Sanctuary for the Abused
Thursday, June 17, 2021
There are people who rely on learned helplessness as a means to cope with negative events happening in their life. Keith Joseph McKean points out that learned helplessness is based on three things:
Internal blaming - "It's me!"
Global distortion - "It'll affect everything I do!"
Stability generalization - "It will last forever!"
Parents/caretakers play major roles in whether or not a child develops learned helplessness. Learned helplessness can develop early in one's life. Therefore, adults need to be aware of how their type of criticism they use will affect children.
If adults are continually using negative criticism, the child will eventually have low self-esteem and will come to a point to want to give up trying. This can lead to the child having negative viewpoints throughout his/her life.
The type of reinforcement given to the child by the caregiver can determine whether or not the child will develop learned helplessness as a coping mechanism for everyday life events. The child will eventually feel he/she has no control over these events.
Heyman, Dweck and Cain confirm the influence of constant negative criticism on children by revealing how young children in their study assumed when they were receiving negative criticism they must have been "bad" children. Therefore, the children felt they were deserving of such negative criticism.
But, researchers claim as a child gets older the child feels the negative criticism is based on their lack of abilities, not based on if they were "good" or "bad." This study cites that children who have a secure attachment will demonstrate positive self-evaluations whereas children who don't have this positive attachment will demonstrate negative self-evaluations.
Learned helplessness can develop in any stage of one's life, not just childhood - it affects behavioral, cognitive and affective domains at the same time.
When a person is wanting to give up or has a continuous habit of putting things off, this is learned helplessness affecting his/her behavioral domain. A person's self-esteem will be low and feeling of frustration will be high. With these effects a person's ability to solve problems will be very low due to the fact that the person has no confidence in themselves.
These factors affect the cognitive domain. The affective domain is when a person will show signs of depression. When one fails, the blame will be that person's lack of abilities and when one succeeds this will be due to "luck."
Also, a characteristic of a person with learned helplessness is low self-esteem. Low self-esteem will decrease one's confidence in trying to change negative things that are going on in one's life. When a person with learned helplessness experiences success he / she will make themselves and others believe it was due to "luck" and not based on ones' own abilities.
This pessimistic explanatory way of dealing with events can affect a person's job performance and a student's academic performance which can eventually lead to wanting to give up. As stated earlier, learned helplessness can develop at any age.
Learned helplessness can be seen when comparing depressed elderly women and non-depressed elderly women (65-96 years) on successes and failures. The non-depressed women would describe their success due to positive reasons such as, their success was due to their own abilities. Whereas, the depressed women would use more of a negative reason by saying their success was due to "luck" and not based on personal abilities.
When it came to explaining failures, the non-depressed women would blame them on "bad luck" and the depressed women would blame it on their so-called lack of abilities. The depressed women would blame negative outcomes due to inner forces and positive outcomes due to outer forces. These depressed women show how people with learned helplessness will use these reasons to give up and not put an effort to take control of their lives.
Strube emphasizes a situation where learned helplessness traumatically effects lives. Women in abusive relationships have developed at some point in time learned helplessness. These women have low self-esteem and blame themselves when things go wrong, therefore, they feel they deserve the physical and mental abuse (similar to the young children who felt they deserved the negative criticism they received because of being "bad").
Society and family play a partial hand in this abuse by putting unnecessary pressures on the woman by making her feel it is her responsibility to make the relationship work. These pressures need to be removed and support from family needs to be increased.
Society as a whole needs to take a stand against abuse. Just as these studies show how learned helplessness can develop during early childhood and continue through adulthood, I know of a woman who has overcome learned helplessness.
There was this little girl who wasn't afraid of anything. She didn't even know what fear was. Then one day a traumatic event happened in her life. After that she knew what fear was.
She was made to feel what had happened was her fault. She tried hard to thing of what she did to deserve being treated so badly. For many years she felt she was a "bad" girl. After that experience came many other negative experiences. She felt she caused them because she was "bad" therefore, she deserved these bad experiences. She decided to be so "good" that nothing bad would ever happen again. But, bad things kept occurring. She figured it didn't matter if she was "good" or "bad" because she had no control over anything that happened in her life.
All through life whenever she failed she would just decide that was expected, so why try?
When she did achieve anything good, she would count that as being "lucky" - not because of her abilities. At times of success she didn't like to acknowledge it to anyone because she knew there would be someone there to remind her how "bad" she really was. She got to the point whenever she would achieve anything in life she never gave herself a chance to enjoy the precious moments. She felt she didn't deserve any praise for accomplishments. She even blamed herself for a relative's death.
For some reason, she felt she must have done something bad and she was to be punished by having him taken away from her. She continued for a number of years failing to achieve any goals that were set for her. She tried to finish college a number of times but continued to fail. She did not fail necessarily in grades but in giving up on everything in life. She just figured there would be something that would stop her so she didn't try.
During her early adulthood years she had no goals set and would just go along in life doing what it took to get by. She constantly placed herself in negative situations; abusive relationships, other relationships that were doomed to fail, and she felt any mistakes on the job were due to her lack of abilities. She felt she had no control over any events in her life.
She felt she was doomed for the rest of her life. She felt her family didn't expect anything from her since she was a woman. She was to get married and raise a family - nothing else. She became engaged numerous times but failed at actually going through with the marriages.
No matter how hard she would try, she always failed. Her negative surroundings and negative reinforcements over many years caused her to develop learned helplessness.
By her late twenties she knew something had to change.
After receiving professional help and joining a support group [see below], the once frightened little girl has turned into a woman who knows now that she has control over her life. Now in her thirties, she has gone back to school and has set short-term and long-term goals to help herself succeed in life. Now her belief is that if she has given it her best she has succeeded (no matter what others would rule as success and failure).
There are still days when she feels she has failed. At first she will start to blame herself and she will stop and tell herself over and over she is not to blame. She will then look back to analyze why she did not achieve what she had set out to do and if she didn't do her best, she would do her best to try and correct this. but, when she did her best, she will tell herself she must accept it and go on.
She is learning to accept that when she does something good, she knows she worked hard for it and deserves it without feeling guilty, and she didn't get it from the luck of the draw.
She has a new life after thirty years of living with learned helplessness. Society and parents play major roles in making sure a child avoids learned helplessness. Children must be encouraged to use their cognitive abilities to their fullest, be given positive criticism and be shown adaptive ways to cope with negative events that happen in their lives.
A person's self-esteem is very important to one's future. No one can eliminate negative events in anyone's life but one does have the power to help someone cope in a positive manner.
Tuesday, June 08, 2021
Leaving a High Conflict Person
by Randi Kreger
It's been tough. After many months or years, you see no alternative but to separate from your high conflict partner (HCP). The process of leaving an HCP is tougher than you may be used to. These guidelines, developed over the years by people who have separated, will help.
Make sure you're ready to leave. Some people leave impulsively. Later, they miss the person or feel guilty. If you've tried a variety of techniques designed for high conflict partners and they haven't worked, or you and your children are suffering, it's time to let go.
No take backs. Once they see you are really going to leave, HCPs usually back off from their abusive tactics. You may receive gifts, flowers, and all kinds of promises to change. Not buying in is tough, because everything in you will desperately want to believe them.
But restructuring a personality takes years. While people with borderline personality can get better, narcissists seldom do. Insist on therapy. You have issues you need to face too, and your own recovery to undertake.
To stay in reality, keep a notebook of all the reasons why you want to leave. List all the ways you've tried to change things, along with their results. Make a list of all the hurtful things your partner did and read it when you feel weak.
Avoid contact. Whether you reach out to your ex or vice versa, the results will be confusing and painful. If you contact them, you might find they've moved on. Don't invite contact or respond to it, no matter how curious you are or how validating you may think it might be.
Now is not the time to tell your ex you think they have a personality disorder. Don't write letters to their therapist or family. Don't tell your ex what to do or continue to try to fix them. It's over. Move on. If you feel guilty about leaving your partner, remember, your partner functioned without you before you met them--as did you.
Take care of yourself. You've been through an extremely stressful experience and you need time to heal. You're probably dropped the habit of caring for yourself, or have developed serious problems with depression--even traits of post traumatic stress disorder. Seek professional help if you haven't already.
Go for a walk. Go to a coffee shop and be open to conversation. If you have hobbies (especially creative and expressive ones) use this new-found time to pursue your interests. Look upon this as a great new beginning. Go back to school. Set some new goals. If you've learned unhealthy coping techniques, like drinking, seek help.
Isolation may be one of your biggest problems. Even if you don't feel like it, make new friends, reconnect with old ones, and reach out to supportive family members. Ask them for what you need. They may say you should have left long ago; on the other hand, they might tell you you're doing the wrong thing. Stay true to yourself. Be specific about what you need and don't need from them.
Continue therapy. Self-awareness is actually one of the "gifts" received from having been in an abusive situation. With enough work, you may actually come out of the experience as a stronger person.
Take time to process this journey. Even if the relationship was bad and you're happy about getting out, you may go through the stages of grief characterized by Dr. Kübler-Ross: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. These stages don't happen overnight, and you will go back and forth between them. Give yourself time.
Whether you were together for a long time or a short, intense time, you had hopes and dreams. You thought this person was a soul mate and you're convinced you'll never find someone you'll love as much and who will love you. This isn't true. A new relationship may not be intense, but it will be more intimate.You need time to grieve both the loss of what was and what you hoped would be.
If you were married, anticipate a difficult, high conflict divorce. You need the booklet Splitting: Protecting Yourself When Divorcing a Borderline or Narcissist by attorney Bill Eddy. (He also has a CD.) There simply is no better source.
Prepare for a distortion campaign. An abandoned partner may try retaliating and starting a "smear" campaign or distortion campaign. This consists of making false allegations or exaggerating the negative in things that may have happened years ago. If your partner degraded previous partners, assume the worst.
While you can't prevent this, you can do damage control. Quickly anticipate what your ex might say--think of old arguments and false accusations. Next, have short, informal chats with people who may be on the receiving end. Briefly mention they may hear things and ask them to talk to you to see if they're true.
If you are getting divorced and your spouse is making false accusations and gathering negative allies, you need to respond at once. See Splitting for a step-by-step process on what you must do to protect yourself and your children.
When you start dating again, be aware of red flags.of potentially abusive people. You know this person acted abusively. So why does it hurt so much now that they're gone? Why do you feel almost addicted to the other person, even missing all the drama and intensity of the relationship?
The reasons for this are complex. You brought certain issues into the relationship; so did they. The combination of trauma with intermittent good time creates a strong bond--an unhealthy one. You may be mistaking intensity for intimacy.
People who have patterns dating high conflict people may be trying to resolve issues stemming from important childhood relationships. Explore this with a therapist before getting into another relationship. This is critical.
People can be great at hiding their illness in the beginning of a relationship, but in retrospect, you will see that some early signs were there. Don't rush into any new relationships before you have fully processed the previous bad one.
In the end, you will be amazed that you even allowed yourself to stay in such a relationship, and even more amazed to find that you now have the inner strength and awareness to avoid repeating it in the future.
Wednesday, June 02, 2021
Narcissists are Projection Machines
Narcissists really know only a few tricks. One happens to be projection, and they practice it so much that it becomes second nature. Hence narcissists love to commit character assassination by calling the party they're tearing down (to look better than) the narcissist. A joke.
Where is the character assassination coming from? Where is the inflated measure of self importance (grandiosity) coming from? Where is the envy coming from? Where is the grandiosity shamed by needing the other party's help? Where is all the dissing and denigrating coming from? Where is the rage over nothing on a regular basis? Where is the dehumanizing charicature coming from? Who's making all the wild accusations?
That's yer narcissist. Every time. Always a living, breathing Projection Machine. Your first clue? He or she is trashing somebody else.They just cannot get the difference between true greatness and grandiosity. You can tell them a million times that grandiosity is a gross overestimate of importance and greatness. They always get it exactly backwards and accuse the great one (like the great leader or the great inventor or the great builder or the great nation = America) of being "grandiose". It is too complex an idea for them to comprehend that you are not grandiose because you are important: you are grandiose because you're a piss-ant who thinks they're important.
Never expect narcissists to comprehend that.
And who cares more about their fellow human beings than those who spend their blood and treasure saving them? Those who make a virtue out of looking the other way while dictators mass murder their own people would have us think that sacrificing your blood and treasure for others is the very opposite of what it is. They characterize it as, of all things, "selfish" and "brutal".
And the punch line is that they characterize their looking the other way as the "humanitarian" behavior. They keep a perfectly straight face while saying this! They call that (of all things) "loving peace."
Enough to make the head spin.
There is just enough room in the skull for the brain to get twisted all the way around backwards and upside down. All you have to do is arrive at your desired conclusion first, and then think backwards to justify it.
People who just think whatever is popular today will swallow it whole without ever noticing how absurd your "reasoning" is.
Sunday, May 30, 2021
CHILDHOOD STRESS AND EMOTIONAL ABUSE ADD UP TO ILLNESS LATER IN LIFE
If you saw Laura walking down the New York City street where she lives today, you’d see a well-dressed 46-year-old woman with auburn hair and green eyes, who exudes a sense of ‘I matter here.’ She looks entirely in charge of her life, but behind Laura’s confident demeanour lies a history of trauma: a bipolar mother who vacillated between braiding her daughter’s hair and peppering her with insults, and a father who moved out-of-state with his wife-to-be when Laura was 15 years old.
She recalls a family trip to the Grand Canyon when she was 10. In a photo taken that day, Laura and her parents sit on a bench, sporting tourist whites. ‘Anyone looking at us would have assumed that we were a normal, loving family.’ But as they put on fake smiles for the camera, Laura’s mother suddenly pinched her daughter’s midriff and told her to stop ‘staring off into space’. A second pinch: ‘No wonder you’re turning into a butterball, you ate so much cheesecake last night you’re hanging over your shorts!’ If you look hard at Laura’s face in the photograph, you can see that she’s not squinting at the Arizona sun, but holding back tears.
After her father left the family, he sent cards and money, but called less and less. Meanwhile, her mother’s untreated bipolar disorder worsened. Sometimes, Laura says: ‘My mom would go on a vitriolic diatribe about my dad until spittle foamed on her chin. I’d stand there, trying not to hear her as she went on and on, my whole body shaking inside.’ Laura never invited friends over, for fear they’d find out her secret: her mom ‘wasn’t like other moms’.
Some 30 years later, Laura says: ‘In many ways, no matter where I go or what I do, I’m still in my mother’s house.’ Today, ‘If a car swerves into my lane, a grocery store clerk is rude, my husband and I argue, or my boss calls me in to talk over a problem, I feel something flip over inside. It’s like there’s a match standing inside too near a flame, and with the smallest breeze, it ignites.’
To see Laura, you’d never know that she is ‘always shaking a little, only invisibly, deep down in my cells’.
Her sense that something is wrong inside is mirrored by her physical health. During a routine exam, Laura’s doctor discovered that Laura was suffering from dilated cardiomyopathy and would require a cardioverter defibrillator to keep her heart pumping. The two-inch scar from her surgery only hints at the more severe scars she hides from her childhood.
For as long as John can remember, he says, his parents’ marriage was deeply troubled, as was his relationship with his father. ‘I consider myself to have been raised by my mom and her mom. I longed to feel a deeper connection with my dad, but it just wasn’t there. He couldn’t extend himself in that way.’ John’s poor relationship with his father was due, in large part, to his father’s reactivity and need for control. For instance, if John’s father said that the capital of New York was New York City, there was just no use telling him that it was Albany.
As John got older, it seemed wrong to him that his father ‘was constantly pointing out all the mistakes that my brother and I made, without acknowledging any of his own’. His father relentlessly criticised his mother, who was ‘kinder and more confident’. Aged 12, John began to interject himself into the fights between his parents. He remembers one Christmas Eve, when he found his father with his hands around his mother’s neck and had to separate them. ‘I was always trying to be the adult between them,’ John says.
John is now a boyish 40, with warm hazel eyes and a wide, affable grin. But beneath his easy, open demeanour, he struggles with an array of chronic illnesses. By the time he was 33, his blood pressure was shockingly high; he began to experience bouts of stabbing stomach pain and diarrhoea and often had blood in his stool; he struggled from headaches almost daily. By 34, he’d developed chronic fatigue, and was so wiped out that he sometimes struggled to make it through an entire workday.
John’s relationships, like his body, were never completely healthy. He ended a year‑long romance with a woman he deeply loved because he felt riddled with anxiety around her normal, ‘happy family’. He just didn’t know how to fit in. ‘She wanted to help,’ he says, ‘but instead of telling her how insecure I was around her, I told her I wasn’t in love with her.’ Bleeding from his inflamed intestines, exhausted by chronic fatigue, debilitated and distracted by pounding headaches, often struggling with work, and unable to feel comfortable in a relationship, John was stuck in a universe of pain and solitude, and he couldn’t get out.
Laura’s and John’s life stories illustrate the physical price we can pay, as adults, for trauma that took place 10, 20, even 30 years ago. New findings in neuroscience, psychology and immunology tell us that the adversity we face during childhood has farther-reaching consequences than we might ever have imagined. Today, in labs across the country, neuroscientists are peering into the once-inscrutable brain-body connection, and breaking down, on a biochemical level, exactly how the stress we experience during childhood and adolescence catches up with us when we are adults, altering our bodies, our cells, and even our DNA.
Emotional stress in adult life affects us on a physical level in quantifiable, life-altering ways. We all know that when we are stressed, chemicals and hormones can flush our body and increase levels of inflammation. That’s why stressful events in adult life are correlated with the likelihood of getting a cold or having a heart attack.
But when children or teens face adversity and especially unpredictable stressors, they are left with deeper, longer‑lasting scars. When the young brain is thrust into stressful situations over and over again without warning, and stress hormones are repeatedly ramped up, small chemical markers, known as methyl groups, adhere to specific genes that regulate the activity of stress‑hormone receptors in the brain. These epigenetic changes hamper the body’s ability to turn off the stress response. In ideal circumstances, a child learns to respond to stress, and recover from it, learning resilience. But kids who’ve faced chronic, unpredictable stress undergo biological changes that cause their inflammatory stress response to stay activated.
Joan Kaufman, director of the Child and Adolescent Research and Education (CARE) programme at the Yale School of Medicine, recently analysed DNA in the saliva of happy, healthy children, and of children who had been taken from abusive or neglectful parents. The children who’d experienced chronic childhood stress showed epigenetic changes in almost 3,000 sites on their DNA, and on all 23 chromosomes – altering how appropriately they would be able to respond to and rebound from future stressors.
'Kids who’ve had early adversity have a drip of fight-or-flight hormones turned on every day – it’s as if there is no off switch
Likewise, Seth Pollak, professor of psychology and director of the Child Emotion Research Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, uncovered startling genetic changes in children with a history of adversity and trauma. Pollak identified damage to a gene responsible for calming the stress response. 'This particular gene wasn’t working properly; the kids’ bodies weren’t able to reign in their heightened stress response.,’
Imagine for a moment that your body receives its stress hormones and chemicals through an IV drip that’s turned on high when needed and, when the crisis passes, it’s switched off again. You might think of kids whose brains have undergone epigenetic changes because of early adversity as having an inflammation-promoting drip of fight-or-flight hormones turned on every day – it’s as if there is no off switch.
Experiencing stress in childhood changes your set point of wellbeing for decades to come. In people such as Laura and John, the endocrine and immune systems are churning out a damaging and inflammatory cocktail of stress neurochemicals in response to even small stressors – an unexpected bill, a disagreement with their spouse, a car that swerves in front of them on the highway, a creak on the staircase – for the rest of their lives. They might find themselves overreacting to, and less able to recover from, the inevitable stressors of life. They’re always responding. And all the while, they’re unwittingly marinating in inflammatory chemicals, which sets the stage for full-throttle disease down the road, in the form of autoimmune disease, heart disease, cancer, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, fibroid tumours, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers, migraines and asthma.
Scientists first came to understand the relationship between early chronic stress and later adult disease through the work of a dedicated physician in San Diego and a determined epidemiologist from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta. Together, during the 1980s and ’90s – the years when Laura and John were growing up – these two researchers began a paradigm-shifting public-health investigation known as the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study.
In 1985, Vincent J Felitti, chief of a revolutionary preventive care initiative at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care programme in San Diego, noticed a startling pattern in adult patients at an obesity clinic. A significant number were, with the support of Felitti and his nurses, successfully losing hundreds of pounds a year, a remarkable feat, only to withdraw from the programme despite weight-loss success. Felitti, determined to get to the bottom of the attrition rate, conducted face-to-face interviews with 286 patients. It turned out there was a common denominator. Many confided that they had suffered some sort of trauma, often sexual abuse, in their childhoods. To these patients, eating was a solution, not a problem: it soothed the anxiety and depression they had harboured for decades; their weight served as a shield against undesired attention, and they didn’t want to let it go.
Felitti’s interviews gave him a new way of looking at human health and well-being that other physicians just weren’t seeing. He presented his findings at a national obesity conference, arguing that ‘our intractable public health problems’ had root causes hidden ‘by shame, by secrecy, and by social taboos against exploring certain areas of life experience’. Felitti’s peers were quick to blast him. One even stood up in the audience and accused Felitti of offering ‘excuses’ for patients’ ‘failed lives’. Felitti, however, remained unfazed; he felt sure that he had stumbled upon a piece of information that would hold enormous import for the field of medicine.
After a colleague who attended that same conference suggested that he design a study with thousands of patients who suffered from a wide variety of diseases, not just obesity, Felitti joined forces with Robert Anda, a medical epidemiologist at the CDC who had, at the time, been researching the relationship between coronary heart disease and depression. Felitti and Anda took advantage of Kaiser Permanente’s vast patient cohort to set up a national epidemiology laboratory. Of the 26,000 patients they invited to take part in their study, more than 17,000 agreed
Anda and Felitti surveyed these 17,000 individuals on about 10 types of adversity, or adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), probing into patients’ childhood and adolescent histories. Questions included: ‘Was a biological parent ever lost to you through divorce, abandonment or other reason?’; ‘Did a parent or other adult in the household often swear at you, insult you, put you down or humiliate you?’; and ‘Was a household member depressed or mentally ill?’ Other questions looked at types of family dysfunction that included growing up with a parent who was an alcoholic or addicted to other substances; being physically or emotionally neglected; being sexually or physically abused; witnessing domestic violence; having a family member who was sent to prison; feeling that there was no one to provide protection; and feeling that one’s family didn’t look out for each other. For each category to which a patient responded ‘yes’, one point would be added to her ACE score, so an ACE score of 2 would indicate that she had suffered two adverse childhood experiences.
To be clear, the patients Felitti and Anda surveyed were not troubled or disadvantaged; the average patient was 57, and three-quarters had attended college. These were ‘successful’ men and women, mostly white, middle-class, with stable jobs and health benefits. Felitti and Anda expected their number of ‘yes’ answers to be fairly low.
The correlation between having a difficult childhood and facing illness as an adult offered a whole new lens through which we could view human health and disease
When the results came in, Felitti and Anda were shocked: 64 per cent of participants answered ‘yes’ to having encountered at least one category of early adversity, and 87 per cent of those patients also had additional adverse childhood experiences; 40 per cent had suffered two or more ACEs; 12.5 per cent had an ACE score greater than or equal to 4.
Felitti and Anda wanted to find out whether there was a correlation between the number of adverse childhood experiences an individual had faced, and the number and severity of illnesses and disorders she developed as an adult. The correlation proved so powerful that Anda was not only ‘stunned’, but deeply moved.
‘I wept,’ he says. ‘I saw how much people had suffered, and I wept.’
Felitti, too, was deeply affected. ‘Our findings exceeded anything we had conceived. The correlation between having a difficult childhood and facing illness as an adult offered a whole new lens through which we could view human health and disease.’
Here, says Felitti, ‘was the missing piece as to what was causing so much of our unspoken suffering as human beings’.
The number of adverse childhood experiences a patient had suffered could by and large predict the amount of medical care she would require in adulthood: the higher the ACE score, the higher the number of doctor’s appointments she’d had in the past year, and the more unexplained physical symptoms she’d reported.
People with an ACE score of 4 were twice as likely to be diagnosed with cancer than people who hadn’t faced any form of childhood adversity. For each point an individual had, her chance of being hospitalised with an autoimmune disease in adulthood rose 20 per cent. Someone with an ACE score of 4 was 460 per cent more likely to face depression than someone with a score of 0.
An ACE score of 6 or higher shortened an individual’s lifespan by almost 20 years.
Researchers wondered if those who encountered childhood adversity were also more likely to smoke, drink and overeat as a sort of coping strategy, and while that was sometimes the case, unhealthy habits didn’t wholly account for the correlation Felitti and Anda saw between adverse childhood experiences and later illness. For instance, those with ACE scores greater than or equal to 7 who didn’t drink or smoke, weren’t overweight or diabetic, and didn’t have high cholesterol still had a 360 per cent higher risk of heart disease than those with ACE scores of 0.
‘Time,’ says Felitti, ‘does not heal all wounds. One does not “just get over” something – not even 50 years later.’ Instead, he says: ‘Time conceals. And human beings convert traumatic emotional experiences in childhood into organic disease later in life.’
Often, these illnesses can be chronic and lifelong. Autoimmune disease. Heart disease. Chronic bowel disorders. Migraines. Persistent depression. Even today, doctors puzzle over these very conditions: why are they so prevalent; why are some patients more prone to them than others; and why are they so difficult to treat?
The more research that’s done, the more granular details emerge about the profound link between adverse experiences and adult disease. Scientists at Duke University in North Carolina, the University of California, San Francisco, and Brown University in Rhode Island have shown that childhood adversity damages us on a cellular level in ways that prematurely age our cells and affect our longevity. Adults who faced early life stress show greater erosion in what are known as telomeres – protective caps that sit on the ends of DNA strands to keep the DNA healthy and intact. As telomeres erode, we’re more likely to develop disease, and we age faster; as our telomeres age and expire, our cells expire and so, eventually, do we.
Researchers have also seen a correlation between specific types of adverse childhood experiences and a range of diseases. For instance, children whose parents die, or who face emotional or physical abuse, or experience childhood neglect, or witness marital discord between their parents are more likely to develop cardiovascular disease, lung disease, diabetes, headaches, multiple sclerosis and lupus as adults. Facing difficult circumstances in childhood increases six-fold your chances of having myalgic encephalomyelitis (chronic fatigue immune dysfunction syndrome or CFIDS) as an adult. Kids who lose a parent have triple the risk of depression in their lifetimes. Children whose parents divorce are twice as likely to suffer a stroke later down the line.
Laura and John’s stories illustrate that the past can tick away inside us for decades like a silent time bomb, until it sets off a cellular message that lets us know the body does not forget its history.
Something that happened to you when you were five or 15 can land you in the hospital 30 years later
John’s ACE score would be a 3: a parent often put him down; he witnessed his mother being harmed; and, clearly, his father suffered from an undiagnosed behaviour health disorder, perhaps narcissism or depression, or both.
Laura had an ACE score of 4.
Laura and John are hardly alone. Two-thirds of American adults are carrying wounds from childhood quietly into adulthood, with little or no idea of the extent to which these wounds affect their daily health and wellbeing. Something that happened to you when you were five or 15 can land you in the hospital 30 years later, whether that something was headline news, or happened quietly, without anyone else knowing it, in the living room of your childhood home.
The adversity a child faces doesn’t have to be severe abuse in order to create deep biophysical changes that can lead to chronic health conditions in adulthood.
‘Our findings showed that the 10 different types of adversity we examined were almost equal in their damage,’ says Felitti. He and Anda found that no single ACE significantly trumped another. This was true even though some types, such as being sexually abused, are far worse in that society regards them as particularly shameful, and others, such as physical abuse, are more overt in their violence.
This makes sense if you think about how the stress response functions on an optimal level. You meet a bear in the woods, and your body floods with adrenaline and cortisol so that you can quickly decide whether to run in the opposite direction or stay and try to frighten the bear. After you deal with the crisis, you recover, your stress hormones abate, and you go home with a great story. For Laura and John, though, that feeling that the bear is still out there, somewhere, circling in the woods, stalking, and might strike again any day, anytime – that feeling never disappears.
There are a lot of bears out there. Chronic parental discord; enduring low-dose humiliation or blame and shame; chronic teasing; the quiet divorce between two secretly seething parents; a parent’s premature exit from a child’s life; the emotional scars of growing up with a hypercritical, unsteady, narcissistic, bipolar, alcoholic, addicted or depressed parent; physical or emotional abuse or neglect: these happen in all too many families. Although the details of individual adverse experiences differ from one home to another and from one neighbourhood to another, they are all precursors to the same organic chemical changes deep in the gray matter of the developing brain.
Every few decades, a groundbreaking psychosocial ‘theory of everything’ helps us to develop a new understanding of why we are the way we are – and how we got that way. In the early 20th century, the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud transformed the landscape of psychology when he argued that the unconscious rules much of our waking life and dreams. Jungian theory taught, among other ideas, that we tend toward introversion or extroversion, which led the American educationalist Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers to develop a personality indicator. More recently, neuroscientists discovered that age ‘zero to three’ was a critical synaptic window for brain development, giving birth to Head Start and other preschool programmes. The correlation between childhood trauma, brain architecture and adult wellbeing is the newest, and perhaps our most important, psychobiological theory of everything.
Today’s research on adverse childhood experiences revolutionises how we see ourselves, our understanding of how we came to be the way we are, why we love the way we do, how we can better nurture our children, and how we can work to realise our potential.
To date, more than 1,500 studies founded on Felitti and Anda’s hallmark ACE research show that both physical and emotional suffering are rooted in the complex workings of the immune system, the body’s master operating control centre – and what happens to the brain during childhood sets the programming for how our immune systems will respond for the rest of our lives.
The unifying principle of this new theory of everything is this: your emotional biography becomes your physical biology, and together, they write much of the script for how you will live your life. Put another way: your early stories script your biology and your biology scripts the way your life will play out.
Unlike previous theories of everything, though, this one has been mind-bogglingly slow to change how we do medicine, according to Felitti. ‘Very few internists or medical schools are interested in embracing the added responsibility that this understanding imposes on them.’
With the ACE research now available, we might hope that physicians will begin to see patients as a holistic sum of their experiences and embrace the understanding that a stressor from long ago can be a health-risk time bomb that has exploded. Such a medical paradigm, which sees adverse childhood experiences as one of many key factors that can play a role in disease, could save many patients years in the healing process.
But seeing that connection takes a little time. It means asking patients to fill out the ACE questionnaire and delving into that patient’s history for insight into sources of both physical and emotional pain. As health-care budgets have become stretched, physicians spend less time interacting one-on-one with patients in their exam rooms; the average physician schedules patients back-to-back at 15-minute intervals.
Still, the cost of not intervening is far greater – not only in the loss of human health and wellbeing, but also in additional healthcare. According to the CDC, the total lifetime cost of child maltreatment in the US is $124 billion each year. The lifetime healthcare cost for each individual who experiences childhood maltreatment is estimated at $210,012 – comparable to other costly health conditions, such as having a stroke, which has a lifetime estimated cost of $159,846 per person, or type-2 diabetes, which is estimated to cost between $181,000 and $253,000.
Further hindering change is the fact that adult physical medicine and psychological medicine remain in separate silos. Utilising ACE research requires breaking down these long-standing divisions in healthcare between what is ‘physical’ and what is ‘mental’ or ‘emotional,’ and that’s hard to achieve. Physicians have been well-trained to deal only with what they can touch with their hands, see with their eyes, or view with microscopes or scans.
Just as physical wounds and bruises heal, just as we can regain our muscle tone, we can recover function in underconnected areas of the brain
However, now that we have scientific evidence that the brain is genetically modified by childhood experience, we can no longer draw that line in the sand. With hundreds of studies showing that childhood adversity hurts our mental and physical health, putting us at greater risk for learning disorders, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disease, depression, obesity, suicide, substance abuse, failed relationships, violence, poor parenting and early death, we just can’t afford to make such distinctions.
Science tells us that biology does not have to be destiny. ACEs can last a lifetime, but they don’t have to. Just as physical wounds and bruises heal, just as we can regain our muscle tone, we can recover function in underconnected areas of the brain. If anything, that’s the most important take-away from ACE research: the brain and body are never static; they are always in the process of becoming and changing.
Even if we have been set on high-reactive mode for decades or a lifetime, we can still dial it down. We can respond to life’s inevitable stressors more appropriately and shift away from an overactive inflammatory response. We can become neurobiologically resilient. We can turn bad epigenetics into good epigenetics and rescue ourselves. We have the capacity, within ourselves, to create better health. We might call this brave undertaking ‘the neurobiology of awakening’.
Today, scientists recognise a range of promising approaches to help create new neurons (known as neurogenesis), make new synaptic connections between those neurons (known as synaptogenesis), promote new patterns of thoughts and reactions, bring underconnected areas of the brain back online – and reset our stress response so that we decrease the inflammation that makes us ill.
You can find ways to start right where you are, no matter how deep your scars or how long ago they occurred. Many mind-body therapies not only help you to calm your thoughts and increase your emotional and physical wellbeing, but research suggests that they have the potential to reverse, on a biological level, the harmful impact of childhood adversity.
Recent studies indicate that individuals who practice mindfulness meditation and mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) show an increase in gray matter in parts of the brain associated with managing stress, and experience shifts in genes that regulate their stress response and their levels of inflammatory hormones. Other research suggests that a process known as neurofeedback can help to regrow connections in the brain that were lost to adverse childhood experiences.
Meditation, mindfulness, neurofeedback, cognitive therapy, EMDR (eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing) therapy: these promising new avenues to healing can be part of any patient’s recovery plan, if only healthcare practitioners would begin to treat the whole patient – past, present and future, without making distinctions between physical and mental health – and encourage patients to explore all the treatment options available to them. The more we learn about the toxic impact of early stress, the better equipped we are to counter its effects, and help to uncover new strategies and modalities to come back to who it is we really are, and who it was we might have been had we not encountered childhood adversity in the first place.
This is an adapted and reprinted extract from ‘Childhood Disrupted: How Your Biography Becomes Your Biology, and How You Can Heal’ (Atria), by Donna Jackson Nakazawa. Copyright © Donna Jackson Nakazawa, 2015.
Labels: abuse, ACONs, adrenal fatigue, adult children of narcissists, autoimmune, brain development, CFIDS, emotionally abusive mothers, fibromyalgia, illness, migraine, ptsd, toxic parents, trauma, unhealthy, woundedness
Friday, May 21, 2021
ABUSE VICTIMS ARE NOT CODEPENDENT, THEY'RE TRAUMA BONDED!
MUST READ!!! CLICK BELOW:
Thursday, May 20, 2021
Lies Abusers Tell Their Victims
You're just taking it wrong.
I wouldn't hit you if you weren't so bad.
We could make this relationship great if only you would work harder.
You made me lie by not making it easy to tell the truth.
I only lied to you because I knew you'd be hurt if you found out the truth.
Your mother/sister/My wife won't give me this, and I/men need it.
If you tell anyone about this, I will stop giving your mother her child support and you/she will be homeless and starving.
If you tell, the police will come and take me away.
This is normal in Europe -- I'm doing this so you can be more sophisticated than your peers.
If you don't, I'll do it to your sister/brother.
You know you like it; what are you trying to get from me by resisting?
You're really tense; I can help you relax.
Let me make you feel better.
This is how you show love to people.
Children have to do what their parents tell them.
All [insert your least favorite group here] are going to hell.
If you can be sexy enough men will like you and you can go far in life.
You can make a lot of money as a prostitute.
All you're interested in is sex. That's all that most (teen-agers/women/men) are interested in.
You're not good for anything else anyways so you might as well use what you are good at.
You own nothing, not even yourself. In my house, you are mine.
Your asking not to be touched isn't a good reason for me not to touch you.
In my house you will do what I want you to.
If you tell, I'll kill your cat/dog/child/mother/father/friend/coworker.
I bought you X, but you owe me because you didn't earn it.
You will ruin our lives.
You're going to be the death of me.
You're going to grieve the loss after I leave you, but not the loss of love -- you're going to feel the loss a junkie feels when she can't get a hit.
I'm finally committed to you. That's why I have to leave you.
I can't live without you.
I know you better than you know yourself.
I was/am the parent/spouse/teacher/authority figure; therefore I know better than you.
This is going to kill your mother/father/teacher.
If you do this, nobody will ever talk to you again.
Your mother/father/sister/spouse wouldn't understand.
You're special, and this is our special secret.
Only true "friends" can be like this.
This is going to teach you about how to handle those horny teenage boys/girls who will be after you.
I have no one else to talk to.
You're the only one who really loves me.
You're too sensitive. I'm sick of you being so hypersensitive all the time!
Why are you so negative?
You're not sorry. If you were sorry, you wouldn't have said it.
You're bad. You're worthless. You're ugly.
You shouldn't feel that way. You shouldn't think that way.
I never did that. It never happened. You're just making it up.
Up to you. If you want to.
I can't believe how selfish you are.
You're self-centered, lazy, and irresponsible.
You shouldn't let it bother you.
That's just the way your [abuser] is. You shouldn't let them bother you.
I'm sick. I need help.
You know I love you/ have feelings for you/ care about you.
What are you mad at me for? I stopped drinking/beating you/abusing drugs, didn't I? What else do I need to do?
I wouldn't tease you if I didn't love you so much.
For a smart person, you sure do some dumb things.
You just remember what you want to remember.
Don't talk about your experience with my drinking/drug use/abuse/sex addiction because it will embarrass me.
If you tell my spouse/significant other about us, he/she will kill themselves. And it will be your fault.
You'd be a lot prettier if you wore makeup.
You'd be a lot nicer if you weren't such a bitch.
He/She/They are lying/making it up/planted that stuff you found. They are jealous and want to ruin what we have.
I wouldn't do this to you if you weren't such a dirty, bad little girl/boy.
I wouldn't do this to you if you didn't like it.
You're a slut.
You ought to be ashamed of yourself!!
(NOTE: This is one of the most deadly things a person can ever say to a child.)
You only get what you deserve.
You have to forgive your abuser. You have to forgive me. It'll do you good if you forgive me. That's really the best thing for you.
I only have your best interests at heart.
This hurts me more than it hurts you.
Why are you so stupid? Why are you so snotty? Why are you so hard to get along with?
Why are you so [insert random meaningless accusation here]??
That's not what you meant. I know what you really meant.
You're overdramatic. You're obsessed.
You made me mad. You provoked me. You made me do it.
I'm not going to talk to you until you apologize.
Your feelings aren't important. Your opinions don't matter. I'm the only one who can be right. I'm the only one who can have feelings and opinions. I'm the only one who counts.
I never treated you that way. You imagined it. You had a wonderful childhood /adolescence/marriage/relationship.
You shouldn't feel like you were abused, because we gave you everything. You're so ungrateful. For all I have to put up with...
You're antagonistic. You're argumentative. You have a way of making people angry.
I can't be nice to you because it wouldn't work.
I can't ask you politely to do something because you wouldn't do it.
You never... You always...
You're just overreacting. You're just making a big deal out of nothing.
You're rude. You're uncooperative. You're unkind. You're just not a very nice person.
Boys don't cry.
Nice girls don't dress that way/have sex/yell/go anywhere alone.
Never hurt anyone's feelings. If you do, you're bad.
Go to therapy as long as you like, but when will you be done?
If you talk about your feelings, you're just whining. That's all they do in those support groups, anyway. They just sit around wallowing in self-pity.
Friends can't be trusted. Your friends are evil.
You're not sensible. You don't think things through.
You're ridiculous. Where did you get that crazy idea?!
Did [random suspect person] put you up to this?!
You're the Good Daughter/Wife/Girlfriend.
You're the Bad Daughter/Wife/Girlfriend.
You just need to try harder. You just need to stop letting your feelings get hurt.
Of course I love you. I wouldn't do this to you if I didn't love you.
Just because I have other partners doesn't mean I'm cheating on you.
Go ahead. Go out with your friends... and leave your family home alone!
You only like history because you're obsessed with the past. Why can't you look to the future, like me?
What's wrong with you?
You don't deserve to be forgiven. I only treat you like this because you deserve it.
I wouldn't treat you this way if you didn't need discipline.
I wouldn't keep dumping you if I didn't have to. I wouldn't keep dumping you if you didn't hurt me so much.
I wouldn't have left you if you weren't so awful.
I'd treat you better if you just tried harder.
It hurts me to love you.
I'm only doing this for your own good.
Wednesday, May 19, 2021
Disabled Women & Domestic Violence
Domestic Violence & Disabled Women
By Holly A. Devine MSW, Program Director,
and Carol Briggs, Outreach Coordinator, Barrier Free Living Domestic Violence Program
Domestic Violence is a societal problem that affects women and children of all races, cultures, and ethnicities. However, the problem has been increasingly noted among the disabled population as well. According to the Colorado Department of Health, upwards of 85% of women with disabilities are victims of domestic violence. There are approximately 223,000 in New York City alone.
In spite of the prevalence of domestic violence within the disabled community, there is little awareness of the problem, and there are not enough services in place to work with this population. A majority of people working in domestic violence services are either poorly informed about the problem, or have little experience working with women with disabilities.
Women with disabilities stay in dangerous conditions significantly longer than their able-bodied counterparts, 11.3 years vs. 7.1 years in situations of physical abuse, 8.3 years vs. 4.1 years in situations of sexual abuse, according to a study done by Baylor University. This is due to a number of factors; there is a lack of recognition of the problem, a lack of services available to disabled victims of domestic violence, and high levels of dependence that can cause a woman with a disability to be controlled by their partner or caregiver.
Women with disabilities may view themselves as “damaged goods.” This coupled with abuse serves to decrease one’s self-esteem. Women with disabilities are often dependent upon the abuser to meet their daily needs. Their partners may also be their caregivers. This contributes to the victimization in many ways, an abuser may be able to exert control by withholding of SSI checks, restricting access to transportation, withholding of TTY’s (telecommunications device for the deaf), withholding of wheelchairs and medications, refusal to assist with personal needs and restricting access to family and friends. As a result, a woman with a disability may be forced to stay in an abusive relationship for many years before she reaches out for help. Many women with disabilities accept this behavior due to a different set of dynamics than their able-bodied counterparts.
A deaf women may be forced to use the abuser as her sign language interpreter, due to unavailability of interpreter services. She may fear that her children will be taken away if the abuse is reported. A study done by Barrier Free Living showed that children were removed from deaf victims at a significantly higher rate than from hearing victims. This was due solely on the basis of deafness; legal, mental health, and child welfare systems operating in the city often make assumption about a woman’s ability to be a good parent based on their disability. For example, if a woman has an infant child the court would say the mother was unable to hear the baby cry and therefore unable to care for the child’s needs.
In cases where the abused is wheelchair bound, reporting is uncommon. The victim very often is totally dependent on the abuser to care for their daily needs, this may include personal hygiene, food and clothing. The victim may stay in the relationship out of fear of what will become of her once the abuser is no longer in the household to provide care for her needs. This becomes a major reason for why a disabled victim may find it more difficult to leave an abusive relationship.
Women who were born disabled often come from controlling, overprotective families. They may view controlling behavior by their partners as normal.
A woman who has been abused in her family of origin has come to see abuse as normal and expect it in a relationship.In the deaf community women will seek out an able-bodied hearing male as a partner because this is viewed as a form of status in the deaf community. In addition, able-bodied men often seek disabled women as partners. These men are looking for an imbalance of power in a relationship, that is the hallmark for abuse. Women with disabilities view their exploitive partners as better than nothing, thereby allowing for a denial of the problem.
Clearly, there is a need for services for disabled victims of domestic violence. Currently there are no domestic violence shelters in place for disabled victims and only one non-residential program that provides services to this population. There is, however, a need for shelters specifically designed and dedicated to disabled victims of domestic violence.
A woman in a wheelchair will need accommodation. For example, doorways that are wide enough, a ramp to gain access to and from the building, hallways that are wide enough, a wheelchair will need to get within three feet of the toilet in the bathroom. A blind individual will need Braille throughout the facility, possibly an accommodation for a seeing eye dog. An individual who is deaf will need staff culturally sensitive to deaf issues. Deaf people may not view themselves as disabled, this is a culture; they have their own community. A deaf individual will also need a sign language interpreter. It is not always acceptable for a family member or friend to interpret for a deaf victim of domestic violence. This may lead to an inaccurate account of the issues. Police officers and service providers need to be trained to assist disabled victims of domestic violence in meeting their needs.
Domestic violence has a powerful impact on women with disabilities, not only physically, both mentally and emotionally as well. Symptoms may include: Depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, self-destructive behavior or self mutilation and low self image. If service providers become adequately trained on the issue of domestic violence and disability, they will be better able to empower disabled victims of domestic violence to take control of their lives, and break the cycle of power and control.
Tuesday, May 18, 2021
Financial Abuse / Economic Abuse
Financial and economic abuse is a form of domestic violence in which the abuser uses money as a means of controlling his or her partner. Financial and economic abuse is only one tactic that an abuser may use to gain power and dominance over his or her victim.
An abuser may deny his or her partner money. One way this is accomplished may be by forbidding a partner to be employed. This makes the non-working partner dependent upon the abuser for money. There are some economically abused women who are forced to beg their partner for everyday necessities such as diapers (for children), food and/or health care. If an abuser does permit his or her partner to work, he or she may be required to hand over their paycheck each week to their abuser.
Many times an abuser will give money to his or her partner. However, it may not be sufficient enough to meet the needs of the individual. Any monies that are given to a partner by an abuser will generally have to be accounted for and proof will have to be shown of all purchases.
Many financial and economic abusers will put all of the family bills in their victim’s name. At the same time, the abuser will not allow his or her partner to see bank records, bills or credit records. Many financial and economic abusers are not good with money and he or she will end up destroying the credit of their partners.
Some economic abusers who require their partners to do illegal acts for money. There are also abusers who will use any money brought in for children through welfare, child support checks, or monetary gifts on themselves.
Some financial abusers who refuse to work, putting the burden upon their partners to keep the household running. However, money that is brought in by the working victim is mishandled and squandered by the abuser. Then, the victim is berated if bills fall behind.
If you are a victim of domestic violence, help is available. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE1-800-799-SAFE. They will direct you to places in your area where you can seek help.
(While the 'male' is used here, your abuser could also be female!)
Tuesday, April 27, 2021
Traumatic Bonding & Stockholm Syndrome
"Why Do You Stay/ Go Back?" Traumatic Bonding And
The Development Of The Stockholm Syndrome
in Abused Women (and Men)
- by Debra Dixon
We hear the question, "Why do you stay?" ask of battered women over and over. Most of society tired long ago of the answer, "Because I love him." When a battered woman says "because I love him" she is describing the Stockholm Syndrome in the best way that she can. She knows that she has very strong feelings for him and can only attribute those feelings to love because of a lack of information. These victims do not have the information they need to accurately describe the dynamics involved in the bonding process that occurs with abuse and trauma and therefore attribute their intense feelings the best way that they can - love.
Theories on why battered women stay have ranged from "learned helplessness" to masochism to feminist theory regarding status and resources. While some of these issues (learned helplessness and a lack of resources) can be contributing factors it is time we look at the bond created by severe, prolonged trauma.
Traumatic bonding was first recognized and acknowledged during a hostage incident in Stockholm, Sweden. Authorities were amazed that the hostages refused to cooperate with them and actually saw law enforcement as the villains. What they were witnessing was the hostage's identification with the hostage taker. Authorities were even more shocked when the hostages refused to testify against their captors and one of the women later married him. While hostages may bond after a matter of hours batterers usually have many years with the victims without any interference or intervention.
This bond occurs because the well being of a child, a hostage or a battered woman depends upon the hostage taker or the batterer. If a batterer has total control over her money, safety, peace and happiness then it is in her best interest to keep him happy. This bond is not only in the best interest of the perpetrator but is, at times, in the best interest of the victim and is frequently necessary for her survival. If a hostage, or battered woman, is argumentative and provocative they are more likely to be injured. If a batterer or hostage taker dislikes the victim their likelihood of injury increases.
We often berate the victim for staying in these relationships and can't understand how it happened. A violent, controlling man does not take a woman out and beat her on the first date. We all put on our best face when we initially meet people and batterers are no different. If he took the woman out and beat her on the first date there would be no second date. She has no history or investment in the relationship and wouldn't tolerate it. His taking control of her is a gradual process.
Battered women, hostages and prisoner's of war will share some of the same experiences. Some of these shared experiences are that they are degraded, debilitated, they experience the constant threat of violence, the violence is intermittent, their are occasional indulgences, the captor demonstrates omnipotence, isolation etc...
The dynamics involved in domestic violence can be demonstrated by what's called The Power And Control Wheel by the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project (DAIP). It's interesting because when we compare Bidermans Chart of Coercion by Amnesty International with the Power and Control Wheel they are almost identical. (Bidermans Chart of Coercion is how Amnesty International documented the techniques of the Communist Chinese, KGB, etc. )
There are many types of service providers coming in contact with battered women who are still unaware of why these women stay. These service providers are unable to address the bigger picture due to a lack of information. The inability to address this issue creates many problems. Law enforcement, and much of society, still blames the women for defending their attackers, unaware of the fact that not only is defending the attacker in her best interest but the bond itself reduces her injury. The victims are not given the information they need to deal with the bond they feel and therefore attribute their perplexing feelings to "love." Allowing them, and their children, to continue in traumatic relationships.
While we advise against confrontational behavior we ask that battered women cooperate with law enforcement who can frequently only guarantee her safety for a matter of hours. I am not saying that battered women should not cooperate. I am asking that we rethink our approach to domestic violence based on the fact that a traumatic bond is occurring and that the bond itself must be taken into consideration and dealt with.
For more information contact VJC Inc for a copy of the book Traumatic Bonding and the Development of the Stockholm Syndrome in Battered Women.
Why Do They Stay? Traumatic Bonding
Traumatic bonding may be defined as the development of strong emotional ties between two persons, with one person intermittently harassing, beating, abusing, or intimidating the other.
There are two common features in the structure of trauma bonded relationships:
1. The existence of a power imbalance, wherin the maltreated person perceives him/herself to be dominated by the other person.
2. The intermittent nature of the abuse.
Social psychologists have found that unequal power relationships can become increasingly unbalanced over time. As the power imbalance magnifies, the victim feels more negative in her self-appraisal, more incapable of fending for herself, and more dependent on the abuser. This cycle of dependency and lowered self-esteem repeats itself over and over and eventually creates a strong effective (emotional) bond to the abuser.
At the same time, the abuser will develop an overgeneralized sense of his own power which masks the extent to which he is dependent on the victim to maintain his self-image. This sense of power rests on his ability to maintain absolute control in the relationship. If the roles that maintain this sense of power are disturbed, the masked dependency of the abuser on the victim is suddenly made obvious.
One example of this sudden reversal of power is the desperate control attempts made by the abandoned battering husband to bring his wife back into the relationship through threats and/or intimidation.
When physical abuse is administered at intermittent intervals (random times) and when it is intersperced with permissive and friendly contact, the phenomenon of traumatic bonding seems most powerful.
The three phases involved in the cycle of violence (tension building, battering and "honeymoon") provide a prime example of intermittent reinforcement. The unpredictable duration and severity of each phase serve to keep the victim off balance and in hopes of change. The "honeymoon" phase is an integral part of traumatic bonding. It is this phase that allows the victim to experience calm and loving feelings from the abuser and therefore strengthens her emotional attachment.
STOCKHOLM SYNDROME THEORY
Stockholm Syndrome primarily develops under the following conditions:
Victim perceives the abuser as a threat to her survival, physically or psychologically.
Victim perceives the abuser as showing her some kindness, however small.
Victim is kept isolated from others.
Victim does not perceive a way to escape from the abuser.
Victim focuses on the abuser's needs.
Victim sees world from abuser's perspective.
Victim perceives those trying to help her as the "bad guys" and the abuser as the "good guys."
Victim finds it difficult to leave the abuser even when it is OK to do so.
Victim fears the abuser will come back to get her, even if he is dead or in prison.
Victim shows signs of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) including depression, low self-esteem, anxiety reactions, paranoia and feelings of helplessness, and recurring nightmares and flashbacks.