek to destroy the relationship between the (step) daughter and her father, sister and brothers, by labeling their mutual love and interest in another as sexually inappropriate. They may drop hints, if not out rightly accuse other family members of abuse or neglect in order to destroy their relationship and assert their own control over the males in the home. In most cases the males withdraw once the wife/mother starts to subtly or less subtly accuse them of sexual abuse. In other cases she causes the daughter to withdraw from the father by hinting that he has an inappropriate sexual interest in her. In both scenarios the daughter is left without positive male affirmation from her father, making her vulnerable to sexual exploitation and promiscuity later in life as well as the fear of abandonment by men.
In another scenario the mother’s jealous behavior is directed at the daughters whom she sees as competitors for her husband’s or son’s love. Often this occurs when the daughters become teenagers. Instead of seeing them as children who have the need and right to their father’s love and male affirmation, the mother sees them as a threat to her relationship with her husband and/or son. She should deal with the underlying anxiety and related issues in her life but for personal reasons decides not to do so as she fears losing control. Instead she externalizes her fear and self-hatred in the form of anger and rejection and labels her (step) daughters as promiscuous and bad. In order to protect her interests she may now withhold love, care, mistreat them and may try to make them look bad in the eyes of the father and/or brother. She may downplay anything good the daughter does and highlight every tiny mistake and blow it out of proportion. In some cases they may even go as far as making up false accusations. Ironically such behavior may actually have the opposite effect and drive the daughters into inappropriately close relationships with the males in the home. Brother and sister, or father and daughter, who now no longer are treated with love and respect by the wife/mother may in their distress and need for love, affection and affirmation try to find love and emotional fulfillment in one-another and cross appropriate boundaries.
A loving and caring father who emotionally withdrew out of fear from his daughter due the emotional onslaught of their wife may not have done anything illegal as in the case of a father who became in appropriately close with his daughter, but he may not have caused any less harm. The father who for whatever reason withdrew from his daughter has unwillingly communicated that she is not important, not valuable, not lovable and not worth fighting for. He has communicated that she can be abandoned at any time by a man due to the influence of another woman. Even if the daughter herself due to the influence of others feared her father's sexuality, he should have explained his could intentions and not have withdrawn emotionally. In cases he did feel some sexual attraction due to biological factors he should have controlled these feelings but still continued to show love in an appropriate manner and affirm his daughter in her women-hood. Withdrawing emotionally from your (teenage) daughter is also a form of emotional abuse regardless of the reasons. It results in feelings of inferiority, lack of self-love, lack of self-worth, fear of abandonment and inability of forging a deep emotional connection with a man due to these underlying fears. In counselling these fears need to be identified and put in proper perspective. The daughter may need help in forgiving both parents for their errors and be helped to understand that even if her earthly father emotionally abandoned her, he did not do so voluntarily, or because she was not worth it, but because of his own weaknesses. In Christian counselling it is also important to stress that our heavenly Father never abandons or forsakes us and that He values us, loves us and believes in us.