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Bonded to the Abuser: How Victims Make Sense of Childhood Abuse
Baker, Amy J.L., PhD and Dr. Mel Schneiderman
Rowman & Littlefield / Hardcover / 2015-05-01 / 1442236906
price: $43.95 (may be subject to change)
204 pages
Not in Stock, usually ships in 7-10 business days

Tens of thousands of children are removed from home each year due to some form of child maltreatment, usually physical neglect, physical abuse, or sexual abuse, although sometimes for emotional abuse as well. An additional significant number of children are victims of child maltreatment but remain in their home. Extensive research reveals the far reaching and long lasting negative impact of maltreatment on child victims, including on their physical, social, emotional, and behavioral functioning. One particularly troubling and complicated aspect is how the child victim forms (and maintains) a “traumatic bond” with his abuser, even becoming protective and defensive of that person despite the pain and suffering they have caused.

This book will provide the reader with the essential experience of understanding how children make meaning of being maltreated by a parent, and how these traumatic bonds form and last. Through an examination of published memoirs of abuse, the authors analyze and reveal the commonalities in the stories to uncover the ways in which adult victims of childhood abuse understand and digest the traumatic experiences of their childhoods. This understanding can inform interventions and treatments designed for this vulnerable population and can help family and friends of victims understand more fully the maltreatment experience “from the inside out.”


Bonded to the Abuser is a wise and helpful approach to a painful subject. It gives voice to an often neglected and under-served population. It will be an extremely helpful resource for professionals and for those who are living with the legacy of abuse.
— Joshua Coleman, Ph.D., author of When Parents Hurt: Compassionate Strategies When You and Your Grown Child Get Along

Amy J. L. Baker and Mel Schneiderman have synthesized a mountain of qualitative data from the first-hand accounts of individuals who experienced abuse and neglect as children. They reviewed 45 books, which relate in painstaking and heartbreaking detail how the writers lived through and managed to survive physical, sexual, and emotional abuse and neglect. The primary theme of the book is the remarkable and counterintuitive observation that abused children remain attached to their abusive parents, whom they might perceive as charming and charismatic. Children who are physically or emotionally neglected remain loyal to their parents, who rarely acknowledged the children's presense or personhood. Readers of Bonded to the Abuser will learn various mechanisms by which maltreated children fear, love, hate, and long for their moms and dads.
— William Bernet, M.D., professor emeritus, Department of Psychiatry, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee



1: Stories of Physical Abuse

2: Making Meaning of Physical Abuse

3: Stories of Sexual Abuse

4: Making Meaning of Sexual Abuse

5: Stories of Emotional Abuse

6: Making Meaning of Emotional Abuse

7: Stories of Emotional Neglect

8: Making Meaning of Emotional Neglect

9: Stories of Physical Neglect

10: Making Meaning of Physical Neglect

11: Moving Forward


About the Authors:

Amy J.L. Baker, Ph.D., is a nationally recognized leader and expert in the field of parental alienation and loyalty conflicts. She is the author of Adult Children of Parental Alienation Syndrome: Breaking the Ties That Bind (2007) and Working with Alienated Children and Families: A Clinical Guidebook (2012). Baker has published numerous academic articles on the topic of parental alienation and writes a blog for Psychology Today on the topic. She also has an active coaching practice for targeted parents and serves as an expert witness in custody disputes around the country. She is the author of the forthcoming Surviving Parental Alienation.

Dr. Mel Schneiderman is Senior Vice President, Mental Health Services at the New York Foundling and is Co-Founder and Senior Advisor and Chair of the Research Advisory Committee at the Vincent J. Fontana Center for Child Protection. Dr. Schneiderman founded the first child sexual abuse treatment program located within a child welfare agency in 1986. Dr. Schneiderman has been a leader in the field of child welfare for the past 30 years. He was one of the founders and first chair of the Committee of Mental Health and Healthcare Professionals in New York City. Dr. Schneiderman introduced the first agency-wide universal mental health screening program for children entering foster care in New York City. He is currently the President of the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children-New York. He has served on several boards and presented at over 50 conferences and workshops, he is the recipient of numerous grants and has published several articles in peer reviewed journals.

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