Sanctuary for the Abused

Friday, August 29, 2014

Emotional Abuse or Am I 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?

When in doubt, remember this quote: "Power over others is weakness disguised as strength." Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now.
Mary Jo Fay is a speaker and writer. Her latest book is called, "When Your Perfect Partner Goes Perfectly Wrong – Loving or Leaving the Narcissist in Your Life." http://www.outoftheboxx.com

FACEBOOK GROUP: VICTIMS OF NARCISSISTS
(the above group does not allow any discussions involving the children or parenting issues)

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Abnormal Cortisol Levels, Depression, Anxiety & PTSD = Signs of Long-Term Abuse & Psychological Trauma


Long-term emotional stress is a well-known culprit in the development of abnormal cortisol levels and consequent damage to the endocrine system of hormone-releasing organs throughout the body, most notably the adrenal glands that produce cortisol itself. Most of the research on this common health problem has been conducted in adults, but it turns out that abused children experience many of the same health effects seen in stressed out adults. Furthermore, studies are showing that chronic abuse can disrupt the balance of the HPA (hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal) axis for many years or decades.


Child Abuse Triggers Abnormal Cortisol Levels

Researcher Kate Harkness looked at the relationship between cortisol levels and abuse and mental illness in children and found a strong connection. She believes that the high stress levels experienced in many children who are being physically, emotionally, or sexually abused drive up cortisol dramatically. Over time, the high levels of cortisol damage the brain in regions such as the hippocampus and hypothalamus. Chronically elevated cortisol also damages the endocrine system consisting of hormone releasing organs such as the adrenal and pituitary glands. Abnormal levels of cortisol have also been linked as a factor contributing to the development of many other health problems involving metabolic disorders such as diabetes, high levels of blood lipids, and low CoQ10 levels.


From Biological Links Found Between Childhood Abuse and Adolescent Depression:

“This kind of reaction is a problem because cortisol kills cells in areas of the brain that control memory and emotion regulation,” explains Dr. Harkness, a professor in the Department of Psychology and an expert in the role of stress and trauma in adolescent depression. “Over time cortisol levels can build up and increase a person’s risk for more severe endocrine impairment and more severe depression.”

Researchers analyzed measurements of urinary cortisol levels and collecting profiles of the children’s past histories of absence or presence of abuse and mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety spectrum disorders such as PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). They noted that children displaying mild depression symptoms triggered by abuse often have elevated cortisol levels. But those who are severely depressed have often had their endocrine systems collapse and that typically results in low levels of hormones such as cortisol.

Symptoms of depression are usually more than just a low mood. They often include problems with focus and memory, weight changes, sleep and fatigue problems, loss of interest in formally interesting activities, withdrawal from social groups, and chronic pain. Depressive symptoms are often accompanied by high levels of anxiety from frequent worries or a pervasive sense of unease or discomfort all the way up to panic attacks and PTSD flashbacks.


Child Abuse Connected with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

The observations of altered hormone levels in abused children is similar to the physiological phenomenon seen with patients suffering long-term pain and fatigue conditions such as fibromyalgia and CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome). These people often have pervasive endocrine system damage and low cortisol levels, too.

People who are suffering from chronic pain and fatigue disorders such as fibromyalgia and CFIDS (chronic fatigue immune dysfunction syndrome) should look back into their histories to evaluate whether some long-ago psychological trauma may still be impacting them severely today. Counseling or psychotherapy directed at resolving the psychological damage may be helpful in recovering from chronic pain and fatigue.

These conditions are not “all in the head” — there is real physiological damage to the body that is objectively seen via medical tests such as cortisol saliva tests and hormone blood tests. It’s important to realize that many such patients will need far more than just counseling. In particular, many of them need hormonal support for cortisol, pregnenolone, and DHEA via supplements and medications.


Normal Changes in Cortisol Levels Are Short-Term

Cortisol in and of itself is not a damaging hormone. Indeed, it’s normal for there to be short-term elevations in cortisol levels such as during an emergency or as a reaction to the impending birth of a baby or the adaptation to taking care of that baby.


From The Making of a Modern Dad:

The second hormone, cortisol, is well known as a stress hormone, but it is also a good indicator of a mother’s attachment to her baby. New mothers who have high cortisol levels can detect their own infant by odor more easily than mothers with lower cortisol levels. The mothers also respond more sympathetically to their baby’s cries and describe their relationship with their baby in more positive terms. Storey and her colleagues found that for expectant fathers, cortisol was twice as high in the three weeks before birth than earlier in the pregnancy.

Cortisol essentially sends a message to the body to prepare itself for stressful operations and to temporarily shut down or slow down some of the long-term repair mechanisms the body uses to keep itself healthy. The basic reasoning is that if you’re being chased by a lion intent on eating you, you would be better off with your body focusing on running away or fighting than on repairing buildup of plaque inside your arteries. If your cortisol levels spike under dangerous or stressful situations now and then and then fall back to normal levels within a few hours or days, probably there is no lasting damage from that. But when you are chronically stressed and cortisol is high all the time, eventually your body will be damaged in many areas because the normal healthy repair mechanisms slow or shut down.

Eventually, the damage may become so severe that the endocrine system organs responsible for making cortisol that the body simply can’t make much of it any more. The effect is most obvious in the adrenal glands that are making the cortisol, but the hypothalamus and pituitary also have much influence over the production of cortisol and appear to be damaged by long-term high levels of cortisol. So via some mix of damage to these organs, eventually the body isn’t able to muster the burst in cortisol you’d typically see from routine stressors such as waking up for the day or to deal with some pain or injury. As a result, you get aggravated symptoms of chronic fatigue and pain seen in many chronic medical conditions such as adrenal fatigue, fibromyalgia, and CFIDS. Some elements of this dysfunction may also be involved in other chronic pain and weakness conditions such as multiple sclerosis.


Using Pregnenolone, DHEA, and IsoCort or Other Cortisol Supplements

Low levels of pregnenolone, DHEA, and sometimes cortisol are common in people who have experienced chronic stress or abuse. Supplementing DHEA and pregnenolone is quite safe under most circumstances, the main possible exception being patients who are suffering from hormone-dependent cancers. One of the benefits of pregnenolone supplementation is that the body can convert pregnenolone to cortisol or to DHEA as needed. DHEA is needed for production of testosterone and testosterone is needed to make estradiol, one of the most common forms of estrogen.

Pregnenolone and DHEA are particularly helpful for people suffering from anxiety which is very common in those suffering from a history of abuse or stress. You can read more about that in Reducing Sedative and Addictive Side Effects of Anti-Anxiety Drugs Benzodiazepines (Xanax, Valium, etc.) with L-Theanine, Pregnenolone, and DHEA.

Cortisol supplementation is a more difficult area to address because it’s important to have an accurate picture of your daily varying levels of cortisol before you try to alter your cortisol levels. High and low cortisol levels both cause some similar symptoms and both can damage the body. So while you can get over-the-counter bioidentical cortisol via supplements such as IsoCort, it’s really important to get the proper tests to figure out where your cortisol levels are before supplementing with cortisol directly.

DHEA supplementation can also help boost low levels of testosterone seen in many people. But some men may still not be able to normalize their testosterone levels to those of the young and healthy because most of their testosterone is being converted to estradiol estrogen. They may need additional bioidentical testosterone or supplements or medications that impede this conversion. Particularly for older men who are overweight, some additional caution is needed regarding hormone supplementation because many of these men are suffering from very high estrogen levels because the fat in their bodies converts much of their testosterone to estradiol via activity of the enzyme aromatase.

It’s important to get a complete picture of your hormone status both before and during supplementation so you can understand if you may need additional supplements or medications to keep the added hormones in their most useful state. Otherwise, some men may find they inadvertently end up boosting their unhealthy estrogen levels even further when this could have been prevented if the appropriate supplements and medications were used along with the added pregnenolone and DHEA.


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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Gaslighting


Gaslighting

(from Games Abusers Play at Cosmicwalk)

This term comes from a 40's movie called "Gaslight" about a man who plays mind games with his wife to convince her that she is losing her mind. It's a really simple game but an extremely effective way to gain mental control over someone because it causes them to question their own judgment and sense of reality.

Perhaps you suddenly start misplacing and losing things far more frequently than you ever have before. You are absolutely certain that you put the keys on the cupboard, but they're not there. It throws you off balance because you always put them on the cupboard and can't understand why you would have put them somewhere else. After much anxious searching, you finally find them in the most unlikely place. - Even now you have no recall of putting them there, perhaps you don't even remember entering this room after coming home.

This can happen to us sometimes, but gaslighting is when we did not misplace the keys in the first place. They were moved and we were made to believe that we had misplaced them.

Another example is that you start getting things wrong. You're supposed to meet darling bully at your favourite restaurant for dinner. You plan it well to make sure that you arrive exactly at 7pm as agreed. Now this can go a number of ways:
He is standing waiting and in a foul mood because you are so late, insisting that he told you to be there at 6:30. You are absolutely convinced that he said 7.

He is not there and you wait and wait. He finally arrives at 7:30, insisting that this is the time he told you to meet him. As with the prior situation, you are convinced he said 7.

He is not there and you wait and wait. Finally you get a call asking you where you are. He insists that he had told you to meet him at the other restaurant. You are convinced he said this one.
There are many variations on the theme and they can sometimes get quite elaborate, with various details built in to make it more certain that you were the one who misunderstood. The added detail adds plausibility to his version and makes it seem more likely that you are the one who got it wrong.

Gaslighting is a game that can be played in a number of different ways and the key factor is that you begin to question yourself and feel as if you are losing your mind.

The initiator can do this to you for one of two reasons: because they find it entertaining to watch somebody getting distressed or because they are deliberately trying to make you and other people doubt yourself - and ultimately your sanity - as a strategic move.

The desired end result could be anything from simply having power over you to a deliberate preparation for a child custody battle.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Dealing With Your Abuser During the Divorce

divorce Pictures, Images and Photos

Excerpts from: UNDERSTANDING THE BATTERER IN CUSTODY AND VISITATION DISPUTES by R. Lundy Bancroft


An abuser focuses on being charming and persuasive during a custody dispute, with an effect that can be highly misleading to Guardians ad Litem, court mediators, judges, police officers, therapists, family members, and friends. He can be skilled at discussing his hurt feelings and at characterizing the relationship as mutually destructive. He will often admit to some milder acts of violence, such as shoving or throwing things, in order to increase his own credibility and create the impression that the victim is exaggerating. He may discuss errors he has made in the past and emphasize the efforts he is making to change, in order to make his partner seem vindictive and unwilling to let go of the past.

An abuser's desire for control often intensifies as he senses the relationship slipping away from him. He tends to focus on the debt he feels his victim owes him, and his outrage at her growing independence. (This dynamic is often misread as evidence that batterers have an inordinate "fear of abandonment.") He is likely to increase his level of intimidation and manipulation at this point; he may, for example, promise to change while simultaneously frightening his victim, including using threats to take custody of the children legally or by kidnapping.

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Excerpt: Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men, Author Lundy Bancroft

He is careful not to create the impression he's bad-mouthing her, while subtly planting his poisonous seeds. He might say, for example: "She's telling people now that I was abusive to her, and that really hurts me. It's gotten so I don't want to show my face places 'cause of what she' saying. I'm not keeping any secrets; I'll tell you right out that I did slap her one day, which I know is wrong. She has this thing about saying that my mother is a 'whore' cause she's been divorced twice, and that really gets to me, but I know I should have handled it differently."

When he leaves, her parents find themselves ruminating "Gee, she didn't mention anything about insulting his mother in that incident. That makes it a little different. She can have quite a mouth on her. I've noticed that myself. He shouldn't slap her, but he's obviously feeling guilt about it now. And he's willing to admit that it's partly his fault, while she blames it all on him. She does that in conflict with us sometimes, she doesn't realize it takes two to tango."

The part about the woman calling his mother a degrading name may never have even happened: my clients smoothly make up stories to cover their worst incident. But whether or not he's telling the truth is almost beside the point; he is playing to the societal value, still widely held, that a man's abuse toward a woman is significantly less serious if she has behaved rudely herself.

Abusers increasingly use a tactic I call "preemptive strike," where he accuses the victim of doing all the things that he has done.

When an abused mother does break up the relationship society tends to do an abrupt about-face. Suddenly she hears from court officials and from other people:
“Well, maybe he abused you, but that’s no reason to keep the children away from him. He is their father, after all.”

”Don’t you think your own resentments are clouding your judgement about your children?”

”Don’t you believe that people ever change? Why don’t you give him the benefit of the doubt?” In other words, a women can be punished for exposing children to a man in one situation, but then punished for refusing to expose them to the same man in another situation. And, the second case is potentially even more dangerous than the first, because she is no longer able to keep an eye on what he does with the children or to prevent the post-separation escalation that is so common in abusive fathers.

Batterers naturally strive to turn mediation and GAL processes to their advantage, through the use of various tactics. Perhaps the most common is to adopt the role of a hurt, sensitive man who doesn't understand how things got so bad and just wants to work it all out "for the good of the children." He may cry in front of the mediator or GAL and use language that demonstrates considerable insight into his own feelings. He is likely to be skilled at explaining how other people have turned the victim against him, and how she is denying him access to the children as a form of revenge, "even though she knows full well that I would never do anything to hurt them." He commonly accuses her of having mental health problems, and may state that her family and friends agree with him. The two most common negative characterizations he will use are that she is hysterical and that she is promiscuous. The abuser tends to be comfortable lying, having years of practice, and so can sound believable when making baseless statements. The abuser benefits to the detriment of his children if the court representative fails to look closely at the evidence - or ignores it - because of his charm. He also benefits when professionals believe that they can "just tell" who is lying and who is telling the truth, and so fail to adequately investigate.

Batterers may continue their harassment of the victim for years, through legal channels and other means, causing periodic re-traumatizing of the victim and children and destroying the family's financial position. Motions by abusers for custody or for increases in visitation are common forms of retaliation for things that he is angry about.
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Excerpts from: SPLITTING – Protecting Yourself While Divorcing a Borderline or Narcissist by William A. Eddy, Attorney, Mediator and Clinical Social Worker

The best strategy for Targets of their Blame is to take a very Assertive Approach – to quickly provide credible factual information to the court and to try to be as perfect as possible in every way during the court process.

Ideally, all lawyers, judges, mediators and therapists will learn about the dynamics of Borderlines and Narcissists in court cases, and will be able to successfully handle their difficult behavior. However, it may be 5-10 years beore this occurs.

Taped Conversations: Andy made very effective use of taped conversations, phone calls and voice mail messages. This is one of the best ways to show that the Blamer has a different private personality from the public persona he or she is showing in court.

Do not tell others that you have diagnosed a personality disorder in your spouse. You are not qualified to do so, and this escalates resistance to any cooperation whatsoever. You may discuss “possible patterns” with a therapist or evaluator. But let the evaluator make the diagnosis or explain the pattern to the court without giving it a name.


In court, the goal is to make a decision. Once a decision is made, the issue is resolved and the court moves on. Decisions are based on persuasion in the adversary process. The more persuasive party (or their attorney) will prevail, and the least persuasive will lose.

(Remember abusers can be female or male!)


for support, information and help with coparenting, the divorce process, custody, child support etc visit:  http://facebook.com/onemomsbattle

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Pornography Addiction: The Progression

The following information is from Healing Sexual and Pornography Addictions by Dr. Victor Cline.

FIRST STEP - ADDICTION
"The first change that happened was an addiction-effect. The porn-consumers got hooked. Once involved in pornographic materials, they kept coming back for more and still more... The pornography provided very exciting and powerful imagery which they frequently recalled to mind and elaborated on in their fantasies."
"... many of my most intelligent male patients appeared to be most vulnerable—perhaps because they had a greater capacity to fantasize, which heightened the intensity of the experience and made them more susceptible to being conditioned into an addiction."
 
SECOND STEP - ESCALATION
"The second phase was an escalation-effect. With the passage of time, the addicted person required rougher, more explicit, more deviant... sexual material to get their "highs" and "sexual turn-ons." It was reminiscent of individuals afflicted with drug addictions. Over time there is nearly always an increasing need for more of the stimulant to get the same initial effect."

THIRD PHASE - DESENSITIZATION
"The third phase was desensitization. Material (in books, magazines, or films/videos) which was originally perceived as shocking, taboo-breaking, illegal, repulsive, or immoral, in time came to be seen as acceptable and commonplace. The sexual activity depicted in the pornography (no matter how anti-social or deviant) became legitimized. There was an increasing sense that "everybody does it" and this gave them permission to also do it, even though the activity was possibly illegal and contrary to their previous moral beliefs and personal standards."

FOURTH PHASE - ACTING OUT SEXUALLY
"The fourth phase was an increasing tendency to act out sexually the behaviors viewed in the pornography, including:
This behavior frequently grew into a sexual addiction which they found themselves locked into and unable to change or reverse — no matter what the negative consequences were in their life."

(*As seen in clinical studies of sex addicts, sex offenders, or other individuals [96% male] with sexual illnesses. )
"... Their addiction and escalation were mainly due to the powerful sexual imagery in their minds, implanted there by the exposure to pornography."


"... It is difficult for non-addicts to comprehend the totally driven nature of a sex addict. When the "wave" hits them, nothing can stand in the way of getting what they want, whether that be pornography accompanied by masturbation, sex from a prostitute, molesting a child, or raping a woman. These men are consumed by their appetite, regardless of the cost or consequences. Their addiction virtually rules their lives."


"Once addicted, they could not throw off their dependence on the material by themselves, despite many negative consequences such as divorce, loss of family, and problems with the law (such as sexual assault, harassment or abuse of fellow employees)."

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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Cognitive Distortions

Definition of Cognitive Distortions
Cognitive Hazard


Cognitive distortions are logical, but they are not rational. They can create real difficulty with your thinking. See if you are doing any of the ten common distortions that people use. Rate yourself from one to ten with one being low and ten being high. Ask yourself if you can stop using the distortions and think in a different way.

1. ALL-OR-NOTHING THINKING: You see things in black-and-white categories. If your performance falls short of perfect, you see your self as a total failure.

2. OVERGENERALIZATION: You see a single negative event as a never-ending pattern of defeat.

3. MENTAL FILTER: You pick out a single negative detail and dwell on it exclusively so that your vision of all reality becomes darkened, like the drop of ink that discolors the entire beaker of water.


4. DISQUALIFYING THE POSITIVE: You reject positive experiences by insisting they "don't count" for some reason or other. In this way you can maintain a negative belief that is contradicted by your everyday experiences.


5. JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS: You make a negative interpretation even though there are no definite facts that convincingly support your conclusion.


1. MIND READING: You arbitrarily conclude that someone is reacting negatively to you, and you don't bother to check this out

2. THE FORTUNETELLER ERROR: you can anticipate that things will turn out badly, and you feel convinced that your prediction is an already-established fact.
6. MAGNIFICATION (CATASTROPHIZING) OR MINIMIZATION: You exaggerate the importance of things (such as your goof-up or someone else's achievement), or you inappropriately shrink things until they appear tiny (your own desirable qualities or other fellow's imperfections). This is also called the binocular trick."

7. EMOTIONAL REASONING: You assume that your negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things really are: "I feel it, therefore it must be true."


8. SHOULD STATEMENTS: You try to motivate yourself with should and shouldn't, as if you had to be whipped and punished before you could be expected to do anything. "Musts" and "oughts" are also offenders. The emotional consequences are guilt. When you direct should statements toward others, you feel anger, frustration, and resentment.


9. LABELING AND MISLABELING: This is an extreme form of overgeneralization. Instead of describing your error, you attach a negative label to yourself. "I'm a loser." When someone else's behavior rubs you the wrong way, you attach a negative label to him" "He's a Goddamn louse." Mislabeling involves describing an event with language that is highly colored and emotionally loaded.


10. PERSONALIZATION: You see your self as the cause of some negative external event, which in fact you were not primarily responsible for.

(note: some of these can be CAUSED by either being a victim of abuse or having an abusive personality disorder - Barbara)

 

ORIGINAL

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Saturday, August 23, 2014

A Painful Incredulity: Psychopathy and Cognitive Dissonance


by Claudia Moscovici

Almost everyone involved with a psychopath goes through a phase (and form) of denial. It’s very tough to accept the sad reality that the person who claimed to be your best friend or the love of your life is actually a backstabbing snake whose sole purpose in life is humiliating and dominating those around him. Rather than confront this reality, some victims go into denial entirely. They aren’t ready to accept any part of the truth, which, when suppressed, often surfaces in anxiety, projection and nightmares.

At some point, however, the evidence of a highly disturbed personality shows through, especially once the psychopath is no longer invested in a given victim and thus no longer makes a significant effort to keep his mask on. Then total denial is no longer possible. The floodgates of reality suddenly burst open and a whole slew of inconsistencies, downright lies, manipulations, criticism and emotional abuse flows through to the surface of our consciousness.

However, even then it’s difficult to absorb such painful information all at once. Our heart still yearns for what we have been persuaded, during the luring phase, was our one true love. Our minds are still filled with memories of the so-called good times with the psychopath. Yet, the truth about the infidelities, the constant deception, the manipulation and the backstabbing can no longer be denied. We can’t undo everything we learned about the psychopath; we cannot return to the point of original innocence, of total blindness. The result is a contradictory experience: a kind of internal battle between clinging to denial and accepting the truth.

Cognitive dissonance is a painful incredulity marked by this inner contradiction in the victim’s attitude towards the victimizer. In 1984, perhaps the best novel about brainwashing that occurs in totalitarian regimes, George Orwell coined his own term for this inner contradiction: he called it doublethink. Doublethink is not logical, but it is a common defense mechanism for coping with deception, domination and abuse. Victims engage in doublethink, or cognitive dissonance, in a partly subconscious attempt to reconcile the contradictory claims and behavior of the disordered individuals who have taken over their lives.

The denial itself can take several forms. It can manifest itself as the continuing idealization of the psychopath during the luring phase of the relationship or it can be shifting the blame for what went wrong in the relationship from him, the culprit, to ourselves, or to other victims. In fact, the easiest solution is to blame neither oneself nor the psychopath, but other victims. How often have you encountered the phenomenon where people who have partners who cheat on them lash out at the other women (or men) instead of holding their partners accountable for their actions? It’s far easier to blame someone you’re not emotionally invested in than someone you love, particularly if you still cling to that person or relationship.

Other victims project the blame back unto themselves. They accept the psychopath’s projection of blame and begin questioning themselves: what did I do wrong, to drive him away? What was lacking in me that he was so negative or unhappy in the relationship? Was I not smart enough, virtuous enough, hard-working enough, beautiful enough, sexy enough, attentive enough, submissive enough etc.

When one experiences cognitive dissonance, the rational knowledge about psychopathy doesn’t fully sink in on an emotional level. Consequently, the victim moves constantly back and forth between the idealized fantasy and the pathetic reality of the psychopath. This is a very confusing process and an emotionally draining one as well. Initially, when you’re the one being idealized by him, the fantasy is that a psychopath can love you and that he is committed to you and respects you. Then, once you’ve been devalued and/or discarded, the fantasy remains that he is capable of loving others, just not you. That you in particular weren’t right for him, but others can be. This is the fantasy that the psychopath tries to convince every victim once they enter the devalue phase. Psychopaths truly believe this because they never see anything wrong with themselves or their behavior, so if they’re no longer excited by a person, they conclude it must be her (or his) fault; that she (or he) is deficient.

Because you put up with emotional abuse from the psychopath you were with and recently been through the devaluation phase–in fact, for you it was long and drawn-out–you have absorbed this particular fantasy despite everything you know about psychopaths’ incapacity to love or even care about others. But with time and no contact, the rational knowledge and the emotional will merge, and this last bit of illusion about the psychopath will be dissolved.

Cognitive dissonance is part and parcel of being the victim of a personality disordered individual. It doesn’t occur in healthy relationships for several reasons:

1) healthy individuals may have good and bad parts of their personalities, but they don’t have a Jekyll and Hyde personality; a mask of sanity that hides an essentially malicious and destructive self. In a healthy relationship, there’s a certain transparency: basically, what you see is what you get. People are what they seem to be, flaws and all.

2) healthy relationships aren’t based on emotional abuse, domination and a mountain of deliberate lies and manipulation

3) healthy relationships don’t end abruptly, as if they never even happened because normal people can’t detach so quickly from deeper relationships

4) conversely, however, once healthy relationships end, both parties accept that and move on. There is no stalking and cyberstalking, which are the signs of a disordered person’s inability to detach from a dominance bond: a pathetic attempt at reassertion of power and control over a relationship that’s over for good

Cognitive dissonance happens in those cases where there’s an unbridgeable contradiction between a dire reality and an increasingly implausible fantasy which, once fully revealed, would be so painful to accept, that you’d rather cling to parts of the fantasy than confront that sad reality and move on.

Relatedly, cognitive dissonance is also a sign that the psychopath still has a form of power over you: that his distorted standards still have a place in your brain. That even though you may reject him on some level, on another his opinions still matter to you. Needless to say, they shouldn’t. He is a fraud; his opinions are distorted; his ties to others, even those he claims to “love,” just empty dominance bonds. Rationally, you already know that his opinions and those of his followers should have no place in your own mental landscape.

But if emotionally you still care about what he thinks or feels, then you are giving a disordered person too much power over you: another form of cognitive dissonance, perhaps the most dangerous. Cut those imaginary ties and cut the power chords that still tie you to a pathological person, his disordered supporters and their abnormal frame of reference. Nothing good will ever come out of allowing a psychopath and his pathological defenders any place in your heart or mind. The schism between their disordered perspective and your healthy one creates the inner tension that is also called cognitive dissonance. To eliminate this inner tension means to free yourself– body, heart and mind–from the psychopath, his followers and their opinions or standards. What they do, say, think or believe –and the silly mind games they choose to play–simply does not matter.

SOURCE

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Friday, August 22, 2014

Why Abusers Choose the Victims They Choose



Thoughts from an Abuser
 

Why they choose the victims they choose:

"I am very much attracted to vulnerability, to unstable or disordered personalities or to the inferior. Such people constitute more secure sources of better quality narcissistic supply. The inferior offer adulation. 

The mentally disturbed, the traumatized, the abused become dependent and addicted to me. The vulnerable can be easily and economically manipulated without fear of repercussions."

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Traumatic Bonding & Stockholm Syndrome



"Why Do You Stay?" Traumatic Bonding And
The Development Of The Stockholm Syndrome
in Abused Women

- 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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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Reactive Abuse - What Is It?

Escape


“…stop making out people to be evil if they fight back. Or run away. As in divorce.


You cannot force people to submit to abuse. That is the Sin of Sodom, otherwise known as making someone bend over for it. It violates the Laws of Nature. And common sense.” - Kathy Krajco

If you’ve ever been in an abusive relationship like I have, it’s likely your abuser tried to convince you that YOU are the abusive one: that YOU have PMS (a favorite accusation of male partners), YOU are over-reacting, YOU are making it all up,  YOU are the crazy one, that YOU are responsible for all the issues in the relationship, that YOU are the “time-bomb” that explodes on a regular basis. My ex-abuser even called me “Time Bomb” and mocked me about my reactions and responses to his constant abuse during the last 3-3.5 years of our relationship.

It’s a pretty safe assumption that if you’re getting this type of constant blame, mockery, and guilting from a partner in response to any and all issues that arise, you’re in an abusive relationship.

As for your partner’s assertion, yes - you may have sent angry emails or yelled or slammed doors or called names. So your abuser claims YOU were abusing him/her.

But it’s more likely you were REACTING to being abused by your partner. What can make it even more difficult for you to see and understand at this point is that some of their abuse may be subtle and covert rather than obvious and overt. This causes further difficulty for you in identifying the abuse - and makes it easier for your abuser to convince you that it’s all your fault, or the problem is really with YOU - that you’re “crazy”, or “imagining things”.

They’ll abuse you, and when you react to that abuse, they accuse YOU of abusing THEM and they play the victim role. They don’t call it “crazymaking” for nothing!

This is the stage at which an abused partner often describes as being in the “fog” of abuse. Their abusive partner has guilted them in to accepting ALL blame for the issues in the relationship, and caused them to doubt their own perceptions of the mistreatment they’re receiving.

It’s not at all unusual for a person in an abusive relationship to REACT abusively. This does not mean YOU are the abuser, that you are crazy, have PMS etc. etc. — though the abusive partner will try to convince you that YOU are THE problem and will often succeed in guilting you into believing it. I believed it for a LONG time before I began to recognize and question the pattern of abuse and the subsequent constant blame for the abuse, and worse, the ensuing mockery because I dared respond at all to having been hurt by it.

An interesting thing to note is that an abusive partner will often be very calm when you are upset and angry. This is because when they have finally succeeded in causing your reaction of hurt, upset or anger, then THEY are in power and control over you. THIS is what abuse is about: POWER and CONTROL. And like a drug addict, they get a lot of satisfaction out of that feeling of power and control. Abusers are very disordered people in this way.

The important thing for you to know is that this relationship and this person is toxic, unhealthy, and you need to get out of it and away from this person ASAP. They are emotional vampires, sucking away from you every iota of self-esteem and spirit you ever had. (then they will complain when you have none!)

If someone can drive you to be so upset on a regular basis (and abusers are experts at this - it gives them the sense of superiority, power and control they absolutely LIVE for) then the best thing to do is GET OUT and have NO FURTHER contact with that toxic person, if it is possible for you to do so.

The thing with abusers is that they are pathologically backwards people.

Lundy Bancroft touches on this in his book. Abusive, toxic people only consider and notice THEIR own feelings and their partner’s behavior. They never, EVER consider or notice their PARTNER’S FEELINGS and their own behavior.

When they’re abusive, (verbally, emotionally, sexually, physically, financially - covertly or overtly) it is always someone else’s fault. When their partner/victim finally reacts to that abuse with anger or upset at having been abused - then that is their partner/victim’s fault too.

In their minds, it never gets down to their OWN behavior and how it affects their partner’s feelings. They like to pretend that isn’t relevant, or anything they should ever be responsible for. They ALWAYS lack empathy for their partners (beyond the early “romance” stages when they’re trying to pull you in). This lack of empathy is the mark of the beast of abuse - more than anything else.

Here’s some information that may also help explain this “reactive abuse” concept a little more:

How do you know that you are not the one who is crazy or PMS’ing and that he is really emotionally abusive?

Answer:

You are being abused if:

(1) He repeats a certain bad behavior (ie: pattern of behavior).

(2) You asked him to stop (for whatever reason) and...

(3) He refuses and continues to behave the way he has.
You may well be abusing him - but that does not mean that he is not being abusive towards you. Both parties are sometimes abusive towards each other.

People who are abusers rarely consider that they might be abusive. Even if the stresses of the relationship lead into what might be considered reactive abuse, anyone who honestly tries to adjust to the other person’s actual needs, actively listens to the other person, and makes every attempt to stop such behavior, probably is not an abuser.

Abusers do not take responsibility for their own actions, and in fact often blame the abused. When the abused person reacts to the abuse, the abuser calls that reaction abuse, and will use guilt to try to get the abused to feel responsible for the arguments or difficulties, as well as for the abuser’s actions.

This is one of the reasons getting away from an abuser is so important. Everything clarifies then.

SOURCE



While this article is written with the male as an abuser, your abuser may well be female!

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