Sanctuary for the Abused

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Online Dating Is A Hunting Ground For Narcissists And Sociopaths


By Shahida Arabi

 Is our culture becoming more narcissistic? Research indicates that a higher number of younger people are meeting the clinical criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder and that we are now living in what might be called “the age of entitlement” (Twenge and Campbell, 2009).

While there are multiple factors that contribute to the rise of narcissism in our society, access to numerous methods of connecting with others in the digital age undoubtedly exacerbates the need to be seen as “special and unique.” Accompanying this need is a blatant dehumanization of others in the search for attention, popularity and admiration.
The Tinder Generation
Mobile dating went mainstream about five years ago; by 2012 it was overtaking online dating. In February, one study reported there were nearly 100 million people—perhaps 50 million on Tinder alone—using their phones as a sort of all-day, every-day, handheld singles club, where they might find a sex partner as easily as they’d find a cheap flight to Florida. ‘It’s like ordering Seamless,’ says Dan, the investment banker, referring to the online food-delivery service. ‘But you’re ordering a person.”
Nancy Jo Sales, Tinder and The Dawn of The Dating Apocalypse
With the proliferation of online dating apps such as Tinder, Hinge, Bumble, PlentyofFish and OkCupid, there has been a visible rise of instant gratification without emotional intimacy in our dating culture. Simultaneously, the younger generation of men and women are more likely to encounter narcissists – those without empathy – at an alarming rate in their daily lives.
While malignant narcissists can be found anywhere and everywhere and there are certainly decent people on dating websites, the online world of dating provides predators with a platform can gain access to multiple victims without accountability. Here are three ways in which we encounter narcissism in the digital age and self-care tips to keep you safe.
1. Hookup culture along with online dating has made us more desensitized to physical intimacy and instant gratification. The younger generation is growing up at an exciting yet terrifying time: a time when connections can be made instantaneously, yet meaningful connections are becoming harder and harder to find. We are being conditioned to believe that we are entitled to an unlimited number of choices as we swipe through what is virtually a human meat market. The problem is, the number of choices we have is doing little to assuage the need for fulfilling and meaningful relationships. We are now looking at what some experts have aptly called “the dawn of the dating apocalypse” (Jo Sales, 2015).

Those who are looking for casual dates and sex may be satisfied with the likes of Tinder, one of the most popular dating apps used by singles, but those who are looking for something more meaningful may be traumatized and retraumatized by the number of people who pretend to be looking for a serious relationship while misrepresenting their true intentions. Studies show that deception is common on these apps, with users creating an illusory image of who they are and what they are looking for, resulting in frustrating romantic encounters (Purvis, 2017).
Self-Care Tip A digital detox is needed, especially in times like these. Frequent online dating app users may want to take a break from swiping-induced carpal tunnel and spend time alone or with family and friends rather than engaging in serial dating. Find ways to meet people organically without using these apps; attend Meetups based on your hobbies or interests, or join clubs that center on your passions; pursue activities in your local community such as group meditations or yoga with like-minded people. Look up from the screen and engage in face-to-face conversations with the people in front of you; the more we interact with others in real life, the more hope we have for connecting with humanity in more authentic ways.
If you’re going through a break-up, resist the urge to download an online dating app to ‘rush’ the healing process. In many cases, it will only delay the natural grieving process and lead to more disappointment.
2. There might be good people with earnest intentions on dating apps, but there is no doubt that many narcissists and sociopaths infiltrate these apps and use online dating as their virtual playground and hunting ground.
Online dating gives malignant narcissists and sociopaths access to numerous sources of what is known as narcissistic supply – people who can provide them with praise, admiration, and resources – without any need for any form of investment, commitment or accountability. These digital platforms also enable narcissists to construct a very convincing and compelling false mask that lures potential targets into various scams.
But perhaps the biggest ‘scam’ is when a narcissistic predator ‘cons’ his or her target into an abusive relationship, while presenting himself or herself as the ideal partner. This is easy to do online, as emotional predators can ‘morph’ into whatever identity they need in order to hook new victims and also ‘mirror’ their victims by finding out more about them through social media, as many apps now offer the ability to link to social media profiles. Predators can also adapt their profiles to create an image of themselves that appeal to their potential victims; a majority of online dating users have been shown to have profiles that stray from the truth in some capacity (Wood, 2012). 
Self-Care Tip
Manage your expectations and listen to your intuition when online. Remember, immediate intimacy with someone can be a red flag of fast forwarding to get an agenda met. Always put your safety first and try not divulge too much about your income, your career, your relationship history or any other resource a predator might find appealing before getting to know someone. Build connections slowly and organically so that you have the necessary space to step back and reevaluate when needed.
If someone gives you an odd vibe, even through the screen, trust your instincts and don’t go any further. If someone seems to have all of your same hobbies and interests, be wary that they’re not just telling you what you want to hear or love-bombing you to get what they want.
3. Monogamy and emotional availability are becoming more and more of a rarity. Our current hookup culture and the rise of online dating apps have made emotional unavailability a new normal (Garcia, et. al 2012).
Many people now feel entitled to all the benefits of a relationship without actually being in one, engaging in the real-life equivalent of the ‘it’s complicated’ Facebook relationship status with numerous partners.
Needless to say, the effects of hookup culture can be alarming to the psyche and have a psychological impact on the way that we view relationships and intimacy in the modern age. Both younger and older generations alike are becoming accustomed to the idea of having another date or rebound at their fingertips, without having to do the inner work of healing from past relationships or working on their self-esteem.
People can ‘latch’ themselves onto the next partner without taking the time to grieve or learn from past mistakes. And those who have done the inner work to heal can find obstacles on their path to finding a fulfilling relationship, with more and more potential mates feeling they can “always do better.”
Emotionally unavailable partners can now reap the benefits of relationships without calling anyone their boyfriend or girlfriend; they can now place numerous partners into “friends with benefits” type situations.
For those who are looking for something casual and carefree, this can be empowering and exciting. For those who are looking for a longer-term commitment, however, they may have to sort through many covert manipulators before finding someone who is compatible with their needs and desires.
Double standards against women engaging in casual sex also permit emotionally unavailable, narcissistic men to benefit a great deal from these casual arrangements, while punishing women for ‘acting like men’ if they “dare” to also date multiple partners (Kreager and Staff, 2009).
Self-Care Tip
Stay true to your standards when dating, whether you’re using an online dating app, meeting people in real life or both. If you’re a person who is interested in a longer-term commitment and you feel unable to engage in sex casually without developing feelings, don’t give into anyone else’s sexual demands or expectations for the sake of pleasing them or in the hopes of ‘winning’ a relationship. A half-hearted relationship that results in more losses than gains is one where no one wins – except, of course, the person who gets all the benefits of your company without the effort.
Remember that you are already worthy of a great and healthy relationship. You don’t have to ‘earn’ the ability to be treated with respect, honesty and decency. Manage your expectations online and realize that there will be many people in cyberspace who will try to get your maximum investment while putting in the minimum effort. Integrity and transparency are becoming less and less commonplace and is especially rare online.
Do not put up with the dwindling standards for human decency. Instead, be very wary of and cut off contact with predators online who attempt to manipulate you into giving them what they want while dismissing your needs. Their actions will always speak louder than words.
The right person who is compatible with you will want what you want – whether you meet them online or in real life. There won’t be any ‘gray areas’ with the right person nor will you ever have to compromise your own standards to be with them. You won’t ever have to wonder whether you’re just ‘hanging out’ or going out. It will be clear – and that will be the relationship that will be worth investing in.
SOURCE

References

Garcia, J. R., Reiber, C., Massey, S. G., & Merriwether, A. M. (2012). Sexual hookup culture: A review. Review of General Psychology, 16(2), 161-176. doi:10.1037/a0027911

Kreager, D. A., & Staff, J. (2009). The Sexual Double Standard and Adolescent Peer Acceptance. Social Psychology Quarterly, 72(2), 143-164. doi:10.1177/019027250907200205

Purvis, J. (2017, February 12). Finding love in a hopeless place: Why Tinder is so “evilly satisfying”. Retrieved here.

Twenge, J. M., & Campbell, W. K. (2009). The narcissism epidemic: Living in the age of entitlement. New York: Atria Paperback. Wood, J. (2012, February 14).

Detecting Online Liars. Retrieved from Psych Central. This article has been adapted and originally appeared on Psych Central as The Danger of Narcissists in Online Dating: How To Cope in A Culture of Instant Gratification.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Dealing With Manipulative People

 
 
An Excerpt from the book:

In Sheep's Clothing by George K. Simon
Two Basic Types of Aggression
There are two basic types of aggression: overt-aggression and covert-aggression. When you're determined to have something and you're open, direct and obvious in your manner of fighting, your behavior is best labeled overtly aggressive. When you're out to "win," dominate or control, but are subtle, underhanded or deceptive enough to hide your true intentions, your behavior is most appropriately labeled covertly aggressive. Now, avoiding any overt display of aggression while simultaneously intimidating others into giving you what you want is a powerfully manipulative maneuver. That's why covert-aggression is most often the vehicle for interpersonal manipulation.

Acts of Covert-Aggression vs. Covert-Aggressive Personalities
Most of us have engaged in some sort of covertly aggressive behavior from time to time. Periodically trying to manipulate a person or a situation doesn't make someone a covert-aggressive personality. Personality can be defined by the way a person habitually perceives, relates to and interacts with others and the world at large.

The tactics of deceit, manipulation and control are a steady diet for covert-aggressive personality. It's the way they prefer to deal with others and to get the things they want in life.

The Process of Victimization
For a long time, I wondered why manipulation victims have a hard time seeing what really goes on in manipulative interactions. At first, I was tempted to fault them. But I've learned that they get hoodwinked for some very good reasons:

A manipulator's aggression is not obvious. Our gut may tell us that they're fighting for something, struggling to overcome us, gain power, or have their way, and we find ourselves unconsciously on the defensive. But because we can't point to clear, objective evidence they're aggressing against us, we can't readily validate our feelings.

The tactics manipulators use can make it seem like they're hurting, caring, defending, ..., almost anything but fighting. These tactics are hard to recognize as merely clever ploys. They always make just enough sense to make a person doubt their gut hunch that they're being taken advantage of or abused. Besides, the tactics not only make it hard for you to consciously and objectively tell that a manipulator is fighting, but they also simultaneously keep you or consciously on the defensive. These features make them highly effective psychological weapons to which anyone can be vulnerable. It's hard to think clearly when someone has you emotionally on the run.

All of us have weaknesses and insecurities that a clever manipulator might exploit. Sometimes, we're aware of these weaknesses and how someone might use them to take advantage of us. For example, I hear parents say things like: "Yeah, I know I have a big guilt button." – But at the time their manipulative child is busily pushing that button, they can easily forget what's really going on. Besides, sometimes we're unaware of our biggest vulnerabilities. Manipulators often know us better than we know ourselves. They know what buttons to push, when and how hard. Our lack of self-knowledge sets us up to be exploited.

What our gut tells us a manipulator is like, challenges everything we've been taught to believe about human nature. We've been inundated with a psychology that has us seeing everybody, at least to some degree, as afraid, insecure or "hung-up." So, while our gut tells us we're dealing with a ruthless conniver, our head tells us they must be really frightened or wounded "underneath." What's more, most of us generally hate to think of ourselves as callous and insensitive people. We hesitate to make harsh or seemingly negative judgments about others. We want to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they don't really harbor the malevolent intentions we suspect. We're more apt to doubt and blame ourselves for daring to believe what our gut tells us about our manipulator's character.

Recognizing Aggressive Agendas
Accepting how fundamental it is for people to fight for the things they want and becoming more aware of the subtle, underhanded ways people can and do fight in their daily endeavors and relationships can be very consciousness expanding. Learning to recognize an aggressive move when somebody makes one and learning how to handle oneself in any of life's many battles, has turned out to be the most empowering experience for the manipulation victims with whom I've worked. It's how they eventually freed themselves from their manipulator's dominance and control and gained a much needed boost to their own sense of self esteem. Recognizing the inherent aggression in manipulative behavior and becoming more aware of the slick, surreptitious ways that manipulative people prefer to aggress against us is extremely important. Not recognizing and accurately labeling their subtly aggressive moves causes most people to misinterpret the behavior of manipulators and, therefore, fail to respond to them in an appropriate fashion. Recognizing when and how manipulators are fighting with covertly aggressive tactics is essential.

Defense Mechanisms and Offensive Tactics
Almost everyone is familiar with the term defense mechanism. Defense mechanisms are the "automatic" (i.e. unconscious) mental behaviors all of us employ to protect or defend ourselves from the "threat" of some emotional pain. More specifically, ego defense mechanisms are mental behaviors we use to "defend" our self-images from "invitations" to feel ashamed or guilty about something. There are many different kinds of ego defenses and the more traditional (psychodynamic) theories of personality have always tended to distinguish the various personality types, at least in part, by the types of ego defenses they prefer to use. One of the problems with psychodynamic approaches to understanding human behavior is that they tend to depict people as most always afraid of something and defending or protecting themselves in some way; even when they're in the act of aggressing. Covert-aggressive personalities (indeed all aggressive personalities) use a variety of mental behaviors and interpersonal maneuvers to help ensure they get what they want. Some of these behaviors have been traditionally thought of as defense mechanisms.

While, from a certain perspective we might say someone engaging in these behaviors is defending their ego from any sense of shame or guilt, it's important to realize that at the time the aggressor is exhibiting these behaviors, he is not primarily defending (i.e. attempting to prevent some internally painful event from occurring), but rather fighting to maintain position, gain power and to remove any obstacles (both internal and external) in the way of getting what he wants. Seeing the aggressor as on the defensive in any sense is a set-up for victimization. Recognizing that they're primarily on the offensive, mentally prepares a person for the decisive action they need to take in order to avoid being run over. Therefore, I think it's best to conceptualize many of the mental behaviors (no matter how "automatic" or "unconscious" they may appear) we often think of as defense mechanisms, as offensive power tactics, because aggressive personalities employ them primarily to manipulate, control and achieve dominance over others. Rather than trying to prevent something emotionally painful or dreadful from happening, anyone using these tactics is primarily trying to ensure that something they want to happen does indeed happen. Using the vignettes presented in the previous chapters for illustration, let's take a look at the principal tactics covert-aggressive personalities use to ensure they get their way and maintain a position of power over their victims:

Denial – This is when the aggressor refuses to admit that they've done something harmful or hurtful when they clearly have. It's a way they lie (to themselves as well as to others) about their aggressive intentions. This "Who... Me?" tactic is a way of "playing innocent," and invites the victim to feel unjustified in confronting the aggressor about the inappropriateness of a behavior. It's also the way the aggressor gives him/herself permission to keep right on doing what they want to do. This denial is not the same kind of denial that a person who has just lost a loved one and can't quite bear to accept the pain and reality of the loss engages in. That type of denial really is mostly a "defense" against unbearable hurt and anxiety. Rather, this type of denial is not primarily a "defense" but a maneuver the aggressor uses to get others to back off, back down or maybe even feel guilty themselves for insinuating he's doing something wrong.


Selective Inattention – This tactic is similar to and sometimes mistaken for denial It's when the aggressor "plays dumb," or acts oblivious. When engaging in this tactic, the aggressor actively ignores the warnings, pleas or wishes of others, and in general, refuses to pay attention to everything and anything that might distract them from pursuing their own agenda. Often, the aggressor knows full well what you want from him when he starts to exhibit this "I don't want to hear it!" behavior. By using this tactic, the aggressor actively resists submitting himself to the tasks of paying attention to or refraining from the behavior you want him to change.

Rationalization – A rationalization is the excuse an aggressor tries to offer for engaging in an inappropriate or harmful behavior. It can be an effective tactic, especially when the explanation or justification the aggressor offers makes just enough sense that any reasonably conscientious person is likely to fall for it. It's a powerful tactic because it not only serves to remove any internal resistance the aggressor might have about doing what he wants to do (quieting any qualms of conscience he might have) but also to keep others off his back. If the aggressor can convince you he's justified in whatever he's doing, then he's freer to pursue his goals without interference.

Diversion – A moving target is hard to hit. When we try to pin a manipulator down or try to keep a discussion focused on a single issue or behavior we don't like, he's expert at knowing how to change the subject, dodge the issue or in some way throw us a curve. Manipulators use distraction and diversion techniques to keep the focus off their behavior, move us off-track, and keep themselves free to promote their self-serving hidden agendas.


Lying – It's often hard to tell when a person is lying at the time he's doing it. Fortunately, there are times when the truth will out because circumstances don't bear out somebody's story. But there are also times when you don't know you've been deceived until it's too late. One way to minimize the chances that someone will put one over on you is to remember that because aggressive personalities of all types will generally stop at nothing to get what they want, you can expect them to lie and cheat. Another thing to remember is that manipulators – covert-aggressive personalities that they are – are prone to lie in subtle, covert ways. Courts are well aware of the many ways that people lie, as they require that court oaths charge that testifiers tell "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth."

Manipulators often lie by withholding a significant amount of the truth from you or by distorting the truth. They are adept at being vague when you ask them direct questions. This is an especially slick way of lying' omission. Keep this in mind when dealing with a suspected wolf in sheep's clothing. Always seek and obtain specific, confirmable information.

Covert Intimidation – Aggressors frequently threaten their victims to keep them anxious, apprehensive and in a one-down position. Covert-aggressives intimidate their victims by making veiled (subtle, indirect or implied) threats. Guilt-tripping and shaming are two of the covert-aggressive's favourite weapons. Both are special intimidation tactics.

Guilt-tripping – One thing that aggressive personalities know well is that other types of persons have very different consciences than they do. Manipulators are often skilled at using what they know to be the greater conscientiousness of their victims as a means of keeping them in a self-doubting, anxious, and submissive position. The more conscientious the potential victim, the more effective guilt is as a weapon. Aggressive personalities of all types use guilt-tripping so frequently and effectively as a manipulative tactic, that I believe it illustrates how fundamentally different in character they are compared to other (especially neurotic) personalities. All a manipulator has to do is suggest to the conscientious person that they don't care enough, are too selfish, etc., and that person immediately starts to feel bad. On the contrary, a conscientious person might try until they're blue in the face to get a manipulator (or any other aggressive personality) to feel badly about a hurtful behavior, acknowledge responsibility, or admit wrongdoing, to absolutely no avail.

Shaming – This is the technique of using subtle sarcasm and put-downs as a means of increasing fear and self-doubt in others. Covert-aggressives use this tactic to make others feel inadequate or unworthy, and therefore, defer to them. It's an effective way to foster a continued sense of personal inadequacy in the weaker party, thereby allowing an aggressor to maintain a position of dominance.


Playing the Victim Role – This tactic involves portraying oneself as an innocent victim of circumstances or someone else's behavior in order to gain sympathy, evoke compassion and thereby get something from another. One thing that covert-aggressive personalities count on is the fact that less calloused and less hostile personalities usually can't stand to see anyone suffering. Therefore, the tactic is simple. Convince your victim you're suffering in some way, and they'll try to relieve your distress.


Vilifying the Victim – This tactic is frequently used in conjunction with the tactic of playing the victim role. The aggressor uses this tactic to make it appear he is only responding (i.e. defending himself against) aggression on the part of the victim. It enables the aggressor to better put the victim on the defensive.


Playing the Servant Role – Covert-aggressives use this tactic to cloak their self-serving agendas in the guise of service to a more noble cause. It's a common tactic but difficult to recognize. By pretending to be working hard on someone else's behalf, covert-aggressives conceal their own ambition, desire for power, and quest for a position of dominance over others.


Seduction – Covert-aggressive personalities are adept at charming, praising, flattering or overtly supporting others in order to get them to lower their defenses and surrender their trust and loyalty. Covert-aggressives are also particularly aware that people who are to some extent emotionally needy and dependent (and that includes most people who aren't character-disordered) want approval, reassurance, and a sense of being valued and needed more than anything. Appearing to be attentive to these needs can be a manipulator's ticket to incredible power over others.

The consummate seducer melts any resistance you might have to giving him your loyalty and confidence. He does this by giving you what he knows you need most. He knows you want to feel valued and important. So, he often tells you that you are. You don't find out how unimportant you really are to him until you turn out to be in his way.


Projecting the blame (blaming others) – Aggressive personalities are always looking for a way to shift the blame for their aggressive behavior. Covert-aggressives are not only skilled at finding scapegoats, they're expert at doing so in subtle, hard to detect ways.

Minimization – This tactic is a unique kind of denial coupled with rationalization. When using this maneuver, the aggressor is attempting to assert that his abusive behavior isn't really as harmful or irresponsible as someone else may be claiming. It's the aggressor's attempt to make a molehill out of a mountain.

I've presented the principal tactics that covert-aggressives use to manipulate and control others. They are not always easy to recognize. Although all aggressive personalities tend to use these tactics, covert-aggressives generally use them slickly, subtly and adeptly. Anyone dealing with a covertly aggressive person will need to heighten gut-level sensitivity to the use of these tactics if they're to avoid being taken in by them.

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Monday, December 11, 2017

Bill of Rights for Domestic Violence Victims



Domestic Violence Victim Bill of Rights

* You have the right NOT to be abused.

* You have the right to anger over past abuse.

* You have a right to choose to change the situation.

* You have a right to freedom from fear of abuse.

* You have a right to request and expect assistance from police or social agencies.

* You have a right to share your feelings and not be isolated from others.

* You have a right to want a better role model of communication for yourself and your children.

* You have a right to be treated like an adult.

* You have a right to leave the abusive environment.

* You have a right to privacy.

* You have a right to express your own thoughts and feelings.

* You have a right to develop your individual talents and abilities without harrasssment.

* You have a right to legally prosecute the abusing spouse.

* You have a right not to be perfect.

(Adapted from; Victimology: An International Journal., Vol. 2 1977-78, No. 3-4, p.550)

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Sunday, December 10, 2017

Detaching from The Loser


Guidelines for Detachment

by Joseph M Carver, Ph.D., Psychologist

Separating from "The Loser" often involves three stages: The Detachment, Ending the Relationship, and the Follow-up Protection.


The Detachment

During this part of separating from "The Loser", you recognize what you must do and create an Exit Plan. Many individuals fail in attempts to detach from "The Loser" because they leave suddenly and impulsively, without proper planning, and without resources. In many cases, "The Loser" has isolated their partner from others, has control of finances, or has control of major exit needs such as an automobile. During the detachment phase you should...


Ending the Relationship

Remembering that "The Loser" doesn't accept responsibility, responds with anger to criticism, and is prone to panic detachment reactions - ending the relationship continues the same theme as the detachment.

- Explain that you are emotionally numb, confused, and burned out. You can't feel anything for anybody and you want to end the relationship almost for his or her benefit. Remind them that they've probably noticed something is wrong and that you need time to sort out your feelings and fix whatever is wrong with you. As disgusting as it may seem, you may have to use a theme of "I'm not right for anyone at this point in my life." If "The Loser" can blame the end on you, as they would if they ended the relationship anyway, they will depart faster.

- If "The Loser" panics, you'll receive a shower of phone calls, letters, notes on your car, etc. React to each in the same manner - a boring thanks. If you overreact or give in, you've lost control again.

- Focus on your need for time away from the situation. Don't agree to the many negotiations that will be offered - dating less frequently, dating only once a week, taking a break for only a week, going to counseling together, etc. As long as "The Loser" has contact with you they feel there is a chance to manipulate you.

- "The Loser" will focus on making you feel guilty. In each phone contact you'll hear how much you are loved, how much was done for you, and how much they have sacrificed for you. At the same time, you'll hear about what a bum you are for leading them on, not giving them an opportunity to fix things, and embarrassing them by ending the relationship.

- Don't try to make them understand how you feel - it won't happen. "The Loser" only is concerned with how they feel - your feelings are irrelevant. You will be wasting your time trying to make them understand and they will see the discussions as an opportunity to make you feel more guilty and manipulate you.

- Don't fall for sudden changes in behavior or promises of marriage, trips, gifts, etc. By this time you have already seen how "The Loser" is normally and naturally. While anyone can change for a short period of time, they always return to their normal behavior once the crisis is over.

- Seek professional counseling for yourself or the support of others during this time. You will need encouragement and guidance. Keep in mind, if "The Loser" finds out you are seeking help they will criticize the counseling, the therapist, or the effort.

- Don't use terms like "someday", "maybe", or "in the future". When "The Loser" hears such possibilities, they think you are weakening and will increase their pressure.

- Imagine a dead slot machine. If we are in Las Vegas at a slot machine and pull the handle ten times and nothing happens - we move on to another machine. However, if on the tenth time the slot machine pays us even a little, we keep pulling the handle - thinking the jackpot is on the way. If we are very stern and stable about the decision to end the relationship over many days, then suddenly offer a possibility or hope for reconciliation - we've given a little pay and the pressure will continue. Never change your position - always say the same thing. "The Loser" will stop playing a machine that doesn't pay off and quickly move to another.


Follow-up Protection

"The Loser" never sees their responsibility or involvement in the difficulties in the relationship. From a psychological standpoint, "The Loser" has lived and behaved in this manner most of their life, clearly all of their adult life. As they really don't see themselves at fault or as an individual with a problem, "The Loser" tends to think that the girlfriend or boyfriend is simply going through a phase - their partner (victim) might be temporarily mixed up or confused, they might be listening to the wrong people, or they might be angry about something and will get over it soon. 

"The Loser" rarely detaches completely and will often try to continue contact with the partner even after the relationship is terminated. 

During the Follow-up Protection period, some guidelines are:

- Never change your original position. It's over permanently! Don't talk about possible changes in your position in the future. You might think that will calm "The Loser" but it only tells them that the possibilities still exist and only a little more pressure is needed to return to the relationship.

- Don't agree to meetings or reunions to discuss old times. For "The Loser", discussing old times is actually a way to upset you, put you off guard, and use the guilt to hook you again.

- Don't offer details about your new life or relationships. Assure him that both his life and your life are now private and that you hope they are happy.

- If you start feeling guilty during a phone call, get off the phone fast. More people return to bad marriages and relationships due to guilt than anything else. If you listen to those phone calls, as though taping them, you'll find "The Loser" spends most of the call trying to make you feel guilty.

- In any contact with the ex "Loser", provide only a status report, much like you'd provide to your Aunt Gladys. For example: "I'm still working hard and not getting any better at tennis. That's about it."

- When "The Loser" tells you how difficult the breakup has been, share with him some general thoughts about breaking-up and how finding the right person is difficult. While "The Loser" wants to focus on your relationship, talk in terms of Ann Landers - "Well, breaking up is hard on anyone. Dating is tough in these times. I'm sure we'll eventually find someone that's right for both of us." Remember - nothing personal!

- Keep all contact short and sweet - the shorter the better. As far as "The Loser" is concerned, you're always on your way somewhere, there's something in the microwave, or your mother is walking up the steps to your home. Wish "The Loser" well but always with the same tone of voice that you might offer to someone you have just talked to at the grocery store. For phone conversations, electronic companies make a handy gadget that produces about twenty sounds - a doorbell, an oven or microwave alarm, a knock on the door, etc. That little device is handy to use on the phone - the microwave dinner just came out or someone is at the door. Do whatever you have to do to keep the conversation short - and not personal.


Summary

In all of our relationships throughout life, we will meet a variety of individuals with many different personalities. Some are a joy to have in our life and some provide us with life-long love and security. Others we meet pose some risk to us and our future due to their personality and attitudes. Both in medicine and mental health - the key to health is the early identification and treatment of problems - before they reach the point that they are beyond treatment. In years of psychotherapy and counseling practice, treating the victims of "The Loser", patterns of attitude and behavior emerge in "The Loser" that can now be listed and identified in the hopes of providing early identification and warning. When those signs and indicators surface and the pattern is identified, we must move quickly to get away from the situation. Continuing a relationship with "The Loser" will result in a relationship that involves intimidation, fear, angry outbursts, paranoid control, and a total loss of your self-esteem and self-confidence.

If you have been involved in a long-term relationship with "The Loser", after you successfully escape you may notice that you have sustained some psychological damage that will require professional repair. In many cases, the stress has been so severe that you may have a stress-produced depression. You may have severe damage to your self-confidence/self-esteem or to your feelings about the opposite sex or relationships. Psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, and counselors are available in your community to assist and guide you as you recover from your damaging relationship with "The Loser".

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Saturday, December 09, 2017

Everything I've Done, I've Done for You



The 'other side' of the breakup.
by Tigress Luv

Abandoning those you love....

Yes, it hurts like hell to get dumped, abandoned, rejected, or left for another. You have given and given and given your all to a relationship... and what do you get in return? In return you get to have the person you were most attached to, willfully and purposely withdraw their love for you, and detach from you.

Getting abandoned sucks!

But, I am going to write to you right now via the perspective of being the one who does the abandoning. As a 'dumper'. Let me tell you, being the one that makes the decision to leave a relationship - well, that hurts like hell, too!

I am, at this moment, preparing to leave a man. And this guy is going to hurt like hell. And I know it. And I feel bad - I really, really do. And I know exactly what he is going to say - and I know how very true those words will be. He will say:


And, he can honestly say to himself that these things are true - because they are true. But I am leaving him anyway. Here's why:

"Everything I've done - I've done for you." Yes, this is true.
You basically have become a love-slave.
You sacrificed your friendships, you see them no more - lest I get a life and visit my friends, too.
You quit your job - to make sure I didn't do anything or go anywhere while you were gone at work.
Every move you make - you make to keep me prisoner.


"I give you everything I can." Yes, you do.


"I would always be faithful to you."
I've no doubt of that.


"I care for you and worry about you." How sweet.

"I'm good to your children. I love them" Yes, you are good to them and I do believe you love them. As a matter of fact, you are GREAT with my children. To the outside world this looks wonderful. Nobody knows the real you. But I do. You give the children a good time, take them fishing, give them hugs, do things with them, buy them treats - earn their love, trust, and faith... this is why they believe you when, as you're hugging them, you sweetly and softly whisper in their ear that their mother is a 'bar-fly whore'.

"If you're having a bad day, I don't mind helping you with the housework, or letting it slide for a day." How kind of you. How truly, truly kind. I remember you vehemently vacuuming the living room (even though it didn't need it). I remember you coming home with the flu and a fever and having to wash the walls in the hallway because you thought 'I was having trouble breathing'. Yes, to the outside world this might have looked grand. But to me, who knows you well, it was an act of control and martyrdom. Translation: Instill guilt on me at every opportunity. Next time I'm having a bad day I will - for sure - clean your home.

"I love you so much I want to make you my wife." You want to make sure I'm unavailable to other men. If another man so much as looks at me, or talks to me, you rush over and shove your hand out to shake his, "nice to meet you. This is my girl you're talking to." Why don't you just lift your leg and piss on me?

"I would never hurt you." Too bad you can't remember what you do when you are drunk or high. Which is like 8 days a week.

"I only wanted you to be happy." Really? Yes, perhaps that's true.


"Your smile I live for." Then you must be blind or dead, because - in case you haven't noticed - I haven't smiled in months. I'm physically sick every day, and the constant stress and pressure - and fear - is only making me more ill. I fear I will die if I am here with you one more day. If you want me to be happy - if you want to see me smile - then you will let me leave you without you stalking me. You will set me free and set your heart free.

....As I write this I am having an anxiety attack - after a day of deep, defeating depression. This is what abuse does to you. It is so easy for people to say, "well leave..". They don't understand how your resources can so gradually be depleted you aren't even aware of it. They don't understand how the isolation can be so enveloping that you wake up one day and realize you haven't any friends left. They don't realize how the abuser can be so subtle and crafty that you become 'needy' before you're even aware of it. They just say, "why doesn't she walk..?" and then they get angry if you don't.

And you don't walk. Because.

Because...

* Denial - Some people truly don't believe they are being abused.

* Financial - Not only do most women make less money than a man, a lot of abused women can't work because their partner won't let them. Abusers, too, withhold money, checking account, credit cards, etc, . leaving the abused financially needy, taking away important resources needed for her to leave. This issue is compounded when there are children involved.

* Fear - Making threats to kill or harm the abused party, pets, or family members - should an abused woman chose to leave - is a very effective method abusers use to keep someone in a relationship, which is the goal of the abuser. She may feel, "why leave? He'll just hunt me down and kill me." Also, threatening suicide is a common method the abuser uses to 'keep' his victim. She really, truly does not want to feel responsible for another's pain or death.


* Love - Most people want their relationships to work. Hope that things will improve, or believing promises of 'change', keep many women in abusive relationships.


* Children - It is important for children to have good relationships with their father. Most women are compelled to try and hold the family together, innocently unaware that the abusive atmosphere is actually having an adverse affecte on her children.


* Religion - Many religions discourage divorce. Verse has it that a woman that leaves her husband is a prostitute, and any remarriage is adultery.


* External Pressures (family, church) - Yes! Abusers are - surprisingly - very well-liked. That's because most abusers are master charmers and bull-shitters. "He was such a nice man." The abuser has two faces: public and private.


* No place to go - Sometimes, by the time a woman admits or realizes the abuse, her abuser has already succeeded in isolating her from her family, friends, financial resources, and transportation.


* The Abuser's Main Goal is to Make the Abused Feel Worthless - This is to ensure that she will stay with him. As many abused women state, "no one else would ever love me. I am a miserable failure. Ugly, stupid, bad lover, can't cook, lousy mother..." "I deserve this abuse, I am a bad person. It's all my fault."


* She's Too Compassionate - The abuser can really come off as a pathetic lost child - so misunderstood. A compassionate woman often stays with an abuser because she feels so sorry for him. "No one else understands him the way I do."


* She Mistakes His Abuse for Love - Face it, who could ever love you so intensely and consuming as the abuser can? Sometimes the abuse actually feels good! This is one of those 'unadmitted' facts about abuse, that the intense jealousy and need someone has on you is actually an ego boost! "Wow - does he love me! I must be great and no where else could I find someone who will ever love me this deeply. I am wonderful!" Ugh!!!


Yes, I am about to abandon my man. And yes, he will grieve. And yes, he may find a breakup board, or a grief board, and write a post that says something like this:
"My love of my life just left me. I am so devastated. How will I survive? I love her. Everything I did - I did for her. I gave her everything I could. I never would have cheated on that woman, I loved her so much. I worried about her. I loved her children. I miss them so much. I miss her too. This is terrible. What could have gone wrong? I was so good to her. I wanted her to be my wife. I never would have hurt her. I only wanted her to be happy. How can I go on, when I lived for her smile? Oh, won't someone please help?"

And he will sound like a truly great man, grief-stricken by the woman he loved so much.

Don't think this doesn't hurt me - the abandoner. It hurts like hell. But I won't die for love.

I need to breathe again. To smile again. To not be sick and live in fear. I need to stop walking around on egg-shells. I need to feel safe, and accepted, and trusted, and I need to feel like I am giving my love freely - not like it is being coerced out of me by threats and guilt and fear.

It's not just the abandoned that hurt.

~~Tigress Luv

NOTE: To all who have answered this -

Thank you for your show of support! Abuse is the unbelievable psychological horror.

You can't help but initially fall in love with the abuser (before the abuse becomes evident) - abusers can be such charmers! They are the extreme of both Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde - however Mr. Hyde is well-hidden in the initial stages of the relationship.

You almost become addicted to their intense love, but before you realize you are being abused you are suckered into the life. Abuse is so subtle, and sneaks up on you so inconspicuously, that you aren't even aware of the abuse.

I know I wasn't in the beginning. I just told myself, 'he's moody' 'he's worried', 'something happened at work' 'his first wife made him distrustful' etc.

But then you just wake up one morning and realize your 'innocent zest' for life - your beautiful free spirit - exists no more. And you feel empty and without hope and joy. Your eyes betray your false show of cheerfulness around your children/co-workers/friends. Your shoulders sag, and you have become hypervigilent to EVERYTHING!

Thank you for your words.

Tigress Luv

ORIGINAL ARTICLE HERE

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Friday, December 08, 2017

Traumatic Bonding & Stockholm Syndrome



"Why Do You Stay/ Go Back?" Traumatic Bonding And
The Development Of The Stockholm Syndrome
in Abused Women (and Men)

- by Debra Dixon

We hear the question, "Why do you stay?" ask of battered women over and over. Most of society tired long ago of the answer, "Because I love him." When a battered woman says "because I love him" she is describing the Stockholm Syndrome in the best way that she can. She knows that she has very strong feelings for him and can only attribute those feelings to love because of a lack of information. These victims do not have the information they need to accurately describe the dynamics involved in the bonding process that occurs with abuse and trauma and therefore attribute their intense feelings the best way that they can - love.

Theories on why battered women stay have ranged from "learned helplessness" to masochism to feminist theory regarding status and resources. While some of these issues (learned helplessness and a lack of resources) can be contributing factors it is time we look at the bond created by severe, prolonged trauma.

Traumatic bonding was first recognized and acknowledged during a hostage incident in Stockholm, Sweden. Authorities were amazed that the hostages refused to cooperate with them and actually saw law enforcement as the villains. What they were witnessing was the hostage's identification with the hostage taker. Authorities were even more shocked when the hostages refused to testify against their captors and one of the women later married him. While hostages may bond after a matter of hours batterers usually have many years with the victims without any interference or intervention.

This bond occurs because the well being of a child, a hostage or a battered woman depends upon the hostage taker or the batterer. If a batterer has total control over her money, safety, peace and happiness then it is in her best interest to keep him happy. This bond is not only in the best interest of the perpetrator but is, at times, in the best interest of the victim and is frequently necessary for her survival. If a hostage, or battered woman, is argumentative and provocative they are more likely to be injured. If a batterer or hostage taker dislikes the victim their likelihood of injury increases.

We often berate the victim for staying in these relationships and can't understand how it happened. A violent, controlling man does not take a woman out and beat her on the first date. We all put on our best face when we initially meet people and batterers are no different. If he took the woman out and beat her on the first date there would be no second date. She has no history or investment in the relationship and wouldn't tolerate it. His taking control of her is a gradual process.
Battered women, hostages and prisoner's of war will share some of the same experiences. Some of these shared experiences are that they are degraded, debilitated, they experience the constant threat of violence, the violence is intermittent, their are occasional indulgences, the captor demonstrates omnipotence, isolation etc...

The dynamics involved in domestic violence can be demonstrated by what's called The Power And Control Wheel by the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project (DAIP). It's interesting because when we compare Bidermans Chart of Coercion by Amnesty International with the Power and Control Wheel they are almost identical. (Bidermans Chart of Coercion is how Amnesty International documented the techniques of the Communist Chinese, KGB, etc. )

There are many types of service providers coming in contact with battered women who are still unaware of why these women stay. These service providers are unable to address the bigger picture due to a lack of information. The inability to address this issue creates many problems. Law enforcement, and much of society, still blames the women for defending their attackers, unaware of the fact that not only is defending the attacker in her best interest but the bond itself reduces her injury. The victims are not given the information they need to deal with the bond they feel and therefore attribute their perplexing feelings to "love." Allowing them, and their children, to continue in traumatic relationships.

While we advise against confrontational behavior we ask that battered women cooperate with law enforcement who can frequently only guarantee her safety for a matter of hours. I am not saying that battered women should not cooperate. I am asking that we rethink our approach to domestic violence based on the fact that a traumatic bond is occurring and that the bond itself must be taken into consideration and dealt with.

For more information contact VJC Inc for a copy of the book Traumatic Bonding and the Development of the Stockholm Syndrome in Battered Women.
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Why Do They Stay? Traumatic Bonding

Traumatic bonding may be defined as the development of strong emotional ties between two persons, with one person intermittently harassing, beating, abusing, or intimidating the other.

There are two common features in the structure of trauma bonded relationships:

1. The existence of a power imbalance, wherin the maltreated person perceives him/herself to be dominated by the other person.

2. The intermittent nature of the abuse.


Power Imbalance

Social psychologists have found that unequal power relationships can become increasingly unbalanced over time. As the power imbalance magnifies, the victim feels more negative in her self-appraisal, more incapable of fending for herself, and more dependent on the abuser. This cycle of dependency and lowered self-esteem repeats itself over and over and eventually creates a strong effective (emotional) bond to the abuser.

At the same time, the abuser will develop an overgeneralized sense of his own power which masks the extent to which he is dependent on the victim to maintain his self-image. This sense of power rests on his ability to maintain absolute control in the relationship. If the roles that maintain this sense of power are disturbed, the masked dependency of the abuser on the victim is suddenly made obvious.

One example of this sudden reversal of power is the desperate control attempts made by the abandoned battering husband to bring his wife back into the relationship through threats and/or intimidation.

Intermittent Abuse:

When physical abuse is administered at intermittent intervals (random times) and when it is intersperced with permissive and friendly contact, the phenomenon of traumatic bonding seems most powerful.

The three phases involved in the cycle of violence (tension building, battering and "honeymoon") provide a prime example of intermittent reinforcement. The unpredictable duration and severity of each phase serve to keep the victim off balance and in hopes of change. The "honeymoon" phase is an integral part of traumatic bonding. It is this phase that allows the victim to experience calm and loving feelings from the abuser and therefore strengthens her emotional attachment.
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STOCKHOLM SYNDROME THEORY
Stockholm Syndrome primarily develops under the following conditions:

Victim perceives the abuser as a threat to her survival, physically or psychologically.

Victim perceives the abuser as showing her some kindness, however small.

Victim is kept isolated from others.

Victim does not perceive a way to escape from the abuser.

Victim focuses on the abuser's needs.

Victim sees world from abuser's perspective.

Victim perceives those trying to help her as the "bad guys" and the abuser as the "good guys."

Victim finds it difficult to leave the abuser even when it is OK to do so.

Victim fears the abuser will come back to get her, even if he is dead or in prison.

Victim shows signs of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) including depression, low self-esteem, anxiety reactions, paranoia and feelings of helplessness, and recurring nightmares and flashbacks.


http://www.geocities.com/HotSprings/6537/abuse.html

http://pages.ivillage.com/cl-mizlizzy/recognizinganddealingwithdomesticabuse/id23.html

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Thursday, December 07, 2017

CRAZY MAKING


This information about crazy making is from the out of print book Stop! You're Driving Me Crazy! by Dr. George R. Bach. It fortunately has surfaced again and can be purchased as a used book for a small price at Amazon.com.

This is a coping method people use when they are afraid of rejection or confrontation. This results when our rights are not respected or honored. It is based on four basic rights: THE RIGHT TO KNOW, THE RIGHT TO FEEL, THE RIGHT TO HAVE IMPACT and THE RIGHT TO SPACE.

The ways that RIGHT TO KNOW are violated are when we are not given clear information as in underloading, overloading and fogging. In underloading they give us too little information so we are off balance and have shaky confidence about what we are learning to do or the person has left and it is only after they're gone that we realize we don't know anymore than before we asked them the question. At these times it requires the receiver of the information to assume or draw conclusions about the meaning of the incomplete information. This is also a time when mindreading comes into play. In order to survive this walking on eggshells the receiver of the message or silent treatment must use past references to know what the sender of the message might intend. In overloading it is just the opposite problem. The sender gives us too much information and we are in a confused state and a put off balance. We feel so defeated that we do not have the courage to set any boundaries or express any needs for clearer information.

THE RIGHT TO FEEL is violated when we are told how we are feeling i.e. "You're angry aren't you." or how we are going to feel or react i.e. "You're not going to like what I have to say." Or if we are given the message not to feel i.e. "Don't be angry" or "Don't cry". Or we are told what we should or shouldn't be feeling. i.e. "You don't really hate him or her, you just think you do" or You shouldn't feel that way about them.'

THE RIGHT TO IMPACT is where our insanity really shows up. It triggers so many old messages i.e. "You're not important, you're needs are important." And if we played the role of the LOST CHILD it just reinforces our sense of powerlessness and invisibility. We need to have assurance that we exist, that our existence makes a difference to people and situations. We know of our existence when we have IMPACT on others. One thing that really gets to us is when others claim to misinterpret or pick apart what we said in order not to have to comply with our request.

Thinging or objectifying is another way that they treat us as an objects as if we are only a piece of furniture in the room. They can be pictured putting their hand up to their ear and saying "Did I hear someone talking, is there someone else in the room?" COVERTLY HOSTILE or what ? Context-switching and derailing are great avoidance tactics. When you are confronting them on something they did or attempting to set boundaries, they switch the whole focus back to you, and thus put you on the defensive. Now the focus is on you and they slither away. This gets you way off derail track and off balance right where they want you--derailed. Clever huh, unless you are on the receiving end of this CRAZY MAKING. Role-playing is another very common way in which one or both parties avoids asserting themselves. This way the person can hide behind the role they see as the most comfortable, safe and powerful. i.e. referring to yourself as "Mommy" or "Daddy" "Mommy wants you to go to bed" Daddy wants you to come to the table." Or I'm the "boss" I'm the cook--he wife--the husband etc.etc. In this way the other person is put in a position where they almost need to respond in the "subservient" or weak or less powerful position or role i.e. the child, the worker, employer, the hungry one etc.etc.

The final CRAZY MAKING technique is to violate the RIGHT TO SPACE. This right can be violated in so many ways i.e. emotional, time, mental, physical. Without this right being respected we can lose perspective very rapidly and literally feel like we are going crazy. In setting boundaries we set ourselves against the others. It seems that when I am setting boundaries for myself I am violating another's perceived rights i.e. My right to have the radio volume up is a violation to right to have the volume down. My right to deny your request interrupts your right to make a request. It is almost always very MESSY. But our surrender of SPACE is a surrender of our SANITY.


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Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Obsessive Ex Syndrome

How Obsessive Ex Syndrome Prevents a Normal Break-Up

During a normal break-up, an ex-partner may ask for several more discussions or meetings, to try to regain their loved one. A balanced person will eventually realize that the love relationship is indeed over.

An obsessive ex does not see a break-up the same way.

1.
The Obsessive Ex may not even believe a break-up is in progress.
The Obsessor may think this is simply a more serious argument than usual, and decide they're supposed to keep contacting the partner until the argument is over and the partner takes them back. Even when at the point of stalking, Obsessors often still view themselves as a current partner who is simply waiting for an argument to be over.

2. The Obsessive Ex viewed their partner primarily as an object to support their own self-image, not as a human being.
The Obsessor's approach to the relationship has been what they themselves get out of it -- whether THEY are satisfied with the relationship. If the partner wants to leave, this is inconvenient for the Obsessor! They want the partner around to dominate, to make the Obsessor feel powerful. They didn't particularly care whether the partner was happy with them; they only cared that they preferred to have the partner around.

3.
The Obsessor has an irrational "Sense of Entitlement".
This is the personality type that would park in a handicap spot when they're not handicapped because they believe their temporary convenience is "more important" than the needs of some other person (handicapped). They sincerely believe that their needs are more important than their partner's... more important than their childrens'... more important than anyone else's.

Once the leaving partner decides to value personal individual needs first, the Obsessor is infuriated. The partner's act of "rebellion" does not fit into their world view -- that of the Obsessor as the center.

4.
The Obsessor wants to punish their ex-partner.
Obsessors can't let a connection end completely, because they may believe themselves to have been so wronged that they "need" to punish or seek revenge against the leaving partner. Even in cases where an Obsessor was wronged in some way, their desire for revenge and how long they cling to these emotions (to the detriment of their own life and others lives), is completely out of proportion to what injustices may have occurred.

(This does not apply to relationships where one partner was used & abused and desires closure or justice - but to those who seek REVENGE out of proportion with what occurred.)

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Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Emotional Abuse or Going Crazy?


The blows of physical or sexual abuse are oftentimes obvious. Broken bones, bruises, and lacerations leave scars as evidence. Yet worst of all are the scars of emotional abuse - nearly invisible to the naked eye. Unfortunately, these can be more caustic, long-lasting, and life-altering than those left by any other type of abuse and the psychological damage the most profound.


What is emotional abuse? Sometimes called "Ambient Abuse," it is an extremely subtle form of control and manipulation that may go unrecognized for months or years -- many times even by those on the receiving end -- at least until it is too late. By the time the victim is aware of the actual abusive behaviors, she has oftentimes become a bundle of nerves and finds it difficult to see her way off the emotional roller coaster ride she's stuck on. Worse yet, she can't even explain what's happening to her, and in some cases, she may actually think she is going crazy; struggling with anxiety, depression, fear, or eventually -- apathy. She may quit doing anything, for fear of doing it "wrong" - at least according to the controller in her life.

Abusers and controllers may start out using little digs like, "Honey, everyone knows that you do it this way," as just another way to say, "How stupid are you that you don't know this?"

Constant criticism becomes part of the game. "You are too fat, dumb, ugly," or even, "I wish I had that abortion instead of having you!" These are all ammunition in emotional abuse.


Even teasing can be abusive, for it frequently has some truth at its core. Jane lives in a marriage where her husband's teasing-type cuts are constant. "The Ayatollah says dinner is ready," he announces regularly whenever they have guests. He thinks it's funny. She certainly doesn't. And what are we, the guests supposed to think -- that he is paying her a compliment? Absolutely not. I don't care how much he smiles or laughs when he throws it out there -- it is meant to wound. And she knows it. And he knows that she knows it.

Emotional abuse may take the form of the controller limiting the "victim's" outside contacts. "You don't need anybody but me," he may remind you constantly, and can actually get angry if you spend time with your friends or family, even on the phone. The more he can lock you away from your external support systems, the more he locks you in his boxx of control.

Deanna's husband tells her what time she can go to bed, what she is allowed to eat, and just how long she'd better be gone when she goes out to do errands. He never gives her a birthday or Christmas gift. He threatens to kill her and hide her car if she doesn't obey him. He makes her recite each day that she is worthless -- that he will tell her what she is worth, what she can and can't do, and who she is allowed to see when. This is obviously extreme emotional abuse.

Unfortunately, all these situations may seem extremely difficult to escape for the victim. The brainwashing of weeks, months, and years of constant demeaning remarks are meant to make her feel worthless and as though no one else in the world could love her. Thus, her fear of leaving exceeds the fear of staying, and even worse -- many times she blames herself for all that is wrong. Guilt becomes her constant companion. Leaving seems impossible. And besides, it's "not that bad." For if it were, there would certainly be broken bones to prove it. Or so she believes.

If you find yourself trapped in the boxx of emotional abuse, it's important to know you CAN escape! The long-term emotional damage caused by this type of situation will affect your physical as well as your mental health -- and that of your children. While there may not be laws protecting you from the constant verbal attacks, you do have the ability to recognize it for what it is -- definitely NOT something that goes hand-in-hand with a loving relationship. Furthermore, teaching your children that this is an acceptable behavior only leads them to believe that emotional abuse is an acceptable part of a normal relationship. Would you wish this for your child? Or your grandchild?


Mary Jo Fay is a speaker and writer. http:// www.outoftheboxx.com.

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