Sanctuary for the Abused

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

When Your Perfect Partner Goes Perfectly Wrong


pics on Sodahead


"Loving or Leaving the Narcissist in Your Life"

by Mary Jo Fay

Chapter 20
Walking on Eggshells
If I printed all the stories people have sent me, this book would be so big you couldn't carry it. Yet, one of the most interesting things about gathering real-life accounts was the commonality in language and feelings among respondents. I found it absolutely fascinating that these people, who came from all over the country and with completely different circumstances, could use exactly the same phrases and describe exactly the same feelings:
I was always walking on eggshells around him
It felt like I was on a never-ending roller coaster ride and I just couldn't figure out how to get off.
I felt like we lived inside a tornado.
The silent treatment was constant and deafening
I never knew what I did wrong.
I always felt so stupid.
Everything was always my fault.
I carried such guilt every day of my life.

And, when victims first learn about narcissism and realize that they are not alone and they are not crazy to think or feel the way they do, they are all equally overwhelmed with relief. It's like they've awakened from a coma after years of sleep with continuous nightmares. Then they start to examine their situations more closely for all the tell-tale tracks that narcissists leave in theor wake. They start to see the red flags they ignored for so long. And only then do they begin to have hope and see the possibility of a future with sunshine and blue sky.

SusanK
The warning signs of his narcissistic behavior appeared early on. He controlled every situation, without regard to my needs or feelings. In one instance, we were visiting his family in Europe and my period started a week early. He had some visits with friends scheduled that day and I told him that I needed to go to a drugstore. He insisted that we go to his friends house immediately in order to stay on schedule. Needless to say, it was the most uncomfortable visit I have ever had! Just one more of those nagging red flags I chose to ignore. In hindsight, I wonder where my head was not to see the ridiculousness of it all.
Georgia
The fact is that life with one of these people is like living in a storm always struggling to find the eye of the tornado for a moment of peace. On the other hand, I believe that when we rely on seeking validation from others instead of ourselves, that's how we fall into their tempest to begin with. True validation is not something you can seek outside yourself. It is the fruit of an inner journey and discovery. To know oneself from the inside-out, rather than from the outside-in. Like love, we think it is outside ourselves so we try to grab it, hold it, and then control it ... then poof! It's gone, like an illusion or dream. Sometimes it takes falling apart to wake up and see what is real. That's when the inner work begins and passion becomes a product of grace, rather then greed or need.

Sara
His verbal abuse was constant and mostly subtle. From an outsider's perspective, it might be seen as a form of friendly teasing. But the tone and frequency would indicate it was nothing but destructive. He maintained a sense of superiority by letting me know that I could not do anything as well as he could. He reminded me constantly that I was not as organized, knowledgeable, driven, ambitious, smart, or capable. He repeatedly told me that he had to do everything for me, because I was incapable of doing it right in his eyes. Why did I believe him for so long?
Jackie
My birthday was always neglected. The first year it fell just before our wedding and was forgotten in the rush. The next year my husband was traveling and didn't have time to send a card or get me anything. When I pressed him on it, he brought out a present two weeks later. I was pleasantly surprised, until I saw that it was a windscreen for his car. The third year we actually had dinner together and he gave me a small gift. Then last year, he decided to throw me a birthday party. I was so pleased at first, but it turned out that the party was not actually for me. He invited his two groups of friends and a few of mine. Out of the 30 people who attended the party, I knew about 6. It was everything that he wanted; the music, the people, the alcohol. I put on a smiling face and thanked him for his effort. Then I went upstairs to take a phone call and was gone for about 25 minutes and no one even noticed my absence. He enjoyed himself and took pictures of his friends (I'm in two shots out of all of them). It was very clear that he threw himself a party and invited me along. This was one of the most insulting things I had experienced. And yet I stayed.
Kris
He has now filed for divorce and has been pressing me to keep it out of court to minimize expenses. I decided that I am not going to go alone in this process without the support of legal counsel. He is threatening me that if I do not comply with his wishes, We'll go bankrupt. It's obviously a ploy to make me feel insecure and question my own decision. Since I have been away from him, I feel much more confident and have begun to realize that almost everything he demands of me has an underlying motive for his self-interest. I feel that I am beginning the healing process through the physical and mental separation. I can now look objectively and see his manipulative ploys for what they are. I no longer get caught up in his emotionally charged tangents that used to make me feel confused and 'less-than.' This is the best thing that could have happened, given the circumstance. I now feel stronger and smarter and hope to develop a healthy relationship with a 'normal' man sometime in the future.

Lori
The marriage was definitely emotionally abusive. The remarks were always very subtle. He questioned every decision I made, from what type of mayonnaise I purchased to why I went to graduate school and incurred a student debt. He told me that I was using the wrong knife to cut vegetables. 'Don't you know that?' he would chastise me. Or, 'I always have to do everything (correctly) for you' implying I was incapable of doing anything right. He told me that my parents did not educate me properly 'Didn't they teach you how to open the bed every morning to let the moisture out?' He reminded me, 'What would you do without me? Aren't you glad that you're with someone with a head on his shoulders?' Nothing I did could ever measure up to him. It took me the longest time, but at last I learned to trust my gut and not what he said any longer.

Katie
It's very subtle, the manipulation. You can't even see it happening. It creeps into your life. It's amazing and fascinating. It's not obvious abuse. You don't even have any scars to prove it. There was just something in him that was very sadistic and evil under his gorgeous exterior shell.
Jessica
My kids used to say I changed whenever I was around Tom. They knew the minute I would let him back into my life. 'Where did you go? What happened to you? Is anybody home?' they would ask. And they weren't talking about my physical presence. They said I went to 'Thomasville' whenever I was seeing him again. It wasn't a location it was an emotional and behavioral place I lived in that was outside of the 'usual me.' Like that old movie, The Stepford Wives. They said I was like a robot. Not even human. I kept thinking if I just tried harder we could work it out, so despite my kids begging me I would pick up the phone and make up with him again and again. This last time was different though. I noticed some old and uncomfortable triggers that I knew I would not be strong enough to challenge. I immediately closed the door. However, the experience has helped me see how far I've come and how far I still have to go on the journey. I can't honestly say that I am completely over him, but I am getting there.
Keeping your head above the water when the waves are rough is exhausting, sometimes unbearable. If we don't drown, we become stronger swimmers and the joy and gratitude, when all is calm, magnifies everything.

If I don't believe this, I will drown.

Maybe that is having faith.

Suicidal Thoughts
Many victims and survivors frequently talk of entertaining suicidal thoughts. The never-ending mental exhaustion, depression, anxiety, sadness, chronic confusion, and fatigue leave them feeling that there is no other way to stop the noise. The fear they have of leaving their narcissist often outweighs the fear they have of staying. And so, they wonder if suicide is their only chance at peace.
Mary Beth
The last week he was living in the house I realized suicide was the only alternative to divorce. Thank God he left.

Jillian
For God's sake don't tell him you're thinking of killing yourself. You'll receive absolutely no empathy or compassion but plenty of criticism. I had suicidal thoughts all the time. Sometimes I fantasized that it would stop the pain. You start to think it's the only option. But here's the thing you finally realize that if you kill yourself, your tormentor will still go on living and it just pisses you off when you think about it that way. I think that's what kept me alive through the worst of it. I refused to let him win.

Thank God I never went through with it.

My life is finally peaceful now. It was worth the wait.

Kathy
I used to wish I would die of natural causes. I was on antidepressants for years, but they never seemed to help. I even think I had some pretty risky behaviors from time to time. I flirted
with death but never took pills or cut myself. I resorted to prayer and support groups to keep me alive until I figured a way to get out. My own experience with suicide I was one of those who had to hit rock bottom before I could pull myself out of the darkness. My self-esteem torn to shreds. My personal belief in my value, non-existent. The depression so severe I slept half of every day away and yet remained exhausted. I felt as though I was walking in a never-ending fog that wouldn't quit. Squinting to see daylight. Blinking my eyes in an attempt to clear them, but with no luck. And constantly hoping for some direction, some reprieve, some end to the emotional turmoil that ate me alive.

I actually wrote a suicide letter. Fortunately, the mere act of writing it scared me back into reality. The truth is I never really wanted to die. I just wanted the pain to stop and couldn't figure out how. Yet, that terrible moment is probably what changed my life. It scared me so much that I knew I had to do something dramatically different or else I would just end up right back in that black abyss at a later date. Whether I took my own life or ran my car absent mindedly into traffic or just curled up in a corner and died of complete depression, it didn't matter. I knew it was only a matter of time if I didn't do something drastic. I made a conscious decision to live and to change. I was especially lucky. I had some money stashed away and an empty nest that gave me the freedom to get 'outside my boxx' and I moved to Cozumel, Mexico to live and work for six months. I escaped without car, phone, mail, or friend and I went so far away from my normal treadmill that change was bound to happen. It just couldn't help it. My time in Mexico was the best gift I ever gave myself. It gave me space to breathe and heal and be mindless. It gave me the time to rebuild my self-esteem and become whole again. It gave me an environment and an opportunity to test my boundaries with new people. I know in my heart that had I not reached the point of seriously considering taking my own life, that I would still be a zombie walking in a fog. I guess the old adage is correct that God only gives you as much as you can handle. It has become my mantra.

I have a new respect for people who talk about suicide now. I know their pain. I find myself bristling when I hear those who don't understand, tell me that 'suicide is the most selfish act anyone can ever do.' What that tells me is that the voice behind that phrase has never been in such a dark place that the only way out appeared to be through death. They know not of what they speak. However, what I also learned through this journey is that no matter how bad things may seem,

THERE IS ALWAYS AN ALTERNATIVE.

The greatest quote I discovered later is this:

SUICIDE IS A LONG-TERM ANSWER TO A SHORT-TERM PROBLEM
- Iris Bolton, The Phases of Grief

I only recently discovered the author of this quote and I want to thank her from the bottom of my heart for speaking these thoughts so perfectly. When looked at from that perspective, it is a lifeline for anyone on the edge of despair. If ever you have suicidal thoughts, grab this quote and repeat it to yourself over and over and over until you believe it in your soul.

SUICIDE IS A PERMANENT ANSWER TO A SHORT-TERM PROBLEM

Let it be your mantra too. Let it remind you that no matter what you¡¦re dealing with in your life, there are answers. You may just need to find someone who knows how to help you find the switch to turn the light back on and bring you out of the darkness.

We are out there.

Find yourself someone you can count on for times like these and hold them in a special place in your heart. There are many of us who can help. Just reach out to us we'll be glad to take your hand.

One more thing about suicide - narcissists rarely commit suicide. It is not in their makeup. I mean think about it for a minute would God commit suicide? You see the ridiculousness of it? This is not to say that they are incapable, but is a gentle reminder that it is most commonly the victim who has suicidal feelings. So, if your narcissist threatens suicide if you leave, do not let that hold you. More than likely it is just another piece of his ammunition in his ongoing battle to keep you in your place.

Angelica
I feel like I have a future and hope again. I thought I was stuck on a horrific roller coaster and couldn't get off. I thought I had no control over my life and no hope for love, relationship, and family. Now I know that I control my life. I have a second chance. I am pursuing my dreams now and moving on to healthy relationships.

Life really is wonderful!

************************************
Depression is merely anger without enthusiasm.
Steven Wright

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Mistakes Victims Make




"Mentor: Someone whose hindsight can become your foresight" -- anon.
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Not paying attention to...
My gut instinct that something was wrong.

Stories that didn't add up, or with different timeframes and characters - 2+2 not adding up.

The patterns forming in his behaviour.


Other people's warnings - believing him when he said they were "crazy" or "jealous."


The difference between what he said what he actually did and believing his lies.


The hatred others had of him.

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Failing to...
Obtain proof of the abuse.


Get independent legal counsel and representation.


Recognize and ignore his verbal bait and not controlling myself better and yelling at him.


Realized I was addicted to a painful relationship, and trauma-bonded and craving contact, I wish that I'd gone to a hypnotherapist or someone to get the strength and support to break away. Instead, I let the insanity go on until I was on the verge of a mental breakdown.


See how emotionally fragile I am.


Acknowledge just how rapidly I could be replaced.


See he really is Mr. Hyde and allow contact still trying to find Dr. Jekyll.


Stay out of the Jerry Springer nightmare of his life, family, Xs, friends, co-workers.

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When he stopped caring about me, I stopped caring about myself too.

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I kept thinking...
Every time he raged would be the last time.

If I loved him enough..........


There was a certain level of behavior below which he would NOT stoop.


Deep down he really did care.


When the chips were down or I needed him, he would come through.


That if I could just explain how I felt or how his behavior was affecting that me he would see it and care.


I wasn't explaining things right to him to make him understand.


It was my fault.


It was something at work or something he would finally tell me about.


That I would find some kind of closure.


I had to be 'nice' to him.


He would put something back in my 'cup' because I had put so much from him.


That I didn't want to cause a 'scene' and felt I didn't have the right words to properly explain what was happening.


That I could get him 'back on track' somehow.


I could help him, that he needed my help. I did everything for him - he never even asked me, I just offered. Boy, did he see me coming.

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more mistakes:
Underestimating/not admitting, even to myself, what horrible and heartless things s/he is actually capable of.

Improperly assessing the potential for physical or psychological danger.


Taking too long to reach 'enough', and making those decisions I wish I'd made sooner.


Trying to rationalize and make sense of the insane endless chaos.


Looking for the litmus test to prove he really was mentally disordered when the signs were right in my face!


Overlooking the early red flags in his statements.


Doubting myself and my assessment of his pathology.


Believing he'd changed.


Minimizing the abuse and focusing on any past 'good' times


Not ending it at the first sign of abuse.


Getting involved and married too early/ too fast.


Not telling people about his abuse because I didn't want people to think poorly of him.


Behaving like my N and treating his next or last target poorly and, wanting to stay out of the situation, failing to provide support when it was needed.


Allowing sex drive to overcome reason.

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When you attempt to push a intellectual narcissist into sex or any type of intimacy, and he gets angry... but you still believe that maybe if you can just survive without intimacy it will all work out ok.


When you have sex with a sexual narcissist, realize that you are a mere object to him, and yet somehow tell yourself, "Maybe this is healthy??
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Fear of loneliness or believing my life wouldn't be better without him.

Wanting the 'package' deal he offered - the luxuries, trappings and lifestyle were too appealing to turn down - the risks seemed acceptable.


Feeling like I was the special one who could finally make him happy.


Feeling sorry for him, jumping in trying to help with his problems when he seemed to be floundering about.


Taking him back repeatedly.


(snip) We learn various coping tactics and want to try them out and end up in a predator/victim bond wasting our precious time trying to manage a personality disordered person we should be avoiding.
* * * * * *

Not seeing his attempts to isolate me from other people, friends and family.

Buying into his "poor me" routine.


Losing my identity.


Losing my self respect by staying and tolerating what he did.


Believing his lies. Being gullible and naive. Trusting him despite evidence to the contrary.


Wanting to believe he was my soul mate.


Giving in to rages. Not standing up to him and seeing the intimidation.


Not getting my child into therapy ASAP.


Underestimating how convincingly persuasive he could be - I took him back against common sense.


Gaining/losing weight, losing sleep, getting physically ill yet deciding he's still worth it.

When you create a fantasy illusion/idealization of him in your mind, just so you don't have to face the fact that he's NOT AT ALL the same as the idealized version you choose to percieve.


When you see signs he's an abuser, but delude yourself into thinking he's not.


Allowing him to run me down or call me degrading names, even "jokingly."


Allowing him to create self doubt and question myself way too much.


Procrastinating instead of making decisions.


Not using boundaries and limits - I wish I'd done it much sooner.


I stayed because of the children, thinking I could tolerate it until they were adults.


Seeing the objectification of me as he would tell other people his exciting news about himself - not me.


Ignoring the ticking time bomb of his financial irresponsibility.


I should have sought friendship... not the "spark" or "thrill."


Not having my own 'rainy day' money set aside.


Believing him when he said I was crazy, upset, wrong.


Not respecting, finding, using and realizing my own strengths.


Trying to find some logical reason for his bizarre behaviour.


Not insisting on respect, equal treatment.


Letting him live by double and sometimes triple standards.


Being too forgiving.


Asking HIM for forgiveness, and apologizing for things that weren't even wrong.


Falling for the sob stories and pity parties.

* * * * * *

TAKING THE BAIT!!!!
At first it's subtle, hard to recognize. Let them do what they want. They just WANT your reaction. Don't give them the satisfaction. Even if you are upset, don't let them know it. It's what they want. Be upset here. Be upset to your friend. Be upset to your pet. But DO NOT LET THEM SEE IT!!

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Accepting his abusive or controlling behaviour so he wouldn't leave me.

Expecting normal responses, clarity and finally closure.


Putting money into someone's hand who even has the slightest chance of doing the wrong thing - I'll never again do that.


Co-mingling ANY assets. I will not do this again, with anybody.


Writing letters to him - I'll never put anything in writing again and telling him anything about myself - only to see him use it cruelly against me.

* * * * * *

Allowing myself (mind, body, spirit) to become so afraid of him -- literally afraid for my life, more afraid than I had the power to muster to fight back and stand like a soldier. I really fell apart and don't EVER want to do that again. I have vowed that *no* human will every make me that fearful again.

* * * * * *

My most critical error was accepting the second date!!!!
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The male gender is used. Your abuser may well be female.

FROM THIS SITE

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Monday, July 28, 2014

Brainwashing Agitates Victims Into Submission



(Abusers use similar methods with their targets & victims!! Read on:)
Was Elizabeth Smart -- the Utah teenager snatched from her bedroom, then remarkably rescued -- brainwashed into staying with her captors?

Her father, Ed Smart, said Thursday he knows "that she's been through brainwashing," though he has not asked his daughter for details about her nine-month ordeal.

The American view of mind control is more sensational than clinical. The public tends to remember how attorney F. Lee Bailey defended heiress Patty Hearst in the 1970s, claiming she was brainwashed into joining her kidnappers in their crime spree.

But where, exactly, did he get the idea?

"Brainwashing" is one of the few Chinese phrases to have made its way directly into English in translation, thanks to the Korean War. Chinese Taoist temples often displayed the two characters "Xi Xin," pronounced "shee shin," meaning "Wash Heart." It was an adjuration to all those entering to purge their hearts of base thoughts [i.e. Chinese Thought Reform] and desires, and rise to a higher spiritual plane.

The Chinese communists adopted this phrase during political "struggle sessions," in which an erring comrade would be urged by the group to straighten out, fly right, get back in tune with the common goal. The very word for "comrade" in Chinese is tongzhi, meaning "share goal."

Only one slight change was made: Instead of washing the heart, one was urged to wash the brain, "Xi Nao," purify one's thoughts.

During the Korean War, captured American soldiers were subjected to prolonged interrogations and harangues by their captors, who often worked in relays and used the "good-cop, bad-cop" approach, alternating a brutal interrogator with a gentle one. It was all part of "Xi Nao," washing the brain. The Chinese and Koreans were making valiant attempts to convert the captives to the communist way of thought. Soldiers sometimes caved in, sometimes did not. For some reason, sociologists later noted, the Turks proved the toughest to persuade, while Americans were a mixed lot. Some were converted, some actually defected and at least one was living in China as late as the 1980s.

British journalist Edward Hunter translated the term brainwashing in his 1953 book, Brain-Washing in Red China, which described communist techniques for controlling the minds of nonbelievers.

The word gained wide currency, given a powerful assist by the 1962 film The Manchurian Candidate, which revolved around the plot device of brainwashing. In the film, with the flip of a queen of diamonds card, a pre-programmed and seemingly normal person could be turned into an assassin. The device was revived in a later film, Telefon, starring Charles Bronson.

In 1968, when Michigan Gov. George Romney claimed that the Johnson administration had "brainwashed" him about Vietnam, Sen. Eugene McCarthy quipped that, in Romney's case, "a light rinse would have done." Romney, who was creating excitement in the Republican presidential nomination contest, quickly faded, clearing the way for Richard Nixon.

But it was the 1970s kidnapping of Hearst, 19-year-old heiress to the publishing fortune, that brought brainwashing into the courtroom. Hearst was held in a closet and tortured for several months by the Symbionese Liberation Army, which she then joined and aided in several armed robberies -- changing her name to Tania. Her attorney, Bailey, said she had been brainwashed. The defense didn't succeed. Hearst was sentenced to seven years in prison.
(Later during the trial of Cameron Hooker (the "Girl in a Box" trial) in California, brainwashing was proved to be a legitimate defense and Hooker was sentenced to life in prison for what he had done to his victim.)

The brainwashing defense has recently been tried again to explain the behavior of men arrested for their association with terrorists and terrorism. A friend of John "American Tailbone" Walker's told People magazine that Al-Qaeda had brainwashed Walker. Slate magazine reported that Abd-Samad Moussaoui, the brother of Zacarias "20th Hijacker" Moussaoui, believes that, in Britain, his brother "became prey to an extremist brainwashing cult."

The real soldiers who survived the Korean War and returned to the United States carried with them the stigma and guilt of having been captured and having survived the war and their interrogations. "Survivor's guilt" is a common trait among prisoners of war.

So brainwashing became a pejorative, and the phrase "you've been brainwashed," a term of reproach, as if the prisoner had become addlebrained, or a simpleton, during his captivity.

Sometimes the brainwashing sessions backfired ludicrously. There is the story of one British soldier who, during an interrogation session, was asked how much land his family owned. The Englishman replied that he had only a window box in a flat back in London where he grew geraniums.

The translator didn't understand what a window box was and asked the dimensions of the plot of ground. When the soldier showed him, with his hands, the interrogator brightened immediately.

"Ah, then you should be on our side! Obviously you are a small land owner and have been exploited terribly!" he said.

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Differences Between A Sociopath And A Narcissist

by

When we try to analyze the people we cross paths with in society, it is possible to misinterpret our analysis for lack of a better understanding. For those who have crossed paths with a sociopath and a narcissist (on separate occasions), it may seem like there is little to no difference between the two when in fact one can be mistaken for the other. Both are considered to be  social terrorists, however, there are distinguishing characteristics that would imply neither of them are one in the same. Therefore, I would like to explain briefly the differences in character between these two personality disorders…

Narcissist will let you know up front what they’re about. 
They will tell you grandiose stories of themselves of either their accomplishments (real or fake) or of their associations with important people (real or fake). 
They generally do not tell these stories for any other gain than to hear praises. 
They have an unquenchable desire to be admired, worshiped, and adulated with no real gain from those that respond to them in this way other than to feed their own ego. 
They need to be the center of attention at all times in any social gathering.

Sociopath will NOT let you know up front what they are about, because they wear a mask to hide their true identity. 
They will tell you grandiose stories of themselves of either their accomplishments (real or fake, but mostly fake) or of their associations with important people (real or fake, but mostly fake). 
They generally tell these stories to appear as a “good person” to gain trust and as a cover-up for their ulterior motives. 
They have the same unquenchable desires as the Narcissist as a result of the power and control they gain over their victims. 
They do not care to be the center of attention at all times in any social gathering unless doing so promises to earn them more unsuspecting victims.

Here’s a few more brief distinguishing characteristics:

Both think they are superior to anyone and everyone, both think they deserve special treatment, both process the world differently, and both play to “win”. However, it is possible for both personality traits to be combined into one, which is called a “Narcissistic Sociopath,”  and is more dangerous than the two of them separately.


SOURCE

From what I know: All Sociopaths are also Narcissists.  Not all Narcissists are/or become Sociopaths. 
One can be a Narcissistic Sociopath but NEVER a Sociopathic Narcissist.  The spectrum only moves one way. - Barbara

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Saturday, July 26, 2014

The place of “Cognitive Dissonance” in Narcissistic Victim Syndrome



Understanding Cognitive Dissonance in relation to narcissistic abuse:

Stockholm syndrome involves the victim paradoxically forming a positive relationship with their oppressor; this is called “Trauma Bonding”. When victims of narcissistic are suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, they are often seen by outsiders as somehow having participated in some bizarre way that seems to support their abuse. However, to understand how the trauma bonding occurs, it is especially relevant to understand what is involved in the decision-making and problem-solving process of the victim. This theory is known as Cognitive Dissonance.

If therapists are to understand the behaviour of clients who have been victims of narcissistic abuse, then it is crucial for them to appreciate why the victim combines the two unhealthy conditions of Stockholm Syndrome and Cognitive Dissonance as part of their survival strategy. When these two strategies are in place, the victim firmly believes that their relationship is not only acceptable, but also vital for their survival. They become so enmeshed in the relationship with the abuser, that they feel that their world (mental and emotional) would fall apart if the relationship ended. This explains why they fear those people who attempt to rescue them from their abuser, and how this creates the victim to develop cognitive dissonance and become protective of their abuser.

What is Cognitive Dissonance?

Cognitive dissonance is a psychological term which describes the uncomfortable tension that results from having two conflicting thoughts at the same time, or from engaging in behavior that conflicts with one’s beliefs (Rational Wiki). Cognitive Dissonance is a communication theory that was published by Leon Festinger 1957, a theory that changed the way in which social psychology was to look at human decision-making and behaviour. The concept of cognitive dissonance is almost self explanatory by its title: ‘Cognitive’ is to do with thinking (or the mind); while ‘dissonance’ is concerned with inconsistencies or conflicts. Simply speaking, cognitive dissonance is the discomfort a person experiences whenever they are holding two conflicting ideas simultaneously (i.e. Shall I wear the red or the blue dress?). Naturally, people do not like the discomfort of conflicting thoughts; this theory proposes that when this happens, people have a motivational drive within them that allows them to rationalize and change their attitudes, beliefs, values and actions, anything that allows them to reduce or dissolve the dissonance they are experiencing (i.e Which makes my bum look smallest?) . When it comes to victims of abuse, there are several behaviours that a victim may use for reducing their cognitive dissonance. For a start they may try to ignore or eliminate it, or they may try to alter its importance, they may even create new cognitions, but most importantly they will try to prevent it from happening in the first place.

What part does Cognitive Dissonance play with victims of narcissistic abuse?


Victims living in a household where there is narcissistic abuse are living in a torturous war zone, where all forms of power and control are used against them (intimidation; emotional, physical and mental abuse; isolation, economic abuse, sexual abuse, coercion etc.). The threat of abuse is always present, and it usually gets more violent and frequent as time goes on. The controlling narcissistic environment puts the victim in a dependency situation, where they experience an extreme form of helplessness which throws them into panic and chaos. The narcissist creates a perverse form of relationship wherein the victim has no idea of what will happen next (alternating between acts of kindness or aggressive raging). This prolonged torturous situation is likely to trigger old negative scripts of the victim’s childhood internal object relations (attachment, separation and individuation). To survive the internal conflict, the victim will have to call on all their internal resources and defense strategies in order to manage their most primitive anxieties of persecution and annihilation. In order to survive, the victim has to find ways of reducing their cognitive dissonance, the strategies they employ may include; justifying things by lying to themselves if need be, regress into infantile patterns, and bond with their narcissistic captor. Most defense mechanisms are fairly unconscious, so the victim is unaware of using them in the moment; all they are intent on is surviving the madness they find themselves in.

As you can imagine, these states of mind throw the victim into any number of inner conflicts where defense mechanisms are called for, cognitive dissonance being one. 

For example, a woman who is abused by her narcissistic spouse will hate the conditions she is living in. However with the real fear of a violent reprisal from her captor if she tried to leave, she will more likely choose to stay put. The cognitive dissonance shows itself through rationalization: On the one hand: she abhors her unhealthy relationship and all the abuse that goes with it; while on the other hand, she tells herself that he only fights with her because he loves and cares for her. This inner dialogue reduced her anxiety, allowing her to bond (Stockholm Syndrome) with her abuser, to the point that she will even protect him from the outside world if people attempt to rescue her or encourage her to leave. The result is that a massive draining conflict ensues between the person’s emotional self and their rational reasoning self. Their “cognitive dissonance” is a sign of the disharmony the victim is experiencing as a result of two conflicting ideas going on at the same time; i.e. the victim knows that they should get out of the abusive situation, but they also know that to do so will put them (and possibly their children) in great danger. While experiencing cognitive dissonance they may adopt a pattern of denial, diversion and defensiveness to control their discomfort. In the cognitive dissonance theory, the decision that decides which path the victim will take will be likely to be the path that causes the least emotional stress. In order to reduce the dissonance, the victim will choose the path of least resistance, and their motivational drive will support their beliefs and justify any decision that helps them stay safe. As you can imagine, the cognitive dissonance can lead to irrational decision making as the person struggles to reconcile these two conflicting beliefs. Researchers suggest that it is actually the cognitive dissonance that causes the victims to choose to stay put with their abuser. Furthermore, in order to support their seemingly irrational decisions to stay put in the abusive relationship, the victim makes heavy investments that almost cements them into the bad relationship forever.

There are six types of investment the victim may get embroiled in that helps to reduce their cognitive dissonance:-


Emotional Investment: Unable to get out of the relationship due to the fear of what will happen to them, the victim decides that they should stay, and see it through to the bitter end. The victim convinces themselves that “things are not that bad”, especially when the narcissistic abuser shows them acts of kindness. Their trauma bonding is interpreted as love. They use that love to feel compassion for their narcissistic abuser; they may even make excuses that their abuser suffered so much hurt and pain in their own childhood, that they cannot help the way they are. They convince themselves that by loving their abuser as much as possible they will heal their wounds, and then everything will be alright. They continue in this way, investing so much emotion in the relationship, (i.e. They shed so many tears, blaming themselves for upsetting their abuser, becoming responsible for their abusers feelings and behaviour. They worry for their abuser in case they harm someone and end up in jai. They even end up blaming themselves when there is another eruption (“I caused the upset, I should have known better”). They even go so far as to convince themselves that their abuser is the victim of society, and therefore must be protected from everybody.

Social Investment: The biggest social investment the victim makes is to the person nearest to them, their narcissistic abuser. The narcissist’s superiority will demand that they are the most important one in the relationship, and the victim (in time) will comply with that arrangement. It does not help that society in general has a matter-of fact attitude toward victims, they do not understand why a victim would stay in such an abusive relationship, let alone protect the abuser. This response can create a further helplessness within the victim, which leaves them feeling isolated and alienated. With a sense of damage to their pride, and deep feelings of shame, the victim begins to avoid further social embarrassment and uncomfortable situations, alienating themselves further with their abuser. Isolated, dependent and dis-spirited, the way is paved for more acceptance of the abuser, and the victim stays in the relationship. They become caught in a cycle with their abuser that involves a sequence of violent episodes, followed by an absence of battering, once again tension building, and finally tension escalating into another violent episode where they get hurt. Around and around it goes, and helplessly the victim looses all hope, so they settle for investing their loyalty there.

Family Investments: For a start, a narcissist is preoccupied in self investment, therefore they expect everybody to pamper to their false self (sadly their true self is in a state of atrophy). If the narcissist is a spouse, then the partner is going to have to invest heavily in their abuser until they are emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually bankrupt. The narcissist requires perfect mirroring and stroking continuously, when they don’t get it, they withdraw (this withdrawal is likely to lead to danger for the victim). Step by step the supposed closeness is disappearing, and the victim experiences this as a great loss (and fear), seeing this, the narcissist feels a sense of power and control. In their withdrawal state, the narcissist is going to loose their sense of specialness, power and omnipotence, this makes them very susceptible to narcissistic injury. When there is narcissistic injury, the terror monster is released, and all of the family is likely to encounter their rage. All of this is going to evoke anxiety on the victimized partner, not just around their own safety, but also for the safety of the children. The narcissist suffers from a chronic evasive pattern that does not change. Just as the narcissist is demanding of its spouse, as a parent they are also very demanding of their children, (remember that everything is about them). They see the children as extensions of themselves, representing them in every aspect. For that reason they expect their children to be high achievers, the very best in every thing that they do. However, the child is faced with a dilemma; If the child comes second best in any task, they will be perceived as being “the first looser” by their narcissistic parent. Silver medals are not seen as a reason to celebrate, they are are more likely to be perceived as a disgrace (looser). If they came first, they risk triggering the narcissist’s jealousy and envy; for the narcissist, envy always involves a comparison – they envy that which they lack. When the child shines, its success is always somehow due to the narcissist itself, but when the child fails, the narcissist takes the failure personally (narcissistic wound), and they will punish the child, whether it be by word or deed. Living with a narcissistic parent, so often the child finds it hard to get their own needs meet, which can lead to serious emotional problems for them. Because the narcissist parent is like a child their own self, there will be power struggles for attention between the child and the parent. All these dynamics are going to put strain on the partner of the narcissist, and they are likely to be the butt of all the narcissist frustration and anger, which will manifest itself as rage. Investing everything they have in their narcissistic partner is the only way the victim finds to keep the family going.

Financial Investment: Narcissist typically seeks to control the family finances, money is a love substitute for them. No matter who earn the money in their family, it is they who are entitled to control how the monies get spent. Often the victim finds themselves being put on an allowance to run the house, and the abuser closely monitors how it is spent. If there is a shortage of money, the narcissist will be stingy when it comes to members of their family spending, yet they will spend what it takes to get what they want. Where possible, the narcissist creates a complex financial situation where everybody is dependent on them, this keeps them in control. Without financial means and usually alienated, many victims are unaware of support resources they may be entitled to, they are trapped by the situation, finding themselves waiting and hoping for a better financial situation to develop so that they can make their exit and detachment easier. In the meantime they do what they can to keep their abuser happy.

Lifestyle Investment: When the narcissist is successful, they will use a lifestyle as an investment. Because they need to display their “specialness” to the world, they will want to display all of their wealth trophies (Narcissistic Supply): the big house, car, private school, business etc. All these things contribute to getting them the praise and adulation they feel they deserve. For the victim, sharing in this financial security, they may fear loosing their current lifestyle for themselves or their children. So they stay because of their fear of the poverty trap that awaits them if they manage to leave.

Intimacy Investment: Narcissism is a personality trait associated with an inflated, grandiose self-concept and a lack of intimacy in interpersonal relationships. The narcissist perceives themselves as being unique and uncommon. Being intimate requires that two people operate commonly with openness and truth (True Self) so that they relate as “equals”. The narcissist operates from a False Self, and becoming equal with anybody would only negate their notion of uniqueness, so they avoid that entirely. Unknown to them, narcissists are still held ransom to their unresolved conflicts with their primary objects (parents). Like the child, they are still harboring the deep wounds of abandonment they experienced back then. Afraid of their own negative emotions, unconsciously, they promise themselves that they will never put themselves in that position again, and they avoid further narcissistic injury by holding everybody at bay, this includes their partner and children. Unfortunately, they too, like the rest of us, are susceptible to loneliness, which is why they are always on the look out for “narcissistic supply” for attention. When they have a partner, they separate the sexual from the emotional and treat their partner as a sex object, and the typical cycle of frustration-aggression is set in motion. Unfortunately, in love with their own reflection, they are incapable of loving anybody else. Where the partner thought she had married the nice Dr. Jekyll, she now finds herself facing the raging maniac that is Mr. Hyde. In such an unhealthy relationship, she will experience the destruction of her emotional and sexual self-esteem. He is not a good father, rather than love his children he abhors them (they take the mother’s attention away from him), so they are confined to the role of being another narcissistic supply source. Furthermore, they use a type blackmail of intimacy against their partner (threatening to tell intimate detains about them that would humiliate and destroy their character). The partner finds themselves in a hopeless situation, broken, the only way out is for them to stay. This serves to send the message to the narcissist that they are truly unique and superior.

One would wonder how the victim tolerates living with an abuser who is so intolerant and hostile? For healthy relationships, tolerating intolerance is neither acceptable nor possible, but for the victim of narcissistic abuse it is vital for survival. Finding themselves in such an intolerable situation, the victim must calm the cognitive dissonance that rocks their self-esteem and self worth. The Dissonance Theory allows the victim to make their choice (even if it means lying to themselves), and gives them a way to justify that they can be happy about not making the opposite choice that would surely put them in danger. Once the choice is made and the cognitive dissonance calmed, the victim has all sorts of tools (unconscious defense mechanism) at their disposal to bolster their decision to stay in the relationship (i.e. Stockholm Syndrome, Infantilism, Trauma Bonding).

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Friday, July 25, 2014

WHO IS WATCHING YOU?

 
Men aren't the only stalkers

By: C.F. Jackson


For decades, the label "stalker" has been tattooed as a gender-specific crime, committed by men. Things have changed drastically. Twelve to 13-percent of all stalkers are female. Although less in statistical number than males, female stalkers are just as predatory and dangerous.

Stalking, for the most part, is about relationships - prior, desired, or imagined. Sixty-percent of stalkers have a personal relationship with their victims before the stalking begins. However, 22% of stalking cases involve complete strangers.

Researchers and psychologists identify three categories of stalking:

·Simple Obsession Stalking - 60% of stalking cases are represented in this category, which includes all previous personal relationships (i.e., husbands/wives,boyfriends/girlfriends, domestic partners). This category is best defined as, “If I can’t have you, nobody will.”

·Love Obsession Stalking - The make-up of this category involves a stalker and victim who are casual acquaintances or complete strangers. The goal of the stalker is to establish a personal relationship with the object of his or her obsession - in disregard to the victim’s desires.

·Erotomania Stalking - This category consists of deluded individuals who believe a relationship already exists between themselves and their victim.

A recent case of female stalking involved actor Michael Douglas and his wife Catherine Zeta-Jones as the victims. "When women engage in stalking behavior, they are as tenacious and as intrusive as their male counterparts, and are just as likely to threaten or damage property," said Dr. Rosemary Purcell, in the 2003 article "Female stalkers pursue doctors, psychiatrists."

The FBI estimates that two-percent of all stalking cases conclude in homicide. Twenty-five of female stalking cases have escalated to interpersonal violence. Also revealed in a study is the fact that female stalkers chased their victims to establish intimacy.

As of August 17, 2004, five women in Georgia have been convicted for the crime of aggravated stalking. This level of stalking means an individual has been identified as an assailant in the court system and has violated a court order.

On any given day, you could be one of thousands who feel like they are being stalked.
~~~~

Won't Be Denied, a 227-page novel, shines a light into an obsessed, single African American female. In the well-crafted suspense novel, author C.F. Jackson, graduate from Georgia Southern University with a BS degree in Criminal Justice, lays out the story in two sentences: Love won’t be denied. Mare comes to value it more than life. The story is set in Atlanta, Georgia. It is an easy, suspenseful read. The character-driven plot is a page-turner.

About the author: Author C.F. Jackson, graduate from Georgia Southern University with a BS degree in Criminal Justice. Currently, working on a second suspense novel

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Should I End This Relationship?

In the 35 years I’ve been counseling, thousands of couples have come to me wondering if they should end their relationship. Most of these people were in love at one point but are now really miserable with each other, or one partner is miserable with the other. Generally, they don’t know what the real problem is. They know what they don’t like about the other person. They know they can’t communicate about what is important to them. They know they fight about money or sex or time or chores or hundreds of other things, or they ignore the problems and are distant. What they don’t know is what the REAL problem is.

Leaving a relationship before knowing what the real problem is, is generally a waste of time (aside from domestic violence) - especially if you eventually want to be in another relationship.

The reason it’s a waste of time is because whatever you are doing to create your unhappiness, you are not going to stop doing just because you leave the relationship. You take yourself with you when you leave, and unless you heal your part of the relationship problem, you will continue to behave in ways that eventually destroys relationships.

You might be surprised to learn that the time to leave a relationship is NOT when you are miserable, but rather when you are happy, joyful and peaceful. When you have learned how to make yourself happy and bring yourself peace and joy, and if your partner is still distance, angry, needy, disconnected, resistant, unloving, or acting out addictively - then it may be time to leave if that is what you want.

When I work with couples, I help each partner learn how to take full, 100% responsibility for their own feelings and needs. Obviously, if both people are behaving in ways that bring themselves joy, they will have a lot of love to share with each other. As long as they are stuck believing that their unhappiness of the other person’s fault, they are being victims. As victims they want to control the other person and get them to behave the way they want them the behave. As victims, they are afraid of being rejected or controlled, and are behaving in ways to protect themselves from what they fear. All the ways they are trying to have control over not being rejected or controlled are creating the relationship problems.

Until you become aware of how you are being a victim and how you are trying to control your partner - and you are successful in taking care of your own feelings and needs - there is no point in leaving.

Most people who are unhappy in their relationship are reactors. They are reacting to the other person’s controlling behavior with their own controlling behavior. For example:
• When Jacob criticizes her, Hannah shuts down. When Hannah shuts down, Jacob criticizes.

• When Sally gets angry at Joe, Joe defends, lectures and explains himself. When Joe lectures, Sally gets angry and resistant.

• When Robert is demanding, Ingrid gives herself up to comply with Robert’s demands. The more Ingrid complies, the more Robert demands.

• When Michele complains, Hugh resists. The more Hugh resist, the more Michele complains.

• When Craig acts like an irresponsible child, Karen becomes parental and judgmental. The more Karen is parental and judgmental, the more Craig is resistant and irresponsible.
Each of these people are reacting in controlling ways, rather than acting in ways that take loving care of themselves. Both people are participating in creating a negative circle. Generally, they then blame the other for their own reaction: “If you wouldn’t criticize, then I wouldn’t withdraw.” “Well, if you wouldn’t withdraw, then I wouldn’t criticize.” “If you weren’t so resistant, I wouldn’t get angry.” “If you weren’t so angry, I wouldn’t resist.”

If they were to act in loving ways toward themselves rather than react in controlling ways toward their partner, then:

• When Jacob criticized, Hannah might speak up for herself instead of shutting down, saying something like, “Jacob, I don’t like being criticized. I’m not willing to have this discussion until we can be open with each other.” When Hannah shut down, Jacob could be curious instead of critical, saying something like, “Honey, you must have a good reason for withdrawing from me. Do you want to talk about it?”


• When Sally got angry, Joe could disengage from the conversation instead of trying to talk her out of her feelings. He would give up
trying to have control over Sally’s anger and how she sees him and take care of himself. When Joe tried to control Sally with his lecturing and explaining, instead of trying to control him with her anger, Sally could speak up for herself, telling Joe that she doesn’t like it when he tries to talk her out of her feelings.
There is no point in leaving a relationship until you have learned act in ways that are loving to yourself and your partner, instead of reacting in controlling and resistant ways. Leaving only delays this learning until your next relationship.

About the author: Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is the best-selling author and co-author of eight books, including "Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By You?", "Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By My Kids?", "Healing Your Aloneness","Inner Bonding", and "Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By God?"

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Most Dangerous Emotion After a Break-Up




by Marcy Miller

Hope is a four letter word. It is the enemy of the newly broken-hearted.

I had two failed marriages and two broken engagements under my belt, but I was fortunate to sit next to the man of my dreams on a flight to the west coast. After bi-coastal dating and then living with him for a year, we married and I practiced law while he was establishing himself in the investment world. After four years, I was stricken with breast cancer. It was a tough year of treatment, but he was there for me throughout my successful battle. His love and support were heroic. Finally, I had found my soulmate.

Or so I thought.

We moved to LA at the end of my treatment and started a new life together. I caught him cheating five years later. I confronted him, hoping that that the prospect of losing me and his comfortable life would jolt him out of his mid-life madness and return him to my arms, wiser and more loving than ever. But there is that pesky word, "hope," rearing its ugly head. As I hung on to the false hope of reconciliation and love evermore, he was playing contrite husband with me and banging her at the Four Seasons Hotel.

Several weeks later, he suggested that we take one last trip to New York to try to mend our relationship and move forward. I hoped (again) that he was sincere and that our ten years together could outweigh this month of deceit. New York held many wonderful memories for us, and I was looking forward to the opportunity to have him to myself in a romantic environment.

He had arrived a few days earlier and checked into the Peninsula Hotel. I was to meet him the evening that I arrived for dinner at Nobu. I breezed into the bar at the appointed hour, dressed for seduction, and proceeded to wait for an hour and a half. There were no calls or texts and he was unreachable. I hoped (again) that he was delayed by important work-related meetings.

Just as I was about to return to the hotel, he burst into the restaurant, breathless and full of excuses. Even though this was an ominous beginning to our reunion, I hoped (!) that he was telling the truth.

The next morning, he left at the crack of dawn, long before we could have breakfast in bed. As I began to dress for my day of shopping and a Broadway matinee, I noticed a scrap of paper on the desk. While the message was illegible, the bottom of the note contained the St. Regis Hotel monogram.

On a hunch, I called the St. Regis and asked for the room of his mistress. She answered the phone. I hung up, promptly threw up in the trash can, packed my bags and flew home.

So why do I dislike hope so much?

1. It leads to devastating decisions. I knew that the marriage was over, and I still agreed to go to New York. It resulted in one of the most emotionally painful moments of my life, and while I do not blame myself for his abhorrent behavior, I would never have put myself in that position had I not had hope.

2. It halts the healing process. I could have started mourning the loss of my marriage, rather than dreaming of a reconciliation that was never in the picture.

3. It stalls the formulation of exit strategies, such as leasing a post office box, opening a new bank account, locating and preserving records and retaining a divorce lawyer -- engaging in the next steps instead of being mired in a dead relationship.

4. It shuts out important messages from the universe. I knew in my gut that the marriage was over, but I allowed hope to drown out all of the messages that I was receiving to move on.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Wife Abuse & Child Custody and Visitation by the Abuser

child joint custody graphic Pictures, Images and Photos

by Kendall Segel-Evans

originally published: ENDING MEN'S VIOLENCE NEWSLETTER, Fall, 1989

I recently read the National Organization for Changing Men's statement on child custody, and the position taken that, in general, sole custody by the previously most involved parent is preferable to joint custody. I would like to elaborate on this position for families where there has been violence between parents (i.e. woman-abuse). The following includes the main points of a deposition I was asked to provide to a lawyer for the mother in a child custody case. I do not believe this is the last or best word on the subject, but I hope that it will simulate useful dialogue about the effects on children of wife-abuse and the treatment of wife-abusers. I also wish to further discussion on the issue of how we are going to truly end men's violence. Clearly, I believe that the treatment of wife-abusers should not only be held accountable to the partner victim/survivors, but also to the children, and to the next generation.

I would like to mention that I will speak of husbands and fathers abusing wives and mothers, because that is the most common situation by far, not because the reverse never happens. It also seems to be true that when there is wife to husband violence it is usually in self-defense and usually does not have the same dynamics or effects as wife abuse. I will use the words violence and abuse somewhat interchangeably, because, in my opinion, domestic violence is not just about physical violence. Domestic violence is a pattern of physical, sexual, economic, social and emotional violence, coercion, manipulation and mistreatment or abuse. Physical violence and the threat of such violence is only the part of the pattern that is most visible and makes the other parts of the pattern difficult to defend against. Once violence is used, its threat is never forgotten. Even when the violence is stopped by threat of legal action or by physical separation, the coercion, manipulation and abusiveness continue (Walker and Edwall, 1987).

Accompanying this pattern of behaviors are common styles of coping or personality characteristics - such as the tendency to blame others for ones problems and impulsiveness - that most batterers share. Almost every man I have worked with has a tendency to see his partner (or his children) as responsible for his pain when he is upset. This leads to seeing his partner (or his children) as an enemy who must be defeated before he can feel better. This is destructive to emotional health even when it does not lead to overt violence.

In my opinion, it would be better, in most cases, for the children of homes where there has been domestic violence not to be in the custody of the abusive parent at all. In many cases it is even advisable that visitation be limited to controlled situations, such as under a therapist's supervision during a therapy session, unless the batterer has been in batterer's treatment and demonstrated that he has changed significantly in specific ways. "Merely" observing ones father abuse ones mother is in itself damaging to children. My clinical experience is consistent with the research literature which shows that children who witness their father beat their mother exhibit significantly greater psychological and psychosomatic problems than children from homes without violence (Roy, 1988). Witnessing abuse is more damaging in many ways than actually being abused, and having both happen is very damaging (Goodman and Rosenberg, 1987). Studies show that a high percentage (as high as 55%) of fathers who abuse their wives also abuse their children (Walker and Edwall, 1987). In my experience, if one includes emotional abuses such as being hypercritical, yelling and being cruelly sarcastic, the percentage is much higher. The damage that children suffer is highly variable, with symptoms ranging from aggressive acting out to extreme shyness and withdrawal, or from total school failure to compulsive school performance. The best way to summarize all the symptoms despite their variety is to say that they resemble what children who suffer other trauma exhibit, and could be seen as a version of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (Walker and Edwall, 1987).

Equally serious is the long term effect of domestic violence - intergenerational transmission. Children who observe their mothers being beaten are much more likely to be violent to a partner themselves as adults. In one study, men who observed violence towards their mother were three times more likely to be abusive than men who had not observed such violence (Strauss et al., 1980). The more serious the abuse observed, the more likely the men were to repeat it. Being abused also makes children likely to grow up to be violent, and having both happen increases the probability even more.

How children learn to repeat the abuse they observe and experience includes many factors. One of the more important is modeling. When they grow up, children act like their parents did, consciously or not, willingly or not. Several of the boys I have worked with have been terribly conflicted about being like their father, of whom they were afraid and ashamed. But they clearly carried parts of their father's behavior patterns and attitudes with them. Other boys from violent homes idealized their father, and they were more likely than the others to beat their wives when they grew up (Caesar, 1988). Several of the men I have worked with in group have lamented that they told themselves that they would not beat their wives the way their mother was beaten when they were children. But when they became adults, they found themselves doing the same things their father did. One reason for this is that even if the physical abuse stops, if the children still have contact with the batterer, they are influenced by his coping styles and personality problems. As Lenore Walker observes (Walker and Edwall, 1987, p. 138), "There is also reason for concern about children's cognitive and emotional development when raised by a batterer who has a paranoid-like pattern of projecting his own inadequacy and lack of impulse-control onto others." Dr. Pagelow agrees, "It may become desirable to avoid prolonged contact between violent fathers and their sons until the men assume control over their own behavior and the examples of 'manhood' they are showing to the boys who love them, (Pagelow, 1984, p. 256). If the abusive man has not sought out domestic violence specific treatment for his problem, there is no reason to believe that the underlying pattern of personality and attitudes that supported the abuse in the past have changed. There is every reason to believe it will impact his children.

Additionally, in a society where the majority of wife-beatings do not lead to police reports, much less to filings or convictions, it is easy for children to perceive that abusiveness has no negative consequences. (One study, by Dobash and Dobash, found that 98% of violent incidents between spouses were not reported to the police [reported in Pagelow, 1984, p. 437]). Some children, seeing who has the power and guessing what could happen to them if they opposed the power, will side with the abuser in custody situations. Often, children will deny that the abuse ever happened. Unfortunately, the children who side with the abuser, or deny the abuse, are the most likely to be abusive themselves as adults. It is very important that family court not support this by treating a wife-beating father as if he were just as likely to be a good parent as the woman he beat. As Gelles and Strauss point out in their book Intimate Violence (1988), people are violent in part because they believe they can get away with it. Public consequences are important for preventing the intergenerational transmission of violence. Boys, particularly, need to to see that their father's abusiveness leads to negative, not positive results.

Lastly, I would like to point out that joint legal custody is likely to be damaging to children when there has been spousal violence. My experience with my clients is definitely consistent with the research results reported by Judith Wallerstein to the American Orthopsychiatric Association Convention in 1988. The data clearly show that joint custody is significantly inferior to sole custody with one parent when there is parental conflict after the divorce, in terms of the children's emotional adjustment as well as the mother's safety. Most batterers continue their abusiveness after the marriage, into the divorced parent relationship, in the form of control, manipulation and harassment over support payments, visitation times, and parenting styles. The children are always aware of these tensions and battles, and sometimes blame the mother for not just giving in and keeping the peace - or for being too submissive. The batterer often puts the children right in the middle, taking advantage of his belief that she will give in to avoid hurting the children. The damage to the children in this kind of situation is worse because it is ongoing, and never is allowed to be resolved or have time to heal.

Because I work with batterers, I am sympathetic to the distress they feel at being separated from their children for long periods of time. However, the men who truly cared about their children for the children's sake, and not for what the children do for their father's ego, have been willing to do the therapeutic work necessary to change. They have been willing to accept full responsibility for their violent behavior, and however reluctantly, have accepted whatever restrictions on child visitation existed for safety reasons. They have been willing to be in therapy to deal with "their problem." They have also recognized that they were abused as children themselves, or witnessed their mother being abused, or both, and are willing to support interrupting the intergenerational transmission of violence.

Kendall Segel-Evans, M.A. Marriage, Family and Child Counselor

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Caesar, P. Lynn., "Exposure to Violence in the Families of Origin Among Wife Abusers and Maritally Violent Men." Violence and Victims , Vol. 3, No. 1, Spring, 1988.

Davis, Liane V., and Carlson, Bonnie E., "Observation of Spouse Abuse - What Happens to the Children?" Journal of Interpersonal Violence, Vol. 2, No. 3, September 1987, pp. 278-291, Sage Publications, 1987.

Dutton, Donald., The Domestic Assault of Women, Allyn and Bacon, 1988.

Gelles, Richard J. and Strauss, Murray A., Intimate Violence, Simon and Schuster, 1988.

Goodman, Gail S., and Rosenberg, Mindy, S., "The Child Witness to Family Violence: Clinical and Legal Considerations. Ch. 7, pp. 47ff. in: Sonkin, Daniel. Ph.d., Domestic Violence on Trial, Springer, 1987.

Pagelow, Mildred Daley, Family Violence, Praeger Publications, 1984.

Roy, Maria., Children in the Crossfire, Health Communications, Inc. 1988.

Roy, Maria., The Abusive Partner, Van Nostrand, 1982.

Sonkin, Daniel. Phd., Domestic Violence on Trial, Springer, 1987.

Strauss, Murray A., et. al., Behind Closed Doors, Anchor Books, 1980.

Walker, Lenore E.A., and Edwall, Glenace E. "Domestic Violence and Determination of Visitation and Custody in Divorce." Ch. 8, pp. 127ff. Sonkin, Daniel. Phd. Domestic Violence on Trial, Springer, 1987.

Wallerstein, Judith., Report to the American Orthopsychiatric Association Convention, 1988.

Copyright 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 Minnesota Center Against Violence and Abuse

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