Sanctuary for the Abused

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Narcissists & Psychopaths Cause PTSD for their Victims

by Tim Field

How do the PTSD symptoms resulting from a Narcissist or Psychopath's abuse and bullying meet the criteria in DSM-IV?

A. The prolonged (chronic) negative stress resulting from dealing with a narcissist or psychopath has lead to threat of loss of job, career, health, livelihood, often also resulting in threat to marriage and family life. The family are the unseen victims.

A.1.One of the key symptoms of prolonged negative stress is reactive depression; this causes the balance of the mind to be disturbed, leading first to thoughts of, then attempts at, and ultimately, suicide.

A.2.The target of the narcissist or psychopath may be unaware that they are being exploited, and even when they do realize (there's usually a moment of enlightenment as the person realizes that the criticisms and tactics of control, etc are invalid) - victims often cannot bring themselves to believe they are dealing with a disordered personality who lacks a conscience and does not share the same moral values as themselves.

Naivety is the great enemy. The target is bewildered, confused, frightened, angry - and after enlightenment, very angry.

B.1. The target experiences regular intrusive violent visualizations and replays of events and conversations; often, the endings of these replays are altered in favour of the target.

B.2. Sleeplessness, nightmares and replays are a common feature.

B.3. The events are constantly relived; night-time and sleep do not bring relief as it becomes impossible to switch the brain off. Such sleep as is achieved is non-restorative and people wake up as tired, and often more tired, than when they went to bed.

B.4. Fear, horror, chronic anxiety, and panic attacks are triggered by any reminder of the experience, e.g.receiving threatening letters or email from the narcissist or psychopath or their friends, their family or attorneys. Additionally postings on online boards or sites about the victim by the abuser (often to try to make the victim look like the abusive one!) can add to these triggers and health related issues tremendously.]

B.5. Panic attacks, palpitations, sweating, trembling, vomitting, binge eating or forgetting to eat, ditto.

Criteria B4 and B5 manifest themselves as immediate physical and mental paralysis in response to any reminder of the narcissist or prospect being forced to take action against the narcissist.

C. Physical numbness (toes, fingertips, lips) is common, as is emotional numbness (especially inability to feel joy). Sufferers report that their spark has gone out and, even years later, find they just cannot get motivated about anything.

C.1. The target tries harder and harder to avoid saying or doing anything which reminds them of the horror of the exploitation.

C.2. Almost all Victims report impaired memory; this may be partly due to suppressing horrific memories, and partly due to damage to the hippocampus, an area of the brain linked to learning and memory.

C.3. the person becomes obsessed with resolving the experience which takes over their life, eclipsing and excluding almost every other interest.

C.4. Feelings of withdrawal and isolation are common; the person just wants to be on their own and solitude is sought.

C.5. Emotional numbness, including inability to feel joy (anhedonia) and deadening of loving feelings towards others are commonly reported. One fears never being able to feel love again.

C.6. The target becomes very gloomy and senses a foreshortened career - usually with justification. Many targets ultimately have severe psychiatric injury, severely impaired health.

D.1. Sleep becomes almost impossible, despite the constant fatigue; such sleep as is obtained tends to be unsatisfying, unrefreshing and non-restorative. On waking, the person often feels more tired than when they went to bed. Depressive feelings are worst early in the morning. Feelings of vulnerability may be heightened overnight.

D.2. The person has an extremely short fuse and is often permanently irritated, especially by small insignificant events. The person frequently visualises a violent solution, e.g. arranging an accident for, or murdering the narcissist; the resultant feelings of guilt tend to hinder progress in recovery.

D.3. Concentration is impaired to the point of precluding preparation for legal action, study, work, or search for work.

D.4. The person is on constant alert because their fight or flight mechanism has become permanently activated.

D.5. The person has become hypersensitized and now unwittingly and inappropriately perceives almost any remark as critical.

E. Recovery from a narcissist experience is measured in years. Some people never fully recover.  Long term and repeated damage by disordered persons become C-PTSD.

F. For many, social life ceases and work becomes impossible.  Many develop autoimmune diseases such as lupus, fibromyalgia, chronic pain or adrenal fatigue and even become totally disabled.

THERAPY can and does help. But it takes a lot of time and work.  The longer you wait to get help & treatment, the deeper the damage and the more difficult to heal or manage.  Hang in there!

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,

shared by Barbara at 12:45 AM 164 comments


Tuesday, November 28, 2017


CONTROLLING HER TIME: The abuser controls his partner's time by making her wait. He will say he is ready to talk, but will continue doing something else while his partner waits. He will tell her he is ready to go to bed, then make her wait. If she complains of having to wait, he will blame her for "not having enough patience", "I have to wait on you too", or "Do you expect me just to drop everything!"-- thereby blaming her for HIS making her wait.

This also commonly occurs when the abuser is called to a meal, family activity, or that everyone else is ready to leave. If the partner does something while waiting, the abuser will then angrily proclaim that "HE has been waiting on HER".

A subtle way of controlling a partner's time is to leave most, if not all, of the work for her to do-then complaining about anything she does for herself, or what she does not get done.

Other examples are procrastinating promised work (especially what she is counting on), "watching just one more program" or "playing one more game" (that goes on and on and on), refusing to give a simple and direct answer to concrete and direct questions (Are you going to do this or that. "We'll have to wait and see, I suppose, maybe, what do You think, I didn't know I was supposed to...why don't you figure it out!")

The abuser may also control his partner's time by grandstanding. If she tells him she is unhappy about an incident, he will deny it happened, discount her feelings, or accuse her of trying to start a fight. He might also proclaim that "you're causing the problem by bringing it up," "no one else notices," "everyone else does, so why can't I," Diverting, countering, blocking, "forgetting," forcing her to explain, making her repeat because the abuser was not listening or paying attention, and "prove it" are also common ways to control the partner's time and energy.

It is rare that an abuser will be willing to discuss or negotiate HIS plan-to do so would be giving up control. This type of control is two-fold: Control her time in some way, any way, then blame HER for it.

CONTROLLING HER MATERIAL RESOURCES: The verbal abuser may control one or all of his partner's material resources by WITHHOLDING information as well as by withholding work which he has promised to do, often by "forgetting", "I don't know how", or "I didn't know I had to".

Another common practice of the abuser is to withhold needed money, then compound the abuse by forcing her to act on her own, beg, plead, or do without. He then begins blaming his withholding on her acting on her own, begging, pleading, or "trying to be a martyr."

In more severe cases, the controlling abuser will keep money from his wife that is necessary for her survival and that of their family (whether it is the promised food budget money or his entire salary). He gives no thought to "spending his own money," or what his control and selfishness is doing to his wife and family who are either deprived of necessities or working desperately to support themselves while HE feels in control and free!

The verbal abuser uses body language to control his partner, just as he uses words. The words and gestures often go together. This can be seen as using HIMSELF to control his partner. Following are some hurtful and intimidating ways of controlling that are forms of withholding and abusive anger:

Stomping out
Refusing to talk
Walking away
Refusing to give her something
Hitting or kicking something
Refusing to make eye contact
Driving recklessly
Boredom-crossed arms, eyes closed, head down, deep sighs
Withdrawing or withholding affection
Showing disgust-rolled eyes, deep sighs, inappropriate sounds
Strutting and posturing

CONTROLLING BY DEFINING HER REALITY: This form of control is very oppressive. When he tells his partner what reality is, he is playing God, he is discounting the partner's experience by defining "THE TRUTH"-which in fact is a LIE. Some examples: That's not what you said or That's not what I said or That's not what you did or That's not what I did or That's not what happened. That's not what you saw. That's not what you felt. That's not why you did it. I know you better than you know yourself!

CONTROLLING BY MAKING HER RESPONSIBLE: By telling his partner she is responsible for his behavior, this verbal abuser attempts to avoid all responsibility for his own behavior. In other words, he avoids accountability by BLAMING. Examples include:
I did it because you...
You didn't remind me.
You just don't see what I do.
Just show me how
Set a good example

Putting her down, especially on what she does best.
Putting her up, praising or thanking her for trivial things rather than the big things she does, which demeans her talents, time, and energy, while implying she is best suited to do trivial or demeaning tasks. This category also includes statements such as: That right! You're a woman!! (said with disgust) What makes you think you can do that? I'm the leader, the boss. You're not THAT stupid. Just THINK about it. ITS THAT'S SIMPLE.

Laughing at or smirking
Offensive jokes
Mimicking your partner
Scornful, disdainful, contemptuous tone of voice
Ignoring, "I'm not listening to you"
Avoiding eye contact, turning away
Expecting partner to talk to you while you're watching TV, reading, game playing
Words like "Sooo" or "So what!" or "That means NOTHING to me" or "Whatever"
Bafflegabbing - talking in ways intended to mislead or baffle your partner
Insulting your partner
Making inappropriate sounds
Making inappropriate facial expressions-rolled eyes, grimaces, deep sighs
Starting a sentence then stating, "Forget it.."
Accusing her of being "controlling", "having to have the last word"

CONTROLLING behaviors such as those above are used by verbal abusers to gain feelings of power and control whenever the suppressed fear and pain in his own life start to "seep out" - terrified of not being in control, terrified of "feeling," terrified of her leaving.


Labels: , , , , ,

shared by Barbara at 12:23 AM


Monday, November 27, 2017

The Sexual Relationship with a Narcissist

The sexual relationship with the narcissist is most peculiar. Narcissists are exhibitionists and sex is just one further means of being admired to her or him.

Intimacy does not exist and you will frequently feel used. The narcissist will demand that you subdue yourself. Your own sexual preferences will be boycotted or twisted.

Narcissists have a strong tendency to sexually abuse a partner and sometimes children. Here is a list of SOME of these abusive behaviors (these are not true in all cases; nor do ALL have to be present for it to be NPD):

* You are prohibited from masturbating or feel good about your own body under the threat of punishment

* You are being made to watch porn although you don't want to

* You are not allowed any sexual gratification yourself

* The narcissist pretends to be sexual (desirous) for you but is after her/ his gratification only

* Your sexual past is being torn apart or made fun of

* You are being told that all you want is sex (although you know this is not the case, however sex is central to the narcissist)

* The narcissist instigates sex (like telling you erotic things and sending you pictures or emails which are sexual) but then decides last minute that nothing is to take place; or simply demands abusive sex

* The narcissist abuses you while you are asleep (sleep rape)

* You are being raped (coerced verbally or emotionally - includes "I love you") on a regular basis

* You are feeling humiliated and yet the narcissist claims that (s)he has been humiliated

* The narcissist finds it funny when you get hurt and enjoys it when you get hurt, this can be physically or emotionally

* The narcissist instigates and turns everything into a sexual game

* The narcissist demands prolonged sex way above the limit you can handle nor want to

* The narcissist tells you that you want to have sexual relations with everybody -- although the narcissist has a strong tendency to flirt with others and to be infidel

* You are being told off for the fact that you were flirting with someone although you are not flirting at all

* The narcissist makes fun of your sexuality in front of others (e.g. you have a small penis or small breasts)

* The narcissist demands sex when you make it clear that you don't want to

* The narcissist has to try out everything possible

* The narcissist is an exhibitionist and will want sex in public and dresses inappropriately at home and or elsewhere

There is another form of sexual abuse with Narcissists (and other Pathologicals). In fact, so I believe, it is the most common one, and hence it took me so long to get it. This form of abuse comes in four stages:

* Firstly, the victim will be forced to reveal her or his sexual preferences and experiences to the perpetrator.

* Secondly, the perpetrator will condition the victim to direct her or his entire sexuality towards the perpetrator. At this stage, the sexual relationship is intense.

* Thirdly, the perpetrator reduces the intensity of the sexual relationship dramatically, so that the victim is in constant sexual need. (Sexual Hyperarousal)

* Fourthly, the perpetrator grants inproper sexual gratification in order to maintain the sexual need of the victim. Now, the victim, who is (sexually) dependent on the perpetrator, can be humiliated, manipulated and used.

Dr. Ludger Hofmann-Engl

Labels: , , , , , , ,

shared by Barbara at 12:06 AM 37 comments


Sunday, November 26, 2017


One Painful Way of Defeating Yourself

Traditional Western culture has developed an interesting concept -- one that is honed to a fine edge in the United States (and its criminal justice system) and one that is found as a component of Judeo-Christian based religions.

BLAME is the concept. Notice I didn't say "responsibility." Think for a few seconds about the two words. Perhaps use them in a sentence.

Blame is an affect laden word.

Responsibility, on the other hand, does not tend to have the same level of affective (emotional) weighting.

Usually, when we think of somebody as being to blame for an event we are judging both their behavior and that person.

We are also often involved in assigning or determining guilt (he/she's to blame for the car breaking- down). It may have been the person's responsibility to maintain the car in sound working order but the implication of blame involves, to some degree, causation (he/she caused the car to break-down). In the examples, blame implies causation and guilt.

In our heritage, establishment of guilt is followed by some form of punishment. The punishments vary from standing in a corner for five minutes to saying several extra prayers to a jail term or, in rare instances, the death penalty.

Our entire culture revolves around the concept of rules (both written and un-written) that are supposed to guide or regulate our behavior.

When we break the rules one or more persons judge us guilty, announce a punishment (which is to be imposed) and inform us when the punishment is to be ended (or when we
are absolved of the guilt).

We grow up in the culture learning this type of system of

* blame, * guilt, * punishment * and absolution *

and apply it with regularity to others and to ourselves.

We do this most frequently through our self talk.

We expend vast amounts of energy determining who is to blame for a particular event or phenomena.

(Who spilled the milk? Now, come on, 'fess up, who spilled the milk? Wait 'till your father/mother gets home. He/she will find out who spilled the milk and then you'll get it.)

The determination of blame (guilt) always seems to carry with it some implied or explicit suggestion of punishment (then you'll get it). Small wonder the responsible party is unwilling to step forward.

In most day-to-day situations where people set about the task of establishing blame the activity is of little actual importance. In the example of the spilled milk, the blame establisher probably is concerned that (1) the milk is spilled (and may need to be cleaned up), and (2) the responsible party be aware that the spilling of milk is something to be avoided (and is to be mopped up).

When we seek to establish blame for an event, we send a message. The message tends to be one that implies some terrible consequence following the establishment of blame.

We are, of course, attempting to establish a punishment for the wrongful event. But punishment is not always an effective means of changing behavior, feelings, and thoughts. You have probably learned in psychology that a punishment or a reward is associated with the behavior that most immediately preceded the administration of the reward or punishment. That's essentially true! But wait a minute -- which behavior immediately preceded the punishment?

Those of you who have (or have had) dogs may recall that when the dog did something wrong, you called the dog and spanked the dog for the transgression. The first time you did this the dog came right away, the next time the dog was slower to respond and eventually the dog would not come when called. The dog would not come when called because it learned that it would get spanked when it responded to your call. You have trained the dog to not come when you call as opposed to training the dog to not dig in the garden. Humans, though certainly very different than dogs, respond to learning situations in a very similar way.

What gets lost in the process of blame establishment is most often the fundamental reason for initiating the process at the outset. That is, a person has exhibited a behavior (done something) that has had an effect on our lives that we do not like. We do not want them to do the same thing again, particularly if the same consequence on our life may result. The objective is for that person (and we may be that person) to change his or her behavior in such a way that the new behavior will likely result in our experiencing a more favorable consequence (we want them to not spill milk so we will not have to spend our energy cleaning a floor with milk on it).

By seeking to establish blame we focus on establishment of guilt rather than on changing or modifying milk handling behavior. We punish "fessing up" (or coming when called) rather than teaching new, more productive, methods of handling milk to the people with responsibility for the handling of milk. We get angry when they don't respond and when the milk is spilled again. This seems like a rather unproductive group of activities.

How might we change our blame establishing behavior? -- Not by punishing ourselves for doing it, but by seeking to replace the behavior pattern with one that may get us closer to our overall objective. When we notice ourselves saying, either out loud or internally, things like: Who's to blame, who's at fault, who did this or that, and other similar phrases and we are feeling a strong emotion like anger -- STOP -- maybe even say out- loud the word stop -- and then ask the following questions: What difference does establishing blame make? Will establishing blame change anything that is happening or has happened? Will establishing blame change the behavior of the responsible person? As you review your responses to the questions you will probably note your emotional response has less intensity and that your self talk will start to move into the problem solving mode (O.K. -- now how can I correct the problem). Once in the problem solving mode you can then start determining your immediate and long range objectives (seeing to it that the milk is mopped from the floor and teaching people how to not spill milk) and the action steps involved (getting the mop for yourself or another person and teaching the responsible person how to more effectively hold a milk carton and pour milk).

As you make a habit of taking charge of situations rather than establishing blame you will most likely find that you have much more energy available to invest in more productive activities.


Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

shared by Barbara at 12:35 AM 8 comments


Saturday, November 25, 2017

When Toxic People Start Hoovering

Trying to break free from someone who won’t let you go?

 Wanting to end a relationship with someone who keeps trying suck you back in with manipulations (or fake apologies too) ?

You’re being hoovered!

Some toxic people will let you leave a relationship without caring one bit. They never really cared about you, and if you don’t want to be used and abused anymore, they’re simply on to the next person before you can say, “Bye!”

Others, however…

Others hoover.

The toxic hooverer doesn’t truly care about you either — they just want to keep you around to feed on emotionally, and when you decide to go no contact, they don’t plan on letting you get away that easily.

Many hooverers have traits of borderline, narcissistic, antisocial or histrionic personality disorders.

Hoovering is manipulation to gain control over your choice to distance yourself, and typically takes the following forms:

  • Ignoring your requests to break off the relationship and attempting to continue on as if nothing has changed.
  • Asking you when you’re going to “get over it” and return to your past actions.
  • Sending you a fake apology to give you hope that things have changed.
  • Trying to trick you into contact by saying someone needs you, is sick, or in trouble.
  • Triangulating with others, communicating things to you through them.
  • Saying they’re worried about you, concerned about whether you’re okay, need to know where you are, etc.
  • Sending unwanted cards, messages and gifts, sometimes gifts for your children, as they know you are likely to feel guilty about keeping a gift from your kids. Don’t allow this – exposing your children to manipulation is far worse!
  • Returning old items you left behind.
  • Baiting you with drama games.
  • Contacting you about “important” things they “forgot” and suddenly have to tell you.

Don’t Fall for Hoovering Tactics

Attempts to pull you back into a toxic relationship are not valid expressions of caring and concern — they are attempts to regain control over your behavior. Beware — hoovering attempts are often disguised as caring, loneliness, hurt, desperation, fear, and other things designed to play on your sympathies and pull you back. Abusers know that pulling on heartstrings works very well. (In the case of BPD, it may be simply out-of-control emotions and fear of abandonment more than an attempt to control you per se; however you will likely still feel that you are not being allowed to end a relationship you no longer want).

If your wish to end a relationship is not being honored, whatever a toxic person thinks will work best on you will be what they try, so when one angle doesn’t work, they will try another, and another, ramping up their efforts until it seems they might never stop

Typically, hoovering DOES stop if the person being hoovered does not fall for the hooverer’s tricks.

The sooner the person being hoovered completely ignores everything and does not respond to anything at all in any way, the sooner the toxic person finally understands that they do not have the control. Some toxic people may still make the occasional attempt on holidays, anniversaries of events, etc. Don’t bite the bait. Simply ignore any attempts.

If you have already made it clear that you do not want a relationship (or if it’s obvious) then DON’T ever contact the person doing the hoovering to tell them to stop again, or how angry you are. That is a reward. They will be thrilled to receive your attention and pleased to know that their efforts have paid off by snagging you, so they’ll be contacting you even more!


If you have told someone you do not want contact, and they continue to bother you, the police can assist you. If you ever feel that someone you are trying to break off a relationship with may be capable of more than simply annoying you mildly, contact your local police for assistance. They are well-accustomed to dealing with skillful manipulators and have many smart ways of handling them, so do not hesitate to ask for help. (And remember, you have nothing to be ashamed about; you’re not the one behaving badly, and the police are there to protect you from abuse.)


Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

shared by Barbara at 12:02 AM 3 comments


Friday, November 24, 2017


What! Wouldst thou have a serpent sting thee twice? 
William Shakespeare (The Merchant of Venice)

"Self Discipline is Self Esteem"

Abbreviations: N=Narcissist, P=Psychopath, 

D&D = devalued & discarded


Keep them pinned up in a room where you will see them throughout the day, read them frequently to remind you of them.

Tips to Help You Adhere to No Contact

Settle all critical business before you begin no-contact. This means business only... no personal exchanges.

1. To keep my sanity and totally end this relationship, I must maintain NO CONTACT.

2. No contact includes every single form of contact with him/her..

2a. This also includes... do NOT ask friends/family about him/her and do NOT let friends/family tell you about him/her. If need be I will go NC with any friends/family who try to get me to break NC.

3. I will not email him/her. I will not answer their emails. I will block them.

4. I will not call him/her. I will not answer their calls. I will block them and if need be, change my number to a unlisted one (and not give it to anyone who may pass it along to them).

5. I will not send him/her letters, cards for any occasion or notes of any kind. Any flowers, mail or packages they send to me will be refused or marked "delivery refused" and put back into the mail, unopened.  (DO SAVE IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS AND ANYTHING THAT COULD BE USED FOR 'EVIDENCE' OF STALKING, HARASSMENT, etc)

6. I will not text message, two way, fax or page him/her.

7. If he/she calls me, I will hang up immediately, or not answer the phone at all.

8. If he/she leaves a voice mail or answering machine messages, I will delete it without listening to it. (Anything he/she says is done to draw me back into his/her web of insanity.)

9. If he/she emails me, I will delete the message without reading it or answering it. I will not check his/her Facebook/Tumblr/LinkedIn etc, and I will block them.

10. If he/she mails me a card, letter or note of any kind, I will throw it into the garbage can without opening it or reading it or write DELIVERY REFUSED and put it in the nearest mailbox WITHOUT reading or opening it  (DO SAVE IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS AND ANYTHING THAT COULD BE USED FOR 'EVIDENCE' OF STALKING, HARASSMENT, etc)

11. If he/she two-ways me, text messages or emails me, I will delete the message or the phone number and not listen to the message or return his/her call.  (DO SAVE IMPORTANT TEXTS AND ANYTHING THAT COULD BE USED FOR 'EVIDENCE' OF STALKING, HARASSMENT, etc.  USE A  JOURNAL)

12. If I am ever tempted to do anything listed from 1-11, I will call my therapist or a friend immediately and talk about it.

OR replace a hopeful reunion fantasy and toxic hopes that they will "get it" and "change" and apologize with a Clear Memory of a time that he/she insulted me, manipulated me, shamed me, blamed me, abused me, used me, belittled me, made me cry, used my children, friends or family to demean me, embarrassed me in front of co-workers, family or friends or used 'love' as a way to intentionally hurt me.

13. If I feel like I am about to reach for the phone to call him/her, write, email, page, fax or text message him/her, I will count to ten and clearly ask myself silently, why am I doing this? what do I think will REALLY happen?

14. If friends, family or clergy are not supportive of my efforts to remove myself from this relationship, I will not discuss my personal life with them and will ask them sternly not to offer their opinions. My decisions about this are my own. This is My Battle.

15. If I find that the urge to speak to him/her or see him/her has overwhelmed me and I slip off the course, I promise to be kind to myself and patient with the situation, then get right back on to No Contact.

16. I promise to be good to myself, forgive myself and allow myself to move on and not dwell on this for ever.

17. I will stop creating chaos in my mind & environment. I will stop listening to everyone else who doesn't 'get it' or looking for the answer I want to hear, rather than the answer I NEED to hear.

18. I will accept reality - The facts.

19. I will accept others for who they REALLY are. (not what I'd like them to be)

20. My hands are off others responsibilities: I will tend to my own, focus on me.

21. I will refuse to believe any of his/her lies about how wonderful his/her life is now. Basing the truth on the past, I will assume him/her to be lying. I will believe ACTIONS not Words.

22. I will distrust every time he/she has a "change of heart."

23. I will journal all my positive and negative feelings.

24. I must accept my own responsibility for maintaining No Contact. This includes writing a letter to them explaining why I went NC. I will stop expecting them to understand or 'get it.'

25. I will completely stop expecting them to understand or 'get it.' I will keep my children completely away from them no matter what threats they make.

26. We must love ourselves. And get counseling to help ourselves.

27. Take time off, just for me.

28. Find out what we need and go after that in friends that are worthy and have substance, morals, and ethics.

NO CONTACT IS THE END - no loopholes, no excuse, no exceptions. Period.

Accept nothing less for yourself.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

shared by Barbara at 12:04 AM 27 comments


Thursday, November 23, 2017

Emotional Manipulator -- Skilled Controller

by Cassandra

Abusers can be masters of disguise and covert operations. He or She hones their skills to expert precision, lest people see through the mask to the ruthless ambition and envy beneath.

Above all, the abuser seeks to keep that mask firmly in place so as not to lose the support of those who’ve been fooled by the outer facade.

This list of characteristics describes abusers and gives an awareness of the techniques used by * Chameleons * who may be male or female.

1. Charming in public – exuding warmth and charm, an abuser smiles and tells jokes, praises and flatters you, outwardly supports you with a show of approval and reassurance, makes you feel valuable and appears to be attentive to your needs.

2. Rumor-monger in private – criticizing you behind your back, he may suggest that you have personal or emotional problems, carefully building a case against you via calculated misinformation passed on to others behind the scenes. He manipulates others into criticizing you and then rewards them for their participation in his plot to undermine your image in every way.

3. Two-faced – He pretends to support you while planning to destroy you; then when you challenge him, he suddenly transforms from supportive to bullying. His soft-spoken manner hides his destructive intentions, his flattering words hide his desire to control you, and his seemingly warm personality hides his take-no-prisoners attitude.

4. Distorts truth and reality – He misleads people by omitting key facts. He’s extremely concerned to preserve an appearance of integrity, all the while withholding significant information. He misleads people by omitting key facts, he quotes hearsay as important and authoritative, then, justifies his opinion by falsely claiming others think the same way.

Master of the half-truth, he miss-states and belittles your viewpoint, asks questions that demean you, then interrupts before you can fully respond, he changes the subject before you can correct his miss-statements, then he adds new false accusations faster than you can respond to the old ones.

5. Hypocritical – His spoken philosophy and behavior don’t match, his words creating a positive image which does not match his actions. He describes his mistakes as minor, but your mistakes as serious, or ignores his own mistakes while always highliting yours. – He calmly demeans you, but is angry because you don’t respect him. Not respecting him = pointing out the inconguities and inconsistencies between who he claims to be and what he actually does and says.

6. Evasive – He acts confused by any complaint about his behavior and always shifts the focus to others. He acts like he is the one who is being victimized. He tries to make you feel guilty for hurting him, accusing you of behavior that was far worse than his and asserting that you are the cause of his bad behavior (if he ever does admit to behaving badly).

7. Pompous – He acts like a know-it-all and never apologizes, unless to prove how rarely he makes a mistake. He’s a prima donna … condescending in words, tone of voice and mannerisms. Every issue which effects him is high drama and he’ll try to demolish the opposition in every discussion to keep the focus on himself.

8. Self-righteous – In order to disguise his corrupt character, he always claims the moral and ethical high ground. He brags about the goodness of his own character while suggesting that others have dubious motives. He frequently talks of his superior ethical standards, implying that others don’t have his high standards and using distorted examples to prove that others are not nearly as superior as he.

9. Obsessed with image – He believes that his image is more important than reality, so he disguises his true emotions and desires. When you see beneath his persona, he will suggest that your actions have hurt his image. Alternatively, he says that your proposed actions (i.e., exposing him) will hurt your own image.

10. Passive-aggressive behaviour: (Anger Expressed Inappropriately)

* Put-downs
* Sarcasm
* Insults
* Rudeness
* Sabotage
* Intimidation
* Belittling Remarks

11. Pretends to care – While pretending to care about others, he is at his most manipulative and dangerous. Most people are taken in by his apparently positive energy, enthusiasm and charisma, but in reality, they are naively being fooled by an attractive personality which hides a morally and ethically corrupt abuser who is coldly and ruthlessly pursuing his own selfish ends.

His expression of affection is tainted with possessiveness and he compliments you only because it serves his purpose. He has a look of concern, but he doesn’t truly respect you.

He pretends to be your friend while tearing you down, destroying your reputation, weakening your position, and exaggerating the importance of your mistakes.

12. Plays the victim – He exaggerates his pain and suffering, trying to make you feel guilty for causing his pain and claiming that you don’t appreciate him.

He becomes angry and indignant when you try to reason with him, then says he is tired of doing all the compromising.

The above list of characteristics describes abusers and gives an awareness of the techniques used by * Chameleons * who may be male or female.


Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

shared by Barbara at 12:26 AM 17 comments


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Child Custody & Access Assessments

By Samantha E. Poisson

Whether it is because most parents can devise a workable child care arrangement or because of the absence of one parent, the majority of separating families, approximately 80% (Johnston, 1994), do not become embroiled in legal battles over the children. The remainder, however, approach the justice system looking for some form of conflict resolution such as mediation, arbitration, assessment, or a custody trial. Many enter the process with a lawyer to represent them, however, increasingly they are unrepresented [due to cutbacks in legal aid]. For this subgroup of highly conflicted families characterized by ongoing acrimony, litigation and conflict over the custody and visitation arrangements for the children; a history of domestic violence is probable. It is the children in these high conflict/violent families who stand to lose the most with simplistic solutions derived from an idealistic belief that it is always beneficial to children to have equal contact with both parents post-separation. As battered women know, battering men frequently do not end their domination over their families once separation has occurred. The abusers may use threats to seek custody as a means of perpetuating control over their former partner. Lengthy and costly litigation, fear of abduction, harassment, intimidation and violence during transfers are all genuine issues of concern. Although difficult to believe, a surprising number of battered women even face the real possibility of losing custody to their abuser. Recent research suggests that batterers are twice as likely to apply for custody and equally likely to convince the court of the merits of their custody application as non-violent fathers (Bowermaster & Johnson, 1998; Zorza, 1995).

In determining the best interests of the children from high conflict families, the courts may turn to custody and access assessors. An assessor can be a social worker, psychologist or psychiatrist. Currently, there are no licensing or specific training requirements for assessors in Canada. Most assessors are members of a professional governing body, such as the College of Psychologists, but that may not always be the case. Guidelines exist, which include minimal standards of ethical practice, such as the Ethical Guidelines for Psychological Practice Related to Child Custody and Access by the Ontario Psychological Association. Regardless of the assessor's field, every assessment should meet a minimal standard of acceptable ethical practices.

An assessment can be court ordered or completed by consent of the parties and their legal counsel. The cost of an assessment can range from $1500 to over $5000. These costs may be covered by Legal Aid or by the parents themselves. The process of an assessment typically involves three to five interviews for each of the parties, observation of the child/parent interaction, contacting collateral sources of information such as doctors, therapists and teachers and reviewing affidavit material. Psychological testing may also be a component of the assessment if the assessor is suitably qualified to administer such instruments. At the end of the process, the assessor prepares a report, which typically includes detailed recommendations regarding custody and access, and this report is submitted to court.

A custody and access assessment report can be a very significant piece of evidence considered by the judge. Therefore, choosing an appropriate assessor is crucial. Assessors, like many other professionals, may erroneously subscribe to romanticized notions of "shared parenting" in cases with a history of domestic violence. Prior to an assessor being appointed to your case, explore his/her qualifications, know whether or not he/she has had domestic violence training, and gain a sense of any trends or biases in his/her recommendations. A thorough assessment by a well-qualified, appropriately trained assessor, can be invaluable evidence in custody cases involving domestic violence.

Once an assessor is chosen, be prepared to detail your history of abuse, your views of how the children have been affected by witnessing the abuse and any supporting documentation or collateral sources which may lend credence to the history of abuse. Domestic violence is, by its nature, a private experience. In many cases involving domestic violence, there is typically scant evidence of the abuse. These factors contribute to a battered woman's inability to corroborate her victimization from the moment a child custody dispute begins. Be as prepared as possible to highlight any evidence of your victimization.

In Canada, the federal Divorce Act is silent on the issue of domestic violence and most provincial statutes do not identify domestic violence as an issue to be considered in the deter-mination of custody and access. However, judicial precedence increasingly recognizes the negative impact of exposure to violence on children (Bala et al., 1998). In the United States, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (1994) has developed a Model Code on domestic violence in the child custody area that clearly delineates several important principles. First, there is the rebuttable presumption that it is detrimental to the child to be placed with the perpetrator of family violence in sole custody, joint legal custody, or joint physical custody. Second, visitation orders for the batterers can be tempered with conditions such as supervised transfers, supervised access, and treatment orders. And lastly, that there is a presumption against mediation in cases with domestic violence.

Despite the existence of judicial precedence and the Model Code, most domestic violence advocates would probably describe a significant gap between theory and practice when it comes to recognizing domestic violence as a germane factor in custody determinations, and affording due consideration to maternal and child safety (Jaffe and Geffner, 1998). An increasingly powerful backlash, in the form of "parental alienation syndrome," has provided battering fathers with the theoretical explanation for why their children may not want to visit with them post-separation. Victimized mothers can be typecast by this unsubstantiated theory and many judges, lawyers and assessors are uncritically embracing this concept. Anticipate the use of such tactics, be prepared to defend yourself against them, and become as knowledgeable as possible prior to the commencement of an assessment. Many battered women before you have been ill prepared for their experiences during a custody battle and alarmed by the ultimate outcome of the custody dispute. Preparation is key.

Ms. Poisson, M.Ed., is currently in the process of completing her Doctorate in Education in Applied Psychology from the University of Toronto. She has been employed as Clinical/Research Services Co-ordinator at the London Family Court Clinic since 1995. Ms. Poisson is qualified as an expert witness in Ontario and New Brunswick in the areas of custody and access and the impact of childhood physical and sexual abuse on adult survivors.


Labels: , , , , , , , ,

shared by Barbara at 12:30 AM 0 comments


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Manipulative Relationships: Are You In One?

We are all vulnerable to being manipulated in relationships, whether between romantic partners, friends, parents, children, employers, coworkers, or neighbors. When we allow another person to manipulate us, we are colluding with their desire to control our feelings, motives, and even our thoughts through deceptive, exploitative, and unfair means. A manipulative relationship is one-sided and unbalanced, advancing the goals of the manipulator at the expense of the person being manipulated. These relationships become troubled over time. If you want to change this kind of relationship, you must first recognize the features of manipulation and then look within to understand your contribution to the manipulation. There are effective ways to stand up to manipulation and bring balance back into the relationship.

Manipulation is not the same as influence. We all use influence with other people to advance our goals, and this is one of the hallmarks of healthy social functioning. Influence recognizes the rights and boundaries of other people, and it is based on direct, honest communication. Influence is one way we have of functioning effectively in the world. Influence recognizes the integrity of the other person, including the right not to go along with the attempted persuasion. Manipulation, on the other hand, depends on covert agendas and an attempt to coerce another person into giving in. Even though it may appear that the manipulator is strong and in control, there is usually insecurity under the facade. The tendency to exploit others and disregard their rights is a sign of unhealthy personality functioning. In fact, people who manipulate others have difficulty in maintaining good interpersonal relationships.

Those who manipulate other people are good at spotting people to control. If they feel unable to manipulate someone, they usually give up and move on to somebody else who is more likely to be receptive to the attempted manipulation. Once you recognize the features of the manipulation, the next step in correcting the situation is to discover your own contribution to the problem. (This statement may seem a bit difficult to accept. After all, it's the manipulator who has the problem, you might say. But realize that manipulation cannot occur in a vacuum. As is true of any relationship, it takes two people.) You can come to understand your contribution to the manipulative situation and then take steps to correct it.

Here are some common traits of those who are vulnerable to manipulators -

You feel useful and loved only when you can take care of the needs of other people. This goes beyond being nice to other people. Your sense of worth is tied up in doing things for other people. In fact, you take this so far that you please other people at the expense of your own well-being. For example, you might buy something especially nice for your partner or a friend when you would never spend that kind of money on yourself. Manipulators are drawn to this type of person and have no qualms about taking advantage of this particular personality trait.

You need to have the approval and acceptance of other people. Although most people appreciate being accepted, a problem occurs when you feel that you must be accepted by everyone at all times. The core problem here is the fear of being rejected or abandoned - and it is so strong that you would do anything to avoid the feelings associated with this fear. The manipulator works by giving you the acceptance that you need - and then threatening to withdraw it.

You fear expressing negative emotions. Although expressing anger and engaging in a conflict are never pleasant, some people will go to any length to avoid a confrontation. They want things to be pleasant at all times. They fear that they will fall apart in the face of negative emotions. Manipulators have an easy task in this kind of relationship - all they have to do is to threaten to raise their voice, and then they get their way.

You are unable to say no. One of the characteristics of a healthy relationship is appropriate boundaries that clarify who you are and what you stand for. In order to maintain healthy boundaries, however, you must sometimes say no when someone attempts to push your limits. If you are afraid of the conflict that may arise when you say no, you play into the hands of the manipulator. Learning effective assertiveness techniques is a way to regain your sense of control in a manipulative relationship.

You lack a firm sense of your own self. A clear sense of self means that you know what your values are, who you are, what you stand for, and where you begin and the other person ends. If you have an unclear sense of self, it is difficult to trust your own judgment or to make decisions that work in your favor. Without a clear definition of your self, you may be an easy target for a manipulator.

If you are in a manipulative relationship, it is helpful to recognize the personal tendencies that allow the other person to assert control over you. You can come to understand and explore these safely with the support of a professionally trained therapist. While you may not be able to change the behavior of the manipulator, you can change your own responses to attempts at manipulation so that you achieve a firmer sense of your own integrity. The unhappiness resulting from a manipulative relationship can lead to life-changing experiences that generate insight and the ability to cope more effectively with the demands of everyday living.


Labels: , , , , , , ,

shared by Barbara at 12:07 AM 0 comments


Monday, November 20, 2017

The Art of Saying "NO"

What exactly is The Art of Saying No?

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

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

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

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

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

It's Not Assertiveness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not Nice Not Nasty

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

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

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

Managing Feelings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saying No

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here's an Analogy:

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

Which would you burgle?

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

Changing Others by Changing Yourself

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

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

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

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

Labels: , , , , , ,

shared by Barbara at 12:38 AM 2 comments