Sanctuary for the Abused

Saturday, November 25, 2006


by Coralie Scherer, Ph.D. and Al Cooper, Ph.D.M

Josh will tell you: He just likes sex! Through high school and college he kept track of the "notches on his belt" but a few decades later the women are just a hazy stream of one night stands. He loves the chase and sometimes even feels pleasure. But when the sex is over he is gone. He tells himself he's quite a stud but a voice inside asks how long he can keep this up. He swears he's going to stay home and relax tonight but the loneliness gets to him and finally, he decides he will "check out the action" at his favorite bar one more time.

Trina just met the "man of her dreams" a few weeks ago. She invited him to stay with her when his wife threw him out. She's so happy giving him what he needs domestically, financially, and sexually, especially when it's something his wife wouldn't do. She loves knowing that she understands him better than anyone else. That is why she is going to surprise him by taking him out to dinner for his birthday and wear the kind of very revealing dress he really likes. Normally she wears more conservative clothes because she is uncomfortable being the center of attention. But making him happy is what counts. She leaves work early to swing by his office and give him a ride so he won't have to take the bus. She's thinking about placing an ad to give away her precious Siamese because he has hinted that he doesn't like cats.

What do Josh and Trina have in common? On the surface, very little, but inside they are two lonely people desperate for connectedness in unhealthy and compulsive relationships. Josh and Trina may be sex and love addicts.

What is Addiction to Sex and/or Love?

Although people such as Josh and Trina seem at first glance to be very different--Josh relates superficially to many and Trina wraps herself up intensely in one--they can be thought of as extremes on a continuum. Josh's behavior may be acceptable or even admired for younger men but in someone well into middle age they contradict our cultural expectation of finding a mate and settling down for life. Therefore, his addiction is more readily seen as out of control than is Trina's.

Sexual addiction has been called many other things: compulsive sexual behavior, hypersexuality, or sexual impulsivity. Sex addicts are characterized by a preoccupation with sex, the strong desire for sex, and particularly, a sense of shame due to an inability to control their sexual impulses. Sex addicts cannot identify a time when their compulsion began but there seems to be an agreement that it occurs as a coping response to anxiety.

According to Barth and Kinder (1987), "the sexually impulsive individual uses sexual activity as a means of avoiding or escaping from personal problems, social stress, and unpleasant emotions, such as loneliness, boredom, tension, sadness, or anger (p.16)." Their sexual activities can range from intense sexual fantasizing, conventional intercourse, soliciting prostitutes and sexual deviation (of a number of types) to violent criminal behavior. Sex addicts often try to distance themselves from their impulses.

They use repression and denial resulting in guilt and shame, social isolation, and other inwardly directed negative emotions. In other words, they try to keep their addiction secret and suffer low self esteem and alienation as a result. Frequently, their sexual addiction is accompanied by drug and alcohol abuse or other addiction (spending, smoking). Often, as the substance abuse abates, the sexual addiction increases and one set of compulsive behaviors substitutes for another. However, both addictions can be seen as attempts to provide a means of avoiding inner emptiness.

What about Trina? What could be wrong with falling in love, becoming one with your partner, placing your loved one above yourself: Isn't that the stuff of romance? Isn't that what love is all about? Trina and those like her have never experienced genuine nurturing and confuse their partner's neediness with desire. Their relationships are one way to try to experience caring but their caretaking can turn to control. Typically love addicts are Super Co-dependents.

They may have grown up in extremely dysfunctional households where one or both parents were either addicted to something (e.g.,alcohol, drugs, work, gambling, food, etc.), mentally unstable, violent, physically and/or emotionally abusive, or even sexually inappropriate with their children. The result was that the parents were emotionally unavailable to their children and thereby discounted their child's perceptions and needs. Future love addicts often became caretakers of one or both of their dysfunctional parents. In this way they got some of their emotional needs met to feel important or valued.

These kids brought into adulthood a paralyzing fear of abandonment so strong that they would do anything to keep a relationship from breaking up. Used to a lack of love in relationships, they are attracted to partners who are as emotionally unavailable as their parents. They hold hopes of transforming the object of their affection with the power of their love. They stay focused on the loved one and discount their own needs and desires. They take on the blame, guilt, and responsibility for the relationship and keep trying harder and harder to please.

They are willing to suffer and endure pain in hopes of getting their partner to acknowledge and appreciate them in ways their parents never did. People who are kind, respectful, and solicitous of them are found wanting, dull, and lacking in excitement. The love addict becomes restless around persons who might really provide them with genuine caring and nurturing. The love addict's caring turns to control as they try harder and harder to achieve the security they never had in childhood. However, rather than create that idealized fairy tale ending they wish for, they more often recreate the home they were raised in.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

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46 Clues Your Partner is Having an Affair
by Dr. Robert Huizenga, The Infidelity Coach

Some of these are "tongue in cheek" while others are tell tale signs that commonly appear when someone is having an affair. There is no copyright. Feel free to forward to those who might be interested.

1) You find birth-control pills in her medicine cabinet, and you've had a vasectomy.

2) Mutual friends start acting strangely toward you. (They either know about the cheating or have been told stories about what a horrible wife or girlfriend you are.)

3) He stops confiding in you and seeking advice from you.

4) Sets up a new e-mail account and doesn't tell you about it.

5) He leaves the house in the morning smelling like Irish Spring and returns in the evening smelling like Safeguard.

6) She joins the gym and begins a rigorous workout program.

7) She buys a cell phone and doesn't let you know.

8) He sets up a separate cell phone account that is billed to his office or wants his own cell phone bill for "business reasons."

9) He carries condoms, and you are on the pill.

10) Begins to delete all incoming phone calls from the caller ID.

11) Deletes all incoming e-mails when they used to accumulate.

12) He becomes "accusatory," asking if you are being true to him, usually out of guilt.

13) Raises hypothetical questions such as, "Do you think it's possible to love more than one person at a time?"

14) He buys himself new underwear.

15) He insists the child seat, toys, etc., are kept out of his car.

16) She stops wearing her wedding ring.

17) Has a sudden desire to be helpful with the laundry.

18) Has unexplained scratches or bruises on his or her neck or back.

19) Suddenly wants to try new sexual positions.

20) He/she fairly suddenly stops having sex with you.

21) He/she suddenly wants more sex, more often.

22) Supposedly works a lot of overtime, but it never shows up on the pay stub.

23) Picks fights in order to stomp out of the house.

24) You find out by accident he or she took vacation day or personal time off from work - but told you they supposedly worked on those days.

25) Shows a sudden interest in a different type of music.

26) Spouse's coworkers are uncomfortable in your presence.

27) Has a sudden preoccupation with his or her appearance.

28) Spends an excessive amount of time on the computer, especially after you have gone to bed.

29) He throws up a lot or has a 'sick stomach' because he just ate at his mistress's house and had to eat the dinner I prepared when he got home.

30) Your spouse is away from home, either nights or on trips, more than previously.

31) His/her clothes smell of an unfamiliar perfume or after-shave. You see lipstick on your husband's shirt.

32) The amount of money being deposited into your checking account drops off.

33) You find items of intimate apparel or other small gift-type items that you did not give your spouse.

34) Your spouse seems less comfortable around you and is "touchy" and easily moved to anger.

35) You get calls where the caller hangs up when he or she hears your voice.

36) He/she loses attention in the activities in the home.

37) Your intuition (gut feeling) tells you that something is not right.

38) He/she has a definite change in attitude towards everyone in the home.

39) She uses a low voice or whisper on the phone or hangs up quickly.

40) She has a "glow" about her.

41) Atypical erratic behavior.

42) He sneaks out of the house.

43) She sleeps with her purse by the bed

44) She goes to the store for groceries and comes home 5 hours later.

45) He tells you can get hold of him at a different telephone number.

46) The telltale sign of a cheating spouse? Having to ask that question in the first place.
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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Misogynon Twelve Steps

We admitted we were powerless over Misogyny that our lives (including our relationship ) had become unmanageable.

Came to believe that a Power Greater than ourselves could restore us (and our relationship) to sanity.

Made a decision to turn our will and our lives (including our relationship) over to the care of God, as we understood Him.

Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves and our relationship.

Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another supportive person the exact nature of our wrongs and the conditions of our relationship.

Were entirely ready to have God remove from us every single defect of character and, if necessary, remove us from our defective relationship.

Humbly, on our knees, asked Him to remove our shortcomings, heal, and if necessary remove us from our defective relationship.

Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

Made direct amends to such people wherever possible except when to do so would injure them or others.

Continued to take personal inventory (including our relationship) and only when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us (including our relationship) and the power to carry that out.

Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other women trapped in the effects of a violent, abusive or manipulative relationship and to practice these principles in all areas of our lives.

Misogynon Twelve Traditions

Tradition One

1. "Our common welfare should come first; personal progress for the greatest number depends upon unity."
Tradition Two
2. "For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority-a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants they do not govern."
Tradition Three
3. "The only requirement for membership is a desire to heal and recover from a troubled, abusive, violent, relationship."
Tradition Four
4. "Each group is autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or Misogynon as a whole.
Tradition Five
5. "Each group has but one primary purpose - to carry its message to the woman who still suffers.
Tradition Six
6. "A Misogynon group ought never endorse, finance, or lend the Misogynon name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property, and prestige divert us from our primary purpose."
Tradition Seven
7. "Every Misogynon group ought to be fully self supporting declining outside contributions."
Tradition Eight
8. "Misogynon" should remain forever nonprofessional, but our service centers may employ special workers."
Tradition Nine
9. "Misogynon, as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.
Tradition Ten
10. "Misogynon has no opinion on outside issues; hence the Misogynon name ought never be drawn into public controversy."
Tradition Eleven
11. "Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films."
Tradition Twelve
12. "Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities."
shared by Barbara at 5:49 AM


Friday, November 10, 2006

The Big Roulette Wheel Of Internet Dating (a Story Of Spousal Abuse)
by Paulette Q. Yuill

"I could not put this book down once I began to read it. I found it very informative as to what could happen when you meet someone over the Internet. I just hope that someone can gain insight and knowledge from reading Paulette's book. It is easy to understand and never boring."

Freedom and Recovery from Cults and Other Abusive Relationships

by Madeleine Landau Tobias, Janja Lalich, Michael Langone

From Library Journal
Tobias and Lalich spent a combined total of 24 years in "restrictive groups" (i.e., cults), and both are currently involved in providing post-cult counseling and therapy. Their first collaboration, this book succeeds as an ambitious, comprehensive explanation of the cult experience and works well on several levels. Its stated focal intent is to encourage and assist those former cultists struggling to readjust to the "real world." Powered by the authors' experience, compassion, and intellect, it capably provides such support. In addition, however, Tobias and Lalich's systematic analysis of the shared characteristics of cults and cult leaders, along with extensive first-person accounts by former cultists, will educate those readers with a purely intellectual interest in the allure, power, and structure of cults.

**Good for partners of cult-like abusers**
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Friday, November 03, 2006

Preventing Family Violence Through Early Intervention:
A Priceless Legacy for Future Generations

by Penny Bain, Executive Director and Lynne Melcombe, Communications Consultant,
BC Institute Against Family Violence

The recent release of the annual report of Child, Youth and Family Advocate Joyce Preston stimulated much discussion among staff at the BC Institute Against Family Violence. In particular, we note Ms. Preston's urging for an expansion of early development and early intervention services. Current medical research strongly supports the need for these and other services in the fight to eliminate family violence.

Research reveals that children exposed to family violence, which can stimulate a prolonged, physiological "fight-or-flight" stress response, may suffer a kind of brain damage. This damage can lead to dissociative disorders, in which the individual becomes emotionally detached from his or her surroundings and may lead to what was formerly referred to as "multiple personality disorder". Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, which is characterized by hypervigilance to external threat, over-arousal and persistently intrusive traumatic memories, among a variety of other traumatic stress responses, is a possible unfortunate result of environmental adversity.

The stress response begins when a gland in the brain called the hypothalamus receives information about a perceived threat and initiates a series of reactions resulting in production of the hormone cortisol. Once the presence of cortisol is detected in the bloodstream, the system's demand for this natural pain-killer temporarily ceases, and in much the same way that a thermostat detects when a furnace has generated enough heat and shuts itself off, production of this essential hormone stops.

Cortisol converts fat and muscle into glucose, which is the brain's fuel. It enables us to "think fast" while simultaneous release of adrenaline, noradrenaline, and testosterone enables us to act quickly. This is the fight-or-flight response. It's a good thing.

When people experience repeated and/or prolonged stress, cortisol levels rise and can remain high for hours, days, or longer. One ongoing study of teenage girls who reported sexual abuse showed cortisol levels that remained high over many months.

Prolonged elevation of cortisol is not a good thing. It interferes with glucose absorption in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is one of three parts of the brain involved in memory. Memories are stored in the brain's cortex, the hippocampus retrieves factual memories - "what happened" - and the amygdala retrieves emotional memories - how one felt when it happened.

The hippocampus is dense with cortisol receptors. This may facilitate its ability to retrieve information quickly under stress, but it also makes the hippocampus sensitive to cortisol overload. Too much cortisol actually shuts down the hippocampus' ability to absorb glucose, essentially starving it and impairing its ability to function.

Cortisol does not affect the amygdala this way, so individuals continue retrieving emotional memories. This is one reason why, years after a trauma, people may still experience fear, horror, or rage, often without being able to connect these feelings to a remembered event.

Prolonged stress can break the internal thermostat that controls hormone levels, resulting in chronic depletion of the substance. Low levels of cortisol in the body have been linked to emotional numbing. On the other hand, cortisol production can be activated by mild stimuli and the sudden "high" can evoke fragments of disturbing memories. At the same time, elevated levels of adrenaline, noradrenaline, and testosterone can cause reactivity and aggression.

These biochemical and organic effects of prolonged duress combine and frequently appear as symptoms of dissociative disorders and PTSD. An individual with a dissociative disorder may have difficulty in "reality testing" and demonstrate impairments in cognitive and social functioning. Dissociative disorders are extremely common diagnoses among individuals physically or sexually abused as children. For example, sexual abuse survivors often tell of "leaving their bodies" during abusive events. If episodes of detachment happen frequently, they can alter the individual's ability to have appropriate emotional responses.

An individual with PTSD has an excruciatingly low tolerance for environmental change. Even a sudden change in light or temperature, or a sound that's not loud but unexpected, can evoke an aggressive outburst - yet such outbursts can alternate with moods of extreme tenderness. It's also not unusual for individuals to move back and forth between dissociative disorders and PTSD, and more usual than not to witness other ("co-morbid") psychiatric diagnoses such as substance abuse, depression and generalized anxiety disorder also present within individuals with histories of traumatic stress. Some who suffered at the hands of others go on to perpetrate abuse in adult relationships.

Thus, the cycle of violence continues. Unless we intervene. And the earlier, the better.

Because if prolonged exposure to stress can damage the more fully formed brains of adolescents and adults, imagine what it can do to the developing brains of young children and infants. Research has shown that infants and young children exposed to family violence can be predestined for lives of violence.

The upside is that early intervention and treatment work. Studies of lab rats have compared newborn pups who were left in the constant care of their mothers (a model of loving parental care) with pups who were removed from their mothers' care for 15 minutes daily (a model of occasional exposure to stress) and pups who were removed for three hours daily (a model of neglect).

While the first two groups developed normal stress responses, the third group developed excessive stress responses, mirroring those of infants exposed to family violence. Left untreated, those responses continued into adulthood. In humans, when the effects of prolonged stress go untreated, the resulting disorders become increasingly resistant to treatment.

However, when some of the "neglected" pups were moved to an enriched environment and given extra care, their stress responses returned to normal and they developed into fully functional adults. In the same way, humans who receive therapy within days or weeks of a traumatic event usually avoid developing permanent psychiatric disorders.

In other words, if we want to short-circuit family violence, we must focus our efforts on new parents. But to do this, we must offer services that address the range of problems - poverty, poor housing, inadequate nutrition, for example - that can combine to make the challenges of parenting seem insurmountable and result in violent outbursts that are motivated by frustration.

But if we focus our efforts only on new parents, we'll miss opportunities to help troubled older children and youth in ways that can enable them to enter adulthood prepared to become parents. Thus, we must provide services for children, youth, and families before they are in crisis.

This requires adequate, trained staff, not only to deal with the provision of services, but to foster the development of what Preston describes as a mature and stable workforce. This cannot be accomplished without increasing, rather than decreasing, investment in the vulnerable members of our society.

And that is the way social service expenditures should be seen: as investments. The current approach to family violence drains our resources via too-little, too-late expenditures, criminal activity, and unrealized productivity.

A more solid investment would look something like a good down payment and a 20-year mortgage on a property with the potential to return our investment many times over. This investment would allow us to leave a priceless legacy for the generations to come.

For more information, please contact Penny Bain, Executive Director at the BC Institute Against Family Violence at (604) 669-7055 or visit our website at
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