Sanctuary for the Abused
Thursday, June 22, 2017
Trauma & Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Trauma involves exposure to a catastrophic event usually of a life threatening or seriously physically threatening nature. Traumatic events include experiences such as having witnessed violence, having been a victim of crime or violence, having lived through a natural disaster, having been a combatant or civilian in a war zone, having witnessed or having been a victim of a severe accident.
Most mental health professionals have expanded the definition of trauma to include betrayal trauma. Betrayal trauma occurs when the people or institutions we depend on for survival violate us in some way. An example of betrayal trust is childhood physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. Please see our page on Surviving Childhood Abuse for information regarding this topic.
People who have encountered traumatic events experience their distress at different times after the event. Some people may have immediate reactions, whereas others may not have reactions for quite some time. There is no one standard response or pattern of responses to a crisis.
Some common reactions that people have after a traumatic event:
* Feelings may become intense and sometimes unpredictable; you may be more anxious, fearful, hopeless, or irritable than usual.
* You may have repeated thoughts and vivid memories of the event.
* You may feel confused, have memory impairment, or have difficulty making decisions.
* Your interpersonal relationships may become strained. For example, you may have increased conflict or you may be more withdrawn and avoid your usual activities.
* You may have more physical symptoms than usual, e.g., fatigue, nausea, sweating (chills); any pre-existing conditions may become worse; sleep might be disturbed.
* You may have recurrent emotional reactions on the anniversary of the event.
What you can do to manage your symptoms:
* Give yourself time to heal.
* Ask for support from people who care about you.
* Find out about local support groups (we can help).
* Try to have a healthy diet and get plenty of rest. Avoid drugs and alcohol.
* Try to re-establish your regular routines - e.g., regular mealtimes, exercise,
hobbies, fun activities.
* Try to avoid making major decisions at this time - this just adds more stress.
What if it has been a while since the traumatic event and Im not getting better?
What if my symptoms are more intense than what was just described?
You may be experiencing Post-traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. People with PTSD may have few or many of the following symptoms:
* You may have constant and intrusive thoughts, feelings, images about the event. No matter how hard you try, you cant make it stop.
* You may have flashbacks or nightmares where you feel you are reliving the event. Flashbacks involve a person losing grip on reality and perceiving him or herself to be in the traumatic situation. An example of this would be a crime victim acting as if he or she is fighting off attackers.
* You may become extremely distressed when something reminds you of the event. A sight, sound or smell can activate memories. For example, getting into a car can be extremely distressing for the victim of a car wreck.
* You may feel extremely on-guard or in danger. You may startle very easily and may be jumpy.
* You may avoid thoughts, feelings or conversation about the traumatic event.
* You may avoid people, places, and/or activities that remind you of the event. For example, crime victims may want to avoid the place where they were attacked.
* You may not feel like participating in your usual activities.
* You may not feel connected to people. You may avoid socializing. It may be difficult to trust people.
* You may feel numb, and may not feel emotions like you used to.
People with PTSD may often experience other psychological difficulties along with the PTSD. These other psychological problems may include depression, anxiety disorders, panic disorder, eating disorders and alcohol/substance abuse.
Seeking treatment for PTSD
Seeking treatment can feel terrifying even though the symptoms that you are experiencing are extremely stressful. To seek treatment means you are facing the prospect of discussing the painful event and all the emotions surrounding it. You may be concerned that discussing the trauma will stir up disturbing feelings and that you may anticipate those feelings to be overwhelming. We realize that discussing trauma can be difficult and we will let you control the pace of revealing the details of your trauma. We will do our utmost to create an environment of sensitivity, safety and trust where you can talk about what has happened to you.
Heal My PTSD
Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Phrases Abusers Love to Use
Bullies all seem to have read the same phrase book. Compare notes with other victims of other bullies and abusers and you will think they're describing your life and the things that you get to hear on a regular basis.
"You make me feel …."
I can not make you feel anything, nor am I responsible for anything that you may be feeling. If I am doing something specific that bothers you, then be specific and we'll discuss what I am doing and why you respond with those feelings.
If you want me to make you happy, forget it. It is way beyond my capabilities to orchestrate your emotions.
"You never .."
Never is a big word. Do you mean that out of the 7354 mornings we have woken up together I have not once made you a cup of coffee? Do you mean that out of the 7475 days that we have been married I have not once listened to anything that you have said to me? No? Then please define "never".
"You always .."
This is just as bad as "never". Both are absolutes that are impossible to address in any realistic way. It is also a highly offensive exaggeration that is designed to put you on the defensive.
"You don't understand me"
For a bully this is a classic cop-out that is part of the "blame shifting" package. For a narcissist it is a deeply held belief.
Let's start with the common bully. By telling you that you don't understand him it implies that you are not performing up to scratch. First of all there is the underlying demand that you must understand him fully and secondly there is the silent accusation that you are failing and need to try harder. The onus has shifted from him squarely onto you.
I don't know about you, but I have a hard enough time fully understanding myself sometimes. It is unrealistic to expect someone else to always understand you. They are not in your head. They are not in your heart. They have not lived through and assimilated your lifetime's junk.
If someone doesn't understand me it is either because they simply cannot relate to my experiences and inner processes, or it is because I am doing a lousy job explaining. One is the result of their own life experiences and the other is the result of my ineptitude. Neither gives me cause to hold them responsible.
When it comes to the narcissist, the same rules apply - you cannot understand anyone 100%. However, the dynamic is a little different. The narcissist believes that he is so unique and special that nobody can possibly understand him. He believes that this is a large part of all his life's problems. He is surrounded by inferior beings and it gets really tiring to have to constantly stoop to such a low level just to maintain a source of supply. However, he is such a magnanimous superior being that he exercises immense tolerance and patience, despite the perpetual frustration and despair it causes him.
Finally, when he is saying, "you don't understand me" what he is really saying is that you are not allowing him to get away with something, he is feeling cornered and he just wants you to shut up and let it go now.
"You don't care"
This obviously also includes, "you don't love me" or "you don't love me as much as I love you" and a host of other phrases that are designed to make you jump to assure him that he is wrong.
Pure emotional blackmail and a really nifty catch-22 for you. Unless you now go out of your way to try to disprove the statement, you will in fact have proved it. It is a real "damned if you do and damned if you don't" set up.
Even if you give it your very best but slip up on the smallest thing, you have proved him right. You can't win, so why twist yourself in knots in the first place?
Love is an emotion or choice for the giver and an act of faith for the recipient. How does anyone prove an emotion? - This is exactly what they want you to realise, because then you will also have to conclude that the only way to prove it is by your actions - lots of them - all the time - to perfection. Exactly what they want.
"You provoked me" along with "you made me …"
The saddest thing about this is how often it works. The victim gets turned into the abuser and the abuser gets off without an ounce of accountability. The victim even ends up apologising for causing the abuser such agony that he was forced to abuse her in the first place.
- "Oh honey, I'm so sorry that I made you hit me".
- "Oh daddy, I'm sorry that I made you so mad that you hurt your hand on me".
- "Oh darling, I'm so sorry I hurt you so much you went and had an affair"
"I have the right "
I know that there are female bullies and female narcissists as well, but this particular stock phrase seems to be more pronounced in the male persuasion, mainly because they have the odds on their side before they even begin.
We live in a male dominated world and although it is slowly changing, the attitude is deeply ingrained. As men, they automatically believe that they have certain irrefutable rights, like the right of ownership and dominance over women and children. Unfortunately many religions support and encourage this view, or are interpreted to support it by the very same males who stand behind the pulpits. - One of their rights being to interpret and enforce religious precepts and principles.
So having this "God-given" right to total control, it is no wonder that they believe they have the right to say what they want, demand what they want and do what they want.
While bullies may still have some hope, the narcissist is way beyond it. If he is religious, then he honestly believes that he holds a favoured position with God and that when he speaks, it is as good as God Himself speaking.
The main purpose of invoking these different rights is very simply to strip you of all yours, or at least to convince you that you had none in the first place. He now has absolute power to control you and you can do nothing - because it is his divine right. Are you going to argue with God?
If you are living with this particular dynamic, please google "christians and abuse." It may salvage both your sanity and your faith.
Tied in with this absolute right, it would follow then that phrases like, "you're lying" or "you will" and "you won't" come so naturally to them. Right along with these come all the religious scriptures that they have at the ready, all bringing you instruction directly from God himself that you are to submit to, obey and all but worship the man in your life, whether dad, husband or boyfriend. I have even seen brothers using this against their sisters.
I am not anti religion. I am however anti abuse and exploitation in any shape or form.
These claims to rights are no more than base-level manipulation, blackmail and the abuse of power in order to exercise dominance and control over the life of another.
I have focused on men here and therefore need to reiterate that they are not the only guilty ones. I have in fact seen women come into power and become more abusive than any male I have ever encountered. I have also seen abusive mothers and abusive wives, so I am certainly not excluding the female gender from this evil.
Abuse is not gender specific, it is power driven. The thing that makes it worse with men is purely these supposedly inbuilt rights that they believe are genetically encoded and therefore absolute. The structure of most societies sadly supports this as well, making men far more prone to being abusers than women.
Tuesday, June 20, 2017
INSIDE THE MIND OF A SOCIOPATH
Imagine - if you can - not having a conscience, none at all, no feelings of guilt or remorse no matter what you do, no limiting sense of concern of the well-being of strangers, friends, or even family members. Imagine no struggles with shame, not a single one in your whole life, no matter what kind of selfish, lazy, harmful, or immoral action you had taken. And pretend that the concept of responsibility is unknown to you, except as a burden others seem to accept without question, like gullible fools. Now add to this strange fantasy the ability to conceal from other people that your psychological makeup is radically different from theirs. Since everyone simply assumes that conscience is universal among human beings, hiding the fact that you are conscience-free is nearly effortless. You are not held back from any of your desires by guilt or shame, and you are never confronted by others for your cold-bloodedness. The ice water in your veins is so bizarre, so completely outside of their personal experience that they seldom even guess at your condition.
In other words, you are completely free of internal restraints, and your unhampered liberty to do just as you please, with no pangs of conscience, is conveniently invisible to the world. You can do anything at all, and still your strange advantage over the majority of people, who are kept in line by their consciences, will most likely remain undiscovered.
How will you live your life? What will you do with your huge and secret advantage, and with the corresponding handicap of other people (conscience)? The answer will depend largely on just what your desires happen to be, because people are not all the same. Even the profoundly unscrupulous are not all the same. Some people - whether they have a conscience or not - favor the ease of inertia, while others are filled with dreams and wild ambitions. Some human beings are brilliant and talented, some are dull-witted, and most, conscience or not, are somewhere in between. There are violent people and non-violent ones, individuals who are motivated by blood lust and those who have no such appetites.
Maybe you are someone who craves money and power, and though you have no vestige of conscience, you do have a magnificent IQ. You have the driving nature and the intellectual capacity to pursue tremendous wealth and influence, and you are in no way moved by the nagging voice of conscience that prevents other people from doing everything and anything they have to do to succeed. You choose business, politics, the law, banking or international development, or any of a broad array of other power professions, and you pursue your career with a cold passion that tolerates none of the usual moral or legal encumbrances. When it is expedient, you doctor the accounting and shred the evidence, you stab your employees and your clients (or your constituency) in the back, marry for money, tell lethal premeditated lies to people who trust you, attempt to ruin colleagues who are powerful or eloquent, and simply steamroll over groups who are dependent and voiceless. And all of this you do with the exquisite freedom that results from having no conscience whatsoever.
You become unimaginably, unassailably, and maybe even globally successful. Why not? With your big brain, and no conscience to rein in your schemes, you can do anything at all.
Or no - let us say you are not quite such a person. You are ambitious, yes, and in the name of success you are willing to do all manner of things that people with conscience would never consider, but you are not an intellectually gifted individual. Your intelligence is above average perhaps, and people think of you as smart, maybe even very smart. But you know in your heart of hearts that you do not have the cognitive wherewithal, or the creativity, to reach the careening heights of power you secretly dreams about, and this makes you resentful of the world at large, and envious of the people around you.
As this sort of person, you ensconce yourself in a niche, or maybe a series of niches, in which you can have some amount of control over small numbers of people. These situations satisfy a little of your desire for power, although you are chronically aggravated at not having more. It chafes to be so free of the ridiculous inner voices that inhibit others from achieving great power, without having enough talent to pursue the ultimate successes yourself. Sometimes you fall into sulky, rageful moods caused by a frustration that no one but you understands.
But you do enjoy jobs that afford you a certain undersupervised control over a few individuals or small groups, preferably people and groups who are relatively helpless or in some way vulnerable. You are a teacher or a psychotherapist, a divorce lawyer or a high school coach. Or maybe you are a consultant of some kind, a broker or a gallery owner or a human services director. Or maybe you do not have a paid position and are instead the president of your condominium association, or a volunteer hospital worker, or a parent. Whatever your job, you manipulate and bully the people who are under your thumb, as often and as outrageously as you can without getting fired or held accountable. You do this for its own sake, even when it serves no purpose except to give you a thrill. Making people jump means you have power - or this is the way you see it - and bullying provides you with an adrenaline rush. It is fun.
Maybe you cannot be a CEO of a multinational corporation, but you can frighten a few people, or cause them to scurry around like chickens, or steal from them, or - maybe, best of all - create situations that cause them to feel bad about themselves. And this is power, especially when the people you manipulate are superior to you in some way. Most invigorating of all is to bring down people who are smarter or more accomplished than you, or perhaps classier, more attractive or popular or morally admirable. This is not only good fun; it is existential vengeance. And without a conscience, it is amazingly easy to do. You quietly lie to the boss or to the boss's boss, cry some crocodile tears, or sabotage a coworker's project, or gaslight a patient (or child), bait people with promises, or provide a little misinformation that will never be traced back to you.
Or now let us say you are a person who has a proclivity for violence or for seeing violence done. You simply murder your coworker, or have her murdered - or your boss, or your ex-spouse, or your wealthy lover's spouse, or anyone else who bothers you. You have to be careful, because if you slip up, you may be caught and punished by the system. But you will never be confronted by your conscience, because you have no conscience. If you decide to kill, the only difficulties will be the external ones. Nothing inside you will ever protest.
Provided you are not forcibly stopped, you can do anything at all. If you are born at the right time, with some access to family fortune, and you have a special talent for whipping up other people's hatred and sense of deprivation, you can arrange to kill large numbers of unsuspecting people. With enough money, you can accomplish this from far away, and you can sit back safely and watch in satisfaction. In fact, terrorism (done from a distance) is the ideal occupation for a person who is possessed of blood lust and no conscience, because if you do it just right, you may be able to make a whole nation jump. And if that is not power, what is?
Or let us imagine the opposite extreme: You have no interest in power. To the contrary, you are the sort of person who really does not want much of anything. Your only real ambition is not to have to exert yourself to get by. You do not want to work like everyone else does. Without a conscience, you can nap or pursue your hobbies or watch television or just hang out somewhere all day long. Living a bit on the fringes, and with some handouts from relatives and friends, you can do this indefinitely. People may whisper to one another that you are an underachiever, or that you are depressed, a sad case, or, in contrast, if they get angry, they may grumble that you are lazy. When they get to know you better, and get really angry, they may scream at you and call you a loser, a bum. But it will never occur to them that you literally do not have a conscience, that in such a fundamental way, your very mind is not the same as theirs.
The panicked feeling of a guilty conscience never squeezes at your heart or wakes you in the night. Despite your lifestyle, you never feel irresponsible, neglectful or so much as embarrassed, although for the sake of appearances, sometimes you pretend that you do. For example, if you are a decent observer of people and what they react to, you may adopt a lifeless facial expression, say how ashamed of your life you are, and talk about how rotten you feel. This you do only because it is more convenient to have people think you are depressed than it is to have them shouting at you all the time, or insisting that you get a job.
You notice that people who do have a conscience feel guilty when they harangue someone they believe to be "depressed" or "troubled." As a matter of fact, to you further advantage, they often feel obliged to take care of such a person. If, despite your relative poverty, you can manage to get yourself into a sexual relationship with someone, this person - who does not suspect what you are really like - may feel particularly obligated. And since all you want is not to have to work, your financier does not have to be especially rich, just relatively conscience-bound.
I trust that imagining yourself as any of these people feels insane to you, because such people are insane, dangerously so. Insane but real - they even have a label. Many mental health professionals refer to the condition of little or no conscience as "anti-social personality disorder," a non-correctable disfigurement of character that is now thought to be present in about 4 percent of the population - that is to say, one in twenty-five people. This condition of missing conscience is called by other names, too, most often "sociopathy," or the somewhat more familiar term psychopathy. Guiltlessness was in fact the first personality disorder to be recognized by psychiatry, and terms that have been used at times over the past century include manie sans délire, psychopathic inferiority, moral insanity, and moral imbecility.
This excerpt is from: "The Sociopath Next Door: The Ruthless vs. the Rest of Us" by Martha Stout Ph.D. (Broadway Books, New York, 2005, ISBN 0-7679-1581-X).
Martha Stout is a clinical instructor at Harvard Medical School and elaborates on the tales of ruthlessness in everyday life based on her 25 years of practice as a specialist in the treatment of psychological trauma survivors.
TEST: HOW TO SPOT A SOCIOPATH
Monday, June 19, 2017
Should You Confront a Narcissist about His Narcissism?
by Beth McHugh
This is a question I am often asked by clients who are dealing with a narcissist in their lives. The answer is: it depends.
As a psychologist, I cannot tell a client what to do, they have to come to a decision about what to do about problems in their lives on their own and be comfortable with those decisions. But what I can do is point out the pros and cons of telling a person suffering from narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), and what effects that revelation can have on the client.
Narcissistic personality disorder is an unusual condition on that it operates via its own set of rules. You can tell a person suffering from alcoholism that they have a problem with alcohol and they have one of two choices. Either to deny their alcoholism or face it and change.
It is similar with many other forms of mental illness. While denial can be an integral part of many illnesses, the person suffering from one of the anxiety disorders is aware that they are ill. Similarly, depression and bipolar disorder can be ignored up to a point, but once the symptoms become clinically disabling there can be no self-denial, even if outwardly the person is denying the truth.
This is not the case with NPD. The whole crux of the condition is built on the premise that, for the narcissist, other people do not really exist except to serve the narcissist and prop up their false image of themselves. Not having individuated as people, narcissists believe the world revolves around them and is intensely interested in them. In believing this they are especially harmful people, and cause untold damage to their children in particular.
Once an adult child has discovered that the eccentric and toxic behaviors of their parent is due to NPD, there can be an overwhelming urge to confront the parent who has caused them so much pain with the fact that there is something psychologically wrong with them.
When my clients arrive at this stage in their recovery, we discuss how viable this option is. It really depends on the reason why you as an adult child of a narcissistic parent want to tell your parent. If it is in the hope that, upon reading about the condition, they will recognize themselves in the description and be filled with remorse for the pain they have caused, then beware.
The narcissist's sense of self, which has not progressed past that of a very young child, they cannot deal with the reality of a mirror being held up before them. Unlike the alcoholic who may in due course "see the light", a narcissist simply does not have the emotional skills to step outside of themselves and glimpse the truth in the mirror. The essence of NPD is that the sufferer lives in a bubble that can only accommodate themselves. Self-reflection is definitely not in the narcissist's bag of skills and expecting them to be capable of doing so can court disaster.
Be prepared for rage and aggression to be aimed at you. Be prepared to not be heard.. Be prepared to have everything that you claim about them, to be reassigned to you. When and if you are strong enough to cope with this treatment, then you may decide to go ahead.
If you are hoping for recognition and a change for the better, more pain is in store.
Sunday, June 18, 2017
A Same-Sex Domestic Violence Epidemic Is Silent
by Maya Shwayder
Two months into their relationship, Chris's boyfriend José pushed him to the ground in a fit of anger and ripped the clothes off his body. "We had gone out dancing, and when we got home, I was changing in front of him," said Chris, 34.
"I had on my favorite pair of underwear; it was the pair I had worn the first time we went out. He saw the underwear, and just flew into a rage, saying, 'How dare you wear those! Those are for me!'"
José threw him on the floor of their bedroom closet, and smashed the only light bulb in the room, leaving them in darkness. He loomed above Chris on the floor as he tore the underwear away. That was the first time things had ever turned violent between the two.
"I was in such a state of shock," Chris recounted seven years later, his fingers tapping at a wine glass stem and his brown eyes drifting. "I thought, 'Oh, he's just jealous; it's the drinking,' and I let it go. There was a lot of drinking in this relationship. No drugs, but lots of drinking."
The second time was worse. "He was angry at something—I can't remember what—and I was laughing," said Chris. José again became incensed, strode into the kitchen and grabbed a butcher knife. "He pulled me by my hair, had me on my knees and had the butcher knife at my neck."
Chris says he didn't react. At the time, his sister was pregnant, and he wanted to live to see his niece. "I talked him down, told him to give me the knife. I put my hand on his, and we put the knife back in place together," said Chris, demonstrating by holding his two hands together.
That night, José locked their bedroom door for fear that Chris would escape and tell someone. The next morning, he told Chris, "You know I didn't mean it, right?"
"That was his way of apologizing to me," Chris scoffed. The relationship lasted nine months, but continued to affect Chris for years after it ended.
Sam, 25, describes himself as having been "naive and impressionable," during the time he was dating David. "He's not a stupid person," Sam told me over Skype. "He never hit me or threw things directly at me, but he would frighten me enough to make me back down."
According to Sam, David became increasingly controlling after they moved in together, three or four months into their relationship. At that point, because of the apartment lease, he said, "it was too late to just up and go."
One of David's main methods of control was evoking pity and threatening to harm himself.
"He would get very sad and upset which, in hindsight, was a plea for compassion," Sam said, "As time went on, he became controlling through jealousy. Any attention that I didn't give to him—whether I gave it to friends, family, or other guys, even just other gay men who were my friends—he would get very upset if I hung out with them too much."
David eventually forced Sam to open a joint bank account so that Sam couldn't "stockpile" any funds and move out. He increasingly tried to cut off Sam’s contacts with friends and family.
After two and a half years, Sam managed to end the relationship after David admitted he had returned to using cocaine.
LaTesha, 18, is a consummate Queens girl. Tough and stoic behind her soft voice and hooded sweatshirt, she is about to graduate from high school and wants to study criminal justice in college. She has already been beaten up by a girlfriend. "It only happened when we got into an argument," she said, her brown eyes getting serious. "If she felt like she was being disrespected, she would swing at me."
"We always argued," she continued. "But you know how a couple can argue and then just be back to normal? We would argue, be back to normal. When we argued again, she would bring up the last argument. And it would just build up.” There was always something to argue about and usually, LaTesha said, it was girls.
"She was so insecure," LaTesha recalled. "If I'd be hanging out with one of my friends who was a girl, she'd see me and say 'What's this? You cheating on me?' And I always told her, 'You need to stop.' And then we would get into it. It was a pattern. We would break up for one week, get back together another. We must have broken up about 20 times."
The final break-up happened when Monique landed several punches on LaTesha in front of the staff of Safe Space, an LGBT community center in Jamaica, Queens.
Chris, Sam, and LaTesha are smart people with educations, plans, and busy social lives. They all identify as homosexual, and they all have had experiences with physically or psychologically abusive partners who left them financially, mentally, or emotionally damaged. Domestic violence—or as it's often referred to today, intimate partner violence—is usually discussed in the context of heterosexual relationships. But partner violence is also an issue in the LGBTQ community, a fact that has only come to light in recent years.
Tre'Andre Valentine, the Community Programs Coordinator at The Network/La Red, a Boston-based domestic violence support group specifically for LGBTQ people, says that because domestic violence is still thought of as a heterosexual problem, there can be major hurdles when trying to find funding and conduct research, as well as when providing services to people who don't fit in the stereotype of a domestic violence survivor. "The idea that a woman can be the one who's abusive throws a wrench in the traditional view," Valentine said. "The idea that only men can be batterers makes it a lot harder for men to get access to shelter."
Yejin Lee, an associate at the Anti-Violence Program in New York City, said that the assumption of heterosexuality has been a huge stumbling block for gays and lesbians seeking refuge from an abuser. "One problem is the way domestic violence has been framed for the past 30 years," she said. Since the entire movement against domestic abuse started as a battered women's movement, Lee said, we are ingrained to think that victims are all are married, straight women.
As a mental health counselor with the Violence Recovery Program in Boston, Jessica Newman says that because the default assumption is that people are straight, there can be an attitude within shelters that a gay person somehow “deserved” the violence. "Same-sex relationships are often demonized or marginalized," she said, "So some people's attitudes are 'it serves you right.'"
But Newman, Lee, and Valentine all added that there are also internal factors that keep a cover of darkness over the issue of domestic violence in the gay community.
"There can be a fear of making the community look bad," said Newman. "Some people might have a real and legitimate fear of being looked down on, or not finding services through the police, judicial system, or a shelter. People don't want that negative image of the community out there."
Valentine added, "There's the idea that we'll be airing dirty laundry. It sort of discredits the community to say that abuse is happening, after all the work we've been doing [to enter mainstream society]. There's the feeling that we don't want to attach something additionally bad to us, so it's not talked about."
Sitting in a small restaurant near Madison Square Garden, Chris mulled over his past. "I know gay couples in the Bronx who beat the shit out of each other," he said. "The weird thing is, it's like fighting with your brother. You're going at each other, and you're not taking it seriously, and you don't think of it as a problem, it's just the fabric of your relationship. But you don't realize it's a piece of fabric you can cut out."
Raised in a conservative, military family, with a history of sexual abuse running on both sides, Chris said he always felt like the odd one out growing up. "I was raised to tolerate what was dished out," he remembered. "It was just dysfunctional. I grew up with a closeted uncle who died of AIDS and a mother who hit my father, who would then turn around and hit us."
Chris moved from Chicago to New York when he was 21 so that he could live life as an out gay man, he said. "I had a full time job, full time benefits, and my own apartment," he said. "That didn't last."
Chris met José at a lounge in Washington Heights in late September 2004, and for him, it was love at first sight. "I saw his eyes, the way he dressed," he said. "He made me feel secure. He was a husky guy. My ideal: a masculine Latino."
A honeymoon period ensued and within three months the two were living together. Chris said he doted on José, alienating friends and family in the process. But the honeymoon period ended soon after José moved in. He started taking over everything in Chris's life. "It started with verbal abuse," Chris said. "Little things: put downs about the apartment, about me, and then it turned into everything. He wasn't happy with anything."
"I grew up self-conscious. I was made to feel inferior at school and at home," Chris continued. "And I just lost all the self-esteem that I had found when I came here and came out. I'm smart! I graduated from college, I've won awards. And he just made me feel like so much less than I was. [But] the less happy he was, the more I would try to fix things."
Chris sensed José wasn't happy, but it never occurred to him that the relationship had turned bad, or would soon turn physically violent.
"I didn't tell anybody [about the violence in the relationship],” Chris said. “I didn't want to! They're just going to tell you what you don't want to hear."
The summer after José moved in, after those first incidents of violence, Chris was mugged on the street outside their apartment. The thief punched him in the nose, but when Chris went to run after him, José grabbed his arm and stopped him.
"He wouldn't let me call the cops," recalled Chris. "José didn't have legal papers to be in the U.S. and he was scared of what might happen."
Furious, traumatized, and gushing blood, Chris turned around and backhanded José on the street. The two stood looking at each other. Chris remembers this as the moment when the relationship truly began to go downhill.
"I didn't think about leaving until that moment," he said. "It got to the point where I was crying in public. I was crying at work. I couldn't speak my feelings."
The very last time José turned violent was close to the end of their relationship. "He was always on the phone a lot," Chris said. "So one time I reached for his phone to go through it and see who he was talking to, and he just grabbed my wrist and twisted."
By this point, Chris remembers, José was out all the time and coming home late, or not coming home at all. In August of 2005, Chris kept a promise to himself. "I told him, 'I can't count on these fingers how many times you've lied,'" Chris said, spreading all ten fingers out on the table in front of him. "And I promised myself once I couldn't count your lies on these fingers, it would be over.'"
That night, Chris went out without José. "I told myself if I could kiss someone else, then I didn't really love him. Well, I kissed someone else, and I went home and told him to move out."
Data on the rates of same-sex partner abuse have only become available in recent years. Even today, many of the statistics and materials on domestic violence put out by organizations like the Center for Disease Control and the Department of Justice still focus exclusively on heterosexual relationships, and specifically heterosexual women. While the CDC does provide some resources on its website for the LGBT population, the vast majority of the information is targeted at women. Materials provided by the CDC for violence prevention and survivor empowerment prominently feature women in their statistics and photographs.
In 2013, the CDC released the results of a 2010 study on victimization by sexual orientation, and admitted that “little is known about the national prevalence of intimate partner violence, sexual violence, and stalking among lesbian, gay, and bisexual women and men in the United States.” The report found that bisexual women had an overwhelming prevalence of violent partners in their lives: 75 percent had been with a violent partner, as opposed to 46 percent of lesbian women and 43 percent of straight women. For bisexual men, that number was 47 percent. For gay men, it was 40 percent, and 21 percent for straight men.
The most recent statistics available on same-sex intimate partner violence from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, which focuses on LGBT relationships, reported 21 incidents of intimate partner homicides in the LGBT community, the highest ever. Nearly half of them were gay men and, for the second year in a row, the majority of survivors were people of color—62 percent.
In 2012, NCAVP programs around the country received 2,679 reports of intimate partner violence, a decrease of around 32 percent from 2011. However the report noted that many of the NCAVP’s member organizations were operating at decreased capacity due to limiting the number of cases they were able to take. The report said that excluding data from organizations, there was actually a 29 percent increase in reports of violence from 2011 to 2012.
"Statistics are very controversial," wrote Curt Rogers, executive director of the Gay Men's Domestic Violence Program, in an email. "And it's possible that men are underreported. The bottom line for me [is that] it happens to men, period, so we should be inclusive in our approach and not marginalize the male victim population."
Valentine, from The Network/La Red, said that in his experience, the rates of violence in the LGBTQ community seem comparable to those in the straight community. "The rate of domestic violence that has been documented is one in four women, and it's pretty much the same for LGBTQ folks," he said.
"Reporting can be really difficult, and historically we [LGBTQ people] have not had a very good relationship with police and law enforcement, so folks may not be reporting it."
In any case, he continued, the police might not believe the victims when they call, the attitude often being, "You're both men, work it out between yourselves," or, "Women aren't violent; they don't hit each other."
Indeed, according to the NCAVP report, only 16.5 percent of survivors reported interacting with the police, but in one-third of those cases, the survivor was arrested instead of the abuser. A mere 3.7 percent of survivors reported seeking access to shelters.
"We need to change the way we look at domestic violence," Rogers said. "I don't see it in any way as a gender issue. I see it as a power and a control issue."
Sam met his first and, so far, only boyfriend, David, outside of a club one night while he was in his second year of college. "The first thing I remember thinking when I saw him was 'Oh God, never,'" he said, laughing. "As in, I would never date somebody like that. He was very assertive; almost a purposely bitchy persona, which is not uncommon in the club scene."
But date they did. After a bit of flirting back and forth on Facebook, within three or four months, as Sam remembers it, they were living together.
"In hindsight," said Sam, "I sort of already knew things were off, which really should have been my chance to get away. But it wasn't until we moved in when I started to realize that amount of control that was going on."
David soon became aware that Sam was unhappy and, according to Sam, he increasingly tried to force a façade of a stable life and healthy relationship on him.
"He went from using emotions to manipulate me, to smashing things, to threatening to commit suicide, to threatening to harm our cat, to threatening to ruin me in various ways—socially, academically, that kind of thing. About a year in, I tried twice to get out of it. He would say 'Okay, that's fine,' and then he would smash up the apartment. He would smash mirrors or push the Christmas tree over or threaten to kill himself. That's usually when the threats became the worst, when he was trying to control me into staying," Sam said, recounting once incident when he tried to break up with David, and David smashed an entire rack of drying dishes, saying, 'Well I guess we don't need any couples dishes anymore.'"
Sam insisted that David was delusional and trying to cling to the idea of a stable, normal life with Sam. David, as it turns out, did not have a stable background. He came from a troubled family: His mother was alcoholic, and his parents, while loving, were dysfunctional and destructive. In addition, David told Sam that an older boy had molested him when he was 12 or 13. He developed a cocaine habit that, he told Sam when they met, he had kicked.
Both men eventually grew depressed, and Sam felt increasingly frightened and isolated by David's behavior—not to mention embarrassed that the neighbors could always hear when David flew off the handle. He had only one friend he felt he could turn to, who of course pleaded with Sam to break things off.
During this time, David began slipping back into cocaine use, and Sam buried himself in his studies. Focusing on earning an honors degree, he said, helped get him through.
"Often he would try to 'guilt trip' me about the time I spent doing school," Sam recalled. "But I was able to hang on to that as sort of a hope and a goal."
In December 2010, David forced Sam into an engagement. "I was so afraid of what he was capable of," Sam recalled. "It was less problematic to keep this up than to break it up." Then, in mid-August 2011, David came forward and admitted he had started using cocaine again.
"I was in the shower," said Sam. "And he came in the washroom and said, 'I have something to tell you. I've been doing cocaine again. A lot of it, and spending a good chunk of our money on it.' We'd been really struggling money-wise, like, probably below poverty line at some points."
Sam got out of the shower and went out, and David began making calls to friends and family, admitting his problem, telling them that he'd been lying to them and taking money from them.
"Years ago, he had had one slip up," Sam said. "And I said, 'Okay, I get it, you're a recovering addict. But you do it again, you slip up again, and it's over.' And that's the card I pulled. I'd been looking for a way out for two years."/br>
The psychology of domestic abuse, both those who perpetrate it and those who survive it, has been studied for years. Multiple factors have been shown to contribute, including childhood abuse, mental illness, cultural norms, stress, and unbalanced power dynamics in the relationship.
Brian Norton has been a therapist in New York for 12 years, specializing in "challenges related to gay men (homophobia, coming out, etc.)" and couples therapy. He said that often a controlling or abusive personality forms in childhood.
"We all recreate the same dynamics over and over again. Ninety-nine if not 100 percent of the time, victims have had previous abusive relationships."
Abusive relationships are, of course, emotionally draining for the victim. "It's disorienting," Norton said. "One minute they're telling you they love you, and being strong, and loving and positive; then they're cheating on you, or not respecting you, and not paying attention to what you need."
Benjamin Seaman, also a New York-based therapist who has been practicing since 2001, specializes in polyamorous relationships and has also seen the "full spectrum" of gay couples. In Seaman's philosophy, violence and abuse are "usually the tools of someone who feels powerless." Seaman agreed that bad relationships fuel other bad relationships and that sometimes the lingering stress of abusive childhood incidents leads to an ongoing shame in adulthood. This can further contribute to stress in a gay relationship, said Seaman, when one or both of the people are "self-loathing" gays.
Norton gave the example of one couple currently in his care. "One person in the couple doesn't have his life together, and his partner does. He feels intimidated and threatened by the success and stability of the partner. So he became abusive."
LaTesha, the high-school student from Queens, admits that when she was in first grade, she used to "do things that we weren't supposed to do" with a next door neighbor's daughter. The first person she came out to was her best friend when she was 15. Her mother found out by reading her diary. "She was just like, 'You love girls now? Not in my house!' and she started bashing me. And so I told her I would never tell her anything ever again."
LaTesha was 16 when she met Monique, who was 18, in school. The two started dating, and soon after, started fighting. "This scar, on my neck? Her," she said softly, massaging the thin line with her fingers. "That's from her nails."
LaTesha insists the two didn't physically fight often in their 19 months together. "I'm not the type to do that," she said. "If I love somebody, I will never put my hands on them. I just figured that she got mad, and she swung. That’s what happens when people get mad—I didn't see it as she was beating me. I didn't see it as that. But then I had to realize that's not always the answer for when we get into altercations.”
Others noticed. "People would come to me and ask what happened, 'cause I would usually have scratches or a little bruise on my face. I'd tell them I got into it with her and they'd say, 'I don't' understand why you're putting yourself through this.' I'd be like, 'Well, I love her, and I'm going to accept her for who she is.'"
Monique began trying to manipulate LaTesha, telling her who she could and couldn't hang out with. She bought LaTesha a cell phone and then took it back when she thought LaTesha was texting other girls. When they fought, Monique would hurl insults at LaTesha, saying, "I hope you die of AIDS," and calling her a slut. After the last time the two broke up, LaTesha said, "She just wouldn't let it go. She tried to get back with me. I was still in love with her [Monique], but I didn't want to be with her anymore."
At the time, LaTesha had started dating another girl. Monique didn't like this, tracked the pair down at Safe Space, and came in swinging at the new girlfriend. A final confrontation occurred in front of staff, counselors, and peers at Safe Space. LaTesha had begun volunteering as a peer educator there after she and Monique broke up for the last time. "I could have gotten banned from Safe Space," LaTesha said of the fight.
"We weren't even together, and she was, quote-unquote, in love with me. I was just like, 'No. You're not going to hit her. You got a problem, it's between me and you.' And she swung at me. She got in my face and said, 'What are you gonna do?' And she hit me, and then she did it again."
The Safe Space staff managed to separate the two, and LaTesha remained a peer counselor with the group.
Lesbian women can have a very hard time finding shelter. And sometimes, an abuser will call a shelter claiming to be a victim. "What may happen," said Valentine at Network/La Red, "is that both a survivor and an abuser can access services, so it might not be the safest harbor for a lesbian survivor."
Newman at the Violence Recovery Program said that proper screening techniques can help enhance shelters' safety. "We screen both parties," she said. "And we won't work with batterers. We'll refer them to a batterer's intervention program. But I've definitely seen it. People will see themselves as victims when they're not."
It's tough enough to get into a domestic violence shelter if you're straight, no matter your gender. Kristen Clonan is a spokesperson for Safe Horizon, which claims to be New York City's largest provider of domestic violence residence with nine shelters and around 725 beds throughout the city. Clonan said that in 2011, nearly 2,500 women, children, and men sought out shelter at Safe Horizon, and Safe Horizon's three hotlines field 163,000 calls annually.
That's a lot of demand for 725 beds. And shelters that cater to LGBT people are even more perilously few and far between. Cassildra Aguilera, the LGBTQ program coordinator for Safe Space, said there is one shelter in New York City that identifies as LGBTQ-specific, with 200 beds. Of the mainstream shelters, only 12 are LGBTQ friendly, and all are based in Manhattan. According to Network/La Red in Boston, only two of the 30 domestic violence shelters in Massachusetts are specifically geared toward LGBTQ people: Network/La Red, and the Gay Men's Domestic Violence Program. Of mainstream programs, only eight accept LGBT people. Many shelters, even if they say they're LGBT-friendly, reportedly fail when it comes to providing for LGBT safety needs.
Valentine of The Network/La Red said there's a lot of homophobia in shelters among shelter residents. "The staff might have a non-discrimination policy, but it's not enforced, and that definitely affects a lot of survivors."
Transgender people have an especially hard time, according to Newman. They might not find a shelter, because often neither men's nor women's shelters take transgendered people. If they find a place in a homeless shelter, they might be housed with the men, which could be dangerous, or with women, which can agitate shelter residents. Curious people may ask intrusive questions, or they might not be seen as "real" women or "real" men, which, Newman said, is tremendously demeaning.
A month after breaking up with José, Chris tried to commit suicide. He failed, and shortly after began a course of therapy that, he says, helped him come to terms not only with this damaging relationship, but also with his tumultuous family life. After a rough few years during which he suffered from depression and severely decreased libido, he has just begun to make his way into the dating scene again. He has a steady job working in children’s after-school education.
Sam graduated from college and has begun a master’s degree program. He and his friends work to actively ignore and cut David out of their lives, despite David's repeated attempts to be in touch and get back together. And Sam says he has begun to date again, as his mental health has slowly improved with the help of his psychiatrist and his counselor.
Soon after the last violent encounter with Monique, LaTesha met the girlfriend she is currently seeing and says that she has definitely learned from her experience with Monique.
"The girlfriend I have now, she's so much different than before. You know, if we argue, we just won't talk to each other. If we play-fight, and we know it's about to get serious, we'll stop."
LaTesha is still a volunteer peer educator with Safe Space. Every week, she works to educate the Queens community about the LGBT population and spread the message of safe sex and healthy relationships.
In May 2013, President Obama re-authorized the Violence Against Women Act. While the law still focuses on women in heterosexual relationships, it has a new section that includes coverage of same-sex partners—a big sign that attitudes are changing. Rogers and Newman both agree that circumstances are improving for gays seeking shelter and help.
"Twenty years ago there was nothing," Rogers said. "Now there are significantly more resources and a much higher likelihood of a positive response from mainstream providers and first responders."
As individuals and society come to recognize same-sex partner violence as an existing problem, there is hope.
Copyright © 2015 by The Atlantic Monthly Group
Saturday, June 17, 2017
Characteristics of the Targets of Harassers & Adult Bullies
Friday, June 16, 2017
Sexual Relationships with Narcissists
Intimacy does not exist. You will frequently feel used.
Your own sexual preferences will be boycotted or twisted. Narcissists have a strong tendency to sexually abuse a partner. Here is a list of some of these abusive behaviors (yours may use just a couple of these or ones that are not listed here! don't fool yourself):
- You are prohibited from masturbating or feel good about your own body under the threat of punishment
- If you do masturbate, they will ask to watch; couching it as 'learning to please you'
- You are being encouraged to watch porn although you don't usually
- Your sexual gratification is only to reassure the narcissist they are a good lover
- The narcissist pretends to be sexual for you but is after her/his gratification only
- Your sexual past is being torn apart or thrown in your face during or after the relationship
- The narcissist revels in telling you, in detail, all about their sexual past and that you will never measure up to their other lovers
- You are being told that all you want is sex (although you know this is not the case, however sex is central to the narcissist)
- The narcissist may freeze you out of sex altogether while calling you a nymphomanic
- The narcissist instigates sex (like telling you erotic things and sending you pictures or emails which are sexual) but then decides last minute that nothing is to take place or they have changed their minds
- You are feeling humiliated and yet the narcissist claims that (s)he has been humiliated
- The narcissist could care less when you get hurt physically and/or emotionally and enjoys it when you get hurt. It proves they are having an effect on you
- The narcissist instigates and turns everything into a sexual GAME
- The narcissist tells you to have sexual relations with others (encourage you to be unfaithful or have sex with others in front of him), although the narcissist has a strong tendency to flirt with others and to be unfaithful
- The narcissist makes fun of your sexuality or body in front of others (e.g. you have a small penis or small breasts or skinny or fat - objectification of sex)
- The narcissist has to try out everything possible (positions, toys, etc)
- The narcissist is an exhibitionist and will want sex in public and/or dresses inappropriately at home and or elsewhere (tight clothes without a bra or jock strap) and says it was an accident
- The narcissist will send you pictures of their penis or breasts wanting to know your rating and thoughts about it. They will want your pictures to do the same to.
Wednesday, June 14, 2017
Emotional & Mental Rape
After a long seven hour night waiting tables and dealing with horny men drinking to oblivion, Jessica came home to find that her husband was ready for sex. Being exhausted both physically and mentally, she tried explaining to him that she was too tired and that her back was killing her; that the only thing she wanted to do was take a hot bath and go to sleep.
Of course, her husband grilled her. Accusing her of not working and sleeping with some customer she supposedly picked up at the restaurant. She pleaded with him and tried to make him understand that it was not personal. He continued his badgering and called her every name in the book. He, then proceeded to go on the bed laying on his back naked saying, "Look at me...I am Jessica the slut."
She proceeded to walk out the bedroom door when her husband followed her like a nagging kid. Exhausted as she was, she started crying. Dealing with her back pain and her tiredness, the last thing she needed was her abusive husband pressuring her for sex. After a long hour of persuasion and manipulation from her husband, Jessica gave in just to shut him up!
When the abuser emotionally and mentally abuses the victim, this is emotional and mental rape.
At times, a woman who is abused will have sex with their partner only to pacify the abuser to stop the "abuse." But a lot of women don't realize that when this happens, they are being "raped." Although, the victim says "yes" to the act, it is the "way" the act happened that makes it emotional rape.
In turn, the aftermath of this type of rape leaves the woman feeling dirty and cheap. She may eventually not trust or believe what people say...and if the woman were to ever leave her abusive partner; sex may become a dirty memory and therefore handicap the victim to not want sex at all.
Verbal, emotional, and mental abuse amongst other types of abuse is not "protected" or "accepted" as abuse as much as physical abuse. This leaves the victim feeling lonely and isolated.
The only way, I believe, to avoid this type of rape is to not give in. As much as the abuser can be a pain in the butt (and that is saying it lightly) just like any kind of abuse it is important to walk away, don't respond, call 911, or just walk out of the house - if possible.
NOTE: Emotional and Mental Rape described on the internet is very different from what I believe it actually is. I have chosen not to share links to emotional rape as it sends the viewer to porn sites.
Tuesday, June 13, 2017
Anatomy of the Abuser and the Abused Man
Anyone who has fallen in love knows the huge investment of trust, emotional/ mental commitment and selflessness it takes make the relationship work. It is natural for the victim to assume that the other person has made the same efforts as they have and this primes them to accept the abusers excuses and rationalisations of their behaviour.
Other abusers simply come to hate their partners over time and instead of leaving the relationship, set out to destroy the other person (and sometimes other people) within it.
** A common defensive ploy of radical feminists is to paint any and all criticism of females as hatred of them and, by so doing, pressure people (chiefly men) into regarding a counter argument as misogynistic in origin and therefore worthy of being ignored.
Within a close personal relationship it is perfectly natural for both parties to closely examine each others personalities and to explore each others feelings. This examination is what the abuser fears most. To the abuser, such a close look at who they are becomes deeply threatening. They spend their wholes lives hiding their true selves both from themselves and from society. They loathe themselves and often fear their capability for violence. They cannot bare coming under scrutiny and this innocent searching by their partner can often be the trigger for their abusive reactions as they try to halt the exploration of their deeper and hidden selves by using intimidation and/or violence. Yet their need to appear normal drives them to seek out a partner and have a “normal” relationship. **
** This may be why many abuse victims are kind, gentle, loyal and deeply loving people. Most abusers will not seek confrontation with people who may fight back. They want easy targets that they can dominate. For the male and female abuser that will often mean a passive personality type is sought as the next victim.
“Why would a psychologist wish to criticize the codependency idea? Many people claim to have been helped by codependency books and codependency self-help groups. I don't wish to take away anyone's belief that they are better for having integrated the codependency idea into their lifestyles. But it definitely isn't for everyone. Codependency is a nebulous idea, born not of science but of the gut feelings of counsellors and frustrated lay people. It's black and white requirements for recovery, though seeming reasonable on the surface, are not in line with empirical research and have dangerous implications with regard to the most human of attributes, caring. My two primary concerns with the codependency idea are:
The Codependency Idea Pathologizes the Natural Tendency to Care for Others.
The cure for Codependency Mandates Action which is Not Necessarily in Line With Pro social Values.” (Emphasis mine)
He goes on: “A case from several years ago comes to mind involving a caring mother who's 27-year old daughter had been abusing prescription opioids and benzodiazapines for ten years. The daughter finally made the decision attempt a methadone detox, following two months of methadone maintenance. The MD at the methadone clinic recommended that she taper the benzodiazapine, which was Valium (methadone doesn't cover non-opiate drugs). The mother was very invested in her daughter's change efforts and subsequently flew in from out of state to live with her while she detoxed. She agreed to dole out the Valium because the daughter felt that she could not do it on her own without relapsing. The mother hid them in her car and stood watch over her daughter during the first three weeks of her transition. The patient voiced that her mother's presence was imperative for relapse prevention at this time. The mother voiced that it made her feel as though she was finally doing something to help daughter which was panning out. She felt so good about her efforts that she went to an Al-anon meeting. She was literally attacked by three attendees who deemed her behavior enabling and, in addition to deeming her responsible for her daughter's enduring problems with substances, instructed her to go back to her home immediately and let her daughter grapple with her troubles on her own. One said, "She's an adult, and a time comes when you have to let them leave the nest or you're just perpetuating the illness."
The best advice that can be given to a victim of abuse is still, get out of the relationship as fast as you can!
If you wish to cut down on the time needed to recover and be your old self again, leave the abuser as soon as you possibly can, go completely no contact with the abuser and get therapy asap.