Articles from August 2012

Needing to Feel Safe: Going to same church as abusers

Recent posts addressing my blog stalkers seem to have brought them back out of the woodwork, which was predictable.  Hopefully I will now be able to heal faster because I told them what I did, and because I have not allowed them to intimidate me into silence.

(No, I don’t want to end up like the lady in Sunday’s Hoarding: Buried Alive, who has spent my entire lifetime–39 years–still stuck in her abusive childhood, and began hoarding because of it.  The main reason I write memoirs/blogs, and put past experiences into fiction, is to deal with this stuff and get it out so I don’t end up like that.)

When your husband keeps encountering them at the store (and going the other way), and you keep seeing them driving past you, not just a few times during the two years since your breakup but twice in the few days since you wrote such messages, you start to wonder if they’re following you or if your city is just too dang small.

(The same thing happened with my ex Phil, too, constantly seeing him drive or walk past me, making me wonder how often it was just coincidence.  Wondering if he parked right next to my apartment building, which I believe was against the rules for commuters, on purpose to rub it in my face that he had a new girlfriend just a couple weeks after we broke up.  But this is no college campus, this is a city of some 40,000 or 50,000 people, with thousands of cars driving these city streets every day.)

But at least they behaved at church on Sunday.  At the very least, I have to feel safe at church.

That’s what all abuse/bullying victims need when they go to the same church as their abusers: to feel safe.  Otherwise, they will stop going there because the stress is too much, the chance of re-victimization too high.  This contract addresses this: When the Abuser Is Among Us: One Church’s Response to a Perpetrator

This particular article refers to a case of sexual abuse, but the idea can be adapted to the needs of an individual situation.  Some quotes:

I explained that there is always a desire to push for speedy forgiveness and reconciliation, but that the church’s goal must be to be a naming and healing congregation, to model living with integrity. I identified three choices they faced as a congregation.

1)  Naming versus denial. Naming creates the environment for providing support for both the victims and offenders, allowing the congregation to work more openly and effectively. It requires saying, “Sexual abuse is a sin. If sexual abuse has happened among us, it is our business.”

2)  Offering safety or doing nothing. Of central importance was comforting and protecting victims, as well as working to prevent further violation. To the victims, they needed to say, “It was not your fault,” and “We are sorry this happened.”

3) Accountability or collusion. I explained that in responding to the abuser it was essential to focus on behavior, not characteristics; otherwise we may succumb to the great temptation of identifying with the perpetrator and the perpetrator’s pain instead of being focused on the victim’s pain.

Identification with him can mean that we feel anxiety over his being called to accountability and may prevent us from doing what he most needs.

Within Christian communities there is often confusion about calling to accountability in that we think that being loving and Christ like is releasing someone from their sufferings, rather than saying, “I will be with you as you experience the consequences of your behavior.”

…..I then read these powerful lines from Judith Herman: “All the perpetrator asks is that the bystander do nothing. He appeals to the universal desire to see, hear, and speak no evil. The victim, on the contrary, asks the bystander to share the burden of pain.”

I suggested that churches that are bystanders will be seen as churches for abusers. In fact, it turned out that some congregational members were disconcerted by the lack of response by the church leadership.

I asked where has Jesus’ voice been heard in all this? Where does our faith call us?

The congregation could either welcome the abuser, ignoring his behavior and thinking it was nothing that they had to do anything about (especially since it had now been adjudicated in court), or they could address his behavior, saying,

“Abusive behavior is a choice and I hold you accountable for it. We care enough about you to hold you accountable for it. There is a part of you that desires a better life, a healthier relationship.

“We will be an ally of that part of you that gravitates toward change, but we will continue to judge that part of you that resists change and hurts another.”

…..Message to the Perpetrator:
Abusive behavior is a choice and we hold you accountable for it. We care enough about you to hold you accountable for it. There is a part of you that desires a better life and healthier relationships.

We are an ally of that part of you that gravitates toward change, but we will continue to judge that part of you that resists change and hurts others.

We care enough about all people who desire access to this Christian fellowship to establish these guidelines for your access so that everyone may reasonably expect freedom from direct and indirect hurt.

I found this one day while Googling for others’ accounts of what it is like to see your abuser again, whether at school, church, in your family, around town, whatever.  What I found is that it is perfectly normal to not want to see that person again who has hurt you, to feel rage, to want them to go away. 

And why should you feel otherwise?  This is natural instinct, to be wary and upset around your abuser, even to lash back like a cornered animal if they try to hurt you again.  They’ve hurt you before, so they’ll probably try to hurt you again.

We need to listen to that instinct rather than those who try to tell you that you need to reconcile with this person, relax, whatever.  It can take many years to heal from the repeated traumas of being abused or bullied, but even then, we still need to be watchful.

Childhood bullies may just need to grow up and mature, but oftentimes, bullies do not grow out of it, while abusers often continue justifying their actions for the rest of their lives.  If we forget our past with that person, we could be re-victimized and have even more issues to work through.

Another article on that website, Structures of Forgiveness in the New Testament, has an interesting view of forgiveness as it relates to abusers and the abused.  In fact, there are various resources on that website dealing with church responses to abuse.

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 Mailbox, Fighting the Darkness: Seeing the abuser again, and Fighting the Darkness: Mutual Friends.

Desperate Measures–When Abusers Sense They’re Losing Their Grip on You (About a Luke173 Ministries Article)

Once upon a time, I used to have a pleasant fantasy.  In it, I would tell my birth-mother that her behavior was upsetting to me.

She would apologize, tell me that she would never dream of continuing to hurt me because she cares for me a great deal, and promise to stop her offensive behavior immediately.

Then, true to her word, she would never do it again, enabling our relationship to be happily restored.  Boy, was I living in la-la land.

When that never worked, I had a slightly more complicated delusion.  After I complained about her mistreatment, she would continue hurting me anyway.

Since it stressed me out to be in her presence, I would begin to avoid placing myself in that position.  I would begin to feel distant from her.

I might even decide to take a break from the relationship for a few weeks or months, of which I might or might not choose to inform her, to get my thoughts together about what to do next.

Mom, sensing my withdrawal, would realize what she was doing and become concerned about losing the relationship.  Afraid that she might really be driving me away, she would come to her senses, immediately stop her hurtful behavior, and make every effort to be as pleasant to be with as possible.

Her turnabout would enable me to enjoy being with her, and our relationship would be happily restored.  Yeah, right.  What in the world was I thinking?

If we were talking about normal people who truly do love and care for those who love them, this would really happen.

In fact, the reason we try to talk things out with a loved one who is hurting us is that we are hoping against hope for such a happy ending.

But those of us who have had the misfortune to try and reason with a control freak or an abuser quickly learn that there is almost NO CHANCE that this will actually ever happen in our situations. –Rev. Renee, Desperate Measures–When They Sense They’re Losing Their Grip on You

This article from Luke173 Ministries sounds very familiar, and I should hold onto it.  After being bullied constantly and then told that I was the abuser and deserved what I got, that I had to change my behavior for the bullying to stop–This article sounds so much like dealing with Tracy.

Like, for example, “Abusers will not respect our request for a break or for time to think.”  (What was her response to my request for a break, after all the venom she’d spewed at me made me want to spend many months away from her?  “Have a nice life and let me know when you GROW UP and stop being hurt over the consequences of YOUR BEHAVIOR.”)

Refusing to make allowances for the fact that I was completely missing her cues to have conversations, and rather than helping me know she wanted one, continuously getting mad at me for breaking all sorts of rules without even knowing I was breaking a rule, or what rule I was breaking.

Me begging (through Richard, since Tracy scared me) that she be nice to me so I could relax and feel comfortable enough around her to break through my natural shyness and reserve.

Me explaining (to Richard, since she scared me) that my reserve with her came from her nastiness to me and her abuses of Richard and the children, that those things had to change for me to break through my natural reserve, but there never was a change in her nastiness to everyone.  Rather, I was treated like my legitimate problems and complaints with her were just “excuses,” like I had no idea what I was talking about, like I was being the stubborn one who wouldn’t comply.

Me feeling like I was supposed to just put up with and accept her bad temper, but I was not allowed to struggle with the constraints of my introverted and NVLD brain, which causes all sorts of social issues which I did not ask for and still have problems with, because that’s how my brain works–Basically, she’s allowed to be as nasty as she wants to people, but I’m not allowed to have trouble reading people’s social cues or thinking up things to talk about.

(Their common response when others were upset with their behavior: Deal with it.  But I was not allowed to respond in kind.  Also, I was expected to put up with her moods and nastiness and never return an angry word back, but they’ve treated my standing up for myself as some sort of crime.)

Being treated as if she’s perfect and doesn’t need to change a thing, while I need to change everything about myself, and be forced into friendship (and sharing secrets with) someone who struck me as being emotionally and physically dangerous.

Never being sure where I stood with her, thinking for months that she was perfectly fine with me now, even having confirmation from Richard that she was perfectly fine with me now, only to find that she still was finding all sorts of reasons why my behavior did not suit her.

Her refusing to honor my request that she not use cussing or nasty words with me.

Her using the slightest capitulation as a chance to vent all the things I supposedly had done over the years, mostly things that had long since stopped and been apologized for, and then say she had far more to say as well, leaving me baffled as to what on earth could be left.

Me feeling like all the complaints I had ever had about her behavior, were being ignored and tossed aside as nothing, while her complaints about me were the only ones worthy of notice.

No matter how calmly and politely we request a change, things will go south fast.  Any attempt we make to have a loving and rational discussion will quickly degenerate into a crazy-making, nasty argument.

We will be left scratching our heads and wondering what on earth went wrong, and why a simple plea for a little consideration had to be blown up into such a big deal.

On the surface, abusers seem to have absolutely no sensitivity to others at all. But in reality they are acutely sensitive to their victim becoming stronger, beginning to heal, or pulling away from their toxicity.

Control freaks sense instantly when they begin to lose their grip on their victim, which will mean losing their ability to control her.  They are desperate to prevent that from happening, and will pull out all the stops to keep her enmeshed with them.

It also gives me an idea of what I need to do.  Escalating the argument, putting me on the defensive, making me her toy to play with as she wishes by pushing my buttons and getting me upset–This is exactly what she wants.

The e-mail she sent in response to my telling her to leave me alone (“Now I’m Being Stalked“)–that fits right in with the above cited webpage.  Basically, not only will she not leave me alone, not only will she not honor my requests, but she will step up her attacks by doing everything I don’t want her to do and poking and prodding me into anger and irritation.

It’s all a game for her; she did the same thing to Todd.  She can do or say anything she wants to me, but when she finally reaps what she has sown in my anger and fighting back and finally getting the balls to stand up to her, she acts as if I’ve committed some horrible crime and am accusing an “innocent” person.

She can certainly come to me in peace and forgiveness/repentance if ever she wants to.  But I don’t expect her to ever do this.

The only thing I can do is disengage, refuse to let her pokes continue to bring a rise out of me.  And yes, I know she’s going to read this, since they’ve been reading everything.

But I don’t post it for them, I post it for other people who are going through this, and I know there are many of you.

We have followed the story of Margo and her particular brand of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) for several articles (see links below).

We have also looked at how Margo took out her deep sense of insecurity by tormenting her younger sister Leah, who at twelve years her junior was for many years not able to control the situation that she was being subjected to.

Today we will examine how Leah finally took the reigns and removed Margo’s power once and for all….

She next stated that she required Margo to make a choice. Either be civil to Leah or be silent….

This particular incident also shows that when Margo was faced with the reality of losing her only sibling forever, she made no attempt to try to rectify the situation and actually attempt to have a normal relationship.

This is because Margo and people like her cannot truly care for others, and Margo certainly never really loved her sister otherwise she would have been distressed at the possibility of losing her forever.

Such is the lack of feelings for others that Margo prefers to have no family as she does not possess the emotional skills to deal with the situation she found herself in.

And Leah is happy that she got rid of a sister who was nothing but a millstone around her neck. –Beth McHugh, The End of Margo’s Reign of Sadism

 

Toxic Friendships/Relationships

I’ve noticed quite a bit of hits from keywords referring to abuse.  This is, unfortunately, a common problem, and people need to find help.

There are also many hits from keywords referring to narcissistic or borderline personality disorders, disorders which often lead to abusive behaviors.

So I will make a series of posts from my webpage on abuse, which gathers together links I have found most helpful.  I have them arranged by category. 

The first part is on the general topic of abuse.  The last section of the webpage, my own personal abuse stories, has already been posted here.

From my page Abuse in all its forms: My Thoughts, Quotes and Links to help:

Toxic Friendships/Relationships

How to Protect your Health Against Toxic Behavior (Especially good if the mistreatment you suffer comes not from a spouse, but from someone else you have to have contact with.  It gives ways to forgive such treatment and set boundaries.  In the comments, you can also find advice on how not to be toxic yourself.  There is some New Agey stuff in the article and the comments, but most of the advice applies no matter what religion you are.)

Unhealthy Friendships: Why do we keep them and how do you know if a friendship is unhealthy?

How to Recognize a Toxic Friend

Women as Verbal Abusers

The Topic of Abuse (General)

Abuse Specifically Against Husbands/Boyfriends 

Borderline Personality Disorder 

Bullying 

Child Abuse

Domestic Abuse (anyone who lives together or is in a romantic relationship, including roommates or family members)

Emotional Abuse

Gaslighting

Getting into the Psyche of the Abuser

If You’ve Been Reported to CPS 

Narcissists

Personal Stories

Physical Abuse

Recovery

Stopping Abuse/ Helping Abused Friend, Family Member, Co-worker, Child 

Toxic Friendships/Relationships

Understanding the Abused

Verbal Abuse

 

Stopping Abuse/ Helping Abused Friend, Family Member, Co-worker, Child

I’ve noticed quite a bit of hits from keywords referring to abuse.  This is, unfortunately, a common problem, and people need to find help.

There are also many hits from keywords referring to narcissistic or borderline personality disorders, disorders which often lead to abusive behaviors.

So I will make a series of posts from my webpage on abuse, which gathers together links I have found most helpful.  I have them arranged by category.

The first part is on the general topic of abuse.  The last section of the webpage, my own personal abuse stories, has already been posted here.

From my page Abuse in all its forms: My Thoughts, Quotes and Links to help:

 

Stopping Abuse/ Helping Abused Friend, Family Member, Co-worker, Child

Yes, you can stop violence against women

How to help a friend who’s being abused/survived sexual assault

How to help a co-worker who’s being abused

Avoiding Victim-Blaming

Community Action Stops Abuse (CASA)

MOSAIC Threat Assessment System

Safety Planning–Extensive Guide

How to clear your browser

How to Help Someone who is being Abused

Helping an Abused Friend

How to Help a Friend who is Being Abused

Domestic Violence Awareness Handbook

How to Work with CPS

CPS brochure

CPS FAQ

Friends in Need: Interventions for Domestic Violence

How can I help a friend or family member who is being abused?

How to Help Victims of Domestic Violence

For Domestic Violence Survivors and their Family, Friends and Co-workers

Care and Protection Cases

Identifying child abuse

Child Welfare Information Gateway

What we can do about child abuse

Child Abuse and Neglect: Recognizing and Preventing Child Abuse

Domestic Violence Handbook

What happens when you report someone to Social Services

Is my friend being abused?

But since Karen’s death, I have learned that it’s all right to say to your friend, “I don’t think your partner is treating you well.” That’s being a good friend (Liz Welch, Redbook Magazine, You May Think Domestic Violence has Nothing to do with You).

Speaking up about someone else’s abuse, or walking away from your own, is never easy. It takes strength, support, and a courageous spirit.

Share your inspiring stories of survival, as well as your experience with a friend or family member who was — or still is — in an abusive relationship.

No matter the voice, no matter the story, there is power in sharing our truth. –Redbook Magazine, Time to talk, link no longer works

Reporting child abuse can be difficult on a personal level. You may feel that you are “meddling” in someone else’s affairs, breaking up a family or disrupting people’s lives.

However, by reporting suspected child abuse, you are making a difference in the life of a child. Sometimes we have to intervene to stop damaging and destructive behaviors that are being done to people who are weaker or have no voice, no power to stop it.

When you step up and take action on behalf of a child in this position, you will not only make a difference in that child’s life, you may also touch the lives of all of the people involved. –Stephanie Partridge, Signs of Emotional Child Abuse

Even if you just suspect that someone is abusing or neglecting a child, report it. If you are afraid to report the suspected abuse or neglect because you might be wrong, do it any way.

If you are wrong, you can always apologize. If you are right, you may have saved the life of a child and you have definitely changed the life of a child for the better.

As a child, I always wished someone would ask about if I was being sexually abused. I couldn’t voluntarily ask someone for help. I was too afraid.

This is true for many children. If you suspect a child is being abused, ask. Please ask.

Not all children will tell you the truth, but some will. They, like me, are just waiting for someone to care enough to ask. –Patricia Singleton, Be a Voice for Children–Speak Out About Child Abuse

The Topic of Abuse (General)

Abuse Specifically Against Husbands/Boyfriends 

Borderline Personality Disorder 

Bullying 

Child Abuse

Domestic Abuse (anyone who lives together or is in a romantic relationship, including roommates or family members)

Emotional Abuse

Gaslighting

Getting into the Psyche of the Abuser

If You’ve Been Reported to CPS 

Narcissists

Personal Stories

Physical Abuse

Recovery

Stopping Abuse/ Helping Abused Friend, Family Member, Co-worker, Child 

Toxic Friendships/Relationships

Understanding the Abused

Verbal Abuse

Personal Stories of Abuse

I’ve noticed quite a bit of hits from keywords referring to abuse.  This is, unfortunately, a common problem, and people need to find help.

There are also many hits from keywords referring to narcissistic or borderline personality disorders, disorders which often lead to abusive behaviors.

So I will make a series of posts from my webpage on abuse, which gathers together links I have found most helpful.  I have them arranged by category.

The first part is on the general topic of abuse.  The last section of the webpage, my own personal abuse stories, has already been posted here.

From my page Abuse in all its forms: My Thoughts, Quotes and Links to help:

Personal Stories

Real Women’s Stories of Abuse, Survival and Jealousy

Speaking up about someone else’s abuse, or walking away from your own, is never easy. It takes strength, support, and a courageous spirit.

Share your inspiring stories of survival, as well as your experience with a friend or family member who was–or still is–in an abusive relationship.

No matter the voice, no matter the story, there is power in sharing our truth.  —Time to talk, Redbook Magazine, link no longer works

My own stories, to help those who are being abused and need to read the stories of others who have been there.

The Topic of Abuse (General)

Abuse Specifically Against Husbands/Boyfriends 

Borderline Personality Disorder 

Bullying 

Child Abuse

Domestic Abuse (anyone who lives together or is in a romantic relationship, including roommates or family members)

Emotional Abuse

Gaslighting

Getting into the Psyche of the Abuser

If You’ve Been Reported to CPS 

Narcissists

Personal Stories

Physical Abuse

Recovery

Stopping Abuse/ Helping Abused Friend, Family Member, Co-worker, Child 

Toxic Friendships/Relationships

Understanding the Abused

Verbal Abuse