January 21, 2019
Intentional Child-to-Parent Violence (I-CPV) is defined as any intentional, harmful behavior by a child to cause a parent physical or psychological distress. These are deliberate behaviors intended to gain control over, and instill fear, in parents.
This type of abuse is not included in domestic violence or child abuse statistics. Little research is available in this area, which prevents families from getting the resources they need and the children who perpetrate the abuse from getting the help they need. It also limits opportunities to fund research for prevention and treatment.
Antidotally, families with a child who has a severe mental illness such as reactive attachment disorder (RAD), conduct disorder (CD), oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), or developmental trauma disorder (DTD) seem to be at high risk for I-CPV.
The purpose of this survey was to investigate how common I-CPV is in of families who have a child with a serious mental illness (RAD, CD, DTD, ODD).
Summary Key Findings
Over 90% of respondents (parents) are victims of I-CPV.
- 93% report their child threatens them, family, or pets with physical violence.
- 65% report their child grabs, hits, kicks, or otherwise physically assaults them.
- 71% report their child hides their behavior from others and blames them for their outbursts.
218 people responded to the survey.
|Do you feel like you’re always walking on eggshells not knowing what will set he/she (your child) off?||93.12%||6.88%|
|Does he/she (your child) yell, hurl insults, sulk, and deliberately break things you value?||93.09%||6.91%|
|Does he/she (your child) threaten to use violence against you, your family, friends, or pets?||70.97%||29.95%|
|Does he/she (your child) push, shove, hit, or grab you?||65.44%||34.56%|
|Does he/she (your child) blame you for their violent outbursts?||87.50%||12.96%|
|Does he/she (your child) hide how they treat you from family and/or friends?||83.49%||16.97%|
|Does he/she (your child) seem to offer sincere apologies only to do it again?||72.02%||28.44%|
(I-CPV examples, edited for grammar and clarity)
- My daughter attacked me with a steak knife.
- My son choked me and broke my wrist
- Before my child was taken to hospitals, then jail, and then a treatment center, I had to sleep with my door locked and a chair jammed under the knob because he knows how to pick locks. I have PTSD.
- My friends, his teachers, my own mother, don’t believe my 9-year-old son is dangerous because he’s so good at hiding his behavior. He can be incredibly sweet and charming when he wants to be.
- If I were treated this way by a man, I would have left long ago. But because this is my daughter, my options are limited. Ironically, we have had DCFS called twice on suspicion of abuse. Even when the documentation and reality comes to light, there is no help for the rest of the family. Our mental health system has no idea how to handle RAD.
- My child is very vindictive and manipulative. She can be the happy girl, the vengeful girl, the suicidal girl, the victim. She is a chameleon.
- Behavior around others doesn’t match up. Many times behavior seems almost deliberate. Behavior is controlled when getting things they want. Once that happens behavior is out of control again.
- Extremely passive-aggressive.
- My child doesn’t apologize or take responsibility for his actions.
- He steals money all the time then says I stole it.
- She shows no empathy or sympathy and becomes angry when she is expected to have accountability. In her words “they/you should not have triggered me.”
- Creates arguments to feign frustration and look like a victim.
- Living with a child who has a CD diagnosis is like living in a horror movie. I want to shout, “You people can’t even imagine living this way!” This isn’t living.
- My 7-year-old child is more of a silent abuser than having out of control rage. Child will play the sweet innocent act, but will purposely hurt others for her enjoyment.
- We are safe now, son is out of home, but doing same things at RTC
- Incredibly charming and sweet to others outside the home.
- I spend the entire 20 minute drive home from school being kicked repeatedly in the shoulder, with my seatbelt pulled, pinning me to the seat.
- My 9 year old adopted daughter has yanked on me, kicked me, hit me, blocked my movement from room to room.
- My teen daughter with RAD usually tells me that I am the one who needs to apologize to her. She will say “If you had not done XYZ, I would not have been triggered…”
- Continues to wet her pants intentionally. Will lay in bed and pee. Will squat or stand in her bedroom on the carpet and pee. She’s 10 and doesn’t care.
- My RAD isn’t physically abusive, but is very sly and manipulative.
- She throws things, broke her bed twice, puts holes in walls with small objects. She does not have any remorse afterwards and refuses to listen to anything I say, unless she’s getting something special.
- He has said I’m not important enough, so he doesn’t have to listen to me.
- He has tried to push me down the stairs because he “wanted me gone.” He has made specific, frequent murder threats towards me and my husband (his adoptive parents), and his biological brother who we also adopted.
- Tried to snap my neck three times as well as tried to set me on fire. Told me she would stab me in my sleep and that sleeping was a good way to get killed
- Every interaction with her is manipulation to gain control by either causing confusion, upsetting someone, lying, or plain nonsense to waste your time & energy.
- So many kids are ending up back in the system years after placement… and adoptive parents are being solely blamed…
- My child used to treat me so badly one of his friends once introduced me to someone and said, “And this is his amazing mother he treats like shit.” His behavior toward me was so awful HIS friend said this.
- She used manipulation to make others think that we provoked her. She was purposely well behaved with others.
- Threatens torture saying, I will rip your fingernails off one by one and blowtorch the area where they came off.
- He tried to choke me and burn down the house.
- Nothing is ever my child’s fault. “They” made me do it. (They made me angry so i had to hit them)
- He is a total bully.
- If my husband treated the way my son treats me, I would have left the relationship years ago.
- After beating me the police responded to my home. They said to my son, “Its ok buddy, you’re not in trouble. Let’s come out here and talk.” The next time he beat me, he sent me to urgent care.
- My daughter isn’t physically aggressive. She lies, sneaks, manipulates argumentative and puts herself and us in harm’s way.
- Breaking windows, scratching car and furniture, stabbing door with knife and hockey stick while I was on the other side. He’s 10.
- Incredibly jealous of any time spent with sibling or spouse.
- When my daughter was 14, she grabbed me by the back of my head by the hair and slammed my face onto the stove burners. I have a moon shaped scar on my forehead. She then told DCFS that I had done it to her.
- While my son (who has RAD) has been in RTC he no longer attacks me but instead talks about the dreams he has about hurting me.
- My daughter never apologizes.
- Poops on herself and spreads the smell and actual matter on furniture. Creates body odor by rubbing her fingers in her armpits incessantly.
- Tries to cause a car accident when I’m driving.
- All knives are locked up for safety.
- I caught my son torturing out hedgehog. Holding him accountable for his actions sends him into a rage.
- He purposely hurts the cat to get my attention then gets mad at me for stopping him and destroys anything he can get his hands on.
- My child does not break y things, but she does break her siblings things.
- My daughter makes threats of self-harm in an attempt to manipulate others to do/get what she wants. She does not seem to have a limit to what she will say/do to get exactly what she wants, no matter who gets hurt in the process, although we have managed to keep physical violence minimal
- Honestly if I hear one more time I hit them, when in reality they hit me, I may start to believe it. Crisis services will be at our house because my child bit me. They’ll lie and say I did it. Then Crisis Services asks me why I bit them!
- She never offers an apology or shows empathy but does promise to change.
- I think maybe because of her low IQ, my daughter doesn’t have as much capability to hide her behaviors as easily. She can for a short time, but then it pops out.
- My kids never apologize, they just rationalize how it wasn’t their fault. No promises to not do it again.
- My child doesn’t apologize because “it’s always my fault!” and once the episode is over, there’s no discussing it, it’s over (for him)
- I believe my adopted children who have RAD are the exception. They did a complete turnaround and I was able to discipline them correctly.
- Loves to hit me in the stomach when he is mad, then says it isn’t his fault it hurts.
- My child was diagnosed with RAD and had some of these issues until I began using a different parenting approach and built up more trust and a stronger relationship of attachment. I think that healing is possible for kids, but parents need more support and techniques that actually work.
- If this had been about my husband, how many people would have asked, begged me to leave him or her? However, I am not talking about my spouse, but about my adoptive daughter with Reactive Attachment Disorder. Please tell me why my leaving this abusive relationship should be any different from leaving an abusive spouse?
- Mine was not physically violent but she had plans to killing her sister and blame it on me.
The survey, “Are you in an Abusive Relationship?” was configured in Survey Monkey. It was an anonymous survey. The survey settings were set to prevent multiple entries.
The following instruction was posted at the top of the survey:
Please complete this survey only if you are the parent of a child with CD, RAD, ODD, DTD and other related diagnoses.
The survey opened on January 13, 2019 and closed on January 18, 2019.
The link to the survey was posted in three private online parenting groups:
Attach Families Support Group
Number of Members: 241
Focus: For parents of children with developmental trauma
The Underground World of RAD
Number Members: 868
Focus: For parents of children diagnosed with RAD
Parents of Children with Conduct Disorder
Number of Members: 1,029
Focus: For parents of children diagnosed with CD
All questions were optional and had answer choices of Yes or No. Respondents were provided with a freeform comment field to optionally provide personal examples of I-CPV. It was noted that these responses may be edited for grammar and clarity.