Sanctuary for the Abused

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Common Reactions to Trauma


Edna B. Foa, Elizabeth A. Hembree, David Riggs, Sheila Rauch, and Martin Franklin
Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety
Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania


A traumatic experience produces emotional shock and may cause many emotional problems. This handout describes some of the common reactions people have after a trauma. Because everyone responds differently to traumatic events, you may have some of these reactions more than others, and some you may not have at all.

Remember, many changes after a trauma are normal. In fact, most people who directly experience a major trauma have severe problems in the immediate aftermath. Many people then feel much better within three months after the event, but others recover more slowly, and some do not recover enough without help. Becoming more aware of the changes you've undergone since your trauma is the first step toward recovery.

Some of the most common problems after a trauma are described below.

Fear and anxiety. Anxiety is a common and natural response to a dangerous situation. For many it lasts long after the trauma ended. This happens when views of the world and a sense of safety have changed. You may become anxious when you remember the trauma. But sometimes anxiety may come from out of the blue. Triggers or cues that can cause anxiety may include places, times of day, certain smells or noises, or any situation that reminds you of the trauma. As you begin to pay more attention to the times you feel afraid you can discover the triggers for your anxiety. In this way, you may learn that some of the out-of-the-blue anxiety is really triggered by things that remind you of your trauma.

Re-experiencing of the trauma. People who have been traumatized often re-experience the traumatic event. For example, you may have unwanted thoughts of the trauma, and find yourself unable to get rid of them. Some people have flashbacks, or very vivid images, as if the trauma is occurring again. Nightmares are also common. These symptoms occur because a traumatic experience is so shocking and so different from everyday experiences that you can't fit it into what you know about the world. So in order to understand what happened, your mind keeps bringing the memory back, as if to better digest it and fit it in.

Increased arousal is also a common response to trauma. This includes feeling jumpy, jittery, shaky, being easily startled, and having trouble concentrating or sleeping. Continuous arousal can lead to impatience and irritability, especially if you're not getting enough sleep. The arousal reactions are due to the fight or flight response in your body. The fight or flight response is the way we protect ourselves against danger, and it occurs also in animals. When we protect ourselves from danger by fighting or running away, we need a lot more energy than usual, so our bodies pump out extra adrenaline to help us get the extra energy we need to survive.

People who have been traumatized often see the world as filled with danger, so their bodies are on constant alert, always ready to respond immediately to any attack. The problem is that increased arousal is useful in truly dangerous situations, such as if we find ourselves facing a tiger. But alertness becomes very uncomfortable when it continues for a long time even in safe situations. Another reaction to danger is to freeze, like the deer in the headlights, and this reaction can also occur during a trauma.

Avoidance is a common way of managing trauma-related pain. The most common is avoiding situations that remind you of the trauma, such as the place where it happened. Often situations that are less directly related to the trauma are also avoided, such as going out in the evening if the trauma occurred at night. Another way to reduce discomfort is trying to push away painful thoughts and feelings. This can lead to feelings of numbness, where you find it difficult to have both fearful and pleasant or loving feelings. Sometimes the painful thoughts or feelings may be so intense that your mind just blocks them out altogether, and you may not remember parts of the trauma.

Many people who have been traumatized feel angry and irritable. If you are not used to feeling angry this may seem scary as well. It may be especially confusing to feel angry at those who are closest to you. Sometimes people feel angry because of feeling irritable so often. Anger can also arise from a feeling that the world is not fair.

Trauma often leads to feelings of guilt and shame. Many people blame themselves for things they did or didn't do to survive. For example, some assault survivors believe that they should have fought off an assailant, and blame themselves for the attack. Others feel that if they had not fought back they wouldn't have gotten hurt. You may feel ashamed because during the trauma you acted in ways that you would not otherwise have done. Sometimes, other people may blame you for the trauma.

Feeling guilty about the trauma means that you are taking responsibility for what occurred. While this may make you feel somewhat more in control, it can also lead to feelings of helplessness and depression.

Grief and depression are also common reactions to trauma. This can include feeling down, sad, hopeless or despairing. You may cry more often. You may lose interest in people and activities you used to enjoy. You may also feel that plans you had for the future don't seem to matter anymore, or that life isn't worth living. These feelings can lead to thoughts of wishing you were dead, or doing something to hurt or kill yourself. Because the trauma has changed so much of how you see the world and yourself, it makes sense to feel sad and to grieve for what you lost because of the trauma.

Self-image and views of the world often become more negative after a trauma. You may tell yourself, "If I hadn't been so weak or stupid this wouldn't have happened to me." Many people see themselves as more negative overall after the trauma ("I am a bad person and deserved this.").

It is also very common to see others more negatively, and to feel that you can't trust anyone. If you used to think about the world as a safe place, the trauma may suddenly make you think that the world is very dangerous. If you had previous bad experiences, the trauma convinces you that the world is dangerous and others aren't to be trusted. These negative thoughts often make people feel they have been changed completely by the trauma. Relationships with others can become tense and it is difficult to become intimate with people as your trust decreases.

Sexual relationships may also suffer after a traumatic experience. Many people find it difficult to feel sexual or have sexual relationships. This is especially true for those who have been sexually (physically or emotionally) assaulted, since in addition to the lack of trust, sex & sexual feelings themselves are a reminder of the trauma.

Some people increase their use of alcohol or other substances after a trauma. There is nothing wrong with responsible drinking, but if your use of alcohol or drugs changed as a result of your traumatic experience, it can slow down your recovery and cause problems of its own. (See a doctor or psychiatrist familiar with PTSD if you have problems sleeping, eating, working and so on.)

Many of the reactions to trauma are connected to one another. For example, a flashback may make you feel out of control, and will therefore produce fear and arousal. Many people think that their common reactions to the trauma mean that they are "going crazy" or "losing it." These thoughts can make them even more fearful. Again, as you become aware of the changes you have gone through since the trauma, and as you process these experiences during treatment, the symptoms should become less distressing.

The information on this Web site is presented for educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for informed medical advice or training. Do not use this information to diagnose or treat a mental health problem without consulting a qualified health or mental health care provider.

All information contained on these pages is in the public domain unless explicit notice is given to the contrary, and may be copied and distributed without restriction.


For more information call the PTSD Information Line at (802) 296-6300 or send email to ncptsd@ncptsd.org.

From the website of the National Centre for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Being at the receiving end of abuse (being lied to, being used, being degraded, coerced, minimized, blamed, bullied, humiliated, emotionally raped, verbally and emotionally abused, etc) IS trauma.

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Friday, September 13, 2019

The Art of Saying "NO"




What exactly is The Art of Saying No?

A lot of people just don't like the idea of having to tell people they can't do something. Or they feel obligated when a colleague asks a favour; or feel pressurised when someone senior to them needs something done.

There are even some work places where saying no is definitely frowned upon; and in, say, the police force, could be a sackable or disciplinary offence.

After having worked for some time with people where saying no either feels impossible or just isn't allowed, we created a body of work to address it. In some cases it is indeed, how to say no without ever saying the word.

Of course, there are times when saying the 'n' word is a necessity. But in our experience, there is so much anxiety around the possible consequences of using it, that people don't say anything at all, or agree to things they'd rather not, or get landed with work that isn't theirs and so on.

That can't be good for anyone, but especially the person who finds themselves staying late at the end of the day to get their own work done after they've finished everyone else's; or who swallows their resentment when they are 'volunteered' for something they don't want to do; or who quakes at the idea of having to be a bit tougher with a supplier or even someone they manage.

It's Not Assertiveness

The reason we've been asked this is that assertiveness training has been around for some time, and people wonder if this art of saying no business isn't just more of the same.

Well, no it isn't, and here's why.

We believe the very term 'assertiveness' is limiting. For instance, people say you should be assertive rather than aggressive, as if assertiveness is the only way to deal with a difficult situation. It isn't. If you are being attacked or abused, then aggressively fighting back may well be an appropriate thing to do. The key word here is appropriate.

So yes, aggressiveness may be appropriate, assertiveness may be appropriate, but there's a greater range of choice of behaviour than those two types that could be equally appropriate.

Before we discuss them, though, we want to talk about some of the things that happen to people when what they think and feel is different from what they do.

Many 'unassertive' people recognise that their pattern of behaviour is to be nice or compliant for far longer than they really want to until they reach the point of no longer being able to hold it in; then they explode nastily and inappropriately all over whoever happens to be around.

There are three ways this 'explosion' can happen. The first is that the rage happens inside the head and remains unexpressed. The second is that it is inappropriately expressed, and someone not involved, like a work colleague or secretary or even a bus conductor, becomes the recipient. The third is properly directed at the 'offending party' but is out of all proportion to the probably small, but nonetheless final-straw-event that unleashes it.

Not Nice Not Nasty

This leaves people with the impression that there are only two states or behaviours they can do: Nice or Nasty. When, in fact, they have forgotten a whole range of behaviour that lies between Nice and Nasty that can be termed Not-Nice (or even Not-Nasty).

What we've seen with assertiveness, is that it is often seen as a single form of behaviour: just say no, stand your ground, be a broken record - all quite difficult if you are truly unassertive, or in our jargon - simply too nice for your own good. The concept of asserting yourself, (getting your voice heard, being understood, being taken into account, getting your own way) needs to be broadened to include all forms of behaviour. It can include humour, submission, irresponsibility, manipulation, playfulness, aggressiveness, etc.

The key point here is that the behaviour - nice, not-nice, nasty - is chosen. We emphasise the word key, because until people are able to choose behaviour that's free from the limiting effects of their fear of possible consequences, they will not be able to act no matter how well they are taught to be assertive. They will still feel overwhelmed in difficult situations.

Managing Feelings

It needs to be acknowledged that the strong feelings associated with changing behaviour are real and valid. Once people do that, then these (usually difficult) feelings can be looked upon as a good thing, a sign that something new is happening. At this point people can start to 'choose' to have these feelings rather than having to endure them or trying to pretend they are not happening.

The idea of choice is very important. If people feel they have real choice about how they behave, they start to realise that it can be OK to put up with something they don't like. They can choose it because they want to; it is to their advantage. They then avoid the disempowering tyranny of always having to assert themselves. (Which is almost as bad as feeling you always have to be compliant or nice.)

Many people think that in order to be assertive, you need to ignore what you are feeling and just 'stand your ground'. In fact, you ignore those feelings at your peril.

Often the magnitude of peoples' feelings is way out of proportion to what the situation warrants. They may well reflect a previous difficult event more accurately. But because that previous difficulty was so difficult, it feels as though every similar situation will be the same.

It is only by beginning to experience and understand how crippling these feelings can be that people can start to do anything about changing their behaviour. Many people know what they could say; they know what they could do. Most 'unassertive' people have conversations in their heads about how to resolve a conflict they're in; but still, their mouths say 'yes', while their heads say 'no'. Knowing what to do or say is not the issue here.

Therefore, in looking at practising 'the art of saying no', it is wise to broaden the brief to so that it isn't about becoming more assertive; rather it's about changing your behaviour to fit the circumstances.

While in many circumstances assertiveness can be a straight jacket of it's own (often creating resistance and resentment), the full lexicon of behaviour can be freeing, because there is choice in the matter. Using charm, humour, telling the truth or even deliberate manipulation, may well get you what you want without having to attempt behaviour that may go against your personality.

If you add a dash of fun or mischief, The Art of Saying No becomes a doable prospect, rather than another difficult mountain to climb.

Saying No

Here are some pointers of what could make it easier to say 'no'.

If you're saying something serious, notice whether you smile or not. Smiling gives a mixed message and weakens the impact of what you're saying.

If someone comes over to your desk and you want to appear more in charge, stand up. This also works when you're on the phone. Standing puts you on even eye level and creates a psychological advantage.

If someone sits down and starts talking to you about what they want, avoid encouraging body language, such as nods and ahas. Keep your body language as still as possible.

Avoid asking questions that would indicate you're interested (such as, 'When do you need it by?' or 'Does it really have to be done by this afternoon?' etc.)

It's all right to interrupt! A favourite technique of ours is to say something along the lines of, 'I'm really sorry; I'm going to interrupt you.' Then use whatever tool fits the situation. If you let someone have their whole say without interrupting, they could get the impression you're interested and willing. All the while they get no message to the contrary, they will think you're on board with their plan (to get you to do whatever...)

Pre-empt. As soon as you see someone bearing down on you (and your heart sinks because you know they're going to ask for something), let them know you know: 'Hi there! I know what you want. You're going to ask me to finish the Henderson report. Wish I could help you out, but I just can't.'

Pre-empt two. Meetings are a great place to get landed with work you don't want. You can see it coming. So to avoid the inevitable, pre-empt, 'I need to let everyone know right at the top, that I can't fit anything else into my schedule for the next two weeks (or whatever).'

Any of these little tips can help you feel more confident and will support your new behaviour. For that's what this is: If you're someone whom others know they can take advantage (they may not even be doing it on purpose, you're just an easy mark!) you need to indicate by what you do that things have changed.

Here's an Analogy:

Let's say you're a burglar. There's a row of identical houses and you're thinking of having a go at five of them. The first house has a Yale lock on the front door. The second house has a Yale and a Chubb lock on the front door. The third house has a Yale and a Chubb lock on the front door and bars on the window. The fourth house has a Yale and a Chubb lock on the front door, bars on the window and burglar alarm. The fifth house has a Yale and a Chubb lock on the front door, bars on the window, a burglar alarm and a Rottweiler.

Which would you burgle?

When you make it easy for other people, they will naturally keep coming back. By learning more effective ways of saying 'no' you make it harder for others to expect you to do what they want without taking into account what's going on for you. You become more burglar-proof.

Changing Others by Changing Yourself

A lot of us wish that the person we are in conflict with, or feel intimidated by, would change. Then everything would be all right. We've all heard this from a colleague, friend, partner and even said it ourselves: 'If only he'd listen to me, then I wouldn't be so frightened.' 'If only she'd stop complaining about my work, I'd be much happier.'

'If only' puts the onus on the other person to change how and who they are and makes them responsible for how we feel. By using some of the tools outlined above, people can get a sense of being in charge of situations, rather than being victims to what other people want.

It does seem to be part of human nature to blame others when things go wrong in our lives, or when we're feeling hard done by. If you take away the 'if only' excuse you also take away the need to blame and make the other person wrong. It's also rather wonderful to think that rather than waiting for someone else to change to make things all right, we all have the ability to take charge of most situations and make them all right for ourselves.

What also makes it easier is that we all just have to get better at 'the art of saying no'; none of us has to change our whole personalities to create a more satisfying outcome!

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Wednesday, September 11, 2019

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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Sunday, September 01, 2019

Vulnerability and Other Prey of Pathologicals

Help protect yourself from victimization by psychopaths. (and narcissists)

by Marisa Mauro, Psy.D.

Certain personality traits may create better perpetrators and, unfortunately certain cues may create better victims. In a study by Wheeler, Book and Costello of Brock University, individuals who self reported more traits associated with psychopathy were more apt to correctly identify individuals with a history of victimization. In the study, male student participants examined video tapes of twelve individuals walking from behind and rated the ease at which each could be mugged. The men also completed the Self-Report Psychopathy Scale: Version III (Paulhus, Hemphill, & Hare, in press) which measures interpersonal and affective traits associated with psychopathy as well as intra-personal instability and antisocial traits. 

Finally, they were asked to provide verbal rational for their ratings. Overall results confirmed a strong positive correlation between psychopathy scores and accuracy of victim identification. This means that individuals that score higher for psycopathy are better at selecting victims. Statistically significant results for psychopathy traits including interpersonal manipulation, callous affect and antisocial bevavior were found.

Acknowledging that fault always lies with the perpetrator, this research may empower individuals with a history of or concerns about victimization. As for myself, a prison psychologist often dealing with career criminals and individuals with psychopathic traits, I am convinced, in the course of observation alone, that certain personal characteristics are associated with tendency to be on the receiving end of bullying such as harassment and manipulation. I have found that the demonstration of confidence through body language, speech and affective expression, for example, provides some protection. This sense was confirmed by Wheeler, Book and Costello, who found that increased fluidity projected through one's walking gait was associated with less reporting of victimization. With respect to gait, the author's provide five cues of vulnerability originally reported by Grayson and Stein (1981). They state, "potential victims had longer or shorter strides, had nonlateral weight shifts, had gestured versus postural movements and tended to lift their feet higher while walking."

Besides one's walk, individuals can purposefully project dominance thereby potentially decreasing perceived vulnerability by increasing eye contact, decreasing the use of small body movements of the hands and feet, and increasing large body movements or changes in postural positioning. Personally, I have also found that conscious control of changes in affective expression, particularly through control of fear, surprise and embarrassment, as well as the rate, tone and fluency of speech decreases one's likelihood of victimization or bullying. It is recommended that individuals maintain the general projection of confidence via dominant body language even in situations where they feel safe. Potential perpetrators may perceive changes in body language signaling vulnerability and act on this perception.

Wheeler, S., Book, A., & Costello, K. (2009). Psychopathic traits and perceptions of victim vulnerability. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 36(6), 635-648.

SOURCE 

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Friday, August 30, 2019

Inside the Mind of an Abuser


What you Need to Know
by Mary M. Alward

Abusers use warped logic to brainwash their victims. They use methods very similar to those of prison guards, who know that to control prisoners they have to have full co-operation. Subversive manipulation of the mind and destruction of the victim are perfect tools to enable abusers to succeed.

The Logic of Brainwashing
Abusers use warped logic to brainwash their victims. Subversive manipulation of the mind and destruction of the victim are the perfect tools to enable abusers to succeed.

The Process of Brainwashing
The abuser uses several methods of coercion to brainwash his victim. They are as follows:

Isolation
Abusers deprive their victims of social interaction with family members and friends. This is necessary to gain control over the victim.

Resistance
The abuser manipulates his victim to become mentally and physically dependent upon him, which reduces the ability of the victim to resist his abuse.

Threats
Abusers use threats to cultivate anxiety, despair and the ability to resist. Most often they threaten children, family members or friends with harm if the victim doesn’t comply with his demands.

Indulgences
Occasionally the abuser will comply with the wishes of the victim in order to provide motivation to comply with his every demand.

Omnipotence
The abuser suggests to the victim that it is futile to resist his demands.

Trivial Demands
Abusers strictly enforce trivial demands in order to create a habit of compliance in his victim.

Degradation
Abusers degrade their victims in order to damage their self esteem and make them think they are unable to face life on their own. Self esteem can be damaged beyond repair and the victim is often reduced to animal level concerns.


About the Abuser


The methods that abusers, both male and female, use to manipulate their victims are a natural part of their personalities. Abusers all share behaviors and thinking patterns. This labels them as dysfunctional, insecure and unable to have a relationship unless they are in complete control.

Abusers keep their victims in the dark about events that are taking place. They are most always in control of the finances, talk about the victim behind their back in order to cause them to become isolated and make plans that include the victim without consulting them. The abuser’s goal is to monopolize the victim’s time and physical environment and suppress their behavior. An abusive partner tells you what social events you can attend and who you can go with. He may insist you quit work and remain at home where he can keep an eye on you, or he may tell you that you can no longer participate in hobbies. Abusers often insist you move to a location away from family members, friends and other contacts that will give you support.

Abusers do their best to instill feelings of fear, powerlessness and dependency in their victim. Both verbal and emotional abuse heightens these feelings and they grow more pronounced as time passes.

The abuser’s system of logic is closed. She doesn’t allow her partner to voice opinions or criticize her in any way. She lets you know, without a doubt, that her word is law
Abuser’s Tactics
There’s a wide range of tactics that the abuser uses to debilitate the victim. If you recognize any of these tactics, a red flag has been raised.

Domination
Abusers are extremely dominating to the point that they want to control everything that the victim does. If they don’t get their way, they act like spoiled children. On top of that, they use threats to get what they want. If you allow your abuser to dominate you, you will lose your self respect.

Verbal Assault
The abuser tends to verbally assault their victim by calling names, degrading, screaming, threatening, criticizing, berating and humiliating. They will center their victim out in front of family and friends by taking small personality flaws and embellishing them to the extreme. They make snide remarks and use sarcasm to erode the victim’s sense of self-worth and self confidence. Making the victim look bad in front of others is an attempt to isolate the victim and keep them at their mercy. Then, the abuse worsens.

Gaslighting
Gaslighting is a slang term from the 1950’s but is the perfect word to describe one tactic of the abuser. The dictionary definition of gaslighting is to drive someone crazy. This is used to keep the abuser’s victim under control. The abuser will swear that events never occurred and that certain things were never said. The victim knows better, but over time will begin to question their sanity. Be alert to gaslighting tactics that can beat you down and make you think you are going insane.

Blackmail
The abuser uses emotional blackmail to get what they want by pushing your buttons. He plays on his victim’s sense of compassion, fears, sense of guilt and values in order to get his own way. He may refuse to talk to his victim or threaten to end the relationship or withdraw financial support if the victim is dependent on him for basic living necessities. Emotional blackmail is the act of working on the victim’s emotions so the abuser can get what he wants.

Constant Chaos
An abuser will keep the household and his victim’s emotions in total chaos by starting arguments and constantly being in conflict with other family members.

Abusive Expectations
This happens when the abuser makes unreasonable demands on their victim. They may expect their partner to reject everything in their life to tend to the abuser’s needs. Included can be frequent sex, forcing the victim to perform sexual acts that are against their will, demanding all of the victim’s attention or demanding that the victim spend all free time with the abuser. No matter how hard the victim tries to please the abuser, she will always demand more. The victim, whether male or female, will be constantly criticized and berated because they are unable to fulfill the abuser’s demands.

Unpredictable Responses
This includes emotional outbursts and extreme mood swings on the part of the abuser. If you partner likes something you do today and hates it tomorrow, or reacts to the extreme at an identical behavior by the victim, this is an unpredictable response. This behavior damages the victim’s self esteem, self confidence and mental well-being because they are constantly on edge, wondering how their partner is going to respond to their every move.
Living with a person who has unpredictable response is difficult, stressful, nerve wracking and it causes a great deal of anxiety that can lead to health problems. The victim lives with fear and security and has no sense of balance in their life. Abusers who drink excessively are alcoholics or drug abusers often have unpredictable responses to trivial events.

Inside the Abuser’s Mind

Abusers have a tendency to feel they are unique individuals (narcissistic) and shouldn’t have to live under the same rules as everyone else. However, the opposite is true. Abusers share many of the same thinking patterns and behaviors and use the same tactics to keep their victims under their control.

Blaming
Abusers tend to shift responsibility for their actions to their victims and become angry because the person caused them to behave inappropriately. The abuser might say, “If you hadn’t talked back to me, I wouldn't have had to hit you.” Don’t fall for it. The abuser did the hitting and no matter what you did, you are not to blame. He is blaming you for his shortcomings and do not believe that you are the one to blame for even one second.

Making Excuses
Abusers seldom take responsibility for their actions, but try to justify their behavior by making excuses. They may blame the abuse on a difficult childhood or a hard day at the office. Their mind-set tells them that they are never to blame for any negative behavior.

Fantasies of Success
Abusers believe that they would be famous and rich if the victim and other people weren’t holding them back. Because he believes his failure in life is due to others, he feels he is justified in retaliating in any way he can, including physical and emotional abuse. He belittles, berates and puts others down, including the victim, to make himself feel more powerful.

Manipulation
Abusers combine manipulative tactics, such as upsetting people to watch their reaction, lying and provoking arguments and fights among family members and his peers. He charms his victims and other people who he wishes to manipulate by professing that he cares and is interested in their well-being, when all he is doing is opening the door for a deeper level of abuse.

Redefining
The abuser will often redefine situations to blame others for his troubles. Abusers will seldom admit that they are wrong, or for that matter, less than perfect. It’s always someone else’s fault when they act inappropriately.

Assuming
An abuser’s thought patterns lead them to believe that they know what others, including their victim, is feeling and thinking. They use this warped logic to blame these people for their behavior. For instance, an abuser might say, “I knew you’d be angry about that, so I went for a few drinks after work to enjoy myself. Why should I come home to listen to you nag?”

Dependence
Believe it or not, abusers are emotionally dependent on their victim. This causes an inner rage that encourages the abuser to lash out. Because he is so dependent, he takes control of his victim’s life. This is the way they deny their weaknesses and make themselves feel powerful.

Symptoms of Emotional Dependency
Symptoms of emotional dependency include, but are not limited to, excessive jealousy, jealous rages and possessive actions that are usually sexual in nature. Abusers spend an excessive amount of time monitoring the action and movements of their victims. Often, abusers have no support network and lack those supportive roles that others depend upon. Another sign of emotional dependency is the extreme affect the abuser suffers if his victim leaves. He will go to any lengths to get the victim to return.

Rigid Gender Attitudes
Abusers in a domestic atmosphere tend to have extremely rigid attitudes about the role that their spouse should play in a marriage or common law situation. Wives may expect their husbands to fulfill all of the family’s chores, such as repairs and hold up his role as a father. Husbands may expect their wives to hold down a full time job, keep the house spotless, the laundry caught up, meals made on time and also tend to the kids’ every need. All of these examples are things that should be shared in a normal relationship.

Lying
Most abusers are liars. They lie to manipulate their victim by controlling information. They also lie to keep their victim, and others, off balance psychologically. This enables the abuser to gain control of every situation.

Withdrawal
Abusers have a tendency to put up emotional walls and never give out personal information freely. He keeps his real feelings to himself and is not interested in what others think of him. Abusers like secrets and are righteous and close-minded. An abuser always feels she is right in every situation.

Drama
Abusers, either male or female, can’t seem to develop close, satisfying relationships, or even bad relationships that last. They replace closeness with drama in order to make their life more exciting. They love watching others argue and fight and often do things to keep those around them in a state of constant chaos and upheaval.

Minimizing Actions
Abusers always minimize their actions and refuse to accept their mistakes. An abuser might tell his spouse who has a black eye, “I didn’t hit you hard enough to give you a black eye.”

Ownership and Possession
Abusers are extremely possessive and believe that they should get everything they want. They also feel they can do whatever they wish with their possession and abusers see their partner or spouse as something they own. They feel they are justified in hurting their victim by taking their possessions, attacking them mentally and physically and controlling all aspects of their life.

Anger Management
Most abusers have had a violent and abusive childhood in a dysfunctional family setting. These children are very likely to grow up into spousal abusers. They are taught from the time they are babies that violence is a way to settle disputes and get their own way. It’s a way to settle differences of opinion and they see abuse as normal. As adults, they won’t be able to find alternate ways of showing or channeling their anger. People who do not have a method of outlet for anger on a daily basis allow it to build to a point where it explodes. When this happens, the people closest to them become their sounding board emotionally, mentally and physically.

Rules
Abusers feel they are superior to others and don’t have to follow the rules of society. This is also the attitude of hundreds of criminals in prisons world wide. Inmates often believe that while other inmates are guilty of their crimes that they aren’t. Abusers feel it is always their partners who need counseling and that they can take care of their life without help or support from others.

Fragmentation
The abuser, whether male or female, does their best to keep their abusive behavior separate from the rest of their life. For example: abusers will beat their spouse and kids on a regular basis, but seldom physically attack anyone outside of their home. They also separate their lives psychologically. They may attend church on Sunday morning and play the role of a loving spouse and parent and then go home and beat their spouse and kids on Sunday afternoon. Abusers see this as acceptable and normal behavior and feel it is justified. Yet if they hear a report that someone else has abused their loved ones, they are the first to condemn them.

Verbal Communication
Abusers are seldom capable of a relationship that includes real intimacy. It is believed that they feel vulnerable when they are open and truthful with others. Abusers feel that it is up to their partners to turn feelings of anger and frustration into gratification and to fulfill their every need. Partners of abusers are essentially expected to be mind readers and know in advance the needs of the abusive spouse. When this doesn’t happen, the abuser feels insecure, unloved and rejected and rejection is grounds for emotional, mental and physical abuse.

Glorification
Abusers, both men and women, think of themselves as independent, self-sufficient, superior and strong. If someone criticizes them or says something that causes them to feel insulted, the feeling will cause them to react violently toward their victim. This is the only outlet that they know to use to quell feelings of inadequacy.

Being Vague
Abusers think and speak vaguely to avoid their responsibilities. When asked why they are late or where they’ve been, answers will be vague. If their partners pursue the reason, the abuser becomes defensive and strikes out in order to remain in control of the situation.

Abusers: Things You Need to Know

Red Flag Signals

Many people of both genders interpret early warning signs of abuse as attentive, caring and romantic. Here is a list of early warning signs of future domestic abuse.


Warning!

If you see any of these warning signs in your partner, be ever vigilant. For your own safety, it’s best to end the relationship immediately. It’s better to be alone than to be in a relationship where you are constantly abused in any way. Get help now!

SOURCE OF THIS VITAL INFORMATION - HERE

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Friday, August 23, 2019

Manipulation



In relationships, manipulation can be defined as:

any attempt to control, through coercion (overt or covert),
another person's thoughts, feelings or behaviors.

From this definition, manipulation would seem to have no advantages. However, if you are [trauma bonded] and defined by others, there can be many advantages. When you allow others to control your thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and make decisions for you,

-- you do not have to think for yourself;

-- you can avoid taking risks and making difficult decision;

-- you can avoid taking a stand on controversial issues;

-- you can avoid feeling responsible for negative outcomes;

-- you get to blame others when things go wrong;

-- you can believe, when others tell you how to behave, what to think, how to feel and what to decide, that you are "being loved" because they "want what is best for you";

-- you can avoid feeling separate and alone by avoiding conflict;

-- you can avoid the hard work of emotional growth and development.


Appreciating the advantages of not being manipulated is to accept the hard work of living and interacting with others. It is about being willing to grow and develop emotionally.

These advantages can be that,

-- you learn to know who you are, what you like, what you think, and how you feel;

-- you learn to make difficult decisions;

-- you get to take credit for your decisions;

-- you learn to handle risks and uncertainty;

-- you learn to handle differences and conflicts;

-- you get to be in control of your life and know the freedom of personal self-reliance;

-- you get to have an increased sense of self worth by feeling competent and capable of taking responsibility for your life and personal happiness.


Manipulation is usually attempted using power, unsolicited helping, rescuing, guilt, weakness, and/or dependence, in order to achieve a desired outcome. For example,

1) Power - physical, verbal, intellectual intimidation or threats, put-downs, belittling, withholding of things needed or wanted. The goal is to be in a "one up, I am right and you are wrong" position;

2) Unsolicited helping/rescuing - doing things for others when they do not request it, want it, or need it; helping others so they become indebted, obligated, and owe you. The goal is to be in the "after all I have done for you, and now you owe me" position;

3) Guilt - shaming, scolding, blaming others, attempting to make others responsible, trying to collect for past favors. The goal is to be in the "it is all your fault," or "after all I have done for you and now you treat me like this" position;

4) Weakness/dependence - being (or threatening to become) helpless, needy, fearful, sick, depressed, incompetent, suicidal. The goal is to confuse want with need, with the message "if you do not take care of me, something bad is going to happen and it will be all your fault" position.

With manipulation, there is a physical and emotional response, such as a heightened level of anxiety or irritation, although it may not be perceived as such.

Manipulation feels like a struggle or contest, not free communication. The reason is the manipulator is always invested in the outcome of a situation.

This is where boundaries differ from manipulation.

Boundaries (or limits) are statements about our values and where we stand on issues. True boundaries are not threats or about getting the other person to do what we want. True boundaries are not compromised by another's response.

For example, you discover that your spouse has lied to you and has run up a large gambling debt. You discover the problem by chance, get financial and professional help and are back on track. However, there are new signs of trouble. It is time for some hard decisions.

- What is your bottom line?

- What will you tolerate?

- What manipulative tactics do you use to change your spouse's behavior - check up on them constantly, bird-dog them, never let them be alone, hide the credit cards, lie to your creditors, parents, and children?

- How much rescuing, guilt, power plays, threats, and protection do you run on the gambler?

- At what point do you stop trying to change their behavior and let them know your bottom line?


You cannot make them do or not do anything. You can only let them know what your position is and what you are willing to do to protect yourself and those you are responsible for.

The problem with loud, threatening bottom lines, is that they keep getting louder, more threatening, and redrawn lower and lower.

We tend to determine what our position and action is by what the other person does, instead of voicing our true position and then responding accordingly. This is the time for tough decisions and actions.

In another example, a friend asks you for a ride to work because she is having car trouble. This is the time to establish ground rules, such as, how long will she need
your help, pick up times, expense sharing, days off, etc. A boundary or limit is set when you clearly let your friend know what you are willing to do and not do.

Problems arise - she is frequently not on time morning and evening. Do you wait and be late, or do you leave her? Her car has been in the shop six weeks because she cannot afford to get it out. She has not offered to help with the expense, nor does she seem concerned about the arrangement.

Your friend is using weakness to manipulate and be dependent on you. She has transferred her problem to you and you have accepted it by rescuing and not setting boundaries or limits on your participation in her problem. If you refuse to wait when she is late and she has problems as a result, she will blame you and try to make you feel guilty. What we really want are for others to be responsible and play fair; however, when they do not, we either have to set boundaries, or feel manipulated and victimized with the accompanying advantages and disadvantages.

Lastly, often we confuse UNDERSTANDING with AGREEMENT.

This is when people confuse their decisions with wanting the recipient of a decision to like or agree with it. When we make decisions that oppose the desires of others, there is a cost. We usually attempt to minimize that cost by explaining, in exhaustive detail, our rationale for that decision, somehow thinking if they could just understand our position, they would agree.

Applying that scenario to parent and child - if a parent makes a decision based on the best interest of the child, it needs to be made separate from whether the child is going to like it.

When a child knows it is important to the parent that they be happy with a decision, then it will never be in the child's personal interest to be happy with an unwanted
decision.

If a child knows that their happiness with a parental decision is of equal importance to the decision itself, then all a child has to do is be unhappy in order to make their parent uncomfortable and doubt their decision -- after all, it is always worth a try. This same dynamic can apply to interactions among adults also.

How do we manage manipulation? By becoming more aware of our interaction with others.

Is the interaction an attempt to communicate or does it feel like a contest?

Are you beginning to feel anxious or irritated?

Do you want to get out of the conversation?

Does the interaction fit into a manipulative style?

Is there an attempt to use power, service, guilt, or weakness to get your cooperation?

Are you a willing participant in your own manipulation? Is it easier not taking responsibility?

Are you attempting to manipulate others instead of setting clear boundaries?

Are you making a distinction between a value and a preference?


Preferences can be negotiated, but values should not.

Our society does not deal well with differences in values and preference. We tend to take it as a personal affront and insult when others disagree with us. We will avoid conflicts at all costs, because it feels like rejection. What we need is to communicate to others, clearly and calmly, our values, preferences, and boundaries. We need to be respectful and dedicated to listening, hearing and appreciating, if not understanding, how we all are different.

Mary Treffert, LCSW, ACSW, is a Licensed, Clinical Social Worker, who is an individual, couple, and family therapist in Baton Rouge, LA.

www.marytreffert.com
This is one of a short serise of articles from VictimBehavior.com   http://www.victimbehavior.com/


You may reprint/reproduce any of these provided you include the entire copy, especially this credit.

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Saturday, August 17, 2019

How Friends & Family Can Help an Abuse Victim


HOW FRIENDS AND FAMILY CAN HELP AN ABUSE VICTIM


Family can have a great impact on the recovery of an abuse victim. Here is a brief description of things that family can do to help heal the heaviest of hearts and the deepest of wounds.

LISTEN: Although the thought of addressing an abusive relationship can be a difficult one, an abuse victim needs communication to help heal. Something as simple as letting the abuse victim talk to you and "vent" can make such a considerable difference in their recovery.

THINGS TO DO TO SHOW YOUR SUPPORT: Be supportive. Really listen and indicate that you care

Help them receive help. See to it that they receive sensitive, concerned, and competent medical attention and/or counseling.

Recognize your own limitations in dealing with the abuse. If the survivor is a person you really care about, you are probably experiencing a number of different emotions from outrage to helplessness. Try to resist the urge to express your feelings to the survivor, especially in those silent periods when she may be crying or find it difficult to talk.

Block the abuser and do not communicate with them: 'Not taking sides' or 'remaining neutral' is anything but.  Block the abuser, support the victim.  Period.

Remember to take care of yourself. It can be emotionally exhausting to be supportive to the survivor, while keeping your feelings bottled up. Find someone you can talk to-your feeling matter too. By talking out your feelings with someone other than the survivor, you will be better able to provide the continuing support that the survivor needs.

Remember to put your frustration and anger where it belongs, not on the survivor. They are not "damaged property"; but instead a person who has been abused and violently mistreated.

Your personal revenge against the abuser will not help, and in fact only make matters worse.

HOW FRIENDS AND FAMILY CAN HURT
How many times have you heard the phrase, "well, why don't you just leave him/her?" Probably more times then you can count. Although the topic of abuse is something that many of us can relate to, there are those out there who don't quite understand. In fact, one of the common reasons that abuse victims stay with their abuser is because of family issues, and fear of their family's rejection.

DENIAL/ MISPLACED BLAMING:
Accepting the fact that you or someone you love is in an abusive relationship is very difficult, and often times we do anything we can to push that possibility away. We would all like to believe that it "can not happen to us/those around us" but unfortunately, it can and it does. A common defense mechanism for friends and family of abuse victims is to pretend that the abuse is not taking place. Friends and family attempt to change the subject, become upset once the topic is unavoidable, and even accuse the victim of lying. Some even say "it was your choice" which it wasn't.  Not at all.

Although this is not the case in every situation, it happens more often then not. Through this system of lack of support or denial the victim becomes more isolated and eventually more connected to their abuser. Once this feeling of isolation has thoroughly sunk in the mind of an abuse victim, it becomes even more difficult to leave. An abuser has a powerful hold on their victim, and without assistance from family or friends, that hold can become almost unbreakable. After all, why leave if there is nothing else to go to?

THINGS YOU SHOULD NOT DO:
Ask for specifics and details. Allow the survivor to express their feelings, fears and reactions as they choose.

Tell the survivor what they must and must not do. It is their decision whether or not to report the abuse to the police. If they do not decide to report the abuse, still remain supportive and help them in any way possible.

Make the survivor feel guilty. The survivor has already been through an ordeal; try not to make it worse by using statements such as, "Why did you" or "How could you" or "Why didn't you just leave" or "Just forget them" or "move on/ get over it" or "I don't believe that - are you for real?" or "Don't answer the phone/ etc" ? These statements will only make the survivor feel worse, and further isolate them from seeking help.

Tell anyone about the abuse, unless specified by the survivor. If you need to talk out your feelings, that is fine. But please remember that this is a hard time for the survivor, and they do not want any unnecessary people knowing about the abuse, unless it is on their terms. Let the survivor tell people at their own pace, and in their own way.

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Sunday, August 11, 2019

A Crazy Roller Coaster Ride: Life with a Psychopath from Idealization to Devaluation


by Claudia Moscovici

Life with a psychopath quickly turns into a crazy roller coaster ride. Psychopaths usually retain the appearance of calm, even in the face of great duress. However, sharing your life with a psychopath for any significant period of time means living with constant drama and extreme ups and downs. There are four main reasons for this, three of which I’ve alluded to in previous posts and a fourth that I’d like to examine in greater detail today:

1) The psychopath, not being capable of forming deep emotional attachments, is very easily bored. Consequently, he (or she) will need to provoke constant drama in his personal and sometimes even his professional life, for entertainment.

2) The psychopath, aiming for power and control over others, generally becomes involved sexually and romantically with many individuals at once. This in itself will create a lot of mutual jealousy, fighting over him and drama (among those targets that know of each other), once again, entertaining the psychopath and demonstrating his dominance over his victims.

3) A psychopath will engage in arbitrary displays of power, to maintain control over his targets. If he got upset in a rational manner only for legitimate reasons, this would not demonstrate his power nor psychologically and emotionally unhinge those around him. Psychopaths are always tyrants: be it of their small families or of an entire nation. Whether they wield power over few or over many, their behavior is similar, as are their techniques of maintaining control (deceit, brainwashing, isolation, abuse interspersed with small favors and arbitrary displays of power, manifested from anything to physical violence to gaslighting and emotional abuse and, in some cases, to death itself).

4) However, there’s an aspect of the roller coaster ride–the constant ups and downs, the extreme idealization and the bitter devaluation–which is even harder for victims to accept. It’s nearly impossible for victims to understand why somebody who made such a great effort to seduce you; who couldn’t praise you enough; who gave you so many romantic gifts; who said “I love you Baby” more often than “hello”; who seemed to be lost in your eyes could all of a sudden perceive you as a nothing and a nobody; insult your appearance, accomplishments and intellect; criticize and stab you in the back to others and–above all–hate you as the worst enemy of their lives. I believe that this dramatic and seemingly unmotivated shift from high to low regard absolutely stuns victims of psychopaths, leading some of them to wonder what they did wrong to provoke it.


The answer usually is: you did nothing wrong. In some cases, the flattery and gifts were only a ruse the psychopath used to get whatever he may have wanted from you: be it money, sex, or a cover of normalcy. In other cases, however, the flattery was genuine: which, of course, also means genuinely shallow. It was a sign that the psychopath’s pursuit of you was extremely exciting and rewarding to him. You were (for a period of time) a very high priority because of the immediate gratification the relationship with you offered him.

This doesn’t mean, of course, that he didn’t cheat on you, that he didn’t lie to you, or that he treated you well. It only means that he took the trouble to deceive you and hide his secret lives far better because that was the only way to get from you whatever he wanted at the time. He couldn’t have obtained your trust, your love, your commitment, or your wealth without doing everything possible to convince you of the lie that he, himself was capable of trust, love and commitment.

The high in your relationship is therefore explicable in terms of the time required to lure you, to get you to buy the false image and bond to him. The low is explicable in terms of his need to control and dominate you. Later, it’s also the manifestation of the final phase of the relationship–the discard phase–when the psychopath finally exposed himself for what he is. At that point, he either left you or you left him. Usually, however, psychopaths never leave you for good, but return from time to time to probe for more supply and to destabilize your life.

But it seems as if the psychopath’s devaluation of you is so filled with bitterness, hatred and sometimes even violence that it can’t be fully explained in terms of him tiring of you and moving on to other promising victims. Loving couples can grow apart and leave each other for better matches and lives. Non-loving couples can grow apart once they’re no longer useful to one another. But a psychopath takes this process one step further, to discard his ex-lovers with a degree of vitriol and hatred that astonishes his victims and exceeds any boundaries of normality.

This becomes most obvious in those cases when psychopaths kill their ex-partners and dispose of their bodies as if they were a pile of garbage. Fortunately, this only happens rarely: and when it does, we tend to hear about it on the news. However, even psychopaths who don’t engage in such extreme behavior manifest an inexplicably strong vitriol towards their former partners, particularly towards those who left them of their own volition.

It’s as if a psychopath feels doubly betrayed in those cases: not only for being rejected by you, but also for the fact you’re no longer living up to the unrealistic ideal of the honeymoon phase of the relationship. He projects the blame for the diminished excitement in the relationship unto you. What’s wrong with you that you don’t thrill him anymore, as you did in the beginning of his hot pursuit? Is it because you’re not beautiful enough? Is it because you’re not smart enough? Or rich enough? Or sexual and sensual enough? What do you do wrong and how do you fail to meet his needs?

Failing to accept any responsibility for anything in life, a psychopath never really blames himself for any failure in his relationships. Someone else, or circumstances, are always to blame. Like a child who tires of an old mechanical toy and smashes it to the ground when it no longer works, so the psychopath destroys old relationships (along with their positive associations in his mind) after he tires of each of his partners. For a psychopath, it’s not enough to end a dying relationship. He must also demolish that person and what she once represented to him. The higher you were initially idealized by a psychopath, the lower you will fall in his eyes when the relationship inevitably fizzles out. Hatred and contempt will fill the place in his empty heart, which was temporarily filled by shallow admiration and lust.

SOURCE

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Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Abuse Victims Engage in Dangerous "Magical Thinking"


Personality disorders are not only all-pervasive, but also diffuse and shape-shifting. It is taxing and emotionally harrowing to watch how a loved one is consumed by these pernicious and largely incurable conditions. Victims adopt varying stances and react in different ways to the inevitable abuse involved in relationships with personality disordered patients.

1. Destructive & Unrealistic Optimism
A form of self-delusion, refusing to believe that some diseases are untreatable. Malignant optimists see signs of hope in every fluctuation, read meanings and patterns into every random occurrence, utterance, or slip. These Pollyanna defenses are varieties of magical thinking.

"The abusers hold such thinking in barely undisguised contempt. To them, it is a sign of weakness, the scent of prey, a gaping vulnerability. They use and exploit this human need for order, good, and meaning - as they use and abuse all other human needs. Gullibility, selective blindness, toxic optimism - these are the weapons of theses beasts. And the abused are hard at work to provide it with its arsenal."

2. Rescue Fantasies

"It is true that he is chauvinistic and that his behaviour is unacceptable and repulsive. But all he needs is a little love and he will be straightened out. I will rescue him from his misery and misfortune. I will give him the love that he lacked as a child. Then his (narcissism, psychopathy, paranoia, reclusiveness, abusiveness) will vanish and we will live happily ever after."


3. Self-recrimination
Constant feelings of guilt, self-reproach, self-recrimination and, thus, self-punishment.

The victims of sadists, paranoids, narcissists, borderlines, passive-aggressives, sociopaths and psychopaths internalises the endless hectoring and humiliating criticism and makes them her own. She begins to self-punish, to withhold, to request approval prior to any action, to forgo her preferences and priorities, to erase her own identity - hoping to thus avoid the excruciating pains of her partner's or her clueless friend's destructive analyses.

They often take to a glass or 2 of wine, medication and other pursuits to numb reality.

Many of these partners, when they realise their situation (it is very difficult to discern it from the inside), abandon the personality disordered partner and dismantle the relationship. They are often called "bitter" or "hateful" by others who choose to continue to cling to magical thinking.

Others prefer to believe in the healing power of love or God/ Prayer . But here love is wasted on a human shell (the abuser), incapable of feeling anything but negative emotions.

4. Emulation
The psychiatric profession uses the word: "epidemiology" when it describes the prevalence of personality disorders. Are personality disorders communicable diseases? In a way, they are.

"The affected entertain the (false) notion that they can compartmentalize their abusive (e.g., narcissistic, or psychopathic) behavior and direct it only at their victimizers. In other words, they trust in their ability to segregate their conduct and to be verbally abusive towards the abuser while civil and compassionate with others, to act with malice where their mentally-ill partner is concerned and with "Christian charity" towards all others.


They believe that they can turn on and off their negative feelings, their abusive outbursts, their vindictiveness and vengefulness, their blind rage, their "non-discriminating" judgment.


This, of course, is untrue. These behaviors spill over into daily transactions with innocent neighbors, colleagues, family members, co-workers, or customers. One cannot be partly or temporarily vindictive and judgmental any more than one can be partly or temporarily pregnant.


They judge and chide anyone who doesn't go along with their POSITIVE THINKING attitudes or who embraces reality rather than numbing it. Thereby passing on abuse. "To heal is to not feel" is their motto.


To their horror, these victims discover that they have been changed and transformed into their worst nightmare: into their abusers - judgmental, malevolent, vicious, lacking empathy, egotistical, exploitative, violent and abusive."

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