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Relationship Corner
with Tarra Bates-Duford, Ph.D., MFT

2 Comments to
Harmful Family Legacies: 18 Signs

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  1. Dear Dr. Most of the high conflict custody cases are not custody cases, they are abuse.

    I am the Executive Director of NATP ( We are the only organization of surviving parents who are fighting to rescue our children who have been placed with a serious abuser. Research suggests that there are 22 million families in this country where one parent has a narcissistic/borderline personality disorder (officially diagnosed or not). That should be enough said about the severity of abuse. The percentage of adults with narcissistic/borderline has been increasing for years and contrary to what some people might think, they do marry and have children. Once married, the family dysfunction becomes a complicated issue driven by the abusers false social persona and severe psychopathology. The parent victim suffers severe psychological (emotional abuse) which leads to complex PTSD and the children live in an invalidating environment. Divorce, in the attempt to get away from the abuser and protect the children cripples the narcissist’s veneer and the abuser significantly escalates the family violence by triangulating the children in a cross-generational coalition against the parent who has a healthy attachment to his or her children. Using the children as their shields and weapons, the NPD/BPD parent manipulates the court and the custody evaluator to see them as a protective parent and the severely traumatized but surviving emotionally available parent as being “unstable.”

    These abuse cases (child psychological maltreatment and living with a mentally ill parent) are the most destructive type of family abuse and these children suffer with ACE scores of 8+. This travesty involving millions of domestic abuse survivors and their abused children could be eliminated and the cycle broken because every family like this is already in family court. They are called high conflict cases for a reason. Once family court judges are able to recognize narcissistic/borderline abusers (and it is not hard), they wouldn’t place the children with him or her until the environment was safe.
    Please feel free to contact me through the website.

    Thank you. Kay

    • Kay,

      Thank you for starting the discussion. I certainly agree trauma and abuse can have a generational impact if left unresolved. While there is a plethora of information surrounding the impact of trauma and abuse on children, long-term effects are still being explored. In my experience with familial dysfunctions and trauma more research, supportive services, and treatment options need to be identified in order to help break the cycle of dysfunction and mitigate latent symptoms related to past abuse.


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