Researchers Try to Explain “Nonperpetrating Spouses”

As reported in the scientific literature and reflected in the news, MSbP perpetrators who have been caught usually are female, and usually are perpetrating on their children.  In 2012, Morell and Tilley published a review of the literature compiling what is known about “nonperpetrating spouses”, or “the dads”.

Dad helping child on scooter.

“The Dads” are Nice Guys and Workaholics

My dad is a “dad”. He faithfully continued to bring me back to my mom and give her access to me, even though I did not want that, and complained of abuse. My dad is a nice guy; he volunteers for a program to drive seniors to their appointments. He’s been doing that so long he is a senior now.

Morrell and Tilley point out that the dads are nice guys like my dad. Like my dad, they are workaholics also, so they are never around and rarely show up in the health care setting. Morrell and Tilley, however, do not speculate on why this is.

The reason my dad was a workaholic is that he was manipulated by my mother to be that way. Not only did that get him out of the house and busy, but it gave her more money to work with and access to good health insurance. My mother alternatively included and excluded my father in health appointments, depending upon whether his presence would serve her purpose or not.

Wax sculpture of a drunk man in a driving accident.
“The Dads” are Checked Out

Morrell and Tilley also point out that the dads bare witness to repeated misbehavior by the mother with respect to the children (while admittedly more severe abuse is done offstage). They never intervene, and when serious behavior that has been verified is reported to them (such as evidence of suffocation or poisoning), they respond with genuine shock and disbelief. Much work is needed to motivate them to protective action. Again, the authors do not speculate as to why this is.

My dad still does not see what I suffered as abuse. He has trouble seeing my mother as a perpetrator. My father is extremely intelligent; he was a project manager at a large food company, and led the building and operation of new factories. He himself suffers from Crohn’s disease which I believe is a result of iron poisoning by my mother.

Although he does not deny anything I say that happened, he has trouble seeing it as abuse, or seeing that he had any obligation to protect me or my brother. He sees myself, my brother, and him as hapless victims of some unforeseen or incomprehensible force.

Maybe, Just Maybe, “The Dads” are Brainwashed

In short, Morrell and Tilley never suggest that “the dads” may be brainwashed, and suffering themselves from the effects of brainwashing by the perpetrator. If the kids are victims of child abuse, it is likely the spouse is a victim of spousal abuse.  Brainwashing is common in severe spousal abuse.  Brainwashing would explain such strange behavior by “the dads”.

 Photo credits: Child on scooter by Elizabeth of Lansing, MI and wax sculpture photo by YVSREDDY.


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