Sanctuary for the Abused

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

January is Stalking Awareness Month

What You Need to Know About Stalking

Being the target of a stalker can be a dangerous and scary experience. But there are ways to deal with this crime that can make you safe and help you feel empowered.

In a stalking situation, the stalker gets his kicks out of invading your privacy or causing you fear. While stalkers can certainly be dangerous, violence is not necessarily their top priority. If it was, they wouldn't spend time stalking - they would just attack. The problem is that there is no way to tell ahead of time what the stalker's plans are, and if the stalker himself assures you that he means no harm, you should certainly not believe him.

Some forms of stalking involve constant calls and visits. We work with some women who say "Well, he asked me out about twenty times, so I finally said yes because I felt sorry for him." Providing encouragement of any kind to the stalker is a mistake.

In this example, the woman has in effect told the stalker that he will get one date with her for every twenty times he askes her. This also shows the stalker that getting her to feel sorry for him is an effective strategy.

In the dynamics of stalking, the equation is simple. There is one stalker, and one victim. The stalker gets his jollies by causing fear - whether by following her, calling her repeatedly, using foul language, invading her privacy, etc. The male stalker and female victim will also fall into the standard pattern of predator and victim, with both of them assuming the predator is stronger. As a result, the act of causing fear is the payoff for the stalker, giving him a sexual rush, making him feel powerful and omnipotent.

To effectively deal with a stalker, you need to change this equation. Here are some suggestions, based on my knowledge of the laws in Minnesota. The laws in your state may be different. Check them!

How to Stop Stalkers
Take Action
Start telling others about the stalker. Even if you have responded to him positively in the past, don't let that stop you from taking action now. Tell people what is going on. If you did go out with him, it was a mistake, but you can fix that. Everyone is allowed to make mistakes. Learn from it and move on.

Keep a Diary
Record every incident, no matter how trivial. Stalkers use the triviality of their actions as a defense: "What, I'm not allowed on a public street?'. You need to establish a pattern of behavior. Record dates, times, places, witnesses, phone numbers, addresses, everything you can think of. If this problem has been ongoing, record previous events to the best of your ability. Record every incident as it happens. Call the police every time you are contacted. They may say they can't send a police car or an officer for an obscene phone call. If that happens, say 'Yes, I know; I just need you to make an official note of this incident so I can prove a pattern of behavior.' And follow up - but keep your own notes!

Get More People Involved
Contact your local women's center and tell them you're being stalked. Bring in your record of the incidents. Advocates who work at women's centers have experience with stalkers, and may even know the person who is bothering you. They also know the police, the sheriff, and the county prosecutors. They will have resources, contact, and advice that will help immensely. They will know the laws in your state, county, and city. Once you involve professionals in this problem, the situation changes from you against the stalker to the system against the stalker. My information is based on what I know about the laws in Minnesota. Please contact a shelter or crisis center in your town for the best help and information.

Work with Advocates
Work closely with the advocates from the women's crisis center. Follow her advice. If my advice differs from hers, do what she says. She knows more about the specific laws in your state than I do. Feel free to ask questions and tell her everything that is going on. The advocate's job is to empower you, to work with you, to make you stronger and more confident about every aspect of your life.

Call Non-Emergency Numbers
Call your local police non-emergency number. If you're in immediate danger, call 9-1-1. Ask to speak to the Officer in Charge. you will be connected with a relatively high ranking police officer. Explain that you are being stalked, and ask for advice. The officer will make a record of the phone call and tell you what to do.

File a Restraining Order
If the stalker is a stranger, you can file a Harassment Restraining Order (HRO), which is used when you don't have a significant or legal relationship with the other person. Make sure that your advocate help syou fill out the forms, using your documented patterns of incidents. A judge will look over your application, see how many times you have been bothered, and will grant or not grant your HRO request. When it has been granted, every incident is stalking is considered a violation of the order and is a crime.

Facts about HROs
Make sure your advocate tells you what an HRO can and cannot do. Statistically, when an HRO is served, that can be the most dangerous time for you. Work with your advocate to make sure you stay safe. Evaluate the level of danger and make a safety plan accordingly.

Many times, an HRO will cause a power shift in the relationship, and the stalker will leave you alone. It's not fun for him anymore because you are no longer a safe and easy target.

Remember that a restraining order will not stop a stalker who doesn't care about it. The advantage to an HRO is that it will mobilize law enforcement to be on your side. The police must pay attention and respond to any violation of the order.

Penalties for violating an HRO will vary, depending on your state or country. Repeated violations may result in harsher penalties. Remember, the more violations he has on his record, the better your case.

The HRO is between your stalker and the judge. If the stalker violates the HRO, he is violating the judge's order, not yours. The only way the order can be modified is if you go to court to change it.

The HRO is against your stalker, not against you. Sometimes the stalker will threaten, "I'll show up where you are, then I'll report YOU for violating the HRO!". Sorry, no, the HRO is one way only. It's impossible for you to violate the HRO. Sometimes a judge will order mutual HROs, against both parties, but this is rare. Incidentally, if the stalker makes a threat like that, he has already violated the HRO. Report it.

No witnesses? His word against yours? After the HRO is granted, that doesn't matter. The police have to believe you.

Continue to report every single incident, no matter how small. If you don't report every incident, he may begin pushing the boundaries, seeing how far you will let him go before he gets into trouble. Develop a hair-trigger response and report the slightest violation.

Be With Other People
Stay with others as much as you possible can. If an incident occurs, you will have plenty of witnesses. Statistically, you are much safer in a group anyway.

Don't Show Fear
Refusing to show fear may be one of your best weapons. The stalker enjoys provoking fear. Talk to your advocate about your specific case to see if this would be a good approach to take.

Follow these steps and you can stop stalkers. If we all work together we can make the world a safer place.

(while this article was written in the male, stalkers can also be female)


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Friday, January 04, 2013

Common "games" between those with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) & 'Normals'

Common "games" between those with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and those who do not have BPD

(note: BPD is similar in it's expression to Narcissism; but not the same disorder)

Feelings Create Facts

In general, emotionally healthy people base their feelings on facts. If your dad came home drunk every night (fact) you might feel worried or concerned (feeling). If your boss complimented you on a big project (fact) you would feel proud and happy (feeling).

People with BPD, however, may do the opposite. When their feelings don't fit the facts, they may unconsciously revise the facts to fit their feelings. This may be one reason why their perception of events is so different from yours.

Splitting: (I Hate You—Don't Leave Me)

People with BPD may have a hard time seeing gray areas. To them, people and situations are all black or white, wonderful or evil. This process of splitting serves as another defense mechanism. Peter, who has BPD, explains: "Dividing the world into good or evil makes it easier to understand. When I feel evil, that explains why I am the way I am. When you are evil, that explains why I think bad things about you."

Tag, You're It : A Game of Projection

Some people with BPD who act out may use a more complicated type of defense mechanism — we've named it "Tag, You're It"- to relieve their anxiety, pain, and feelings of shame. It's more complex because it combines shame, splitting, denial, and projection.

People with BPD usually lack a clear sense of who they are, and feel empty and inherently defective. Others seem to run away from them, which is lonely and excruciatingly painful. So borderlines cope by trying to "tag" or "put" these feelings onto someone else. This is called projection.

Projection is denying one's own unpleasant traits, behaviors, or feelings by attributing them (often in an accusing way) to someone else. In our interview with Elyce M. Benham, M.S., she explained that projection is like gazing at yourself in a hand-held mirror. When you think you look ugly, you turn the mirror around. Voila! Now the homely face in the mirror belongs to somebody else.

Sometimes the projection is an exaggeration of something that has a basis in reality. For example, the borderline may accuse you of "hating" them when you just feel irritated. Sometimes the projection may come entirely from their imagination: for example, they accuse you of flirting with a salesclerk when you were just asking for directions to the shoe department.

The BP's unconscious hope is that by projecting this unpleasant stuff onto another person-by tagging someone else and making them "it" like a game of Tag — the person with BPD will feel better about themselves. And they do feel better, for a little while. But the pain comes back. So the game is played again and again.

Projection also has another purpose: your loved one unconsciously fears that if you find out they're not perfect, you will abandon them. Like in the Wizard of Oz, they live in constant terror that you'll discover the person behind the curtain. Projecting the negative traits and feelings onto you is a way to keep the curtain closed and redirect your attention on the perfect image they've tried to create for themselves.

How can people with BPD deny that they are projecting when it is so obvious to everyone else? The answer is that shame and splitting may combine with projection and denial to make the "Tag, You're It" defense mechanism a more powerful way of denying ownership of unpleasant thoughts and feelings.

Some adults who enter into relationships with borderlines feel brainwashed by the BP's accusations and criticisms. Says Benham: "The techniques of brainwashing are simple: isolate the victim, expose them to inconsistent messages, mix with sleep deprivation, add some form of abuse, get the person to doubt what they know and feel, keep them on their toes, wear them down, and stir well."

Everything Is Your Fault

Continual blame and criticism is another defense mechanism that some people with BPD who act out use as a survival tool. The criticism may be based on a real issue that the person with BPD has exaggerated, or it may be a pure fantasy on the borderline's part.

Family members we interviewed have been raged at and castigated for such things as carrying a grocery bag the wrong way, having bed sheets that weighed too heavily on the BP's toes, and reading a book the BP demanded they read.

One exasperated non-BP said that if by some chance he didn't make an unforgivable error one day, his wife would probably rage at him for being too perfect.

If you object to the criticism or try to defend yourself, your loved one may accuse you of being defensive, too sensitive, or unable to accept constructive criticism. Since their very survival seems to be at stake, they may defend themselves with the ferociousness of a mother bear protecting her cubs. When the crisis has passed and the person with BPD seems to have won, they may act surprised that you're still upset.

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Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Battered Woman Syndrome

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by Jeanette Norman

(battering can include - verbal abuse, mental abuse, emotional abuse as well as physical abuse)

Battered Women Syndrome (or BWS) was first presented in the 1970's as a way to justify when a woman killed her husband because he abused her in some way. One reason why many judges are against pleading guilty by reason of BWS is because BWS hasn't been scientifically proven as a real syndrome. But if so many women kill after their husbands beat THEM half to death, why hasn't it been validated as a reasonable plea?

Some psychologists believe a more appropriate diagnosis for a woman who has been labeled as having BWS is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD)
(*see ).

Therefore, BWS should be a subcategory of PTSD.

A battered woman is labeled a "battered woman" when she experiences 3 cycles of being battered. The cycle is:

. Tension Building Phase - Arguments, bickering, sometimes the silent treatment before more arguing.

. Explosion/Battery - Abuse of some kind happens; physical, sexual, emotional, verbal

. Honeymoon Phase - The abusers kiss and make up part, everything is wonderful, he will never do it again...but 8 times out of 10, he does do it again.

According to, there are 4 characteristics of this syndrome:

1. The woman believes that the violence was her fault.

2. The woman has an inability to place the responsibility for the violence elsewhere.

3. The woman fears for her life and/or her children's lives.

4. The woman has an irrational belief that the abuser is omnipresent (Present everywhere simultaneously) and omniscient (Having total knowledge; knowing everything).

In research for this article, I read that many judges will question why a woman stays in a relationship where there is abuse to the point of her wanting to kill her spouse/boyfriend. This is one of the most frustrating questions someone in s domestic violence relationship gets all the time. Sure someone who hasn't ever been in the situation can say "I will never let a man abuse me". It is easier said than done. Every person who has gone through spousal abuse has a different reason(s) for staying as long as they do and often times we are looked down upon for staying!

Most women who have killed their abusers felt like they had no other way out but to commit murder. They have been driven to the breaking point usually after years of abuse. Now I am not saying what they did was right by any means. There are other ways to deal with abuse and to get out, but these women feel like there is absolutely no way out. A lot of courts that hear cases of murder committed by a woman who claims abuse usually end up with lawyers and judges who want proof of the abuse. Many times abuse can't be proven because a woman takes it and doesn't report it to the police or the hospital staff if they ever have to go there.

In conclusion, I believe psychologist and doctors need to do more research into this syndrome. I personally do believe that someone can commit murder after years of abuse, but there will always be people who use this as an excuse.

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