POLICE ASSOCIATION OF NOVA SCOTIA 113 POST-SEPARATION ABUSE: IMPACT ON WOMEN continued... The effects of physical abuse may be obvious: black eyes, cuts and bruises. Emotional abuse, including threats, stalking, or constantly being undermined, is no less damaging but can be much more difficult to detect. It often reduces the victim to a state of uncertainty and fear, shame and self-doubt. It can lead to loss of self-confidence and inhibit a woman from acting decisively. When victims turn to alcohol or drugs to relieve the pain, they are often judged. This is the aim of the abuser: to gain control over the victim. The woman may believe she is an inadequate parent. • The abuser may say she is an unfit mother and the cause of the children’s problems. • She may be prevented by the abuser from creating structure and consistency in her life. • Children may have problems that make her believe she is a bad parent. • She may fear having her children taken by child protection authorities. The woman may lose the respect of some or all of her children because: • Children may see her as an acceptable target of abuse. • Children may disregard her parental authority and not follow her rules. • Children may not value her or may be ashamed of her. The woman may believe excuses the abuser provides for his behavior because: • She may believe the abuse is her fault and try to change her behaviour or feel guilty about its effect on her children. • She may believe that the abuse is caused by his use of alcohol or by stress. • She may believe that the abuse is culturally or religiously appropriate. • She may believe that men and boys should have more privileges and power in the family. The woman may change the way she parents in response to the abuser’s parenting style because: • She may be very lenient to balance the abuser’s strict parenting. • She may be too strict to try and keep children from annoying the abuser.