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Roles Children Play
Power & Control Wheel

This study of how and why abusive relationships develop becomes more Refined when referring to the roles children play.

If we have two heroes dating, one may be tired of taking care of others and may take control. The other will just adapt to “walking on egg shells” as they have so used to doing trying to please people.

A hero may feel sorry for a scapegoat and things may go well for awhile but slowly the scapegoat may begin to vent all of their pent-up anger from all of their past abuse,on the one person who would dream of abusing them. The hero will be the last role to give in to quittting but they may finally do something very strange to them-- take care of themselves. In another situation, the hero may, after having taken care of the scapegoat for so long, building them up-- only to tear them down. This is someone who won’t be resistant to control and intimidation, either. The scapegoat will be very confused, after all the hero who had been so wonderful, was now just as cruel. This is a perfect setting for the Stockholm Syndrome to develop.

When two scapegoats meet there is immediate understanding of each others pain. There is immediate bonding. But it may be a bit like fire playing with gasoline. There level of trust is nil and they may soon become suspicious of each other. “What does he or she want from me?” A game of “tip the balance” may begin, where each waits for the right moment to take control. When the other loses, they just give in to the reality that others can have the good life and happiness, but they cannot. Or the whole thing could turn very ugly and both will abuse each other. This is the kind of relationship where you hear that both are throwing things at each other and she wounds him as much as he her. I don’t know which would be scarier for kids, two-sided or one-sided fights. What a choice for a kid to have to make in this setting. Whose side do they take? Whichever one they take, we know it will be the wrong one.

The mascot is dependent upon flattery. A girl especially, may lack real confidence in her abilities, because everything has been present to her in a superficial manner. She has been told that appearance is the most important value in her life. So when the abuser meets her, this is another situation where he will build her up including qualities never broached by others, i.e. her intelligence, cooking, talents, etc. But little by little, he will take back everything he’d said and then attack her appearance. And he or she may cheat on the mascot. This is the ultimate way to wound a mascot. The abuser is good at giving praise and also good at taking it away.

We will leave it to the reader to continue in this line of thinking and to speculate about the results of some other combinations of role meeting role.