Sanctuary for the Abused

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Surviving Abuse

... by Protecting Your Boundaries

Clytie - Lord Frederick Leighton

by Kathy Krajco

I'm almost afraid to talk about boundaries, because we're talking about the right to privacy here -- the right to be your own private property, so that you alone have rights of ownership in yourself. Otherwise, technically, you're livestock. It's a touchy subject. Partly because parents, religion, and even society in general cross these boundaries and partly because it reminds people of the abortion issue.

I don't mention it, because it's a poor example. The right to privacy isn't really the issue. The issue is whose right to privacy are we talking about in the matter -- the mother's or her unborn child's? For what little it's worth, in my opinion both extremes seem to carry things too far. Is a fertilized egg cell any more human than a sloughed off skin cell? All cells have the "potential to become a human being." But that's not the same as BEING a human being. On the other hand, when you start supporting even partial-birth abortions, clearly you are cruelly taking the life of a little human being, one the mother could even legally sue a third party for injuring. So, where to draw the line is debatable. Therefore, I just set the abortion issue aside as a question about when an embryo should be judged a human being and guaranteed the rights of one -- not a question of whether the right to privacy is implicit in the Constitution. If it weren't, none of the private-property rights referred to, and implicit in, in the Constitution would be there. The right to justice is another unenumerated right implicit in it.

The most invasive violence to boundaries is treating another person's very mind as your property. A good example of what I mean is the Inquisition, which enforced Church laws against heresy = choosing for oneself what to believe.

Again, your mind is YOUR house. You're the one who has to live in it. I have no right to just barge in and furnish it as if I own the place. I won't incur the consequences of what I put there -- YOU WILL. I can be totally self-serving in what I put there -- to your harm.

The way people (including narcissists) usually do this is by presuming to be your judge. They judge everything you think, say, do, or even just feel. Their judgements are value judgements they impose on you for it. This judges your worth as a person.

Not all judgements fit into this category. Here is a simple example to illustrate what I mean. One of the statements below judges something I am fit to judge, the other crosses the line:

* I might say, "You are doing a good job."
* Or I might say, "You have a lot on the ball."

Notice that in this example the judgements are carrots, not sticks. Which one judges YOU personally? That's the one that crosses the line. If I'm your boss, you might not think too much of it, though even then it rubs you the wrong way. If I'm your co-worker, it really strikes you as presumptuous.

A common example of this that victims of narcissists encounter is judging you for your feelings about the abuse. You get it, not just from the narcissist, but from every side -- people judging you for your anger. That's presumptuous and absurd. It's also a powerplay.

There's no way to win the perverted game a narcissist plays. But you can keep it from driving you yourself into mental illness by just protecting the borders of your mind. Your head is YOUR house. Don't let anybody else inseminate it with their ideas. Examine all ideas at the gate. If an idea doesn't make sense, if it ain't logical, keep it out. You wouldn't let anyone feed tainted information into your computer, so don't let anyone feed tainted information into your head. The resulting mess hurts only YOU.

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shared by Barbara at 12:22 AM 1 comments


Saturday, April 29, 2017

Are You Involved With A Narcissistic Person?

by Thomas J. Schumacher, Psy.D., R-CSW

According to the American Psychological Association, people with narcissistic personality disorder display a chronic and pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, and lack of empathy. The Greek myth has it that Narcissus died enraptured by the beauty of his own reflection in a pool and feel forever in love with his own reflection. The Narcissist displays an operating style that involves extreme self-involvement, and a grandiose sense of self- importance. They exaggerate their achievements and talents, expecting others to recognize them as superior and often appearing arrogant and extremely self absorbed.

Preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, or beauty, they require the constant attention and admiration of those around them, although they are very choosy about the people and institutions they will associate closely with. They often admit to being snobs and are actually proud of it. They also believe that their problems are unique and can be appreciated only by other “special” high - status people. Despite their charm, the favorable first impression they make, and their wide circle of notable acquaintances, people with this disorder are rarely able to maintain a stable, long-term relationship. With their boastful and pretentious manner, narcissistic persons are seldom receptive to the feelings of others. They show a general lack of empathy, an inability or unwillingness to recognize and identify with your thoughts and needs. Many are often successful, impressively knowledgeable, and articulate, yet bored and doubt ridden as well.

Conversely, healthy narcissism is essential for emotional well-being. We need narcissism to feel confident in ourselves, and to give adequate consideration to others. NOTE: The healthy narcissist does not focus exclusively on themselves, demanding that the world reflect back their false manufactured sense of self and an image of idealized perfection.

If you encounter this personality type, a grasp of the underlying psychology can help you cope more effectively. Lets explore the genesis of the narcissistic personality. As stated above, people with this personality disorder must constantly seek outside support and approval. If they get that support and approval, they feel complete and powerful. Without that support and approval, they feel deprived, exposed, vulnerable, angry, and lonely.

KEY: Early childhood conditioning also plays a part. The child’s real or authentic self has generally been ignored, or the child’s self may have been attacked and assaulted while the parents placed demands on the child to be “perfect.” When that occurs, the type of behavior we associate with a narcissistic disorder is overindulged. Fiercely driven to achieve, children never develop the capacity to consider others’ needs. Enter adulthood, and the same traits naturally carry over.

What To Watch Out For
Most people with this disorder advertise themselves… They seek to be the center of attention. In search of constant approval and praise to reinforce their false grandiose sense of self, they’re “on- stage,” dominating the conversation, often exaggerating their importance.

They lack empathy for others and have an inflated sense of entitlement, requiring others to respond to their demands and grant favors. They need everything for themselves and are envious of others’ accomplishments and possessions.

Criticism or disapproval takes them back to their difficult childhoods, sending them into a defensive fury, since any flaw or mistake means they’re not perfect. Also, when things go wrong, they cannot acknowledge the imperfections implicit in accepting responsibility.

Appearance matters more than substance. Power, wealth and beauty bolster their fragmented self-image.

They may be extremely driven because the “narcissistic fuel” of outside approval is so essential. Many are workaholics. Warning: this personality disorder may not be immediately obvious. The subtle ones won’t show their true colors until “deprived.” Caution: Others may actually pursue and cater to you, if you have something they want, such as looks, money, or status.

Can you change them? Reality check: No. Even constructive criticism is experienced by them as an affront and is met with anger and a sense of betrayal. Placating only results in more demands, not a return of thoughtfulness and consideration. In fact, if you always excuse or rationalize self-absorption and give in to constant demands, you are actually supporting and reinforcing their narcissistic needs and wants.

Coping Tips
Here are some tips on how to cope with the person in your life who processes the narcissistic style. Sometimes the best way to deal with extreme narcissistic behavior is to end the relationship. But since this solution isn’t always possible, I can only offer you some survival techniques…

It is important to set boundaries. Decide which demands you can meet or how much approval you’re willing to give to this person, and then stick to your decision. Also, terminate a self-centered conversation if you can, or at least set a time limit on how long you’ll listen.

Support yourself. If your resistance to them draws their anger or blame, refuse to be emotionally blackmailed. Remember that your time and feelings are not important in this person’s eyes. This can help remove your guilt.

Use bargaining chips. If you have something they want, such as a special expertise or solutions to problems—share it sparingly to keep their worst behavior under control. Be aware that when you no longer satisfy them, their old ways will resurface.

Avoid anger. Any confrontation should be conducted quietly and with control. But even a tactful approach may be greeted with anger or sometimes-frightening rage. Very likely, you’ll hear that the difficult situation is your problem and there’s something wrong with you. Arguing will only make you feel like you will want to blow your brains out. Be careful not to expect accommodation from the other person, but do give yourself points for standing up for your rights.

Finally, know when to leave. Dealing with this personality disorder can undermine your own sense of self. Ask yourself some questions…Do I continually feel depressed, irritable, devalued and worthless? Does my anger and resentment carry over into other relationships? Have I stopped supporting myself in general, not treating myself well or allowing others to coerce me? Bottom line: If you find yourself answering yes too frequently, you must examine the pay-off or importance of your relationship with this person.


FACEBOOK GROUP for Victims of Narcissists  
(not for discussions of children, support, custody)

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Friday, April 28, 2017

10 Reasons Abusers Don't Change

Ten Reasons to Stay the Same

From "Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men" by Lundy Bancroft.

To answer the question "Why Does He Do That?" we have to examine the foundation on which abusive behaviors are based. On the first level are the abuser's attitudes, beliefs and habits-- the thinking that drives his behavior day in and day out, which we have been looking at. On the second level is the learning process by which some boys develop into abusive men or, in other words, where abusive values come from, which is the topic of ch 13.

There is also a third level, which is rarely mentioned in discussions of abuse but which is actually one of the most important dynamics: the benefits that an abuser gets that make his behavior desirable to him. In what ways is abusiveness rewarding? How does this destructive pattern get reinforced?

Consider the following scenario: Mom, Dad, and their children are having dinner on a Wed night. Dad is snappy and irritable, criticizing everybody during the meal, spreading his tension around like electricity. When he finishes eating, he leaves the table abruptly and heads out of the room. His 10 yr old daughter says, "Dad, where are you going? Wed is your night to wash dishes." Upon hearing these words, Dad bursts into flames, screaming, "You upstart little shit, don't you dare try to tell me what to do! You'll be wearing a dish on your face!" He grabs a plate off the table, makes like he is going to throw it at her, and then turns away and smashes it on the floor. He knocks a chair over with his hand and storms out of the room. Mom and the children are left trembling; the daughter bursts into tears. Dad reappears in the doorway and yells that she'd better shut up, so she chokes off her tears, which causes her to shake even more violently. Without touching a soul, Dad has sent painful shock waves through the entire family.

We move ahead now to the following Wed. Dinner passes fairly normally, without the previous week's tension, but Dad still strolls out of the kitchen when he finishes eating. Does a family member remind him that it's his turn to wash the dishes? Of course not. It will be many, many months before anyone makes that mistake again. They quietly attend to the cleanup, or they squabble among themselves about who should do it, taking out their frustrations over Dad's unfairness and volatility on each other. Dad's scary behavior has created a context in which he won't have to do the dishes anytime he doesn't feel like it, and no one will dare take him to task for it.

Any incident of abusive behavior brings the abuser benefits just as this one did. Over time, the man grows attached to his ballooning collection of comforts and privileges. Here are some of the reasons why he may appear so determined not to stop bullying:

1. The intrinsic satisfaction of power and control
The abusive man gains power through his coercive and intimidating behaviors -- a sensation that can create a potent, thrilling rush. The wielder of power feels important and effective and finds a momentary relief from life's normal distresses. It isn't the woman's pain that appeals to him; most abusers are not sadists. In fact, he has to go to some lengths to shield himself from his own natural tendenty to empathize with her. The feeling that he rules is where the pleasure lies.

Yet the heady rush of power is the bare beginning of what the abuser gains through his mistreatment of his partner. If the rewards stopped here, I would find it much easier than I do to prevail upon my clients to change.

2. Getting his way, especially when it matters to him most
A romantic partnership involves a never-ending series of negotiations between 2 people's differing needs, desires, and preferences. Many of the differences that have to be worked out are matters of tremendous importance to the emotional life of each partner, such as:

-- Are we spending Christmas with my relatives, whom I enjoy, or with your relatives who get on my nerves and don't seem to like me?

-- Are we eating dinner tonight at my favorite restaurant, or at a place that I'm tired of and where the children seem to get wound up and irritating?

-- Am I going to have to go alone to my office party, which makes me feel terrible, or are you going to come with me even though you would rather spend the evening doing almost anything else on earth?

It is important not to underestimate theimpact of these kinds of day-to-day decisions. Your happiness in a relationship depends greatly on your ability to get your needs heard and taken seriously. If these decisions are taken over by an abusive or controlling partner, you experiences disappointment after disappointment, the constant sacrificing of your needs. He, on the other hand, enjoys the luxury of a relationship where he rarely has to compromise, gets to the things he enjoys, and skips the rest. He shows off his generosity when the stakes are low, so that friends will see what a swell guy he is.

The abuser ends up with the benefits of being in an intimate relationship without the sacrifices that normally come with the territory. That's a pretty privileged lifestyle.

3. Someone to take his problems out on
Have you ever suffered a sharp disappointment or a painful loss and found yourself looking for someone to blame? Have you, for example, ever been nasty to a store clerk when you were really upset about your job? Most people have an impulse to dump bad feelings on some undeserving person, as a way to relieve-- temporarily-- sadness or frustration. Certain days you may know that you just have to keep an eye on yourself so as not to bite someone's head off.

The abusive man doesn't bother to keep an eye on himself, however. In fact, he considers himself entitled to use his partner as a kind of human garbage dump where he can litter the ordinary pains and frustrations that life brings us. She is always an available target, she is easy to blame-- since no partner is perfect-- and she can't prevent him from dumping because he will get even worse if she tries. His excuse when he jettisons his distresses onto her is that life is unusually painful-- an unacceptable rationalization even if it were true, which it generally isn't.

4. Free labor from her; leisure and freedom for him
No abusive man does his share of the work in a relationship. He may take advantage of his partner's hard work keeping the house, preparing the meals, caring for the children, and managing the myriad details of life. Or, if he is one of the few abusers who carries his weight in these areas, then he exploits her emotionally instead, sucking her dry of attention, nurturing, and support, and returning only a trickle.

All this uncompensated labor from her means leisure for him. During the house he spends talking about himself he is relieved of the work of listening. The long weekend days when she cares for the children are his opportunity to watch sports, go rock climbing, or write his novel. My clients don't make the connection that someone takes care of the work; they think of it as just mysteriously getting done and refer to women as "lazy." Yet on a deeper level the abuser seems to realize how hard his partner works, because he fights like hell not to have to share that burden. He is accustomed to his luxury and often talks exaggeratedly about his exhaustion to excuse staying on his read end.

Studies have shown that a majority of women feel that their male partners don't contribute fairly to household responsibilities. However, a woman whose partner is not abusive at least has the option to put her foot down about her workload and insist that the man pick up the slack. With an abusive man, however, if you put your foot down he either ignores you or makes you pay.

The abuser comes and goes as he pleases, meets or ignores his responsibilities at his whim, and skips anything he finds too unpleasant. In fact, some abusers are rarely home at all, using the house only as a base for periodic refueling.

5. Being the center of attention, with priority given to his needs
When a woman's partner chronically mistreats her, what fills up her thoughts? Him, of course. She ponders how to soothe him so that he won't explode, how to improve herself in his eyes, how she might delicately raise a touchy issue with him. Little space remains for her to think about her own life, which suits the abuser; he wants her to be thinking about him. The abuser reaps cooperation and catering to his physical, emotional and sexual needs. And if the couple has children, the entire famly strives to enhance his good moods and fix his bad ones, in the hope that he won't start tearing pieces out of anyone. Consistently at the center of attention and getting his own way, the abuser can ensure that his emotional needs get met on his terms-- a luxury he is loath to part with.

6. Financial control
Money is a leading cause of tension in modern relationships, at least in families with children. Financial choices have huge quality of life implications, including: Who get to make the purchases that matter most to him or her; what kind sof preparations are made for the future, including retirement; what types of leisure activities and travel are engaged in; who gets to work; who gets to not work if he or she doesn't want to; and how the children's needs are met. To have your voice in these decisions taken away is a monumental denial of your rights and has long-term implications. On the lfip side, the abuser who dominates these kinds of decisionsextorts important benefits for himself, whether the family is low income or wealthy. One of the most common tactics I hear about, for example, is that the abuser manages to finagle dealings so that his name is on his partner's belongings-- such as her house or her car-- along with, or instead of, her name. In fact, I have had clients whose abuse was almost entirely economically based and who managed to take many thousands of dollars away from their partners, either openly or thorugh playing financial tricks.

An abuser's history of economic exploitation tends to put him in a much better financial position that his partner if the relationship splits up. This imbalanace makes it harder for her to leave him, especially is she has to find a way to support her children. He may also threaten to use his economic advantage to hire a lawyer and pursue custody, on of the single most terrifying prospects that can face an abused woman.

7. Ensuring that his career, education or other goals are prioritized
Closely interwoven with financial control is the question of whose personal goals receive priority. If the abuser needs to be out several evening studying for a certificate that will improve his job advancement potential, he's going to do it. If a career opportunity for him involves moving to a new state, he is likely to ignore the impact of his decision on his partner. Her own goals may also advance at times, but only as long as they don't interfere with his.

8. Public status of partner and/or father without the sacrifices
With his strong people-pleasing skills and his lively energy when under the public gaze, the abusive man is often thought of as an unusually fun and loving partner and a sweet, committed dad. He soaks up the smiles and appreciation he receives from relatives, neighbots, and people in the street who are unaware of his behavior in private.

9. The approval of his friends and relatives
An abuser often chooses friends who are supportive of abusive attitudes. On top of that, he may come from an abusive fmaily; in fact, his father or stepfather may have been his key role model for how to treat female partners. If these are his social surroundings, he gets strokes for knowing how to control his partner, for "putting her in her place" from time to time, and for ridiculing her complaints about him. His friends and relatives may even bond with him on the basis of his view of women in general as being irrational, vindictive, or avaricious. For this man to renounce abuse, he would have to give up his cheerleading squad as well.

10. Double standards
An abusive man subtly or overtly imposes a system in which he is exempt from the rules and standards that he applies to you. He may allow himself to have occaisonal affairs, "because men have their needs," but if you so much as gaze at another man, you're a "whore". He may scream in arguments, but if you raise your voice, you're "hysterical". He may pick up one of your children by the ear, but if you grab your son and put him in timeout for punching you in the leg, you're a "child abuser". He can leave his schedule open and flexible while you have to account for your time. He can point out your faults, while setting himself above criticism, so that he doesn't have to deal with your complaints or be confronted with the effects of his selfish and destructive actions. The abusive man has the privilege of living by a special set of criteria that were designed just for him.

Glance back quickly over this impressive collection of privileges. Is it any wonder that abusive men are reluctant to change? The benefits of abuse are a major social secret, rarely mentioned anywhere. Why? Largely because abusers are specialists in distracting our attention. They don't want anyone to notice how well this system is working for them (and usually don't even want to admit it to themselves). If we caught on, we would stop feeling sorry for them and instead start holding them accountable for their actions. As long as we see abusers as victims, or as out-of-control monsters, they will continue getting away with ruining lives. If we want abusers to change, we will have to require them to give up the luxury of exploitation.

When you are left feeling hurt or confused after a confrontation with your controlling partner, ask yourself: What was he trying to get out of what he just did? What is the ultimate benefit to him? Thinking through these questions can help you clear your head and identify his tactics.

Certainly the abusive man also loses a great deal through his abusiveness. He loses the potential for genuine intimacy in his relationship, for example, and his capacity for compassion and empathy. But these are often not things that he values, so he may not feel their absence. And even if he would like greater intimacy, that wish is outweighed by his attachment to the benefits of abuse.

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Thursday, April 27, 2017

How a Narcissist Trains his Victims

tantrum Pictures, Images and Photos

by Kathy Krajco

Nearly everyone has seen something like the following little scene...

A three-or-four-year-old is with his mother in the grocery store. He points at a candy bar, looking at his mother with the brightest, cutest, most engaging little face you ever saw. Mother is busy and hardly glancing at him as she reads her grocery list and says, "No, you don't---"

She was going to say, "No, you don't need that," but she didn't get half the words out before he erupted into "WAAAAH!!!!"

Everyone in the store jumps, wondering who's killing that kid. In one split-second his face has undergone a startling transfiguration into something grotesque.

But he hasn't got the first "WAAAH!!!" half out yet before his mother, with a quick look around at all the people looking at her, grabs that candy bar and thrusts it into his hand.

WAAAAH--off, mid-WAAAH, and there is that darling little beaming angel-face again, unwrapping his his candy bar.

That's what you call a spoiled brat -- a kid who has learned to use temper tantrums to control his parents. The dead giveaway is how instantaneously he switches from one emotional extreme to the other. Real people don't do that in one split second, do they?

He can do that because those emotions are bogus. Faked. He isn't upset when he's screaming, and he isn't happy when he's not. He's just a little actor. He has two masks. One is for positive reinforcement, and the other is for negative reinforcement. He switches from one to the other in the blink of an eye.

Yes! This four-year-old has learned the art of Behavior Modification! It's childsplay, ain't it? His happy face is a carrot to reward you for good behavior, and his mad face is a stick to punish you for bad behavior.

Now notice how similar this is to an adult narcissist's rages. They are exactly the same thing.

Whenever you aren't behaving the way they want, they throw a fit. Like that brat in the grocery store, they don't think they should even have to ask for what they they want. They think you should be so attentive to their desires that you just offer it to them. It would be beneath them to ask for anything. So they throw a "Don't-go-there!" tantrum whenever you aren't playing the part they've assigned to you in the stageplay of their life.

That could be because you are behaving like you deserve respect. Or maybe you are busy and do not have lunch on the table yet. Whatever, the cowboy just herds people by yelling and waving things whenever the cattle in his home get out of line.

His wild act is so obnoxious and menacing that people soon learn how to turn it off. They would rather conform to his specifications than put up with that obnoxious wild act all the time.

Thus he trains them to behave the way he wants them to.


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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Emotional & Psychological Trauma

Causes, Symptoms, Effects, and Treatment
Trauma. The word brings to mind the effects of such major events as war, rape, kidnapping, abuse, torture, or other similar assault. The emotional aftermath of such events, recognized by the medical and psychological communities, and increasingly by the general public, is known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Now there is a new field of investigation that is less familiar, even to professionals: emotional or psychological trauma.

What is emotional or psychological trauma?
The ability to recognize emotional trauma has changed radically over the course of history. Until rather recently psychological trauma was noted only in men after catastrophic wars. The women's movement in the sixties broadened the definition of emotional trauma to include physically and sexually abused women and children. Now because of the discoveries made in the nineties known as the decade of the brain, psychological trauma has further broadened its definition.

Recent research has revealed that emotional trauma can result from such common occurrences as an auto accident, the breakup of a significant relationship, a humiliating or deeply disappointing experience, the discovery of a life-threatening illness or disabling condition, or other similar situations. Traumatizing events can take a serious emotional toll on those involved, even if the event did not cause physical damage.

Regardless of its source, an emotional trauma contains three common elements:

it was unexpected;
the person was unprepared; and
there was nothing the person could do to prevent it from happening.

It is not the event that determines whether something is traumatic to someone, but the individual's experience of the event. And it is not predictable how a given person will react to a particular event. For someone who is used to being in control of emotions and events, it may be surprising – even embarrassing – to discover that something like an accident or job loss can be so debilitating.

What causes emotional or psychological trauma?
Our brains are structured into three main parts, long observed in autopsies:
Because of the development of brain scan technology, scientists can now observe the brain in action, without waiting for an autopsy. These scans reveal that trauma actually changes the structure and function of the brain, at the point where the frontal cortex, the emotional brain and the survival brain converge. A significant finding is that brain scans of people with relationship or developmental problems, learning problems, and social problems related to emotional intelligence reveal similar structural and functional irregularities to those resulting from PTSD.

What is the difference between stress and emotional or psychological trauma?
One way to tell the difference between stress and emotional trauma is by looking at the outcome – how much residual effect an upsetting event is having on our lives, relationships, and overall functioning. Traumatic distress can be distinguished from routine stress by assessing the following:

how quickly upset is triggered
how frequently upset is triggered
how intensely threatening the source of upset is
how long upset lasts
how long it takes to calm down

If we can communicate our distress to people who care about us and can respond adequately, and if we return to a state of equilibrium following a stressful event, we are in the realm of stress. If we become frozen in a state of active emotional intensity, we are experiencing an emotional trauma – even though sometimes we may not be consciously aware of the level of distress we are experiencing.

Why can an event cause an emotionally traumatic response in one person and not in another?
There is no clear answer to this question, but it is likely that one or more of these factors are involved:
Anyone can become traumatized. Even professionals who work with trauma, or other people close to a traumatized person, can develop symptoms of "vicarious" or "secondary" traumatization. Developing symptoms is never a sign of weakness. Symptoms should be taken seriously and steps should be taken to heal, just as one would take action to heal from a physical ailment. And just as with a physical condition, the amount of time or assistance needed to recover from emotional trauma will vary from one person to another.

What are the symptoms of emotional trauma?
There are common effects or conditions that may occur following a traumatic event. Sometimes these responses can be delayed, for months or even years after the event. Often, people do not even initially associate their symptoms with the precipitating trauma. The following are symptoms that may result from a more commonplace, unresolved trauma, especially if there were earlier, overwhelming life experiences:

Eating disturbances (more or less than usual)
Sleep disturbances (more or less than usual)
Sexual dysfunction
Low energy
Chronic, unexplained pain

Depression, spontaneous crying, despair and hopelessness
Panic attacks
Compulsive and obsessive behaviors
Exaggerating (especially when others chronically disbelieve them)
Feeling out of control
Irritability, angry and resentment
Emotional numbness
Withdrawal from normal routine and relationships

Memory lapses, especially about the trauma
Difficulty making decisions
Decreased ability to concentrate
Feeling distracted
The following additional symptoms of emotional trauma are commonly associated with a severe precipitating event, such as a natural disaster, exposure to war, rape, assault, violent crime, major car or airplane crashes, or child abuse. Extreme symptoms can also occur as a delayed reaction to the traumatic event.

Re-experiencing the Trauma
intrusive thoughts
flashbacks or nightmares
sudden floods of emotions or images related to the traumatic event

Emotional Numbing and Avoidance
avoidance of situations that resemble the initial event
guilt feelings
grief reactions
an altered sense of time

Increased Arousal
hyper-vigilance, jumpiness, an extreme sense of being "on guard"
overreactions, including sudden unprovoked anger
general anxiety
obsessions with death

What are the possible effects of emotional trauma?
Even when unrecognized, emotional trauma can create lasting difficulties in an individual's life. One way to determine whether an emotional or psychological trauma has occurred, perhaps even early in life before language or conscious awareness were in place, is to look at the kinds of recurring problems one might be experiencing. These can serve as clues to an earlier situation that caused a dysregulation in the structure or function of the brain.

Common personal and behavioral effects of emotional trauma:

substance abuse
compulsive behavior patterns
self-destructive and impulsive behavior

lashing out
uncontrollable reactive thoughts
inability to make healthy professional or lifestyle choices
dissociative symptoms ("splitting off" parts of the self)
feelings of ineffectiveness, shame, despair, hopelessness
feeling permanently damaged
a loss of previously sustained beliefs

Common effects of emotional trauma on interpersonal relationships:

inability to maintain close relationships or choose appropriate friends and mates
sexual problems
arguments with family members, employers or co-workers
social withdrawal
feeling constantly threatened

What if symptoms don't go away, or appear at a later time?
Over time, even without professional treatment, symptoms of an emotional trauma generally subside, and normal daily functioning gradually returns. However, even after time has passed, sometimes the symptoms don't go away. Or they may appear to be gone, but surface again in another stressful situation. When a person's daily life functioning or life choices continue to be affected, a post-traumatic stress disorder may be the problem, requiring professional assistance.

How is emotional trauma treated?
Traditional approaches to treating emotional trauma include:

talk therapies (working out the feelings associated with the trauma);
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) involves changing one's thoughts and actions, and includes systematic desensitization to reduce reactivity to a traumatic stressor
relaxation/stress reduction techniques, such as biofeedback or breathwork; and
hypnosis to deal with reactions often below the level of conscious awareness.

There are also several recent developments in the treatment to emotional trauma. Depending on the nature of the trauma and the age or state of development at which it occurred, these somatic (body) psychotherapies might even be more effective than traditional therapies. Some of the new therapies include:

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprogramming)
Somatic Experiencing
Integrative Body Psychotherapy


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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Cyberstalking and Online Harassment

Sticks & Stones from Melissa Kester on Vimeo.

A Real Life Problem

The Internet is a wonderful place to work, play and study. But don't let that fact make you blind to its down side. The Net is no more and no less than a mirror of the real world, and that means it also contains electronic versions of real life problems. Stalking and harassments are problems that many people especially women, are familiar with in real life. These problems can also occur on the Internet, in what has become know as "cyberstalking" or "online harassment".

If you thought that owning a computer and having an Internet account would make a person considerate and respectful; then think again. There are just as many predators in cyberspace as anywhere else. It is only their methods that have changed. Some predators might harass you by trailing around after you in live channels like lovesick puppies; unable to take NO for an answer and pestering you with email messages. In other cases this harassment may become a systematic campaign against you; where your harasser bombards you with threatening messages of hate and obscenities. Although distressful enough, the situation can even escalate to the point where your harasser traces your home address and telephone number; causing you to face not just emotional distress but also physical danger. It should come as no surprise to you that the "bad guys" are making use of this wonderful technology to harass people and prey on the innocent. Why wouldn't they? Not all bad guys are street punks with no education. Some are university graduates with computers.

There have been many examples of cyberstalking crossing over to "IRL" stalking (In Real Life stalking). Sadly, those users who have been victims of cyberstalking, tell a similar story: That no one took the harassment seriously until it became "IRL". Cyberstalking can be a devastating experience for a person online. As they discover that the difference between the "Brave New World" of the Internet and the Real World is that in the real world people listen when you tell them you are being stalked and harassed. In cyberspace people say things like "well just turn off your computer". Such incomprehension is common. "You can't be hurt on the Internet - it's just words" is commonly heard and "If you can't handle it, then you shouldn't be online" is another commonly hear comment. The online stalking is just as frightening and distressing as off-line stalking, and just as illegal.

Men and women may be stalked on-line, but statistics show that the majority of victims are female. Women are the minority of the Internet population which means that their attention is generally a fierce competition between male users. This part of the Internet, resembles crude online single bars, with little in the way of politeness. Unfortunately the immediate and relative anonymity of live chat communications facilities enable users to be rude and insensitive. Cyberstalking and online harassment are also much easier to practice than real life stalking. In cyberspace, a stalker can harass their victim without ever have to leave the comfort of their own home, or have any witnesses to the incidents.

One reason for the lack of successful prosecution of cyberstalkers, is that there usually is a lack of sufficient evidence available for the officials to warrant "probable cause" in order to further investigate. Many law enforcement agencies are Internet illiterate, therefore unaware that the problem could and does exist. To date, the only legislation regarding cyberstalking is the Communications Decency Act, enacted by the US Congress on 2-1-96, and is still being challenged in the Supreme Court. The real life, anti-stalking laws deal with actual attacks, and until such an attack happens, are actually very limited in defending yourself, or preventing any progression of the stalker. There is very little done about threats or harassment in the early stages.

Online users are vulnerable to being targeted as cyberstalking victims in three areas.
1) Live Chats (Facebook, Yahoo, Skype, Messenger) or IRC (Internet Relay Chat): in which a user talks live with other users. This is the most common place for cyberstalking.

2) Message boards, Blogs, Reunion Sites, Support Groups and Newsgroups: a user interacts with others by posting messages, conversing back and forth.  Boards for emotional issues such as divorce; death; domestic violence are especially prone.  Disordered persons can track others they disagree with for years reeking all sorts of havoc.

3) Email box: a user has the ability to write anything and even attach files to the email.

Example: a user enables your email, via live chat or newsgroup postings, then emails you with obscenities, and attaches porno pictures. A common area regarding cyberstalking is at the "edu" sites, which are educational institutes, such as colleges and universities.

One user might know another user personally and interacts on the Internet anonymously, so starting the cyberstalk. One student can enter the Internet as easily as another student, therefore not letting his true identity be known. And since user names can be unknown alias, who would ever know the identity or be able to prove the identity. In such cases, the stalker usually has the ability to trace the victim's phone number and sometimes the address of his victim. Another includes interpreting a posting you may have made on a message board regarding your opinion as an "attack" if it differs from theirs. The stalker then becomes fixated on proving you wrong.

Other forms of online harassment:

1) Unsolicited email
2) Live Chat
3) Hostile Postings about you, using a few "facts" to make an untrue picture
4) Spreading vicious, fabricated, untrue rumors about you (as opposed to telling the Truth at exposure sites)
5) Leaving untrue messages on site guestbooks
6) Impersonation of you online
7) Electronic sabotage, (sending viruses, trojans, etc)
8) Threatening phone calls
9) Threatening mail
10) Vandalism of property
11) Physical attack
12) Posing as you on groups, in emails or in postings.

There are many precautions that you can take NOW to protect yourself in advance from the unwelcome attention of a cyberstalker. Remember: The goal of a cyberstalker is CONTROL. Your task is to reverse this situation. Keep control of who you communicate with on the Internet. To do this, you may like to consider the advice below. Remember, the time to deal with cyberstalking is before you become a target.

If you are being harassed online by a cyberstalker, the chances are that you are not the first person they have stalked. Cyberstalkers, like other predators, are opportunists. They know what they are looking for and how to get it. "Stalking" is a "power" crime, the stalkers has the power to make you suffer and enjoys that power. Stalkers' self-esteem rises when they attack your self- esteem. The more pain and suffering they can cause, the better they feel about themselves. The best protection against becoming a target of stalking is not to reveal anything personal that you might have in common. Often, stalkers are mentally unstable, paranoid, delusional, and extremely jealous, and have extremely low self-esteem. Stalkers may display selfishness, malice, sadism, be very cunning and arrogant. Most are anti-social, and to put it in layman's terms, be a "control freak", enjoying manipulating other people. They crave power over others, and enjoy the type power that hurts other people. harassment is common enough in live chat on the Internet. 

 The three most common ways it can start are:
1) sexual harassment (or innuendo);
2) a flame war (argument that gets out of hand);
3)users that show their technological power by attacking innocent users, channels or even networks.

Those who regularly start flame wars online are rude and obnoxious people, often having poor social and communication skills. Their idea of fun is throwing obscene abuse at another just to upset them. These kind of harassers are often loners who don''t have a companion and their attempts to attract your attention is often clumsy and crude. Care should always be taken when turning the away, as the are highly sensitive to rejection and humiliation, and could cause a vendetta to start against you. Understand that although clumsy and crude in most cases, the stalker is not stupid, they are very organized and usually experienced in their war against you.

Stalking is a form of obsession. The difference between a normal cyber harasser and a cyberstalker, is this: harasser moves on to others and forgets you and a stalkers will come back to stalk you another day.

The Internet enables the stalker, his powers, in most cases, merely a knowledge of the technology is all required to have the ability to stalk another user. Most stalkers, having been rejected desire to instill fear in users, therefore, upsetting the normal enjoyment of the Internet.

Note that educated, smooth talking, responsible people also can be stalkers, appearing to be a perfect gentleman or lady with perfect manners. The major "clue" to cyberstalking, is when the stalker pushes for information regarding you personal life, private life, or life away from the net. Rule of thumb, as it may be referred to is: "NEVER GIVE ANY PERSONAL INFORMATION ACROSS THE INTERNET!"

Online meetings should stay online, the individuals are, in fact, strangers. Online, the physical warning signs usually in the "body language" are missing. Also the clues of personality within the voice and eyes are missing. All there is to determine a personality is the skill in which they type there messages. There is no code of honor in protecting privacy on the Internet. Each user should therefore take steps to protect their privacy online.

1) never specify gender
2) use neutral-gender names
3) change your password often
4) edit your online profiles often
5) review your email headers and signatures often
6) use secure chat programs that do not permit tracking of your isp#
7) use a good chat network
8) use standard names, passive names to as to not draw attention to you
9) use anonymous remailers
10)use an anonymous browser
11)use encryption to authenticate email
12) discuss privacy with your server.

And last: learn your technology. REMEMBER: PROTECT YOURSELF!


NOTE FROM BLOG OWNER: Ms. Kester and I have the same cyberharasser.

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Monday, April 24, 2017

Diagnosis of the Victim / Types of Abuse

In some cases it is seen that the abused partner becomes abused because it happened in her own childhood, so she is ready to accept it in the marriage. It is repetition of familiar events. In some instances the wife had a father who was indifferent, cold, often absent and often angry when present. She may not remember a single time when he hugged her – so distant was the relationship. These scenarios make her an easy victim to abuse by her husband. Women are abused and they are blamed as being the cause for that abuse. It is the worst kind of persecution. How does the victim feel? She feels hurt because he is hurting her. She feels like nothing because he is making her feel like nothing. She feels ignored because he is ignoring her – her thoughts and her feelings. She feels ridiculed because he ridicules her on a regular basis. She feels closed off, ex-communicated because he does it to her. Sometimes he causes the entire family to ex-communicate her. Whatever she expresses to her husband, he will invalidate it, he will scoff, he will discount it, he will deny it and he will oppose it. She has no self-esteem because he destroys it every chance he gets.

In a balanced and mutually loving relationship, there is the following scenario: both will love to hear the other’s thoughts. Both will express enthusiasm and delight in the other’s enthusiasm. Both will open their hearts and souls to the other. Both will nurture the other’s physical, intellectual and spiritual growth. Both will help the other. Both will live peacefully and let the other live in peace. Evans says that the wife has the right to expect respect, dignity, esteem, appreciation, warmth, empathy, an open communication, attentiveness, caring and equality in the relationship.

Generally, the wife (meaning, the victim) always blames herself for all the problems. She does this because he is telling her that she is to blame and she believes him. She believes she is not expressing herself well enough. She feels she is inadequate in every way. It is due to his endless accusations. What is noteworthy is that the more the wife gives up on getting any closeness from her husband, and the more she finds friends outside the marriage for companionship, the angrier and more abusive her husband becomes. Due to jealousy, due to his personal insecurities, he cannot tolerate that she becomes happy through other, albeit completely innocent friendships.

Let us again summarize what are the typical traits we can identify in the victim of an abusive relationship. She ceases to be spontaneous. She loses her enthusiasm for life. She is always on guard. She has lost her self-confidence and is often afraid to speak in public or to anyone outside the family, because she has been attacked so many times inside the family for what she has said. She is full of self-doubt. At times she may feel she is going crazy. She is deeply confused as to why her marriage is not a happy marriage. She feels sometimes like running away but due to her now completely codependent nature she is afraid to take the step. If the present relationship ever ends, she will be afraid or even terrified to begin a new relationship. These are the traits of an abused woman, of a victim.

Eventually, the wife feels a constant shame and humiliation at his treatment of her. Eventually he abuses her anywhere, even in front of their friends, work colleagues, at religious functions, and in public places. Her shame becomes unbounded. With this kind of humiliation, she begins to reach a breaking point, and all this while sometimes still not realizing why this is happening – that she is a victim of now extreme verbal violence. There is no other word for it. Daily a minimum of four women are murdered by their husbands in the U.S. But, in all these cases, verbal abuse preceded the physical abuse. It never happens that physical violence starts suddenly without any precedent. The first step in the sequence of violence is verbal abuse and ridicule that escalates to verbal violence, which further moves on or has the potential to move on to the physical level at any point thereafter.

Beverly Engel in her book, The Emotionally Abused Woman: Overcoming Destructive Patterns and Reclaiming Yourself, describes six categories of abused women. They are: (1) the selfless woman, (2) the pleaser, 3) the sinner or people who abuse themselves, (4) the codependent or the obsessive rescuer, (5) the drama junkie or people addicted to crisis situations, and (6) the victim or martyr.

In cases where the husband is highly educated, it becomes even more difficult for the wife to extricate herself from his clutches. His education serves to completely intimidate her and it becomes a simple matter to convince her that he is a logical, rational man speaking with his superior intellect, backed up by higher degrees. How many wives will have the self-esteem or the moral courage to object to torturous verbal abuse coming from such an educated man?


Economic Abuse

One lady’s husband refused to let her have a checkbook, saying men should take care of the money. She said, If a woman (or her husband) is in a high economic bracket, and she complains about not having any money, that she is penniless, we should be alert. Some complain, but far more do not tell due to shame. Some husbands will never confide in their wives regarding financial matters, will be secretive for the entire marriage, will not tell them their salary, will always give the impression they are poor or broke, will force the wife to spend any money that she may have – either earned or inherited, and will give her pittance to cover household operating expenses, forcing her to grovel and beg him for more – which then gives him the chance to say, ‘All she wants is my money.’ It is clear economic exploitation. If a woman tries to question such a man, he will react in anger, thus making the subject a taboo one for life. Can one blame a wife then if she begins to steal from his wallet to obtain enough for basic necessities – instead of having to grovel again and again? Some women have families to assist them in these situations. But other women have no one, making them completely dependent on this economically abusive husband. It is a terrible situation. He purposely doles out the money in such meager amounts that she has no option but to begin begging for more. This gives him the chance to further humiliate, deride and scorn her for begging. Today there are all situations in the society.

In some divorces, the wives make millions from their marriages. In other cases, they end up penniless. It is typical for economic abusers to compel their wives to deposit their earnings into his account. He tells her that he will handle the money. Maybe he tells her it will be easier to keep track of the balance that way. Or he may tell her that she’s not responsible enough to manage a checking account. Surprising that she is responsible enough to earn the money but not mature enough to manage it! Economic abusers generally want their wives to work and earn money, so that they can increase their own wealth. Such men will easily tell their wives that if they don’t ‘behave’, they will cut them off – kick them out of the house without a penny, without food, without clothes. What can such women do? What is the alternative for these women? It must appear to them as a very dark abyss without any escape.

According to Dr. Mary Miller, women are able to adapt more easily to economic abuse as compared to social, emotional and psychological abuse. Resourceful women in these circumstances will steal money here and there, praying their husband will not notice.

Psychological Abuse

The most powerful weapon in the hands of an oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.” -- Steve Biko
The goal of psychological abuse is to undermine the wife’s security. Hence, cause will not lead to effect. The wife finds herself in a senseless, unpredictable environment created by the husband to confuse and terrify her. He will give her mental torture for days and weeks on end, and then suddenly bring her a bouquet of flowers. He will often tell her how lucky she is to have him, as otherwise she would be on the road or in a mental hospital. The tactics used by husbands to torture and control their wives are very similar to those used in brainwashing prisoners. Psychological abuse means, he will call her a slut, a bitch, a fat pig, or a whore again and again. If she makes any small mistake, he will maximize it into a big fight. Slowly she becomes convinced that she really is a slut, if not also a bitch and a whore. She loses all sense of self-worth.

Perhaps what is most common among such husbands is that invariably they convince their wives that they are dumb. The essential purpose of psychological abuse is to convince the woman that (1) she is stupid and incapable of doing anything, (2) she is a failure as a wife and mother, (3) she is innately immoral, and (4) she is essentially sinful. All of this is designed to reduce the wife to complete psychological dependence on the man. Such men are often educated but emotionally immature and hence unable to deal with a vibrant, dynamic woman. This image of the woman as strong is something he is determined to wipe out. This is why even when the wife is totally subservient, when the husband perceives the wife acting like a confident, mature adult, he erupts in psychological violence to reduce the wife to a terrified, guilt-ridden child.

It is very sad to see the survivors of such marriages – they have escaped their oppressor but the inferiority complexes he instilled remain embedded in the minds of the now physically free wives. He alternates verbal abuse with gentleness, wrath with caring, so as to constantly confuse her until she fully submits to his will. Due to daily abuse from their husbands, tormented wives far more often suffer from mental depression and poor physical health. What abused wives need more than anything else are kind people who tell them they are good, not bad. Who tell them they are (internally) beautiful, not ugly. Who tell them they are sane, not insane. They need continual praise and encouragement so that slowly these victims regain a sense of identity, begin to realize that they have some existential value, that they can love people without being tortured in return, that they can accomplish great and noble deeds in life. Gradually the victim will understand that it was not she who was insane; it was her husband who was insane in his treatment of her. Due to their own suffering, such women are in a prime position to serve others who are suffering, regardless of the cause of that suffering. Often they will relate to all human beings who are oppressed and suppressed and try their best to help them. This psychological abuse is often interwoven with emotional abuse.

Moral Abuse – Guilt Trips and Emotional Blackmail
Moral abuse is abuse of one’s character. It convinces the victim that she is immoral or guilty of known and unknown crimes. The abuser convinces her that she is innately selfish and does not deserve to be well treated by him. The way in which this is done is by continually using every opportunity to fill the wife with guilt. According to Dr. Susan Forward,
“…emotional blackmail is a powerful form of manipulation in which people close to us threaten, either directly or indirectly, to punish us if we don’t do what they want. At the heart of any kind of blackmail is one basic threat, which can be expressed in many different ways: If you don’t behave the way I want you to, you will suffer.”
Dr. Forward describes a pattern that is repeated in cases of emotional abuse. First he makes a demand. Second, she offers some resistance. Third, he puts pressure. If he continues to meet with resistance, he makes threats. She doesn’t want to lose him. So the fifth stage is her compliance. And finally, this cycle repeats itself over and over, because it works! Forward likewise describes emotional abuse or blackmail by using the acronym FOG. Fear, obligation, guilt. The husband instills these three emotions into his wife by one means or the other, and she is at his command.

Fear, and fear of abandonment are in many people, and especially in women. The man needs to only touch on this fear and he can exploit it any time. If there is no recent mistake the wife has made, then the husband will bring up anything at all from the past to throw in her face and riddle her with guilt. I knew one man who, after 34 years of marriage, told his wife that she was still in love with someone she knew 36 years before – before the marriage. It was a great crime in his mind that there was somebody else before she had met him. He convinced her also that it was a great crime. His sole sick purpose was to riddle her with guilt.

Dr. Forward further describes four main types of emotional blackmailers. There are punishers, who are of two types: active punishers who make constant threats, and passive punishers who use the silent treatment. There are self-punishers, who turn the threats inward, emphasizing what they will do to themselves if they don’t get their way. Such men will threaten suicide, quitting their job. There is the sufferer. This is the person who constantly complains of his own misery and suffering. This husband will also constantly remind the wife that she is responsible for his personal suffering.

Finally there are the tantalizers. These are men who try and bribe their wives into doing what they want. Blackmailers will continually remind their wives that they themselves are wise and well-intentioned while the wives are the ‘bad guys’. The husband constructs an unreal story detailing the history of their relationship. Due to constant repetition of this story, the wife begins to accept his lies as truth.

These husbands spend their marriages minimizing their own wrong actions, denying their mistakes and blaming all problems in daily life on their women. I remember one woman who took her husband to visit her aged father, a former professor. For everything the father said, her husband would argue and contradict. Her father put him coolly in his place. After leaving, she had to bear punishment for nearly one year from her husband who almost daily would have rages, shouting at her about how badly he had been treated by her father. Though this was highly abnormal conduct, she still did not realize it. She only realized that she suffered and did not understand the reason.

Amnesty International has published a “Chart of Coercion” which outlines eight types of conduct that a controller engages in for gaining control of another person, as follows:

1. Isolation: This removes a woman’s support system, setting her up for easy brainwashing.

2. Monopolization of perception: It means eliminating outside phone calls, activities and even TV shows which would give the wife glimpses of ‘normal’ life and enable her compare it with her own.

3. Induced debility: He overworks her and allows her less sleep, as it also wears down her resistance.

4. Threats: They keep her in perpetual fear.

5. Occasional indulgences: These keep the woman confused and hopeful and in his control.

6. Demonstrating omnipotence: He can hide the car keys, deny her any money, lock the long-distance phone facility or refuse to eat her food – all to demonstrate his all-powerful control over her.

7. Degradation: It means near daily drilling into her head that she is fat, stupid, ugly, without any skills or talents, so that her self-esteem drops to nil, and she gets convinced that she doesn’t deserve better treatment. After years of this kind of abuse, when occasionally someone comes along and does a simple kindness like present her with flowers or offer praise for her cooking or hard work, she becomes overwhelmed and cries uncontrollably. Long after she has left him, his daily slander, brainwashing and hurling insults over her fatness, stupidity and worthlessness have left an indelible, near incurable stamp on her mind from which it takes years or a lifetime to recover.
8. Enforcing trivial demands: By doing this, he is conditioning her to obey bigger demands.

Emotional Abuse
The bottom line is, she could never do enough. He was always unhappy with her. Her husband abused her emotionally, verbally, by humiliating her. To criticize and refuse to eat the food cooked by his wife is a clear example of emotional abuse. From there he would add other things like telling her she is too dumb to do anything right. Or he would constantly run her down for gaining weight. Later he may begin accusing her of having a lover, and may start stalking her whenever she goes out.

In such cases, if the woman works, it will be a tremendous relief for her to get out and reach the office, where smiling faces and kind people are there to surround her. She will often not understand why the workplace seems like heaven and the home like a living hell. However the husband will often start social abuse by talking to her boss and yelling at her colleagues or even making private visits to the homes of his wife’s friends to discuss the wife’s failings and mental instability. The husband will say that he is doing this merely to help solve the situation when all along his real intention is purely sadistic. This can cause friends to avoid or judge the wife, which causes her deep emotional pain. Then with relish the husband will tell the shamed wife that no one likes her, that she cannot maintain any lasting friendship with anybody. The husband will say this in a way calculated to emotionally hurt the wife. This will reduce the wife to chaotic sobbing and will eliminate any outside competitors to the husband’s emotional resources that the wife represents.

All of the other types of abuse discussed here can be viewed as means of emotional violence. Joan Zorza, director of the National Center on Women and Family Law, has noted that while women in shelters will talk easily about their broken noses, black eyes and swollen faces, it is when the talk turns to the emotional abuse that they break down sobbing, becoming riddled with feelings of worthlessness and ‘badness’ – all the ideas their spouse has been feeding them for years. Often the husband will convince the wife that she is crazy or has psychological problems, and then he takes concrete steps to prove it. Such an abuser – emotional or physical – will fight hard against his wife divorcing him, because he cannot bear to lose the control. He will tell the judge that he loves her. But, this ‘love’ will be in total contrast to his conduct, which tells the real story. The real story is, he was an emotional bully. This was the role he played in the life of his wife. Typically, such men will make mountains out of molehills. It is a clear warning to a woman that something is not right in the marriage, that something is wrong with the man. It starts over the smallest of issues, and then his anger grows into rages. The result of emotional abuse is that women lose their integrity and their dignity. They lose their self-respect.

Emotional abuse is inflicted not merely to reduce a woman to a state of psychological dependency, but for the sadistic purpose of emotional violence. Hence emotional abuse like physical abuse is done not merely to protect one’s ego but because of the pleasure the emotional violence brings. Emotional violence is designed simply to use intimate knowledge of the wife’s heart to commit emotional battery. Emotional violence, like physical violence, very easily spirals out of control because like physical violence it is so easy to do and the results are so immediate. Here the goal is simply to inflict emotional pain. This is the reason why emotional abuse along with physical abuse is the most destructive form of abuse. The goal here is to eliminate the existence of the wife emotionally as a separate being with rights and dignity.

The wife facing this violence on a daily basis is deprived of any real existence emotionally except as a resource for the husband’s emotional needs. Thus using emotional violence the husband eliminates any sense of responsibility towards the wife as a separate emotional entity with rights and needs, because by his emotional beating she is stripped of all self-identity. What women need to realize is that just like the bullies on the school-ground who used to beat up the weak boys in class, emotional bullies are in reality emotional cowards. Confident people have no need to bully others. Cowards do, because it makes them feel big and strong temporarily.

Materialists reduce the human psyche to a bundle of sensations, thoughts and emotions. Just like materialism is always connected with imperialistic conquest of other peoples and their lands, so the reduction of the wife to merely a collection of physical and emotional services is essentially a form of domestic imperialism. It is important to understand that emotional violence, even if not accompanied by physical violence, is an innate evil just as much as macro-imperialism is. Hence fighting against emotional violence in the home is just as much a required human duty as protesting imperialism in the global home.

Fighting against emotional violence through awareness programs must forcibly remind abusers that no one has the right to inflict emotional violence on another human being and that just as we can no longer commit physical violence behind closed doors, so also will society no longer tolerate emotional violence behind closed doors. It is especially important that young people be taught a zero tolerance attitude towards emotional violence.

Social Abuse
Social abuse comprises of slandering, shaming, ostracizing and isolating the wife from her close family members and friends. The husband will not allow her to even speak to them on the phone, let alone see them. He will ridicule and deride her relatives, calling them every name he can think of, insulting their characters or personal habits, making up slander about them. One can call it called family-bashing. This is the definition of social abuse. Some women live completely isolated, always in the house, speaking to no one except their husband and children, for ten, fifteen or twenty years – nearly their entire adult life. Is it not similar to the life of a prisoner? Yet, if she expresses reluctance to mix with the husband’s ‘friends’, he will attack her forthwith and call her anti-social.

Only rarely, if it is financially required, will such a husband allow his wife to work, where she has the chance to escape her virtual prison. Still more rarely will he allow her to develop herself intellectually by taking courses. If such a wife gets the chance to do either, she lives in a world of heaven and hell – hell at home and heaven for the few hours she can escape the home. Isolation is a horrible weapon wielded by men to make their women desperate and helplessly dependent on the one person in their life – their abuser. He forces her to retreat not only from her family members but from the entire community of human beings. Another tactic used by abusers is to bring in other people – family members, friends, anyone – and use them to outnumber his already exhausted victim on issues of conflict.

It is common in some Middle Eastern and Asian countries when men leave for work to lock their women inside the house from the outside. It is shocking, however, to find out while doing research into domestic violence that here in this advanced, supposedly more civilized United States there are some husbands who also their lock their wives inside the house while they are out! They may also make sure she has no car, thus increasing her dependence and immobility.

One of the tactics of death squads throughout history, be they in medieval Spain, communist China, or fascist Guatemala, is to initiate ordinary people into the practice of killing victims. The victims are condemned in Spain as devilish Jews, in China as American capitalist agents, in Guatemala as Cuban communist agents. By making everyone a part of the process of violence they hope that everyone will be so shamed by guilt that their crimes will never be punished. On a micro-social scale this is exactly what abusers do to their wives through society.

There are different stages that relatives, friends and especially children go through as part of the drama of social abuse. They act (1) as witness to abuse, (2) as partial participant in the abuse (starting with jokes), (3) as a convert to the belief that the victim is innately stupid, evil, immoral, and (4) as an even more violent abuser than the husband himself. The end result for those who may only reach stage (1), is that they will try to block out the memory of the social abuse, thus ensuring that any kind of help or justice for the victim remains an impossible dream.
“It killed me having to ask for a few dollars to go marketing or buy the kids shoes – like a beggar. But that’s the way it was….. I tried not to notice how he made fun of opinions I expressed on anything, whether it was politics or an author… From the very beginning, if (he) didn’t get his way, he would make me pay. Sometimes he wouldn’t talk to me for weeks or wouldn’t eat, even when I cooked his favorite dinner, and believe me, I tried. Oh, how I tried!”

FROM: Wife Abuse: Breaking It Down and Breaking Out by Garda Ghista

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