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Abuse and Step Families

(Warning: this post has a few swear words in it, and is not appropriate for children)

Abusive step parents will have many of the same qualities as abusive parents, with the exception that abusive step parents tend to adopt specific types of abuse more than others (which I cover in this post).

As with abusive parents, you live and die in the hearts of your stepparents if they are abusive, in terms of what you can do for them, rather than what they can do for you in terms of helping you realize your potential in the world, focusing on the positives of your personality, and enjoying you as your own autonomous being. If you are liked because you serve them, and disliked because you don't serve them, this is one sign that you may have an abusive step parent. Another glaring sign is that they use their biological children to fight their battles for them, against you.

Children who have abusive step parents and/or abusive step siblings often feel marginalized, and they have a hard time defining what their family is and where they belong. Abusive biological families have factions, estrangements and scapegoats (in general), but when abusive families are also blended, these tendencies seem to increase dramatically.

While my post on abusive parents will apply to step parents, there are some types of abuses that step parents adopt more than biological parents. At the end of the post there is a list of some of them.

But first here are some major differences:

One difference is in the case of incest. 1 out of 6 underage girls are victims of incest by their stepfather, while 1 in 40 are victims of incest by their biological father.

Incest, in general, tends to go up dramatically in blended families. The incidence of inappropriate sexual behavior towards biologically unrelated children and step inlaws of all types tends to go up markedly as well.

The rate of a male stepparent murdering his stepchild is 40 to 100 times higher than it is for a biological father. Ostracism rates are even higher in blended families.

About 40 percent of first marriages -- and 60 percent of second marriages -- end in divorce. When both spouses have children from a previous marriage, the divorce rate is 70 percent.

Another difference is that the risk of parental favoritism among children goes dramatically up in step families, often based on what a step child can do for the stepparent.

According to this New York Times article entitled "Genetic Ties May Be Factor In Violence in Step families":

... stepfamilies are at much higher risk than are traditional families. For example, Dr. Martin Daly and Dr. Margo Wilson, evolutionary psychologists at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, found that the rate of infanticide was 60 times as high and sexual abuse was about eight times as high in stepfamilies as is in biologically related families.

''We demonstrated a very large excess risk to stepchildren, an increase of thousands of percentage points,'' Dr. Daly said in an interview.

Wow, thousands of percentage points; that is phenomenal!

The New York Times article cites genes (as in the male lion kills off female's lion cubs from a previous male lion in order to mate with her and dominate through his genes -- a true fact). The article says that humans act in the same way because, biologically speaking, they are animals too.

At the bottom of this article I have put in many links as to why child abuse is more prevalent in blended families (most cite "the boyfriend problem" of single mothers).

While genes and the boyfriends who only want a relationship with the mother and not with the child may be two factors contributing to abuse being thousands of percentage points higher than in biological families, psychologists also have other theories about why children are so often abused by step parents and it has to do with the Cluster B Personality Disorders. People with Cluster Bs have a penchant for idealizing, devaluing and discarding their marriage partners when they feel they need more narcissistic supply (validation that they are desirable), or when they feel they are losing dominance in the relationship. So they end up as step parents. Let me state my case in the following way:

People with Cluster B Personality Disorders can have a proclivity to abuse, and more importantly, to have extra-marital affairs, even many affairs. As they have these affairs, and keep discarding their old loves for something shiny and new, they will tend to have more than one spouse during their lifetime and may end up with your parent (thus becoming your step parent).

Cluster Bs are much more likely to want to bust up a marriage too than people with normal constitutions. Their motivation is narcissistic supply and to see how far they can go in inserting themselves into the object of their affections lives. Will the married object of their affection let them into the marital home? Will the married object of their affection let them do damage to their present marriage with their spouses? Will the married object of their affection let them have sex in the marital bed that they share with their spouse? Will the married object of their affection let them dictate how his or her non-biological children are to be treated? Will the married object of their affection let them dictate the terms of their divorce with their present spouse, even to the extent of trying to ruin their present marriage partners financially? Will the married object of their affection let them steal from the marital home or move out all of the furniture and valuables when their spouse isn't there?

People with normal constitutions tend not to want to get into relationships with married women, or married men, and even if the attraction runs so deep as to be irresistible, not to want hurt anyone, let alone the kids. In other words, they are not likely to want to have sex in the marital bed. Insisting on being in the marital home and in the marital bed is not a good sign and shows a profound lack of empathy, and even sadism. People with normal constitutions generally feel racked with guilt or at least disturbed by a double life if they indulge in extra marital affairs, Cluster Bs not so much. 

Victims of child abuse often end up with Cluster Bs for mates too (not a conscious choice). Victims of child abuse are usually abused by a parent with a Cluster B personality disorder.

Also, one Cluster B also often ends up marrying another Cluster B. This is because people who have Cluster B personality disorders grow up in abusive homes (even when they are not the target of abuse, some of the children from abusive homes learn to normalize abuse and use it aggressively in their own relationships when they become adults). Abuse is multi-generational, so another Cluster B is going be very familiar to them, "just like home".

To demonstrate, let us say that your sibling is a male golden child of your narcissistic mother. She favoritizes your brother, and condones your brother "disciplining" the other children. After awhile, the "disciplining" turns into sibling abuse, which the mother also condones because "discipline" and abuse look the same to narcissiststic mothers (because these mothers have also been brought up in abusive homes). This is how scapegoating happens in families: she and your brother scapegoat you. In this case, let us say that you, the scapegoat, are artistic, that you love to take care of sick animals and nurse them back to health, and you are more sickly than your siblings. This is the make-up of the typical family scapegoat, by the way.

When the golden child grows up, and he tries to find a mate, he looks for someone either like his mother, or like you, the scapegoat. The reason he might marry someone like you is that he feels he can wield power and control over his wife and keep her in a subservient shamed state of being, working hard for him, like his sibling scapegoat. He basically marries her to dominate her in every way. But soon he tires of his scapegoat wife (as most narcissists do -- narcissists really do not like or respect empathy over the long term; they see it as an inferior quality). So his next wife is more likely to resemble his mother. And like his mother, his new spouse will support him in his bullying of others. Who will be the prime candidate for helping him and supporting him in the bullying process? Another Cluster B, probably another narcissist just like his mother! When two narcs are the parents, child abuse is highly likely, as well as scapegoating, and what is more, it goes unchecked (because there is no biological empath mother in the picture any more). His own family will resemble his own birth family with one plotting fawning golden child and at least one scapegoat.

The scapegoat that this golden chooses among his own children is likely to have similar characteristics to the sibling he used to beat up: artistic, empathetic, with medical problems or someone who generally gets sick more often than people in the general population. He and the narc step mom take delight in threatening the child, making the scapegoat feel shamed and unwanted, and they do what all narcs do: triangulate and hope that the scapegoat will want to compete with his sibling. Read Shakespeare's King Lear or my post on Karpman's Triangle as to why this does not work as the narcissist wants it to work.

This is also a good example as to why abuse and narcissism are multi-generational.

So for this next segment, I want to backtrack to the pairing of an empath with a narc and how a toxic step family situation can evolve:

So let us say that a man who is an empath is married to a woman who has narcissistic personality disorder. As I've mentioned, narcs like empaths too because they think they can dominate and exploit empaths. The narc-empath pairing is usually not long-lasting because of the disparity of values and morals, but they can be paired long enough to have children.

So, this couple has two children. They are their biological children. The two children have some safety from the abuse of the narc mother because of the empath father. However, the woman, because of her disorder, searches for narcissistic supply by having many extra-marital affairs. She also does not like her husband interfering in the discipline of her children because narcs insist that they dominate and micro-manage everyone in a household.

After awhile, her husband, who is an empath, cannot emotionally connect with or deal with a wife who has affairs (narcissists do not care how their spouses feel or what they are going through), so the husband files for divorce.

His wife (soon to be ex), cannot stand that she is being rejected, and feels her entitlement to have affairs and a husband at the same time is being taken away from her. She suffers tremendous narcissistic injury and feels that her world of many lovers and admirers is contracting and falling apart. Narcissists are also exceptionally immature (they practice the silent treatment and threats to get their own way as a ritual in relationships, for example) and they are also obtuse about seeing or knowing the perspectives of others, so when they feel rejected or their narcissistic supply is drying up, they punish and retaliate against their former spouses. This is what this wife and mother sets out to do to her ex-husband. 

However, to effectively hurt her husband, and appear to have dominance over her husband, she needs exceptionally punishing flying monkeysand right away (no, they don't come in the form of empaths who want no part in hurting others). So who loves the idea of hurting others? Who is going to be best at helping her seek revenge and punish her ex? Who is going to wine her and dine her at the chance to be chief punish-er? It's the sociopath.

Sociopaths love situations where they are being asked to threaten and seek revenge, and they are notorious bullies. They also seem to share feelings of superiority with a narcissist because they typically talk about other people in a haughty manner in humorous condemnations, which gets the narcissist laughing about her ex husband, seeing him as a fool and unworthy of her graces and sexuality. 

"Why would you want to be with a depressed man? You deserve so much better!" -- a sociopath would say because they don't understand why a person would be depressed over a marriage dissolving. They are devoid of a range of feelings.  

Sociopaths also like being around narcissists because of the narcissist's penchant for aligning themselves with others. Sociopaths are loners and lack many, many social graces. The narcissist helps them achieve access to "the narcissistic supply world" -- basically the world of people, and people pleasing through love bombing and mirroring, especially those with prestige, or money, or the public eye, or who are movers and shakers in causes. 

So, in this situation, the sociopath becomes the step parent. Sociopaths are exceptionally horrific parents (see my post HERE about that), and they are ten times worse to their step children. Unless they can get a step child to be a total Cinderella or exploit them sexually, they are of no use to the sociopath at all. In the end, most sociopaths try to convince their narc spouses that they are not getting enough narcissistic supply from these children and the children should be discarded. Or they try to convince the narc spouse that children need to be punished for not doing what they want at all times or for being ungrateful, and set out to torture with physical abuse, sexual abuse, shunning or false imprisonment. And guess what? The biological narc parent often falls for it.

Then the father who is newly divorced sets out to find a new mate too. Maybe not right away as empaths tend to isolate and get depressed after the dissolution of their relationships. The problem is that his self esteem is in the gutter, he has a proclivity to obsess about the past (to try to understand why he became a target of abuse from his narc ex), he has insecurities about himself as an attractive man who can attract real love. The reason why this is a problem for him is because narcissists and sociopaths are attracted to a person who is reeling and depressed from a failed romance or marriage. If he talks about his ex and how he was wronged, they are going to zoom in and love bomb him. They want someone who has low self esteem because they think they can push the person around to do what they demand.

So, the stepmother is another narc. In effect, he is with the same kind of person. That is because the laws of attraction are such that unconscious familiarity is a deciding factor in choosing another mate, especially someone who has never received counseling for the abuse, or studied what Cluster B personalities are about (and why I am writing this blog: to help you avoid the pitfalls of ending up in another abusive relationship).

Here are typical ways an abusive narc step parent behaves (in this incidence, I am using an abusive step mother, though the abusive step father has many of the same traits): 

- There is obvious favoritism of her biological children over his. When all of the children are in the house, she insists that her biological children have treats, beds, are provided for exceptionally well, while her step children can just eat what is served to them, sleep on a cot in the basement or out in the barn (for instance).
- She ignores her step children while listening to her own biological children when there are family disputes and discussions
- She constantly complains about her step children or her husband to her biological children, trying to set up a pattern where her biological children either ignore or reject their step family.
- She uses her biological children to bully her step children. This is done so that her children will dominate her step children, and to get what she wants from the step children, and to marginalize them (i.e. creating a hierarchy) -- called triangulationdemeaning rolessmear campaigns and mobbing
- When your parent dies, she empties the house of pictures of her step children, and only puts up pictures of her own children
- She makes it known that her biological children always come first
- She has an affair with someone in your family, or with your husband, or sibling, creating a divided family where she can take control
- You are the step child, and she invites your spouse to dinner and answers the door in her negligee or naked
- You are her step-child, and she tells your spouse how handsome he is, and/or asks him how he likes sex, or whether he takes Viagra
- She enjoys watching her step children fight and compete for her
- She threatens to leave her husband (your father) constantly, but her husband is an old man and he doesn't want to risk losing more money, another house, another spouse, etc, so he adopts a fawning attitude (i.e. lets her get her way all of the time to avoid another fall out). 
- She exploits your father's money and talents
- She gives her step children the silent treatment
- She tells her step children that she married your father for his money or social connections
- She tells her step children that she has control when it comes to your parent, and that if they don't accept that, they will be kicked out.
- She lets her biological children stay in the household for a half a summer, but insist that his children leave after a day of visiting
- She is rude, dismissive and invalidating
- She tells you or shows you that she could care less about you or your feelings
- She uses things you tell her against you (especially in smear campaigns), or to manipulate you
- She is jealous of you and competitive
- She rarely listens to you when you talk
- She is incapable of negotiation (she either bullies you or commands you or runs to your blood parent or other "authority figure" when she doesn't get her way)
- She is incapable of talking things out, insisting that she is right about everything
- She rejects you without explanation, and you don't understand why
- She steals from you
- She rarely, if ever, takes your needs and wants into consideration
- She scapegoats you
- She is jealous of you and of her step children in general, and tries to compete with you for your father's love and attention
- She tries to get your father to put her kids first, and his own children last
- She tries to isolate your father from you and your siblings
- She tries to prejudice you against your own sibling
- She tries to prejudice you against your own father
- She tries to prejudice each one of the children, whether biological or step in order to divide and conquer all of the siblings
- She tries to find excuses to keep her step children away
- She complains bitterly about being excluded from your family events, but has no trouble excluding you from her family events (hypocrisy)
- She does not confer with you when your parent is ill
- She tries to convince your blood parent that you are ungrateful (or that you will always be ungrateful, and therefor need to be rejected or spared)
- She makes up stories and lies about you, or greatly exaggerates, in order that your parent reject you or let her take over raising the children, or talking to the children
- She tells you that she hates you
- She demonizes you and tries to paint you as evil
- She makes it known that she has never loved you, and that she will never love you
- She unfriends you on facebook when she doesn't get her own way, or to show you that she has never had any regard for you
- She throws away or sells things you have made for her, or gifts you have given her
- She expects you to fawn all over her, and makes it known that she will accept no other behavior from you
- She talks about how you are indebted to her for things she paid for when you were a minor, or educational expenses for college
- She insults you and calls you names
- She refers to you as an insult name with your blood parent (i.e. "that thing", "it", "your bastard child", "that ungrateful piece of crap that you call your child", "your bone-headed child", "your sniveling piece of shit", "your eternal child", "your worthless child", "your serpent child", "your insane child", etc)
- If she is sexually abusive, or one of her relatives is sexually abusive towards you, she tries to convince your blood parent that you either asked for it, or that it never happened and that you are making it up in order to get rid of the step-parent and her family
- She makes fun of you, your interests, your weight, your clothes or some other thing that is of great import to you
- She tries to get her biological children to make fun of you in the same ways she makes fun of you
- She tries to discount your interests and way of life on a consistent basis

For abusive step fathers (particularly those with Cluster B personality disorders), it tends to be along the same lines except that they can be much more flirtatious and sexual with their step children and step inlaws. They can be much more verbally abusive  as well, especially in the way of name-calling and derisive remarks (including criticizing weight, attractiveness and types of reactions, including facial expressions).

These are just some common examples. Abusiveness is a trend, and is accompanied by a myriad of abuses. It is not a once-in-a-great-while event. To qualify as an abuser, your step parent has to be acting out a few of these instances on a consistent basis. 

So to get back to our story about the empath father who ended up with another narc spouse:

When she finds out that her husband's daughter is the sole trustee to his estate and trust, she threatens her husband and tells him that if she and her own child are not put on his trust as trustees too, that she has a good mind to leave him. So he capitulates and puts his wife and step-child on as co-trustees, creating a "two-against-one situation" for his daughter after he dies.

When he dies, the other trustees, the step mother and step sister, spend their time trying to remove his blood daughter from his trust with frivolous lawsuits (yes, it happens more than you think). They do not work for the beneficiaries of the trust (which are his own children); they work for themselves. They try to exploit the trust for their own gains by hiring an attorney to harass her and in order to take over the entire trust.

Also, they want to sell the common house, so they try to get the daughter who inherited her father's half of the house off of the deed, or off of her part of the ownership.

This sets up a situation of continual and escalating abuse of the step children starting from when her father re-married, and ending in his sickness or death when her father can no longer protect her. Remember: child abuse is life long, even from an abusive step parent, no matter what that step parent promises or says.

In the meantime, when the two children of the narc mom and the empath dad grow up, they also become divorcees. Divorce also runs in families. They also marry people with Cluster B personality disorders. That is because even children will marry what they know. So, in turn, their children become targets of a disordered step parent as well. 

That is how abuse happens, why it passes down through generations, and why abusive step families make the family ten times more toxic. They will either try to disappear the step children with erroneous allegations, exploit them, or try to turn them into fawning serving Cinderellas.

Certainly there are good step parents too. The difference is that a good step parent will put ALL children on equal footing (as in the Brady Bunch). They don't try to exclude step children from family events or from feeling a part of the family. In other words, they consider their step children to be as much their own children as their biological children. They care about their step children's feelings, experiences and perspectives without trying to negate them and render them unimportant, or less important than their biological children's perspectives. They are exceptional listeners and warm towards their step children. They try to comfort and care for their step children when their step child is sick, injured, hurt or crying. They take part in the lives of step children who are under age, or visit their grown step children of their own volition and interest, without prodding from the biological parent. They talk lovingly about their step children. They donate to their step children's educational needs and experiences. They attend their step children's functions: graduations, wedding, baby shower, and the like. They tell their step children they love them on a consistent on-going basis. They initiate hugs and bedtime stories.

When your biological parent dies (the one to whom your step parent is married to), they comfort you, and continue to invite you to family events and still consider you one of the family. 

Step parents who do the opposite (reject, constantly demean and ridicule, call names, do not listen to the cares and concerns of their stepchildren, triangulate, laugh derisively about their stepchildren in front of their biological children, blatantly favoritize their own children over their stepchildren, no longer consider you part of the family when your biological parent dies) -- watch out!

One problem with abusive step families is where the family resources go. There are a lot of threats and coercion around wills, estates and trusts.

For instance, an elderly man falls sick and his wife wants to inherit his property. She might say to her sickly husband, "I'm the one who took care of you all of these years! I'll abandon you if you do not put me on as the sole beneficiary and executor!" So then when he dies, his estate eventually ends up going to his step children instead of to his biological children.

A lot of golden children in narcissistic families arm twist their parent to make them either the primary beneficiary or the sole beneficiary, and the executor to their estates. This often works because narcissists think in black and white terms (almost all narcissists have a favorite coddled loved child and a disfavored, sometimes rejected, unloved scapegoat, or several scapegoats depending on how many scapegoats go "no contact"). In this case, the family resources get passed down to the golden's children, while the scapegoats' children are not part of the family resources -- very, very common as I see this over and over again in forums for child abuse survivors.

If an abusive step parent (and their family) are heavily featured as executors, beneficiaries or trustees, they most likely got there through coercion, threats and pleading ("please me -- or else").

Also, do your children a favor and do not make them co-trustees or co-executors with an unloving, neglectful, self serving, threatening, penchant-for-cheating step parent or step sibling. If your spouse does not treat your children in totally exemplary form and is not all-inclusive (i.e. does not treat them like their own children), do not put your children in positions which will undermine their power and self esteem, or expose them to any more abuse, marginalization and favoritism from their step family.

If you are divorced from a narcissist, get therapy for the depression before going into another relationship. Don't talk to anyone new about what you went through with your ex until you really, really know them -- years down the road. On your first dates, don't slouch, look depressed, jut out your lower lip and talk about how wronged you were in your last marriage (this will attract narcissists and sociopaths by the boatloads). Walk upright and tall, with complete confidence, even if you don't feel like it (this will keep narcissists and sociopaths away from you).

Walking upright and confident will also help you to regain confidence after your self esteem has been shattered because it is a way of talking your mind and body into self-assuredness. Remember: narcissists and sociopaths love people whose self esteem is in the gutter, wronged people, people who are facing injustice, people who have been abandoned and scapegoated by their family, people who went through a divorce with a cheating spouse who "got everything", people who are angry at their ex (sociopaths will tell you that they will help you to seek revenge, and narcissists will pretend to be really concerned for you, love bomb you and tell you that you are their soulmate, and want to know every single detail of what went wrong), so you have to do your best not to look like prey to them, even in public (your appearance and gait).

Sociopaths and narcissists also like whirlwind romances. They are forceful, charming, can't accept "no" for an answer, want to move fast to get your willingness or commitment, only have eyes for you (in the beginning of your relationship, then they discard you later on). So take every potential dating relationship very, very slowly, even "molasses slow". Narcissists and sociopaths hate it when you withhold commitment and say "I'm not ready to make that next step yet" or "I put the welfare of my child first." They especially hate to move slowly on sex.

If you see signs where a potential mate is self serving, punishing, rude, arrogant, dismissive, has to get their own way, pressures you into a relationship, presses you into an extra-marital love affair, suggests sex in the house or bed you share with your spouse, wants to seek revenge against your former spouse, is unfeeling towards others, pressures you to do things which you feel might be detrimental to your children, stalks you, does not respect the sanctity of other people's marriages (i.e. has a reputation for cheating on his or her own spouse), has an estranged child or children, and is not warm and loving towards children, do not make them your child's step parent or you will create a nightmare for them (and for yourself too). 

Always think in terms of a mate as "best for my children first", then they will probably be good for you too.


There is a lot that can go wrong in blended families even in the best of circumstances (when incest, abuse and rejection aren't part of the picture). There are differing traditions, differing parenting styles, and even morals can be ever so slightly dissimilar as to cause many, many problems between a step parent and a step child. It takes a lot of talking, a lot of understanding, a lot of growth on both sides, a lot of time one-on-one, a lot of tolerance, and a lot of patience to work through these differences.

When you have a spouse who is incestuous (towards your child or your child's spouse or your child's own children), or who is abusive, or rejecting, or practices parental alienation syndrome (is negative about a parent whom your child loves), you will probably be estranged from your child sooner or later. The bond your child has to the step parent is only as good as the step parent's willingness to accept your child as part of their family, to show patience and show autonomous interest and love towards your child. Yes, it is up to the blood parent and the step parent to bridge the gap as your child did not ask for a blended family.

Most children show signs of depression and grief, which can be severe, over their blood parent's divorce. If you subject them to the abuse of their step parent, they are highly likely to be resistant, recalcitrant, and you are asking them to take on more than they can bear. It is not unusual for children to look at a step parent as an intruder, so in order to keep the feelings of "intrusiveness" at bay, you, the blood parent, should be promoting inclusiveness on both sides, as well as politeness, harmony, understanding and caring as much as possible, otherwise the situation will turn into a nightmare. 

By the way, autonomous interest should sound like this: "I miss my step daughter! I'd love to go see her! I'm sure you miss her too! Let's go!"

A high number of children will prefer to live with the parent who is not re-married (i.e. where there is not a step parent figure in the picture -- yet) -- expect it!

Inclusiveness means the step parent renouncing the words and actions that divide: dismissiveness, invalidation, marginalization, insults, being harshly judgmental, hatred, constant lecturing, displaying arrogant know-it-all behavior, making their step children feel as though they do not belong, using their blood children to bully their step children, describing their step children in derisive ways to their blood children, dividing and conquering, favoritism, jealousy, demeaning Cinderella roles, demonizing, smear campaigns, the silent treatment, ostracizing your children by a step parent, the step parent giving your children severe punishments, and all of the other tactics abusers use that I have talked about in this post, and in the general blog.

When you turn a blind eye and put an abusive spouse first, you are destroying your child, their self esteem, your own bond with your child, and the child's sense of belonging to a loving family. I cannot under-estimate the trauma children go through when they live through their parent's divorce, especially if it is contentious, and then when you heap on a highly abusive step parent to their trauma, a step parent who could care less whether they have a relationship with your child or not, and is only in the relationship for you, the mate, you are asking too much of your children.

Children show love when they are loved by their step parent. When they are rejected and unloved by their step parent, do not expect your children to accept or love them in return. It is up to the parents to set the standards, and that means how the parents act, not what they say ("actions speak louder than words").

I will be writing future posts on how to handle unloving step parents, incest in the step family, rejection and ostracism by the step family, the step parent and wills, estates and trusts, the alcoholic step parent, Jane Eyre as the scapegoat child of an abusive step mother, and toxic Cinderella roles in the step family.

further reading: 

Family Structure Variations in Patterns and Predictors of Child Victimization -- by Heather A. Turner, PhD, David Finkelhor, PhD, and Richard Ormrod, PhD, University of New Hampshire

Are Stepchildren at Higher Risk for Abuse Than Biological Children?  -- from the website

Cinderella Effect -- from Wikipedia

Child Abuse and Other Risks of Not Living With Both Parents -- by Martin Daly and Margo Wilson
Both abuse and police apprehension were least likely for children living with two natural parents. Preschoolers living with one natural and one stepparent were 40 times more likely to become child abuse cases than were like-aged children living with two natural parents.

The “Cinderella Effect”: Elevated Mistreatment of Stepchildrenin Comparison to Those Living With Genetic Parents -- by Martin Daly & Margo Wilson Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour McMaster University

Stepfamily Statistics -- from The Stepfamily Foundation
its blog is worth looking at too. 

Risks of Child Abuse and Neglect Based on Family Structure -- by Wayne Stocks for the Divorce Ministry 4 Kids website

Narcissistic Stepmothers–Ultimate Nightmare for Stepchildren -- by Linda Martinez-Lewi, PhD

It's Heresy to Say it, But Having a Step-parent Can Wreck a Child's Life -- by Frances Childs for U.K. publication, The Daily Mail

Stepparent Abuse? -- from the Dr. Phil Show

Stepfamily Statistics -- from The Stepfamily Foundation

Link Between Family Structure and Child Abuse -- from Marripedia website

Repeat After Me: A Workbook for Adult Children Overcoming Dysfunctional Family Systems -- by Claudia Black, PhD (book)

Memoirs of an Invisible Child -- by Kelly Walk Hines (book)

5 Things to Know About Step Families -- from The Blended Family Network website

YOU CANNOT ‘BUY’ YOUR STEP CHILDREN -- from The Blended Family Network website

How to Improve your Stepfamily Relations -- from The Blended Family Network website

Are you in an Abusive Relationship? -- from The Blended Family Network website

Blended Family Issues -- from website

Help for Blended Family Issues -- from website

From the forums: Blended family molestation... -- again, not uncommon