Sanctuary for the Abused
Saturday, November 30, 2019
When Toxic People Start Hoovering
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!”
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.)
FROM THIS SITE - CLICK HERE
Saturday, November 23, 2019
Avoiding The Emotional Blackmailer
by Suzanne Watts
The Emotional Blackmailer is easy to recognize, but women seldom do until they are well and truly sucked into his web. It is best to avoid getting close to him because it is quite difficult to get away from him. Stalkers start out as emotional blackmailers. Just the word "blackmailer" should give you a clue of what depth of self-centered behaviour is lying in wait to be sprung on you the minute you are hooked. Here are the roots and the signs, the way he progresses to hook his victim, and how to get away from him.
What Creates an Emotional Blackmailer?
Sometimes a combination of neglect, overprotectiveness, coldness, spoiling and lack of nurturing in infancy and childhood. This can be ascertained by comments he makes about his parents - both of them. He will hate them and resent them, while still taking his laundry home to mommy even when she lives in the next STATE. His mom is blamed for him not knowing how to do anything - she never even taught him to make his bed or hang up his wet towel, and she didn't feed him; his dad is blamed for him choosing a profession that he is ill-suited for - any profession that wasn't his dad's. He will say they are both critical of him, and never gave him any support for anything he wanted to do to better himself. This may be the sad truth, but he uses it as an excuse to get everyone he meets for the rest of his life to serve his needs. He does not have empathy - in this way he is like the sociopath to whom people are objects.
The "Modus Operandi" of the Emotional Blackmailer
He is too good to be true - He is soft-spoken and polite, he smells good, he looks good, he is kind and loves women, he is respectful, he doesn't come on too strong FOR THE FIRST FEW MEETINGS ONLY. He's always on the lookout for a patsy, but he's in no hurry as there's always another one around the corner so he'll take his time in coming on to you. In fact you'll wonder why he's not attracted to you; you might think he is gay, and be all the more attracted to him because he just wants to chat and be friends.
He'll be there more and more frequently - gazing at you with puppy dog eyes; wanting to know everything about you, asking your advice, making it look like you are getting to know each other and forming a bond.
He will put himself in the best possible light - including lying through his teeth about his ambitions, activities, hopes and dreams.
His seduction techniques are often subtle and well-practiced - It will seem he did nothing to seduce you until you look back and analyze it. He sat and stood close to you, he brushed against you, but it didn't seem to be on purpose.
He suddenly "Turns on the Charm" and turns up the heat - Once you're hypnotized by his sweetness and modesty and respectfulness, he will pounce on you one night and turn into a Mr. Hyde. It "just happened." This is the critical moment to run away, don't let him touch you. He'll leave you breathless wondering what exactly happened. He'll turn on all the charm full force and you'll be wanting him from then on, yet wanting some breathing room. You won't get any. Ever. It won't bother you at first - you'll think he's attentive and ardent.
He starts using the wine/ dine/ lines technique - Once you're "seeing" each other, he'll be a real swain, wining and dining you, going for romantic walks, discussing how amazing this new relationship is, how different you are from any woman he ever met; he'll insist on elegant dinners and pay for them, and he'll talk about your remarkable beauty and how "alike" you are. He will talk about your "resonance" and describe all the awful women he knew before who didn't want a good man - who wanted someone to abuse them. All of this is meaningless talk. He uses the same lines on every woman.
He becomes clingy and controlling - He will start seeing you nearly every day and each time insist on knowing exactly when the next date will be. It won't matter if you spent 8 hours with him on Sunday, unless you agree to another date Monday or Tuesday it will all be for nothing; he will be unhappy and hound you for a commitment because he is insatiable for attention and security - he needs to know when he will get his next fix.
He will whine and even shed tears - if you say you have other things to do, other people to see, or want to be alone after seeing him 8 days in a row. He enjoys being abused, so if you scream at him it only makes him feel more secure. He got used to fighting all around him as a child and he equates fighting with love.
He'll start demanding that you "prove your love" - In time you will be expected to pay for your own lunch and dinner when you go out, and sometimes for his too. The only way to avoid it is to order nothing and just watch him eat. That is the only way to avoid being asked to "help out" because he is short this week. At this point you will be asking yourself, "What am I doing this for?" You have become nothing but his prop. You will be asked to buy him books, dishes, household goods and help him with his bills to "prove your love" because he's shown how much he loves you; he will expect you to cancel family engagements to spend time with you, see him even if you're ill. He has become your jailer. The key is: he demands CONSTANT proof of your love.
He will "seem" to accept your decision to break up - As the months roll along and you are tired of his constant presence, begging, whining, using up all your spare money and having unreasonable control of your life, you will decide to break up with him. He will then agree to back off, give you some space, and try to do better. These are all lies.
He'll tell you he has "changed" - No matter how many times you break up with him, he will call you to tell you that he needs you, that he has changed, and he will say it all in a calm voice as if he respects your decision to come back or not. His game is to stay away just long enough that you forget his annoying traits and miss the good parts. But if you agree to even one meeting it will be back to daily visits and demands for constant pampering again.
Getting Rid of the Bastard
The only way to get rid of the emotional blackmailer is when he has found another willing victim to be his patsy. He will already be courting her while seeing you and you will know this when he starts being late for every date (he is juggling two or more women per day). Once he has the new person in his thrall and has nothing to lose by losing you, he will drop you like a hot potato - over the phone.
Beware of his "surprise" return - This is not the end of it if the new woman disappoints him in any way - if she has less money than he expected, if she demands good behaviour, if she doesn't give him enough attention. Then he will be at your door again - in a few months or even years later!
He preys on sympathy, and lives to control - He will then say he is leaving her, but his purpose is to have both women in his control - perhaps one for money and one to scream at him, and both for companionship. He gets a high from controlling people, because as a child he had no control over anything and frequently felt abandoned. This is why the more women who feel sorry for him, give him food, listen to him, go out with him, the better he feels and behaves. However, he is telling each of them the same thing: they are the best, the most beautiful, the most like him, he wants to spend the rest of his life with ONLY THEM.
The character of the Emotional Blackmailer
Everything he says or does is for gain. He does nothing for the sheer joy of it, or because he likes people or wants to build a relationship: he is looking ahead to what he can get out of the person: sex, housekeeping, cooking, emotional support, someone pretty to be seen with, money, someone to listen to him spin his tales of woe, what have you. Loyalty or faithfulness are not in his nature.
He will become vicious and even violent if he is crossed, contradicted or denied what he wants. His rage is something to behold. It looks exactly like the tantrum of a five year old. That is still his emotional age, although he has the smooth moves of a Casanova down pat.
How to extricate yourself from the Emotional Blackmailer
Cutting off Contact
One way out is to cut off all contact. Even one phone call or meeting will put you back in his control if you get back into the same pattern of doing what he wants when he wants it. He is a master manipulator who will prey on your sympathy for him as a human being.
Any time spent reasoning with him is wasted - he doesn't hear a word you say. All arguments are circular.
Talking about wanting to see other friends only enrages him; makes him want you more. You should seem to be dateless, uninteresting, and undesired by other men, as well as uninterested in any man, period.
After you have cut off contact, he will stalk you for a while if he doesn't have a replacement lined up yet, but this will cease because it isn't fulfilling enough for him. He NEEDS feedback, anger, someone to scream at him. Any kind of attention pleases him - he is a true masochist who would enjoy being slapped.
You must ignore him completely and utterly.
Turning the Tables
Another way to ditch the Emotional Blackmailer is to turn the tables on him. A man who is so good at manipulating is also easily manipulated to do whatever you want IF you do it the right way. It can be fun to turn the tables on him if you want revenge for all the time he wasted and the misery he gave you. You can be rid of him within a few weeks without avoiding him by doing the following:
Exhibit jealousy and make it clear that you won't share him with anyone else, and you expect to spend the rest of your life with him and have exclusive rights over him. This will make him feel suffocated for a change and he will be eagerly stepping out on you while claiming he wants only you.
Lose interest in doing anything you used to do for him or with him; stop taking him seriously; don't listen to his rants about his job; ridicule his ideas, act bored and make it clear you see him only as a useful decoration. Tell him to grow up, tell him you are well aware of his manipulative games but you like him anyway and demand he be faithful to you. This will scare him and make him step up his efforts with the other women, and he will soon be out of your life. When he comes crawling back, you tell him you require faithfulness and he's ruined it for you: he will have no answer for that and he will have lost.
A Final Note:
Healthy, non-manipulative men:
- Don't beg
- Don't preen in front of the mirror and ask you if they are good looking enough for you
- Don't use the lines "if you really loved me", or "prove you love me by doing this for me"...
- Don't put down their former girlfriends or wives
- Don't threaten suicide if you refuse to see them
- Don't get angry or sulk if you have other plans and can't see them - they find other things to do
- Understand when you aren't feeling well
- Respect your right to have other friends
- Pay their own way in life
Tuesday, November 19, 2019
When Parents Make Their Children Partners
Covert incest occurs when a child plays the role of a surrogate husband or wife to a lonely, needy parent. The parent's need for companionship is met through the child. The child is bound to the parent by excessive feelings of responsibility for the welfare of the parent. As adults, these children struggle with commitment, intimacy and expressions of healthy sexuality.
There is no physical, sexual contact in this form of incest. Yet, inherent in the relationship is an archetype of feelings and dynamics more comparable to young love than a nurturing parent-child alliance. They become psychological or emotional lovers.
Many books and movies depict these children as heroes and saviors. Surrogate partnerships are romanticized by the culture and seen as a noble journey. Mom's little man, daddy's little girl, the golden boy and princess are a few of the names given to this role. However, there is a tremendous tragedy that befalls these children: the demand for loyalty to the lonely and needy parent overwhelms the child and becomes the major organizing experience in the development of the child's life.
It has also been labeled emotional or psychological incest, but these labels mislead by implying an absence of sexual damage. In fact, the developing sexuality is the major casualty of covert incest. Sexuality is the battlefield where the demand for loyalty to the parent and, the wishes of the developing self, clash.
Feelings of entrapment and guilt weave themselves into the developing sexuality. Erotic urges toward a love object other than the parent are experienced as disloyal. Forced to declare loyalty to the needy parent, the developing sexuality is shrouded in feelings of overstimulation, danger, engulfment, rage, ambivalence and shame. In order to survive and function, the child splits-off their sexuality from the developing self.
Many problems arise from the feeling of disloyalty caused by covert incest. Common consequences include:
* difficulty with attaching and separating in relationships
* avoiding relationships
* difficulty making commitments
* premature ending of relationships
* sexual addiction or compulsivity
* sexual dysfunction
* confusion regarding sexual orientation
* absence of sexual feelings or desires
* difficulty identifying personal needs
* being loyal in situations or relationships which are chronically difficult, neglectful or traumatic
* difficulty ending relationships.
Sexually addicted families and other dysfunctional families create a vacuum in functioning that leaves a child vulnerable to being in the role of a surrogate spouse to a lonely, needy parent. Covert incest is an important link in understanding the generational patterns of sexual addiction and incest occurring in families.
For more information on covert incest, refer to the book Silently Seduced: When Parents Make their Children Partners, Understanding Covert Incest, by Kenneth M. Adams, Ph.D., Health Commuications, Deerfield Beach, FL (1991).
Saturday, November 16, 2019
Narcissists & Psychopaths Cause PTSD for their Victims
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.
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.
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.
Thursday, November 07, 2019
It's not de long river in Egypt
Denial at it's most basic is saying something hasn't happened. As it applies to recovery, it means denying a painful reality. For recovering abusers, denial is a coping mechanism that allows us to continue harming other people and live with ourselves by refusing to accept that we are doing anything wrong. It is extremely sick, and extremely powerful. It is the way that we can commit abuse and still live with ourselves. It allows us to continue being abusive by staying in the sick place, and by allowing us to hide our sickness from others so that we can maintain the abusive situation for a longer period of time.
The seeds of that denial come quite early. People usually don't just decide one day "Hey, I think I'll go beat my wife today," or "Hey, I think I'll go molest some young kids." The road to the big sins of abuse is usually paved with a million small sins that lead up to it. By committing the smaller sins and rationalizing them to ourselves, we not only bring ourselves closer to the state wherein we can commit the big sin, we also become more practiced at the art of lying to cover our sins up. We lie to others, and most devastatingly, we lie to ourselves.
The major tactics we use in maintaining our denial are minimizing, rationalizing, and justifying. The effect of these tactics is to redefine what happened, what is acceptable, and what is harmful in such a way that ultimately any act, no matter how hideous, can be carried out.
Minimizing distances us from the damage we caused by claiming that the damage wasn't as bad as it actually was. "I didn't beat her up, I just pushed her." By minimizing the damage we have caused, we can then blame the victim for "exaggerating" the abuse or accuse the victim of simply making the whole thing up, depending on the nature of the evidence we face. If there is enough evidence to prove that we have done something wrong, we can use partial repentance: "I'll accept the responsibility of anything you can prove I did, and nothing more."
Rationalizing is lying to oneself about what was done to make it seem acceptable -- telling ourselves rational (sounding) lies if you will. "She's lucky I only hit her once. Anybody else would have beaten the crap out of her." This lying becomes more and more practiced until we can convince ourselves of anything -- particularly when the pain of admitting the truth of what we've done becomes larger and harder to deal with.
Justifying is explaining why it was okay to do what was done. "It was okay for me to tell her that I would kill her (justifying) because she was becoming so upset and she had to shut up before she disturbed the neighbors (rationalizing) and I didn't really mean it anyway (minimizing). She knows I could never hurt her."
Part of the reason for maintaining denial is that when we are abusing others we are frequently incapable of separating ourselves from our behavior, and therefor to admit that the behavior is bad is to make us bad as well. Nobody wants to think of themselves as bad, so we don't think about things that way.
Denial is a survival skill -- it allows an abuser to live with what they've done. That is, it keeps abusers alive in a situation they would not survive without it. This explains why abusers will expend such great effort in maintaining their denial -- if it is important to someone in denial that fish not swim, then they can look you straight in the eye and tell you that fish don't swim and believe it themselves. It is difficult to over-estimate the power this kind of denial has.
The only cure for denial is for us to give up the charade and the lies and admit to ourselves the reality of what we have done. Others can not force an end to our denial. However, the use of truth, honesty, and holding us accountable for our actions can go a long way in helping us move from denial to recovery.
How can I tell when a thought is denial?
This is a bit tricky, because denial is so insidious in its ability to weave itself into our thought patterns. However, I have found a good rule of thumb to be that a response that comes quickly and where it would hurt if the alternative is true might be denial. That is, things that we most fear frequently are true and we are denying them.
Things that follow the word "but" are frequently denial: "I know it's wrong to yell at her like that, but she really pissed me off ." Adding the words "you don't understand" makes it more likely that it's denial: "Yeah, usually I'd consider that to be abusive. But you just don't understand how mad she can make you. She can really push your buttons hard sometimes." In these kinds of statements, the truth is to be found in front of the "but."
Times when you are "crossing uncharted ground" can be denial, with part of the denial covering the fact that the territory is well traveled by other people just as sick as you are. One way of telling about this is when the idea is about an area that you are unwilling to research because you fear finding out you are wrong. The rationale (rationalization) for this process is that the folks who have experience in the area "really don't know what they're talking about, at least in this instance," so you might as well start from scratch with your own ideas rather than getting messed up looking over the existing material. It's based in the rather egotistical concept that you are so unique an individual that the rules that apply to others shouldn't apply to you.
Any time you are comparing yourself to someone else you are likely justifying something you know to be wrong: "Man, he really treats his wife like crap. I never call my wife a slut like he does. I never call her anything worse than a bitch. And I never swear when I'm yelling. Boy, he's really out of control. I'm glad I'm not like him. I wonder why she puts up with him." No matter who you are, or how bad the things you are doing are, you can always find someone doing worse -- Ted Bundy could find people who killed more people, or did it more brutally, but that doesn't make what he did okay.
Certainly any time you blame anyone outside yourself for what's wrong with you, that is denial on its face: "I never would have hit her that hard if she hadn't called her ex-boyfriend again. I don't know what it's going to take to make her stop. If she'd only listen to me I wouldn't get so mad at her."
And virtually anything said followed by "That's just the way I am" is denial.
If you remain in doubt as to whether something is denial or not, bring it to someone who does not have an interest in maintaining the denial -- don't ask your drug dealer if you have a drug problem, for example; ask your facilitator or counselor instead. Run the idea past them. If you are afraid to do this, it's most likely denial. If they think it sounds pretty incredible, it might well be.
CLICK HERE FOR ORIGINAL
Thursday, October 31, 2019
The place of “Cognitive Dissonance” in Narcissistic Victim Syndrome
by Christine Louis de Canonville
(Miss de Canonville's great website has been linked at the bottom for a long time)
Understanding Cognitive Dissonance in relation to narcissistic abuse:
Stockholm syndrome involves the victim paradoxically forming a positive relationship with their oppressor; this is called “Trauma Bonding”. When victims of narcissistic are suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, they are often seen by outsiders as somehow having participated in some bizarre way that seems to support their abuse. However, to understand how the trauma bonding occurs, it is especially relevant to understand what is involved in the decision-making and problem-solving process of the victim. This theory is known as Cognitive Dissonance.
If therapists are to understand the behaviour of clients who have been victims of narcissistic abuse, then it is crucial for them to appreciate why the victim combines the two unhealthy conditions of Stockholm Syndrome and Cognitive Dissonance as part of their survival strategy. When these two strategies are in place, the victim firmly believes that their relationship is not only acceptable, but also vital for their survival. They become so enmeshed in the relationship with the abuser, that they feel that their world (mental and emotional) would fall apart if the relationship ended. This explains why they fear those people who attempt to rescue them from their abuser, and how this creates the victim to develop cognitive dissonance and become protective of their abuser.
What is Cognitive Dissonance?
Cognitive dissonance is a psychological term which describes the uncomfortable tension that results from having two conflicting thoughts at the same time, or from engaging in behavior that conflicts with one’s beliefs (Rational Wiki). Cognitive Dissonance is a communication theory that was published by Leon Festinger 1957, a theory that changed the way in which social psychology was to look at human decision-making and behaviour. The concept of cognitive dissonance is almost self explanatory by its title: ‘Cognitive’ is to do with thinking (or the mind); while ‘dissonance’ is concerned with inconsistencies or conflicts. Simply speaking, cognitive dissonance is the discomfort a person experiences whenever they are holding two conflicting ideas simultaneously (i.e. Shall I wear the red or the blue dress?). Naturally, people do not like the discomfort of conflicting thoughts; this theory proposes that when this happens, people have a motivational drive within them that allows them to rationalize and change their attitudes, beliefs, values and actions, anything that allows them to reduce or dissolve the dissonance they are experiencing (i.e Which makes my bum look smallest?) . When it comes to victims of abuse, there are several behaviours that a victim may use for reducing their cognitive dissonance. For a start they may try to ignore or eliminate it, or they may try to alter its importance, they may even create new cognitions, but most importantly they will try to prevent it from happening in the first place.
What part does Cognitive Dissonance play with victims of narcissistic abuse?
Victims living in a household where there is narcissistic abuse are living in a torturous war zone, where all forms of power and control are used against them (intimidation; emotional, physical and mental abuse; isolation, economic abuse, sexual abuse, coercion etc.). The threat of abuse is always present, and it usually gets more violent and frequent as time goes on. The controlling narcissistic environment puts the victim in a dependency situation, where they experience an extreme form of helplessness which throws them into panic and chaos. The narcissist creates a perverse form of relationship wherein the victim has no idea of what will happen next (alternating between acts of kindness or aggressive raging). This prolonged torturous situation is likely to trigger old negative scripts of the victim’s childhood internal object relations (attachment, separation and individuation). To survive the internal conflict, the victim will have to call on all their internal resources and defense strategies in order to manage their most primitive anxieties of persecution and annihilation. In order to survive, the victim has to find ways of reducing their cognitive dissonance, the strategies they employ may include; justifying things by lying to themselves if need be, regress into infantile patterns, and bond with their narcissistic captor. Most defense mechanisms are fairly unconscious, so the victim is unaware of using them in the moment; all they are intent on is surviving the madness they find themselves in.
As you can imagine, these states of mind throw the victim into any number of inner conflicts where defense mechanisms are called for, cognitive dissonance being one.
For example, a woman who is abused by her narcissistic spouse will hate the conditions she is living in. However with the real fear of a violent reprisal from her captor if she tried to leave, she will more likely choose to stay put. The cognitive dissonance shows itself through rationalization: On the one hand: she abhors her unhealthy relationship and all the abuse that goes with it; while on the other hand, she tells herself that he only fights with her because he loves and cares for her. This inner dialogue reduced her anxiety, allowing her to bond (Stockholm Syndrome) with her abuser, to the point that she will even protect him from the outside world if people attempt to rescue her or encourage her to leave. The result is that a massive draining conflict ensues between the person’s emotional self and their rational reasoning self. Their “cognitive dissonance” is a sign of the disharmony the victim is experiencing as a result of two conflicting ideas going on at the same time; i.e. the victim knows that they should get out of the abusive situation, but they also know that to do so will put them (and possibly their children) in great danger. While experiencing cognitive dissonance they may adopt a pattern of denial, diversion and defensiveness to control their discomfort. In the cognitive dissonance theory, the decision that decides which path the victim will take will be likely to be the path that causes the least emotional stress. In order to reduce the dissonance, the victim will choose the path of least resistance, and their motivational drive will support their beliefs and justify any decision that helps them stay safe. As you can imagine, the cognitive dissonance can lead to irrational decision making as the person struggles to reconcile these two conflicting beliefs. Researchers suggest that it is actually the cognitive dissonance that causes the victims to choose to stay put with their abuser. Furthermore, in order to support their seemingly irrational decisions to stay put in the abusive relationship, the victim makes heavy investments that almost cements them into the bad relationship forever.
There are six types of investment the victim may get embroiled in that helps to reduce their cognitive dissonance:-
Emotional Investment: Unable to get out of the relationship due to the fear of what will happen to them, the victim decides that they should stay, and see it through to the bitter end. The victim convinces themselves that “things are not that bad”, especially when the narcissistic abuser shows them acts of kindness. Their trauma bonding is interpreted as love. They use that love to feel compassion for their narcissistic abuser; they may even make excuses that their abuser suffered so much hurt and pain in their own childhood, that they cannot help the way they are. They convince themselves that by loving their abuser as much as possible they will heal their wounds, and then everything will be alright. They continue in this way, investing so much emotion in the relationship, (i.e. They shed so many tears, blaming themselves for upsetting their abuser, becoming responsible for their abusers feelings and behaviour. They worry for their abuser in case they harm someone and end up in jai. They even end up blaming themselves when there is another eruption (“I caused the upset, I should have known better”). They even go so far as to convince themselves that their abuser is the victim of society, and therefore must be protected from everybody.
Social Investment: The biggest social investment the victim makes is to the person nearest to them, their narcissistic abuser. The narcissist’s superiority will demand that they are the most important one in the relationship, and the victim (in time) will comply with that arrangement. It does not help that society in general has a matter-of fact attitude toward victims, they do not understand why a victim would stay in such an abusive relationship, let alone protect the abuser. This response can create a further helplessness within the victim, which leaves them feeling isolated and alienated. With a sense of damage to their pride, and deep feelings of shame, the victim begins to avoid further social embarrassment and uncomfortable situations, alienating themselves further with their abuser. Isolated, dependent and dis-spirited, the way is paved for more acceptance of the abuser, and the victim stays in the relationship. They become caught in a cycle with their abuser that involves a sequence of violent episodes, followed by an absence of battering, once again tension building, and finally tension escalating into another violent episode where they get hurt. Around and around it goes, and helplessly the victim looses all hope, so they settle for investing their loyalty there.
Family Investments: For a start, a narcissist is preoccupied in self investment, therefore they expect everybody to pamper to their false self (sadly their true self is in a state of atrophy). If the narcissist is a spouse, then the partner is going to have to invest heavily in their abuser until they are emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually bankrupt. The narcissist requires perfect mirroring and stroking continuously, when they don’t get it, they withdraw (this withdrawal is likely to lead to danger for the victim). Step by step the supposed closeness is disappearing, and the victim experiences this as a great loss (and fear), seeing this, the narcissist feels a sense of power and control. In their withdrawal state, the narcissist is going to loose their sense of specialness, power and omnipotence, this makes them very susceptible to narcissistic injury. When there is narcissistic injury, the terror monster is released, and all of the family is likely to encounter their rage. All of this is going to evoke anxiety on the victimized partner, not just around their own safety, but also for the safety of the children. The narcissist suffers from a chronic evasive pattern that does not change. Just as the narcissist is demanding of its spouse, as a parent they are also very demanding of their children, (remember that everything is about them). They see the children as extensions of themselves, representing them in every aspect. For that reason they expect their children to be high achievers, the very best in every thing that they do. However, the child is faced with a dilemma; If the child comes second best in any task, they will be perceived as being “the first looser” by their narcissistic parent. Silver medals are not seen as a reason to celebrate, they are are more likely to be perceived as a disgrace (looser). If they came first, they risk triggering the narcissist’s jealousy and envy; for the narcissist, envy always involves a comparison – they envy that which they lack. When the child shines, its success is always somehow due to the narcissist itself, but when the child fails, the narcissist takes the failure personally (narcissistic wound), and they will punish the child, whether it be by word or deed. Living with a narcissistic parent, so often the child finds it hard to get their own needs meet, which can lead to serious emotional problems for them. Because the narcissist parent is like a child their own self, there will be power struggles for attention between the child and the parent. All these dynamics are going to put strain on the partner of the narcissist, and they are likely to be the butt of all the narcissist frustration and anger, which will manifest itself as rage. Investing everything they have in their narcissistic partner is the only way the victim finds to keep the family going.
Financial Investment: Narcissist typically seeks to control the family finances, money is a love substitute for them. No matter who earn the money in their family, it is they who are entitled to control how the monies get spent. Often the victim finds themselves being put on an allowance to run the house, and the abuser closely monitors how it is spent. If there is a shortage of money, the narcissist will be stingy when it comes to members of their family spending, yet they will spend what it takes to get what they want. Where possible, the narcissist creates a complex financial situation where everybody is dependent on them, this keeps them in control. Without financial means and usually alienated, many victims are unaware of support resources they may be entitled to, they are trapped by the situation, finding themselves waiting and hoping for a better financial situation to develop so that they can make their exit and detachment easier. In the meantime they do what they can to keep their abuser happy.
Lifestyle Investment: When the narcissist is successful, they will use a lifestyle as an investment. Because they need to display their “specialness” to the world, they will want to display all of their wealth trophies (Narcissistic Supply): the big house, car, private school, business etc. All these things contribute to getting them the praise and adulation they feel they deserve. For the victim, sharing in this financial security, they may fear loosing their current lifestyle for themselves or their children. So they stay because of their fear of the poverty trap that awaits them if they manage to leave.
Intimacy Investment: Narcissism is a personality trait associated with an inflated, grandiose self-concept and a lack of intimacy in interpersonal relationships. The narcissist perceives themselves as being unique and uncommon. Being intimate requires that two people operate commonly with openness and truth (True Self) so that they relate as “equals”. The narcissist operates from a False Self, and becoming equal with anybody would only negate their notion of uniqueness, so they avoid that entirely. Unknown to them, narcissists are still held ransom to their unresolved conflicts with their primary objects (parents). Like the child, they are still harboring the deep wounds of abandonment they experienced back then. Afraid of their own negative emotions, unconsciously, they promise themselves that they will never put themselves in that position again, and they avoid further narcissistic injury by holding everybody at bay, this includes their partner and children. Unfortunately, they too, like the rest of us, are susceptible to loneliness, which is why they are always on the look out for “narcissistic supply” for attention. When they have a partner, they separate the sexual from the emotional and treat their partner as a sex object, and the typical cycle of frustration-aggression is set in motion. Unfortunately, in love with their own reflection, they are incapable of loving anybody else. Where the partner thought she had married the nice Dr. Jekyll, she now finds herself facing the raging maniac that is Mr. Hyde. In such an unhealthy relationship, she will experience the destruction of her emotional and sexual self-esteem. He is not a good father, rather than love his children he abhors them (they take the mother’s attention away from him), so they are confined to the role of being another narcissistic supply source. Furthermore, they use a type blackmail of intimacy against their partner (threatening to tell intimate detains about them that would humiliate and destroy their character). The partner finds themselves in a hopeless situation, broken, the only way out is for them to stay. This serves to send the message to the narcissist that they are truly unique and superior.
One would wonder how the victim tolerates living with an abuser who is so intolerant and hostile? For healthy relationships, tolerating intolerance is neither acceptable nor possible, but for the victim of narcissistic abuse it is vital for survival. Finding themselves in such an intolerable situation, the victim must calm the cognitive dissonance that rocks their self-esteem and self worth. The Dissonance Theory allows the victim to make their choice (even if it means lying to themselves), and gives them a way to justify that they can be happy about not making the opposite choice that would surely put them in danger. Once the choice is made and the cognitive dissonance calmed, the victim has all sorts of tools (unconscious defense mechanism) at their disposal to bolster their decision to stay in the relationship (i.e. Stockholm Syndrome, Infantilism, Trauma Bonding).
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Saturday, October 12, 2019
October is Domestic Viollence Awareness Month
NCADV is developing a national registry of names of women killed as a result of domestic violence. Every October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a new poster will be released with the new names of victims submitted in the previous year.
The first poster, released in 1995, contained 600 names of women and additional victims(people killed in addition to the battered woman who was murdered). To learn more about this program, or to submit a name for the registry contact NCADV at the Denver office:
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV)
P. O. Box 18749
Denver, CO 80218-0749
(303) 839-1852 / (303) 831-9251 FAX
MORE ON DV AWARENESS MONTH
Friday, October 04, 2019
When the Body Says NO
WHEN THE BODY SAYS NO
"The interviewees’ stories are often touching and haunting. . . . Maté carefully explains the biological mechanisms that are activated when stress and trauma exert a powerful influence on the body, and he backs up his claims with compelling evidence from the field. . . . Both the lay and specialist reader will be grateful for the final chapter, ‘The Seven A’s of Healing,’ in which Maté presents an open formula for healing and the prevention of illness from hidden stress."–– Quill & Quire
CLICK ON PICTURE OF BOOK ABOVE TO PURCHASE
Saturday, September 28, 2019
Captive Hearts, Captive Minds
Sunday, September 22, 2019
I think that often, when a victim says he or she "forgives" someone, they are just pretending that they aren't powerless to make the offender stop it or to get back what he stole.
Talk about "playing Pretend."
The reason I say this is because it's fashionable to forgive all sorts of unforgiveable things, and you hear people doing it every day.
You even hear people claiming to have forgiven a criminal while at the same time testifying against him in a hearing for imposing the death penalty.
How much farce can we take!
The word forgiveness has been totally bastardized by preachers and holier-than-thous. The nearest I can figure, they have all but corrupted it into meaning some kind warm, fuzzy feeling you claim to have toward someone you may nonetheless want to be executed for what he did.
Forgiveness. I know it's three syllables, but is it really that tough a word?
I'm in line with theologians on this (because they tend to think instead of just preach whatever sells). They will be the first to tell you that you cannot forgive an offense in progress, for example. It's bogus.
Can you forgive someone while they're trying to kill you? While they're raping you? While they're breaking into your home? Theologians will be the first to tell that this brand of "forgiveness" ain't real forgiveness and amounts to ALLOWING the offense. It's just bending over for it.
If you live with an abusive narcissist, you cannot forgive him or her. Why? Because they deny what they do to you, let alone that it is wrong. They show no remorse. The don't promise to stop. In fact they make a virtue of doing it and show that they fully intend to keep right on. That is an offense in progress. You cannot forgive it.
All you can do is lie by pretending to forgive it. You're just powerless to do anything to stop it and are deluding yourself to remain in denial of that fact. This is a little mental game you play with yourself to feel you have some control over the situation.
Again, for example, if someone has stolen from you and squandered the money, you may be able to forgive without restitution. But if he has the money in the bank, you cannot forgive him until he gives it back. Because that ain't forgiveness: it's extortion. You're just powerless to do anything to stop it and are deluding yourself to remain in denial of that fact.
It's the same if he stole something even more valuable, like your good name. It must be restored before you can legitimately forgive.
The truth is often painful. But not as painful as fleeing into denial of it. For, it is true: having the courage to know the truth is key, because the truth will set you free.
MUST YOU FORGIVE?