Year: 2011

Fighting the Darkness: Stockholm Syndrome?

Part of my trouble dealing with this issue is wondering how my best friend could turn on me like Richard did.

Stockholm Syndrome can explain it.  From a blog by Jennifer Kesler about the Hillary Adams video:

If you’re wondering how a woman could get to the point of helping her husband beat their child, you need to understand this: when you’re living with someone who gets that violent anytime anyone stands up to him, you don’t stand up to him.

You either become very passive, or you become his collaborator in hopes of mitigating the damage. That’s what we’re seeing here – a mitigating collaborator.

The mother calmly agrees with every argument the judge makes, because arguing with him would only escalate his temper. She takes over the beating not because she enjoys it – that’s clear from her demeanor – but because she’s hoping it will lessen his anger and protect Hilary from his more painful lashes.

Several times she says “That’s en…” and stops herself because that constitutes standing up to him. As hard as it is to stomach, this is clearly a woman doing the best she can under circumstances that are as FUBAR as any war situation. —Hillary Adams: child abuse on film

There’s also the FOG (Fear, Obligation and Guilt) in which spouses of abusers are often kept.  Richard’s betrayal of me, even his intimidation of my husband for sticking up for me, could be seen as all part of trying to pacify his raging wife.

So I do hope that one day, he’ll come out of that FOG and realize just what he did, and come to us to make amends.  But there would still be the separate issues of threatening my husband several days earlier, which had nothing to do with Tracy, and nearly killing his daughter.

Hubby and I don’t know what we’ll do if he does come to us trying to make amends.  We decided we would just play it by ear.

There has been no church for a couple of weeks as my priest has been on vacation, so there have been no more surprises, no anxieties.  But this weekend, church starts up again, and as I do every time I go to church, I’ll be checking the parking lot for Richard and Tracy’s vehicle.

The initial shock, dismay and sadness stirred by seeing Richard again, has dissipated, and once again I feel anger at him for his abusive behaviors.  I want him far from me; I feel calmer.

I want to fight for the end of abuse of all kinds, of child abuse, of domestic violence; I read articles on people who did far less to their kids, but still ended up with jail time, or five years probation, and wonder, Why isn’t Richard in jail???!!!

I don’t want him to show up again like he did a couple of weeks ago and put me back in that dark place of depression and missing him.  I don’t want to miss him.

I want to remember him as a narcissist, Svengali and child abuser who duped me into believing all sorts of things that weren’t true, not as my BFF and spiritual mentor.

Seeing him brings it all back again and rips open the wound.  And if he had any sensitivity at all, he’d realize this.

The simple fact of the matter is, vaguely saying he blames himself for everything does not count as an apology for his violence or his betrayal, especially since right after he said this, he blamed me for Tracy’s verbal abuse, and lied to me, twice.

There are many who say that forgiveness is for when the offender asks for it.  When has he ever asked for it?  When has Tracy ever asked for it?  If they do not seek forgiveness from me, then I want them out of my life completely, leaving me in peace.

It is often easier for outsiders to see what’s going on because they’re not caught in the disorienting and invalidating mists of an emotional FOG.

To a mom, dad, sister, brother or best friend, it can be as clear as day, but when you have your mouth wrapped around the exhaust pipe of the Crazy Fogger 3000 night and day, it’s no wonder you can’t see the forest for the trees.

For anyone who’s ever walked or driven in atmospheric fogs, you know that being in a fog can play perceptual tricks on you. –Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, More Thoughts on FOG, Hoovers and No Contact When Ending a Relationship with a Narcissist, Borderline, Histrionic and/or Sociopath

The combination of “Stockholm Syndrome” and “cognitive dissonance” produces a victim who firmly believes the relationship is not only acceptable, but also desperately needed for their survival. The victim feels they would mentally collapse if the relationship ended.

In long-term relationships, the victims have invested everything and placed “all their eggs in one basket”. The relationship now decides their level of self-esteem, self-worth, and emotional health.

For reasons described above, the victim feels family and friends are a threat to the relationship and eventually to their personal health and existence.

The more family/friends protest the controlling and abusive nature of the relationship, the more the victim develops cognitive dissonance and becomes defensive.

At this point, family and friends become victims of the abusive and controlling individual. —From “Love and Stockholm Syndrome” by Dr. Joseph M. Carver, PhD

 

Fighting the Darkness: Seeing the abuser again

Some people may not understand why it’s so hard for me to see my bully and her accomplice (Tracy and Richard) at church or at Greekfest.  They may think it’s just something I have to get over.

Well, maybe those people have never been bullied or abused.

Every time I see them, several emotions swirl around in my head: fear, dread, missing Richard despite everything, anger.

Anyone who’s been friends with, married to, or related to a narcissist or abuser can relate to this, can understand feeling regret at losing them despite all the hurt they’ve caused, can understand still hoping that the abuser will repent for what they did, change, and be the friend/spouse/parent the abused has always wanted.

It’s a knife to my heart to see Richard at church, start hoping that he will come over and apologize for being Tracy’s accomplice and for his own sins against my husband and me–then he leaves without saying anything, as if he still believes I’m the one with the problem, as if he still thinks verbal violence and physical threats are perfectly valid ways of dealing with problems.

It also feels like intimidation.  Tracy acts all happy and goes up to the Eucharist as if she has no need to go to that Christian sister who has something against her and try to resolve it before putting her gift on the altar.

Throughout this whole thing, she acted as if she had the moral high ground and I was just the little stubborn jerk who wouldn’t do what she wanted.

It burns to see her act this way, to know that she thinks she did nothing wrong and I’m the one with the problem.  It’s like she’s rubbing it in my face; they ignore me completely, and when Tracy is there the children are kept close.

Only when Richard was there by himself did the children say anything to me.  In fact, while in the parking lot one time, my husband overheard the eldest child calling out his name, then Tracy scolding her for something.

It reminds me of my ex Phil, who is described in previous posts.  Even though he hated my friends (just as Tracy hated my church), after the breakup, Phil kept coming over and sitting at my lunch or dinner table, supposedly to be with his new girlfriend.  They’d get all lovey-dovey, and it made me sick.

It felt distinctly like he was trying to control me even after the breakup, by rubbing his new girlfriend in my face and not even letting me eat my meals in peace and surrounded by the love of my friends.  And after all the crap he put me through, he would say hi to me in the halls and act surprised that I said nothing, wanted nothing to do with him.

It also reminds me of a guy, back in 1999, who ticked off half the SCA shire by refusing to make the changes we requested on the shire’s new website, then accusing us of religious persecution for wanting to keep religion off our non-religious site.

Since Hubby was the chairman (seneschal) of the group at the time, he was in the middle of this and got most of the guy’s ire.  We made somebody else our web minister, and this guy soon vanished from our shire, though I see from a local web forum that he has made lots of enemies around the area since he left us.

He also would threaten to send people viruses, and is most likely the guy who e-mailbombed Hubby and me with 100 messages saying “karma,” since this was one of his favorite words.

According to online court records, he’s also been jailed more than once.  So he’s probably a sociopath.

Yet after all this, in 1999, just a few months after the website brouhaha, he came to our shire’s annual camping event, brandishing a sharp sword without a sheath.  He made no trouble, but was obviously silently daring us to confront him, daring Hubby (who was tending admission) to tell him to put away the sword.

So excuse me for not seeing Richard or Tracy’s presence at my church or Greekfest as being anything less than control and intimidation, when they know I’m going to be there.  You see I’ve dealt with narcissists, abusers and sociopaths in the past, and have seen them operate.

At the very least, I wonder if Richard and Tracy are trying to force a confrontation or are just extremely insensitive.  I don’t go to their church or any of their church’s functions, to keep boundaries between us, because I don’t want to see or be around them and am aware that my presence at their church would be seen as unusual and confrontational.

I’m not some drama queen to cause a scene, but I don’t expect such consideration from Tracy.

I’m amazed that Richard showed up at my church after being convicted, as if trusting that I won’t tell anyone there what he did.  I haven’t and don’t plan to, but it’s just as baffling as Tracy’s abusing Richard and the kids in front of me and Richard telling me he put them in the closet once.

In fact, I still can’t stand to see Phil’s friend from back then, his accomplice in trying to get me away from my friends, as described in earlier posts. I still cringe if I see his name in the newspaper or on Facebook, and especially when I see him friending my friends.

And that was 17 years ago! So why would I want to see Richard, even though he was mostly Tracy’s accomplice, rather than bullying me directly?

There’s fear, because I now know what Richard is capable of, that he nearly killed his own daughter.  I know that Tracy punches Richard, and that she almost killed me once, only holding herself back because she still needed my roof over her head.  So why wouldn’t I feel fear and dread to see them?

I know what Tracy posted on her Facebook wall the day of the breakup, I know the bad things Richard told me about his former friend Todd even though he wasn’t the one who started the argument with Tracy, and one mutual friend inexplicably vanished from my Facebook and life one day; why should I not wonder if they want to spread rumors at my church?

I tried apologizing for my own part in things, but it got nothing but more blaming and scolding and no mirrored apologies, no recanting of their own bad behavior.

And honestly, all I actually did was write a badly-worded e-mail, into which Tracy read subtext which was not there (things which I did not even hint at, so I don’t know where she got them from)–and be a shy, quiet person who preferred not to get close to my bully, but was still pleasant and kind to her as Richard’s wife.

I did absolutely nothing to intentionally offend or hurt her, even though for more than two years she kept pushing and pushing and bullying me so hard that I had to fight to not express my anger at her.

When I did try to say I was being mistreated, she bullied harder, treated me like a horrible person for not thinking she was wonderful.  All my complaints were further “reasons” for her to abuse and to put restrictions on me.  I could not stand her controlling ways.

She misinterpreted everything I did in the worst possible way.  There were things I did which among my circles of friends, are quite normal and acceptable, things which Richard actually got me doing and which to him were quite normal and acceptable, things which to my husband were quite normal and acceptable.

But to Tracy they were egregious sins which must be recounted again and again, even long after I had stopped doing them out of deference to her.

(Though, of course, I was told that their other friends were allowed to do those very things.)

And it was never entirely clear what was and was not acceptable to her, because the rules were constantly changing, one thing okay one day but not the next, or okay if Richard did it but not if I did, or okay if she did it but not if I did.

And there were rules which were absolutely ridiculous.

And frankly, I’m sick and tired of her ever-changing and draconian rules, and refuse to go back to a “friendship” which requires any of them.  If I can’t be myself, then screw it.  If I can’t be friends with Richard without being forced to be friends with her, then I’ll take neither.

It is a huge relief to be among family, friends and church members who do not judge me for being quiet, who do not tell their husbands that I hate her and can’t be trusted with him because I blend into the furniture, who may make a little joke once in a while about my quietness but nothing nasty.

To be among friends who freely do the things that Tracy once wanted to kill me for.

To not get snarked at or criticized for every little thing I do or say, not just by Tracy but by Richard.

To be myself, without being accused again and again of disrespecting her or snubbing her.

To relax and not worry about two people–one my best friend–ganging up on me because of my selective mutism/NVLD/Asperger’s/extreme introversion/whatever it is.  I can’t help the way my brain works, and I don’t want to; I just want to be accepted as I am, same as anybody else.

To have these two people just waltz back into my church and then back out again as if they’ve done nothing wrong and I deserve nothing but to be ignored–disrupts my life, disrupts the gradual loosening of tension that I’ve been feeling by being around decent people again.  I go to coffee hour to relax with my church family and work on understanding Greek, but if I see Richard and/or Tracy I feel tense, nervous, shaky.

Tracy made it very clear in August 2010 that I could contact them again–when I stopped being upset about her rage episode.  She implied that I deserved all her nastiness, yelling, screaming, cussing, ridiculing, blaming, humiliating, demeaning, etc. etc. of me, and that I had to accept that as well before I could contact her.

But how am I to stop being upset if she never says she’s sorry for it? if she just keeps justifying it?  If she thinks I ever will accept what she did, then she’s going to be waiting until Doomsday to ever hear from me again, because she never did manage to break my spirit, no matter how hard she tried.

Even if she got down on her knees and begged me to forgive her, I might forgive her, but I wouldn’t take her back again.  She treated Richard’s friend Todd just as badly, if not worse, and he wants nothing to do with her, either.

Just like every other abuser, she called this acceptance and not feeling hurt by her bullying and verbal abuse “growing up.”  She has an amazingly skewed concept of what it means to be a grown up.

What she calls “growing up” is actually bowing down to your abuser, letting them break your spirit, giving your power over to them, and then opening yourself up to be abused over and over again.

She has no concept of what it really means to be “grown up.”  Or what it means to be a Christian.  I believe she has some kind of Cluster B personality disorder to think this way, just as every abuser must have to be able to abuse the ones they claim to love.

Sam Vaknin has equated Lundy Bancroft’s profile of the typical abuser with a malignant narcissist.  For me, Tracy is the verbal equivalent of Judge Adams, who belted and verbally abused his daughter in a now-infamous video.

And just like Judge Adams, who even after public outcry still blamed his daughter and defended how he treated her, Tracy refuses to see that this is abuse, that her deeds are evil, but instead continues to blame the victim and treat all her victims like they need to “grow up” when they finally run away from her.

Criminals and abusers are alike in this strange, deluded self-justification of their actions, this strange blaming of the victim.

The DSM IV-TR, the bible of mental health disorders, does not regard abusive behaviours as one of the criteria of NPD. It does, however, mention the precursors of abuse: exploitativeness, an exaggerated sense of entitlement and, above all, a lack of empathy.

So, I think it is safe to say that abuse does characterise the behaviour of narcissists. —Sam Vaknin

If you’re feeling as if you’re “walking on eggshells” around someone all the time, you’re probably dealing with a (narcissistic) abuser.

As the title of this post posits – I am not sure the term “narcissistic abuser” isn’t redundant as most abusers seem to have a very pronounced  narcissistic streak in their personalities – whether they are diagnosed narcissists, or not. —The Narcissistic Abuser: Is That Redundant?

Narcissist Is A Title Synonymous With The Label Of Abuser. —Description of interview with Sam Vaknin

Abusers and narcissists are almost synonymous. —Video on Dealing with Narcissists and Abusers

Healthy narcissism is at the core of the Self and malignant, pathological narcissism manifests itself in literally all known abusive, dangerous, and reckless behaviors: family violence, murder, genocide, addictions, corporate malfeasance, sexual abuse and paraphilias, incest, and more….

Strictly defined, a “narcissist” is someone who has been diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). Less than 1% of the general population are diagnosed narcissists, so your chances to come across one are 1:100.

But, as Theodore Millon observed correctly, there are many more people with narcissistic traits, a narcissistic style, or a narcissistic personality who would not be diagnosed with NPD, but are still as deleterious and detrimental to their human environment as the “full-fledged” variety. —interview with Sam Vaknin

I know that I must learn to not take anything Tracy said personally, but reject it as the rantings of a Cluster B personality disordered person, because along with all the other things I’ve noted in these blogs, there are other things as well:

I witnessed something bizarre one day about a year ago.  This was either October 5 or December 7, 2010, according to the school calendar, several months after we broke off the friendship.  My son had a half-day, so I set off walking down the sidewalk past my house to fetch him around 11am, when who should I see driving past me on the street?

I had a clear view: They were facing me, so on my side of the street.  There are no trees in that area between the sidewalk and the street.  And no other cars were nearby.

I saw Richard driving that familiar minivan, and Tracy in the passenger seat.

Well, sort of in the seat: She was hanging half her body out the window

head, shoulders, upper part of the torso, possibly down to about her waist, turned with her shoulders pointing one above and one below, arms flailing, not holding on (which struck me as extremely odd and dangerous behavior)

while Richard gave her an upset or angry or scared look.

Obviously he was upset with her for hanging out the window.

I thought Tracy, at least, must have seen me in those few seconds, since she was hanging out the window and facing me, with me just a few feet away from her.

I looked directly at them, rather than ignoring them as I usually do, because these few seconds were so unexpected.  If she tried to say anything to me, I didn’t hear over my Discman.  Did she try to yell at me?

What the heck was this about?  There was no explanation for why on earth she’d hang half out the window.  It was yet more bizarre behavior from this woman, and evidence that her behaviors toward me were from a Cluster B personality disorder, because I’m told Cluster Bs do things like this.

Other than on TV, I’ve never seen anybody else do anything like this in a moving vehicle.  The speed limit around there is 25mph, and in a van, the ground is farther down.

I’ve also been informed by mutual friend Todd that Richard said borderline and other personality disorders are indeed in Tracy’s immediate family.  So Todd believes she does indeed have at least one of these.

Todd also says that one day she’ll go off on you and get Richard to help and it’s all over, that Richard has lost other friends because of her.  I have this information in writing.  So this isn’t just my imagination, or just me.

Yet somehow she continues to stay out of jail, even though I know she has punched Richard on many occasions, and even though I saw her abuse her children and told Social Services about it.

Which, by the way, is another reason I feel nervous seeing these two people at my church, people who I’ve already witnessed being vindictive to other people in the past.

I took a huge risk reporting them, and wouldn’t have done it unless I felt justified, unless I felt those children were in grave danger both mentally and physically.  I feared that one day I would hear about Richard and Tracy on the 6:00 news.

Even if Richard assaulted me for it as he wanted to assault that lady two years ago, I would not regret reporting them.  His criminal conviction proves that my instincts were correct, especially since his daughter reported him long before.

And the audacity Tracy had to abuse the kids right in front of me, though of course she saved the worst of it for behind closed doors!  As if daring me to report her, and meanwhile she claimed the moral high ground when dealing with me.

More than one person had encouraged me in the previous year to report them to Social Services, but I was afraid to do it because Tracy and Richard are both physically scary.  I feared Tracy’s temper or that she would report me in retaliation; I feared that Richard would go goomba on me like he wanted to do to that lady in 2009 who got him so upset.

But then, in February 2011, I saw The Boondock Saints for the second time.  In the beginning we hear a sermon about evil triumphing because good men do nothing about it.

So I began writing an account of what I had witnessed, e-mailed it to an old friend who is in the social work field, and she told me: My concerns are very valid, Richard and Tracy both sound very abusive, she grew up in a similar environment and her family is still dealing with the consequences, so PLEASE report them–do it for Richard’s sake.

So I sent the letter to Social Services, and later confirmed with them that they received it.

I expected only that–if my report was even taken seriously–it would lead to the Department of Social Services (DSS) providing them with various services and helps.  First I checked the state’s public access website to see if either he or Tracy had been charged with domestic violence in the past few years, but nothing was there (though if I’d checked a few days later, it would’ve all been there).

Then, as I stated in the last paragraph, I checked with my friend who’s involved in social work in this state, to see if the things I witnessed, qualified as child abuse under state law.  She urged me to please report them, to help the children and to help Richard.

I filed the report with DSS, not with the police department, because I wanted them to get services, not to be charged with a crime.  I didn’t expect the children to even be removed from the home.

I expected they would work out a long-term plan, in accordance with DSS procedures, with anger management counseling, parenting courses, and various other services that would help them to stop the abuse and become a healthy, happy family.

I figured that if they knew what was in the report, they would know who made it.  But I saw a documentary on Youtube in which one couple said they’d been reported for abusing their children, and a year later, they were very grateful for that report, because they were now much better parents and spouses.

I hoped that this would be the same thing with Richard and Tracy, that in time they would forgive me because they knew I did the right thing, that they would realize it led to their family becoming healthy and happy, and that they would reach out to Jeff and me in friendship, forgiveness and repentance.

Also, when I made the report, it was Tracy who I saw as the principal abuser, with Richard being primarily the victim and the one who was trying desperately to keep her from harming the children as well.

No, this was NOT about vengeance, no matter how angry I was with them.  If it were about vengeance, I would have called CPS immediately after Tracy’s verbal abuse of me on 7/1/10, very easily and gladly, not waited many months after a great deal of reflection and soul-searching over whether it was the right thing to do.

In fact, a pastor friend who had done social work, told me during the weekend following 7/1/10 that I needed to report them for the sake of the children, but I said, “I don’t want to be vindictive.”  He had told me, Don’t let friendship stand in the way of doing what’s right for those children!

I was bullied by one of my brothers for all of my childhood, and he still is a bully–even my mom says so, says he bullies my dad.  When he was about 18 or 19 and I was about 11 or 12, he was a Marine MP, and while home on leave, was getting ready to go on a date.

This was unusual, and I was excited, but didn’t know how to express it.  So like any little kid, I sang out, “— has a daaate!”

My brother’s hands flew around my neck as I sat in a chair, and he said while pressing, “I’ve been trained to kill.”  He let go before I passed out, but it was terrifying.

I was just a bit older than the daughter Richard choked, but Richard is much taller and larger than my brother was at the time.  I feel for that girl, knowing what it’s like to not know if you’re going to die because somebody is choking you.

If Richard and Tracy are just going to let things go for so long and let them fester,

if they’re not going to act like grown-ups who actually care about somebody outside themselves and apologize for the nasty things they did,

if Richard won’t man up enough to put my mind at ease and apologize for betraying me and threatening Hubby,

if they’re going to profess Christianity but act worse than godless heathens,

then I don’t want them going anywhere near me that they can avoid.

The occasional encounter at the store or the fair can be expected, but they can choose not to go where they know I’ll be.  They do have other options.

And this after all that we did for them and gave them, from money and food to baby supplies, free babysitting and taxi service, and all the things we put up with for their sakes, treating them like family, expecting nothing in return but friendship and kindness, but we didn’t even get that.

We feel used, manipulated.  Every time he sees Richard, Hubby wants to knock him out cold.

Nobody wants to see the person who bullied or abused or molested them, or the person who helped them do it.  Even years later, the sight of this person can bring it all back.  What I feel is perfectly normal, and I will not apologize for it.

Update 1/12/13:
A blog post and comments showing that my reaction is normal: Vanci’s Standing Ground (With Tired Feet)

Also see It’s Perfectly Normal to Dread Seeing Abusers Again, Seeing Abuser is Rough for Abuse Victims, Especially When Abusers & Enablers Blame the Victim: Annie’s MailboxNeeding to Feel Safe: Going to same church as abusers, and Fighting the Darkness: Mutual Friends.

Fighting the Darkness: Healing can take a long time (Healing from abuse)

I thought I’d never see Richard at my church again, but there he was on Sunday.

A wound I thought was healing has been ripped open again, gaping and oozing.

It’s hard for me to even get myself up and going to church on Sunday mornings, for fear that they will be there.

They’ve surprised me a few times at church, or at my church’s Greek Fest, since the breach, even though I rarely ever saw them there before.  (They go elsewhere.)

It felt like they were doing it on purpose to terrorize me.  Every time I saw them, I’d barely make it through, feel like collapsing, have to fight to keep from trembling.  Only anger at all the abuse could give me strength to get through.

This time, Hubby Jeff and I saw their vehicle in the parking lot, so Jeff stayed to give me moral support.  (He has his own church and normally just drops me off at mine.)

(See here for reasons why I’d be scared of Richard: his huge size, his choking one of his kids, his past as a goomba, his almost physically assaulting a lady and saying he’d leave no trace that he was ever there, his threatening my husband with physical violence and saying he’s very easily triggered to it.

Also, he told me violent things about his past.  He said he’d been arrested more than a hundred times, but I have no idea for what, or if he was acquitted; it was before he lived in my state, which has a public-access website with details of court cases.

And his wife Tracy is also a very scary person, much larger than I am, violent physically and verbally.  Richard told me that once, in my house, she almost killed me over something, and I had no idea. 

I have no idea if he meant it literally or as hyperbole, but for months afterward, my mind kept going to that, imagining what it would have been like to feel her fists, wondering if Hubby or Richard would have pulled her off me in time, imagining Hubby calling the cops.  Just sitting and watching That 70s Show, one kid would hit another kid, and I’d flinch.

And yet I was expected to “befriend” her, be buddy-buddy with her, without so much as an “I’m sorry” from her, or else I was to “blame” for all the crap she threw at me.)

This time, it was just Richard and two of his kids, not the one who was choked.  It was all very quiet, no scenes or anything.  He didn’t even take communion.

During coffee hour, my son played with the two kids.  One is only about 5 and just happy-go-lucky whatever happens.  She’d pass by us and maybe smile or give a hug.  Just the sweetest, most adorable little girl.  The other one is 7, and upset at Jeff and me for not coming around anymore.

Before I left, I got waylaid by the two girls after Jeff and my son had already gone out.  I gave them hugs and smiles, but also got the older one’s scolding eyes.

She said things in a scolding tone like, “You guys don’t come around anymore,” “We miss you,” “It was fun to play at your house.”  Jeff also got her scolding eyes earlier.

My heart broke right there.  I couldn’t tell a 7-year-old child about the reasons.  I couldn’t tell a 7-year-old child about the abuse, how Tracy had verbally eviscerated me over a misunderstanding and had no remorse, how her father had done a terrible, evil deed to her sister, how he had once planned to do a terrible, evil deed to a lady who had upset him two years ago, and made me afraid of him, afraid of what horrible deeds he could do to me.

I couldn’t explain to her in a way that she could understand it had nothing to do with her.  All I could say was, “We miss you, too,” and try not to cry.  I’ve been miserable ever since, missing her and the other children.

I just kept hoping during coffee hour that Richard would come to Jeff and me and apologize for all the things he’d done to us, and was very disappointed when he didn’t.  I still keep hoping.

I hope that, because of the criminal conviction, he’s using his probation as a second chance to change things around.  I hope that one day things will be different, that his abusive home environment will become healthy and good, that he will come to us.

Websites on abusers keep saying, “Don’t hope for change.  Let go of the hope for change.  Accept that this is the way they are and will always be.  Don’t listen when the Church says they can change.”

But in my heart I just don’t believe that.  I was angry.  I tried to hold onto my anger to distance myself from Richard and all the pain.  But it’s all just vanished and sadness has returned.

When he came to our city four years ago, I had no idea things would turn out like this.  I gave them so much of myself, trying to help them, because Richard’s friendship was so important and special to me.  He never said anything about an abusive homelife, not until then.

One person on an Orthodox message board noted that I sound emotionally and spiritually traumatized.  This is certainly true.  If you are religious, please pray for me and this whole situation, which affects not just me but four innocent children.

And if you are Richard and somehow found my blog, please, PLEASE work on yourself and get rid of the violence.  For me, for Jeff, for yourself, for your children.  And then feel free to get in touch with us.  (It’s impossible to send any of these things directly to Richard because his wife is insanely jealous.)  But these are the things you must do and say:

1) Assure me that you are not going to go all goomba on me.

2) Apologize for the things that went on the final week of our friendship:

  • a) Threatening Jeff with verbal and physical violence for sticking up for me on 6/28/10.
  • b) Throwing me under the bus when Tracy went ballistic, rather than explaining to her the truth of what happened and what I meant by my e-mail.  Letting her go off on me.  Giving in to her so I was not even allowed to explain and exonerate myself.  You knew very well that I was referring to a sisterly/brotherly hug of gratitude, and that it had been your idea.
  • c) Getting into Hubby’s face and intimidating him for sticking up for me.

3) Apologize for, a month later, justifying Tracy’s verbal abuse of me, blaming me for it, then lying to me about why you hadn’t seen my e-mail and why you blocked us on Facebook.  Being so deceitful that I actually thought Tracy was going to finally apologize, when instead I was opened up to more verbal abuse and accusations from her.  Treating me like this was all my problem that I had to get over, rather than admitting that Tracy had been bullying me and getting you to do her dirty work.

4) Admit to your violent tendencies and demonstrate that you are working on them, that you will not threaten us again, will not choke your daughter again, will stop lecturing us on how to discipline children.  Take anger management courses, study the Philokalia and Ladder of Divine Ascent, take parenting classes.

As for Tracy–I don’t want to hear from or see you again.  Don’t come to my church.  Don’t call me on the phone no matter what you see my son doing.  Unless, of course, you’re ready to forgive me for being naturally shy and quiet, and acknowledge your own share in the problems, your own abusive behaviors.

Why do you come here
When you know it makes things hard for me ?
When you know, oh
Why do you come ?

 

 

After his conviction, Richard comes to my church

To my shock, Richard showed up at my church today.  I hadn’t seen him there since last Christmas, and thought that–ever since I reported him to Social Services and he got convicted of choking his kid–he would never show up at my church again, out of shame, knowing or suspecting that I know what he did.  (The Forum was shocked as well.)

But there he was, so who knows when he could show up again.  Every week maybe?  And my church is TINY.  It’s hard to stay at opposite ends of the church in a church that small.  Staying at opposite ends means staying a yard or two apart.  Because of this, even though Jeff normally drops me off and leaves (he’s Lutheran), he stayed nearby as moral support–or a kind of bodyguard.

But I did note a few things.  They may mean nothing, or they may mean something, I don’t know: Richard was very quiet during the service, even during the Creed.  I didn’t hear him and he was just two or three pews back with nobody in between.  He did not go to get the Eucharist.

Only two children were with him: The child he choked was not there.  The youngest also was not there, and neither was Tracy.

He was right behind me in the line to get blessed bread from the priest, but said nothing to me.  Of course, I was sending out clear body language to “stay away.”

Unlike the first or second time I saw them at my church after everything went down, this time I’m given strength by the knowledge that I should not cower in shame from someone who did such a horrible thing to a little kid.

During coffee hour, my son played with the two children who were there.  Child #1 is only about 5 and just happy-go-lucky whatever happens.  She’ll pass by us and maybe smile or give a hug.  Child #2 is older, and upset at Jeff and me for not coming around anymore.

Before I left, I got waylaid by the two girls after Jeff and my son had already gone out.  I gave them hugs and smiles, but also got Child #2’s scolding eyes.  She said things like, “You guys don’t come around anymore,” “We miss you,” “It was fun to play at your house.”

Jeff tells me he also got her scolding eyes.  But you can’t tell a little child, “Sorry, but we can’t come to your house anymore because your mother is nasty and your father choked your sister.”  So instead, I said, “We miss you, too.”

I hate to see children suffer from the sins of the parents.  I keep praying that the probation officer and Social Services are working to change things for those girls so they can break the cycle.

Jeff does not want to be friends with these people again.

[The case also showed up in the local newspaper’s printed listing of court cases, in November, showing his name, the ruling, and the amount of the fine.]

I posted on Facebook a dedication to Richard: “Suedehead” by Morrissey:

Why do you come here?  And why do you hang around?  Why do you come here When you know it makes things hard for me?  When you know, oh…Why do you come?

I also wrote:

Today I was put in the extremely uncomfortable and heartbreaking position of talking to a child who didn’t understand why I don’t come around anymore, and seeing the scold in her eyes.

“It was fun playing at your house,” she said.  “We miss you,” she said.

But you can’t tell a child that her parents’ disgraceful behavior is the reason.  “We miss you, too,” was all I could say.

I don’t get it–Why does he come to my church if he’s not going to try to make things right with us?  It’s supposed to be my refuge, my peaceful place.  But he keeps showing up there like a bad penny.

He has his own church.  What he did to me, has put me into my own Long Dark Night of the Soul; when he choked his daughter, I was horrified; and when I see him again, it’s a setback, when I’ve come so far along.

Every Sunday service, I’m afraid to go because he might be there.  Why doesn’t he leave me alone?

Dude, I don’t hate you, but I am extremely disappointed in you.  I expected much better of you…….

Then I posted a link to my blog post, Healing Takes a Long Time.  Some excerpts:

I had thought I’d never see Richard at my church again, but there he was on Sunday.  A wound I thought was healing has been ripped open again, gaping and oozing.

It’s hard for me to even get myself up and going to church on Sunday mornings, for fear that they will be there.  They’ve surprised me a few times at church, or at my church’s Greek Fest, since the breach, even though I rarely ever saw them there before.  (They go elsewhere.)

It felt like they were doing it on purpose to terrorize me.  Every time I saw them, I’d barely make it through, feel like collapsing, have to fight to keep from trembling.  Only anger at all the abuse could give me strength to get through.

This time, Hubby and I saw their vehicle in the parking lot, so Hubby stayed to give me moral support.  (He has his own church and normally just drops me off at mine.)

This time, it was just Richard and two of his kids, not the one who was choked.  It was all very quiet, no scenes or anything.  He didn’t even take communion.

During coffee hour, my son played with the two kids.  One is only about 5 and just happy-go-lucky whatever happens.  She’d pass by us and maybe smile or give a hug. Just the sweetest, most adorable little girl.

The other one is 7, and upset at Hubby and me for not coming around anymore.

Before I left, I got waylaid by the two girls after Hubby and my son had already gone out.  I gave them hugs and smiles, but also got the older one’s scolding eyes.

She said things in a scolding tone like, “You guys don’t come around anymore,” “We miss you,” “It was fun to play at your house.”  Hubby also got her scolding eyes earlier.

My heart broke right there.  I couldn’t tell a 7-year-old child about the reasons.

I couldn’t tell a 7-year-old child about the abuse, how Tracy had verbally eviscerated me over a misunderstanding and had no remorse, how her father had done a terrible, evil deed to her sister, how he had once planned to do a terrible, evil deed to a lady who had upset him two years ago, and made me afraid of him, afraid of what horrible deeds he could do to me.

I couldn’t explain to her in a way that she could understand it had nothing to do with her.

All I could say was, “We miss you, too,” and try not to cry.  I’ve been miserable ever since, missing her and the other children.

I just kept hoping during coffee hour that Richard would come to Hubby and me and apologize for all the things he’d done to us, and was very disappointed when he didn’t.  I still keep hoping.

[5/4/14: Instead, he just spent the whole time ignoring us, making no move to make peace with us, instead telling one of my fellow parishioners about his conversion to Orthodoxy. 

His conversion–hmph–What a joke!  Was that an Orthodox way to treat us, Richard?  You’re no Christian!]

I hope that, because of the criminal conviction, he’s using his probation as a second chance to change things around.  I hope that one day things will be different, that his abusive home environment will become healthy and good, that he will come to us.

Websites on abusers keep saying, “Don’t hope for change.  Let go of the hope for change.  Accept that this is the way they are and will always be.  Don’t listen when the Church says they can change.”  But in my heart I just don’t believe that.

I was angry.  I tried to hold onto my anger to distance myself from Richard and all the pain.  But it’s all just vanished and sadness has returned.

When he came to our city four years ago, I had no idea things would turn out like this.  I gave them so much of myself, trying to help them, because Richard’s friendship was so important and special to me.  He had never said anything about an abusive homelife, not until then.

One person on an Orthodox message board noted that I sound emotionally and spiritually traumatized.  This is certainly true.

If you are religious, please pray for me and this whole situation, which affects not just me but four innocent children.

[Below was added in spring 2014.]

Tracy accused me of breaking off relations with her because I needed to “grow up” and accept the “consequences” of my “behavior.” 

No, we broke off relations with her because she’s a screaming harpy, a child abuser, a husband beater, and an abusive friend who bullies shy, quiet, gentle people. 

We had already considered breaking off relations with her several times before that, even considered reporting her to CPS before the breakup. 

Her behavior on July 1, 2010 was the last straw. 

And now we have proof, in black and white, and in the state’s court records, that Richard is also a child abuser, making his loss no longer the tragedy I thought it was.

But I still suffered from residual pain and grief over his loss.

On October 31, 2011, the newspaper published this letter I sent to the editor:

I commend Jaymee Barton (“Surviving Violence,” Oct. 24) for speaking out on domestic abuse and [two local newspapers] for publishing stories about this issue over the past year.

An earlier article, “Injuries to Child Raise Questions” (Aug. 26), discussed sentencing for child abusers.  Recently, a local man who choked his young daughter was charged with two felonies.  But through plea bargaining, his sentence became probation, no jail time.

How can this happen with such a despicable act?  Is that child being protected?  Domestic abuse is far too common – husbands abusing wives emotionally, verbally and/or physically, wives abusing husbands in the same way, husbands and wives abusing each other, parents abusing children.

And keep in mind that “domestic abuse” [in Wisconsin] applies to anyone living together, including roommates.  People laugh at women abusing men, but it happens quite a bit, even physically.  Even going to counseling can be a way for the abuser to control the abused by manipulating the counselor.

I also commend Social Services and the police in trying to stop abuse.  Anyone who witnesses or suspects abuse should report it to the police or Social Services to help them do their job protecting those who can’t protect themselves.  And I hope the abused, even children, will have the courage to tell someone who can help.

Table of Contents 

1. Introduction

2. We share a house 

3. Tracy’s abuse turns on me 

4. More details about Tracy’s abuse of her husband and children 

5. My frustrations mount 

6. Sexual Harassment from some of Richard’s friends

7. Without warning or explanation, tensions build

 
8. The Incident

9. The fallout; a second chance?

10. Grief 

11. Struggle to regain normalcy

12. Musings on how Christians should treat each other

13. Conclusion 

13b. Thinking of celebrating the first anniversary

14. Updates on Richard’s Criminal Charges 

Sequel to this Story: Fighting the Darkness: Journey from Despair to Healing

 

 

The Light is Shining Through–Finding Faith Again After the Fall of a Spiritual Mentor: Fighting the Darkness

Many months have passed since my “Fighting the Darkness” post.  I believe I wrote it right after discovering that a friend of mine, who was also friends with Richard, had dropped me on Facebook, so I became paranoid and depressed, wondering why he dropped me, and what Richard had told him.

Things have come to light which I had no way of knowing when I wrote it.

In short, the ex-friend I spoke of, whom I’ll call “Richard,” whom I thought of as my best and dearest friend from 2006 to 2010, of whom I thought the world, has been charged with choking his own 9-year-old step-daughter until she passed out on September 21, 2010.

She told the police on September 22, 2010.

He admitted to the police that he did it because she was “not listening and cleaning up,” that he had “asphyxiated” her, and that he apologized to her when she woke up on a couch.

They summoned him to court and charged him on March 1, 2011.

The choking incident happened many months before my post, but for some reason he wasn’t officially charged until a few weeks after my post.

This devastated me as I began to realize the true character of this person I once put on a pedestal as an awesome man of God, the one who showed me the way to Orthodoxy, the one who answered my questions about Orthodoxy and helped me over the hurdles, the one I went to with questions and confessions about morality and spiritual struggles.

He was charged with intentional child abuse causing injury with high probability of great harm, and second degree recklessly endangering safety, both serious felonies that could have led to significant jail time.

But on October 3, 2011, he plea bargained it down to the child abuse charge being dismissed, but read into the record, and the reckless endangerment charge being amended to a class A misdemeanor of battery, with a year’s probation.  Though if he screws up on probation, he could get 10 days in jail.

This showed me two things which I could no longer deny, even though on occasion I’d remember the old times and think maybe he wasn’t so bad, just a dupe of Stockholm Syndrome:

1) Richard’s own violent tendencies were not tamped down as I thought, but still there and capable of coming out, even to his own little 9-year-old girl.

2) He lied to me about the nature of the abuse in his household.  I soon learned from mutual friend Todd that Richard had also beaten this same girl mercilessly when she was little.

Richard gave me the impression that his wife “Tracy” was the chief aggressor, that his own abusive episodes with the children happened a long time before and he had stopped them, that now he had to protect his children from his wife’s bullying moods.

But these charges showed that he himself was still an aggressor, that he was not reformed after all, that not only did the children need protection from his wife, but they also needed it from him.

He’s very tall and huge, so a slip of a girl would probably see it as being attacked by an ogre or a mountain she can’t escape from.  Imagine the terror she must have felt!

He also told me once that Tracy didn’t like to get him angry because it scared her.  It had happened before.  He said he didn’t mean to scare her, but did anyway.  That’s the trouble when someone as big as he is, doesn’t realize how physically intimidating he is.

I also began to realize that I was truly in the clutches of a narcissist.  I had suspected it for a while, but thought he couldn’t really be that bad.  But there were so many elements of narcissism that sounded very familiar…..  (See here for details.)

Even though Richard was the one who brought me to Orthodoxy as an answer to my faith questions, and helped me all the way through, so that I looked to him as my mentor–Richard wasn’t the only reason I chose Orthodoxy.

That was also because of the influence of various Orthodox forums, such as The Ancient Way and OrthodoxChristianity.net (I was Nyssa).  It was from reading Orthodox books and websites and the River of Fire, and speaking to the priest at the local Greek Orthodox Church, then attending there for more than two years before converting.

My former mentor Richard told me that I knew far more about Orthodoxy than he did when he joined.

While my faith has indeed taken a beating for the reasons I stated previously in Fighting the Darkness, I didn’t choose Orthodoxy to please him, but because I came to believe it.

Pulling it back again has been hard, but it’s slowly and steadily returning.

Ironically, it was his child abuse charges which helped me believe in God again.

Before, I was baffled why, if there truly was a God, He would go to so much trouble to get this person into my life, have him help me find my way to Orthodoxy, then yank him back out again in such horrible circumstances, leaving me a shell of myself, beaten down and battered emotionally.

In my limited sight, it made no sense at all, so I could only pray that this former mentor would repent of his many wrongs to my husband and me, get his wife to see the light as well, and the friendship would be restored.

I wondered how he could go so long without making any move whatsoever to restore a friendship which had provided him with so much help and love and moral support while his family was going through hard times, a friendship which he said was so dear to him.

But when I discovered these charges, that he could likely go to jail for many years for choking his own daughter, I realized that God had been there all along:

First, He put this person into my life for a time to help me find my way spiritually, but eventually I would have to “kill the Buddha” when I realized how screwed-up my mentor actually was, when I thought he was pious and righteous.

I was there to help him as well with various things, and influence him, try to pull him back from the brink of abuse and domestic violence.  God wants him and his wife saved just as much as He wants me saved.

But ultimately the choice was his and his wife’s to choose abuse or salvation.  They chose abuse.

And God pulled me out just in time, as the choking incident occurred just a little more than two and a half months after the blowup of the friendship proved to my husband and me just how selfish, self-centered and violent these two people are even to friends.

Now, I have killed the Buddha and gone on without him, but with my own church congregation still there.  (No, Richard’s family normally does not go there, but to a different church, though they have visited on occasion even after the breakup.)

One day during Liturgy, while gazing at the icon of the Theotokos painted on the ceiling, I wondered again about reconciliation.  I got the insight that No, not now, because they have their own problems which need to be resolved before I can even think about reconciling with them.

I can only hope that one day, Richard will repent and make amends.  He needs to make them not just to me, but to my husband, and to his own children.

As for Tracy, she also needs to make amends, to Richard, to her children and to me, but it seems unlikely that she ever will, thanks to what seems to be a  personality disorder (borderline, which her mother has, and/or narcissism).

I’ve now basically written her off as a lost cause, and taken everything she ever said about me and relegated it to the refuse pile as being cruel and ridiculous, not based in any sort of reality.  Whenever my mind starts going there again, wondering if any of her words were true, I yank it back out again.

I think back over my college days and realize that, again and again, I was the dupe of narcissists.  In those days, it was the search for romance that led me into their clutches; now, it was the search for friendship.

I read somewhere that narcissists are like a drug: You crave them, get high, feel drained afterwards, then when the drug is taken away from you, you have to go through detox.  And that detox can be very long and painful.

I also realize that this is the second time I’ve been through this.

The first time was during my first Orthodox Lent, February 2007.  My first spiritual mentor, from childhood and through college, was my dad.  Then in 2007, my mom called me and began telling me some shocking things.

I won’t go into it, but a crisis nearly split the family, and things had been hidden from me (though not from my brothers) for my entire life.

I remember thinking then that if I didn’t have Orthodoxy (and, ironically, Richard, who was my spiritual mentor starting in 2006 and helped me through this crisis along with my priest), that my faith would have shattered.  I was Nazarene for most of my life because of my dad.

On my favorite Orthodox forum is a common belief that when you convert to Orthodoxy, the Devil begins attacking you, trying to pull you out of it.  Posters there talk about their own experiences with such things, such as car accidents and spiritual tests.

Maybe I am exactly where I belong, then, because if there is no God, or if there’s nothing of value in Orthodoxy, then why would the Devil so aggressively attack my faith?

It’s never gone through anything like this battering before.  Before, any emotional or other crises only made my faith stronger.  But now the core of that very faith is being attacked.

But now there is one thing I know: That I must stop mourning the loss of Richard’s friendship.  That it wasn’t worth my grief.  For a long time it seemed to be worth the work it took to keep it going, but that was an illusion.

I thought Richard was pious and righteous, but that, too, was an illusion.  The time I grieved over the loss of his friendship, I was in denial over his own violence.  I kept seeing the good in him, where others would have written him off long before.

But then I heard about the charges against him, and verified through his mug shot and address posted on the local newspaper’s website that it was, indeed, him.  Through the newspaper website I also discovered what he had done.

Then I began to stop grieving over him, stop wishing he would repent and return to my husband and me.

I have been vindicated; my concerns over abuse have been confirmed.  It has been proven to me and to the world that we were right to end the friendship, that the opinions of Richard and Tracy about me are not worth taking to heart, that my accusers were themselves the criminals.

It has been proven that Tracy has no business lecturing me about my behavior, because her own has been so egregiously bad and evil.  I must consider the source every time my mind starts to ponder her words yet again, and reject them utterly as ridiculous.

Especially since the various things that she grabbed ahold of as being such foul behavior, are actually perfectly normal and acceptable behavior among my groups of friends.

I hoped that Richard would have a lot of time to think in jail, but now he won’t be going to jail.  However, even if Richard does some day come to us, wanting to restore a friendship, he will have to not only be extremely contrite, but he will also have to prove that he has learned from his mistakes and has turned away from his violent, abusive ways.

He manipulated me into believing he already did this, but then proved that he had not, by doing something so horrible that his own daughter turned him in to the police to protect herself.

She was a very brave girl, and her actions have almost certainly drawn the attention of CPS (who knows about all these other things) as well as the police, so hopefully they will lead to positive changes.

[Update 8/11/13:]

Two years after I wrote this post, I still struggle with faith, but a few things came to mind today when I was supposed to be listening to Father’s sermon:

I don’t want to go into detail, but my husband and I have had some money disagreements in the past.  I’m the “accountant” of the household, and he gave me authority to make financial decisions for reasons I also don’t want to go into.   But there were disagreements about those decisions.  Those disagreements were brought to a resolution.

Yesterday, he made some comments that made me think he was scolding me all over again, bringing up again what I thought had been settled.  I let it pass without much comment, but poured out my frustrations to God last night, not knowing what to make of this.

Then today, out of the blue, my husband realized I took him seriously, and explained he was only teasing.  I explained that the past disagreements caused me to take him seriously.

In short, it was a misunderstanding on my part, and now it was all resolved.  This was a huge relief.

During the sermon, I realized that God had directly and swiftly answered my prayer.  Then more things came to mind, times when God seemed to have abandoned me, but was right there all along:

1) My first breakup of a love relationship (not just a short puppy-love) was from Peter.  He had used his own narcissistic webs to make me think we were meant for each other, so much so that we formed a mental Link with each other.

When he broke things off, he turned so cruel and changed so much from the person I fell in love with, that I actually wondered if demons had taken control of him.  (I was very much influenced by Pat Robertson and Charismatic thinking about the spirit world, which is dramatized in This Present Darkness.)

I fell into a deep, dark depression that lasted for months.  But as time proved, he and I would have been a terrible match: I wanted a clean-cut husband; he abandoned his clean-cut ways, and turned to drinking, smoking and weed.  My beliefs demanded that I marry a fellow Christian; he also abandoned Christianity, and turned to Paganism.

2) My second major breakup was Phil, with whom I had exchanged marriage vows.  Because we had gone so far, and because I had never been the outgoing kind of person who can easily find dates, I fell into another funk, believing that Phil and I were supposed to be together, that divorce would violate Christ’s command that the married stay married.

But he was emotionally, verbally and sexually abusive, manipulating my mind and heart.  He could have destroyed me if I had legally married him.

Our beliefs demanded that we not have sex before marriage, so we exchanged vows.  If we had not done this, if we had either stayed virgins (technically, though not really) or eloped to make our vows legal, his dark side may never have manifested until we got legally married, maybe even had a child together.

Often, abusers don’t show their true colors until after marriage.  So I do not regret the path I chose with Phil, because it led to his true colors showing before I became legally bound to him.  His wife was not so fortunate: He knocked her up, so they “had” to get married.  Now they have been divorced for several years.

Now, I believe that Richard and Tracy were put into my life so I could play an important role: the one to confront them with their abuses, and to report them to Social Services.

It was important, but also extremely difficult.  It took a year of reflection and research before I even reported them, only to find that their daughter had already reported Richard for choking her.

But my report means that Social Services has another perspective on their abuses, a separate voice confirming whatever they came up with as they investigated the choking incident.  I don’t know if I told them anything they didn’t already know, but I am another witness.

However, my role has put me into a challenging and emotionally taxing position.  I have been threatened by Richard and Tracy, and stalked for more than a year.  I have had to face the fact that the one I once revered as a beloved and righteous spiritual mentor, has turned against me for speaking out and telling the truth.

I don’t know why it had to be me.  (Why me?  Why not somebody else?)  Maybe they behaved themselves around their other friends.  Maybe I was the only one, outside of Richard’s family, to whom he told Tracy’s abuses.

Todd stayed with them but didn’t see Tracy’s abuses, so maybe they behaved themselves around him, or maybe the children were too young to start receiving her abuses.  (I noted that the babies would be babied, but children 3+ would start being abused verbally and physically.)

I don’t think Richard told Todd the things he told me about Tracy, even though they were close at the time.  I don’t know why he did not tell Todd these things.

Maybe their other friends had similar parenting views and didn’t see a whack on the head as abuse.  Maybe their friends who broke off relations with them (we were not the first), either did not witness the abuse, or chose not to report it.

All I know is that I was the one who had to do it.  Well, I and the child who was choked.  That is why this person was put in my life when I prayed for a friend.

If it were easy to do the right thing, anyone could have done it.  I guess God decided I was the one capable of doing it.

My husband and I believe Richard and Tracy realized this as well.  We believe this is why they began abusing me again in the spring of 2010, after they had been nice to me for a while.

That this is why they lied, screamed, and abused me in various ways over a misunderstanding, then refused to apologize or admit wrongdoing or my innocence.

That it’s because they knew I was capable of reporting them, and wanted me out, where I could no longer witness their abuses.

There is no way to conclusively prove that God exists.  But if He does, then I see his work here, his hand, leading and guiding me even in the darkness.  And the light is shining through.

[Update 8/12/13:]

This blog post freaked me out just now, because it sounded so much like what Richard put me through, that I wondered if it was about him–a man who befriends fragile women, makes them trust him, then begins to devalue and discard them.

I came across it while reading through a blog by a suicidal BPD woman, who does want treatment for her BPD but is finding it hard to come by:

We have to live today by what truth we can get today and be ready tomorrow to call it falsehood

If someone with BPD admits to having this disorder and tries to get it treated, I am more inclined to compassion.  It’s the person who destroys others but tells them it’s their fault, like I witnessed in Tracy, that I can’t abide.

Richard is convicted of choking his daughter

He was charged with intentional child abuse causing injury with high probability of great harm, and second degree recklessly endangering safety, both serious felonies that could have led to significant jail time.

But on October 3, 2011, he plea bargained it down to the child abuse charge being dismissed, but read into the record, and the reckless endangerment charge being amended to a class A misdemeanor of battery, with a year’s probation and a fine.

Though if he screws up on probation, he could get 10 days in jail.

My husband and I both feel he got off far too lightly, with a disgraceful slap on the wrist that teaches him nothing.

Table of Contents 

1. Introduction

2. We share a house 

3. Tracy’s abuse turns on me 

4. More details about Tracy’s abuse of her husband and children 

5. My frustrations mount 

6. Sexual Harassment from some of Richard’s friends

7. Without warning or explanation, tensions build

 
8. The Incident

9. The fallout; a second chance?

10. Grief 

11. Struggle to regain normalcy

12. Musings on how Christians should treat each other

13. Conclusion 

13b. Thinking of celebrating the first anniversary

14. Updates on Richard’s Criminal Charges 

Sequel to this Story: Fighting the Darkness: Journey from Despair to Healing