Why I put this story on the Web–at great personal risk

I keep putting up this story and taking it down again and putting it back up again.  I take it down because I wonder how much I really want to post on the Web.

Then I put it back up because the issues in here–child abuse, domestic violence, bullying, women who abuse men–are very important and need to be addressed.

It’s a risk which sometimes I do and sometimes don’t want to take, but there are many things in here that need to be said about modern society–and it’s hard to make a complete picture of what happened without posting all of it.  However, there are some private details which must be kept private.

1. This page is for NLDers, introverts, fellow bullying victims, fellow abuse survivors and friends of abuse victims.

2. I want to help raise awareness that women do abuse, too, not just men.  If the roles were reversed and Richard did the things I saw Tracy do and heard that Tracy did, nobody would question that he was a jerk and abuser and that she needed to get out.  But because the woman was the abuser, Richard kept trying to hold it together.

It takes great courage or stupidity to post this, because I’m scared the bully Tracy will find it and retaliate.  She is, after all, physically violent when she chooses to be.  (But then, she thinks I’m stupid anyway.)

There’s also still the faint hope that one day soon Tracy will regret the things she’s done, apologize and try to change.

But if she does find it, or Richard finds it–who knows, maybe reading this will show them just what they’ve done and that theirs are not the only opinions that matter.  Maybe it will inspire them to make amends and changes in their own lives.

If they just look and laugh and make no apologies, then that would be childish and prove they have no business coming back into our lives.  If Tracy beats me up, I’ll finally have physical proof of her true character.

[Update: The above was written somewhere between 2010 and 2011.  They did indeed find this in May 2012; see here.]

3. But I’ve read other people’s accounts of how they’ve been bullied and abused.

So my story burns within me to be told as well, expressing to the ether what happened, hoping other abuse victims will be helped by it and learn from it–especially people who deal with NVLD, Asperger’s or selective mutism, or who are introverts, and whose social understanding is hampered.

I have been betrayed and thrown to the wolves by the very person I thought had my back.

4. You will see that it’s useless to deal with someone who is jealous, controlling and/or abusive, but won’t deal with her issues properly.

You will hopefully learn that it just isn’t worth trying to pacify such a person, that it’s best to just cut them out of your life early–before they infect you with their emotional damage and leave you to deal with the pain, the post traumatic stress disorder-like symptoms, the lies they spread about you, etc.  Even a dear friendship isn’t worth that.

5. I hope to demonstrate the evils of jealousy, to make a plea for all those who are judged by advice columnists and bloggers and the like as whores and “inappropriate” based simply on one side given us by an upset wife in a short letter.  There may be more to that story than you realize.

6. I hope to help NLDers realize their naïveté can make them far too trusting, far too easily taken advantage of.

7. As a writer, I am driven to tell stories, even and especially my own stories, whether positive or negative.

8. There’s a huge lack of stories, even on the Net, about the friends and families of people who are involved in domestic or child abuse situations; friends who are being abused by friends; the friends of friends who are being abused by friends.

You read about them, but mostly a sentence or two about how friends and family are driven away by the abuser and/or subjected to abuse as well, because they object to how the abuser treats their friend.

I searched and searched to find stories about friendship abuse, but kept finding very little (except occasionally in comments to blogs or advice columns).  There are plenty of survivor stories from people who were abused by parents or romantic partners.  The dynamics are obviously different, making it hard to relate if you’re the friend being abused.

So that’s another reason I put these stories here, because this is about a friend who sees her best friend’s verbally and physically violent marriage, objects, then finds herself subjected to abuse and accusations because she objected, until finally she cuts these people out of her life at great personal grief.

This story is for people who are abused by friends, or the spouses of friends, or who feel helpless as a friend or family member is domestically abused.  Perhaps you will see that while the abuse of me did anger me quite a bit, what angered me the most was how Tracy abused Richard, the children, and others.

9. I want to help raise awareness of different types of domestic abuse.

10. I want to help raise awareness of bullying and abuse in other contexts.

11. We need to get our stories out there so others learn how to recognize bullying and abuse–to get away from it, to stop doing it, to help others out of it.  Despite decades of attention, this problem persists.

12. I want to help others learn from my mistakes, of which you will probably find many.

13. I want to record my struggle with loss of faith and trying to hold onto it, after the most significant person in my conversion to Orthodoxy, became my betrayer and manipulator.  The fall of a spiritual mentor into some kind of sin does happen now and then, shaking the faith of the ones who looked up to him, so this story is universal.

14. I want to raise awareness for what it’s like to be an introvert, or to have NLD/Asperger’s/selective mutism, and how people like us are constantly bullied in today’s American society, which values extroversion and looks down upon introversion.

15. And, well, this story is true from my perspective (that last bit added for legal reasons).  I wouldn’t be so confident with a lie.

Here is another story of a woman abused by a friend, as seen through the eyes of another woman who eventually became subjected to abuse as well, for sticking up for the abused.  And here is what appears to be the story of the friend being abused.

Here is another story of a woman being abused by her female friend, who is a narcissist.  From what I have observed, Richard and Tracy both have narcissistic traits.  Note the following paragraph from this link, from JoyfulAliveWoman’s blog.  Note that her friendship was heterosexual, that there was nothing sexual about it, and yet this woman hooked in JAW so much that she wrote this:

I was under H’s spell. I couldn’t get enough of her. I became Codependent with her. It was pathetic.

No one else had that effect upon me, nor had they ever. My relationships with others were different.

That isn’t to say those relationships weren’t challenging, but there was a “hypnotic and obsessive quality” to the relationship with H (strong characteristics of a codependent, dysfunctional relationship).

H had her so enthralled that, even though she didn’t acknowledge that JAW had wisdom and insight of her own, and her own superior attitude sometimes inspired JAW to rebel, JAW was always the one to go crawling back, contrite, while her objections were swept under the rug.

It wasn’t like this in the beginning between Richard and me, not until later on, but it was always that way with Tracy and me.

Although it is a common belief that grooming is most relevant to children, the same or similar psychological processes are used by perpetrators to exploit adults.

In the case of adult grooming, the victims family and friends are also manipulated into thinking the perpetrator is a “nice guy” and that he can be trusted.

It is not only a perpetrator’s victims that are groomed (which would be considered emotional abuse), but the victims’ family and friends, the perpetrator’s own family and friends, and even public servants and medical professionals (in which case it is purposeful manipulation). –Mel Stewart, The Fine Art of Grooming

I’ve described the Richard and Tracy story in little bits and pieces, interspersed here and there in my reviews of Gone With the Wind, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl and Mysteries of Udolpho.

For more than two years I was bullied for being different by a grown adult, bullied by Tracy by proxy through Richard, verbally abused by Tracy only to have both of them act like what I did (basically, being shy, quiet and wary of Tracy, who bullied me, Richard and her children) was somehow worse than her bullying and abuse of me.

At first, Richard and I bonded over religion, music and Goth.  He was my spiritual guide.  He was my best, closest and dearest friend, the one I trusted so much that I told him things I hadn’t told anyone else.  We were like a mutual admiration society.  He told me I was the most awesome person he knew; I felt the same about him.  But he betrayed me.

The first thing is, you were born this way. It is in your nature, and thus cannot be wrong.  On average, one out of every three people is an introvert, if being quiet was wrong, that would make 1/3 of the total population born lesser. –serjicaladdict, Why are you so quiet?

16. [This part was written somewhere between late 2010 and early 2011.]  Another reason is to try somehow to understand this perplexing situation.  Only over the past several months, as I’ve been writing and adding to this story, have I started to see the whole picture and make connections and understand little bits of pieces of it.

I noticed the same thing over the past 15 years as I wrote memoirs about my life: Certain events that upset me greatly, long-term abuse and other such things, I wrote about as they happened, and put them into my memoirs several years later.  I began to understand, but not quite yet.

Then several years after that, I put these memoirs online in public versions.  As I did this, and did more research into abuse, I saw connections I never saw before.  Things began to make sense, how guys would manipulate me, and that sort of thing.

I see this happen now as I write about this horrible situation.  I see clues to what may have happened, that I didn’t see before.

All my life I’ve written diaries, letters, e-mails, journals, memoirs and other accounts describing my life, its various events, my emotions.  This may be related to NVLD, being confused by life, not seeing the whole picture for the details, and needing to journal about it to figure things out.

It may also be related to Aspergers, having a long memory, going over things again and again in your mind long after other people have forgotten about it.

Or maybe I simply want to be a modern Laura Ingalls Wilder.

What Makes Your Control Freak Wife or Girlfriend Tick sounds to me very much like Tracy, and you will recognize various elements of it as you read my story, such as:

  • her being happy as she cuts you down
  • having to be in control (which she did to me, to Richard, to an ex-family friend named Todd)
  • histrionics I witnessed when she dealt with her ex
  • steamrolling me time and again, no compromise or concession, this coming back to bite her as people kept bolting from friendships or other relationships with her
  • two or three of the emotional states listed under “Losing Control” (when I challenged her for raging at me and she realized Jeff and I were ending our friendship with her).

Todd, who was friends with Richard for six years–from before Richard and Tracy got married–and stayed with them twice, for a month each time, said she yells at you but does nothing to work on her own part of the problem.

I witnessed a few arguments between her and Richard that got nasty, so I knew it wasn’t just me.  If she were this way with nobody else, I’d have to look harder at myself, but this was not the case.

17. Tracy did her hardest to make me think I was the problem, but I knew this wasn’t true, and wrote this to remember why.

As the above article states,

Yes, this woman is deeply troubled, but it is NOT your responsibility to tolerate, accept or change her. The only way to gain mastery over a relationship with this kind of woman is to end it. Otherwise, you’ll begin an endless replay loop of your own misery.

18. This article, and my story, should help you recognize such people in your own life, and that it’s not worth waiting around for change.  Take warning from what happened to me.

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

 

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Richard dismisses my experiences

I got frustrated and angry with Richard because it seemed he didn’t care what things were like for me: He just wanted to lecture me on what he thought was right, and everybody else should agree with him.  (This was the same approach he took in many other areas as well, which was maddening.)

Richard just laughed it off whenever I tried to explain NLD, not even entertaining the possibility that I might know myself well enough to see myself in these conditions, that they explained my entire life and meant I was not a freak.  (I shed many tears over my life because I thought I was a freak.  Discovering NLD was a lifesaver.)

I thought maybe he would finally believe my brain was different from his when he showed Jeff and me Batman Begins:

Jeff understood what was going on, Jeff and Richard both enjoyed it very much, while I couldn’t make heads or tails of the plot, the explanations, or anything.  It was such a garbled, jumbled mess that I found it very disconcerting, almost alarming and disturbing (not because of the story or violence but because of the incomprehensibility).

I asked on an NLD support forum if other people had the same problem with such movies.

On IMDB, the reviewers keep saying it’s the best Batman movie or comic book movie ever, while I thought it was terribly done and should have been slowed down a lot to make it understandable.  (Give me Christopher Reeve’s Superman, not this!  I can understand those movies!)

Occasionally, movie trailers and the new, revamped episodes of Doctor Who, confuse me.  They go by too quickly with so few words I can understand, and people talking too fast in their different British accents on Doctor Who.

Meanwhile, my husband catches every important detail, understands the trailer for next week’s episode, understands the Doctor’s explanations, etc.  According to some other posters in an NLD support forum, if these trailers were hard for everyone to understand, then the marketing department would have failed and have to do things differently.

Yet still, Richard didn’t believe me, thought I just had to push myself harder.

He never heard about the mental stimming or the repetitive behaviors or most of the other little things that support my supposition that I have either Asperger’s or NLD.  (Most likely NLD because I don’t do stimming that’s obvious to others.)

He didn’t know me when I was a kid and did not make eye contact at all, was very disorganized, and had all sorts of social and academic issues that I have since overcome (though I still struggle socially and with eye contact).

But he presumed to declare me a neurotypical and an excuse-maker or “victim” based on what little I had told him, and because he had this idea that NLD requires autistic traits.

(That’s not NLD, that’s Asperger’s, and the two, while related, are not the same.  A new study shows that 25% of NLD subjects have benign cysts or legions in their brains; 1 Aspie subject; 1 neurotypical (normal) subject.  It’s a minority in any of the three groups, but far larger in the NLD group than even the Aspergers group.)

He only knew me as an adult who had already overcome many of the things that caused me trouble in childhood, yet decided he knew better than I did if I had it or not.  Jeff and I both found this to be very arrogant.

Amazing how they would poo-poo the NLD, while Tracy kept getting offended at and making fun of the very things that showed I do have it: routines, particular behaviors that others don’t understand, “weird” as Tracy called it (chapter 7), extreme reserve and quietness, isolation, gullibility, the occasional remarks from Richard or Tracy that “I shouldn’t have to tell you this–everybody knows it!”

(I express myself much better via writing, and talk normally with people I know well, such as mates, roommates, family.)

Heck, even one of my brothers made a comment once–only several years ago–that I would come for a visit and not talk to anybody.  Well, I do talk to Mom and Dad, but my big brothers have always been a bit scary for me, picking on me all the time and such.

[sarcasm on] Oh yeah, I couldn’t possibly know myself better than you guys do–and it couldn’t possibly be anything other than stubbornness or malice.  [/sarcasm off]

(Yes, despite NLD, I do understand sarcasm fairly well.)

Richard acted as if it were better for me not to “label” myself as NVLD, as if deciding I’m just introverted and bad at sports would somehow make me feel better about myself and what I can accomplish.

But I had already been “labeled” all through school as “weird,” and my struggles with driving made me feel like a “freak,” so “NVLD” was far better.  As a matter of fact, NVLD meant I could pinpoint where my problems lay and possible ways of dealing with them.  As Peter Flom puts it here:

If you are weird in some way, you are going to get labeled. You can choose the label, or have it chosen for you. If you (or you, for your child) insists on not having a label like “NLD” then you will get a label like “lazy”, “crazy”: or “stupid”.

But labels can be more useful than that. They can help find services, they can reduce isolation, they can even help with solutions to the problems you face.

The problem comes when we let the label dictate to us, instead of the other way round–because a label can be a box, and people don’t fit in boxes.

 

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

 

 

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My NVLD in a nutshell

I have always been quiet and shy.  My college adviser and writing teacher told me to not change my quietness, my not being a “great talker,” because what I write says a lot.

I believe I have NVLD (also NLD, nonverbal learning disorder).  If you go here, you’ll see a full treatment of why (and what NVLD is), ranging from my clothing preferences to social ineptness, such as my difficulties even in making small talk or modulating body language while speaking to a stranger.  (I haven’t a clue if I modulate it even when I’m not speaking to a stranger; I just don’t think about it.)

My constant loneliness is a big, red sign of it.  My brain works differently from other people’s, so differently that common, normal social situations–which “normal” people can navigate with ease–often leave me feeling awkward, exhausted, embarrassed.  After a while, I got sick of people giving me weird looks or criticizing me for not knowing what to do in a given situation.

I believe I have either NLD or Asperger’s, since I hear that many of my problems are not common to introverts but are common to NLD or Asperger’s (though the more I learn about Aspies, the more NVLD seems more appropriate).

I can’t get an official diagnosis because I have adult responsibilities, don’t have the time, don’t have a school to help pay for it, don’t have a way to pay for such a huge expense when I have so many other things clamoring to be paid for: bills, debts, food, health problems.

After all, the NVLD can’t kill me, but skipping health tests could.  So self-diagnosis is my only way to find out why I’ve always been so weird–I always knew there was something different about me and how my brain works, long before I heard of neurological disorders–and what possibly can be done about it.

And hey, bonus, NVLD also brings assets, such as being detail-oriented, excellent with punctuation, spelling, reading, typing–all useful if you’re a writer or clerk.  We can’t all be the outgoing insurance agents or salesmen or politicians or lawyers; somebody has to do the filing!

An old friend once said I’m great at befriending the “fringe people”; this is probably because I accept the oddballs and geeks, after my own experiences with being misunderstood and bullied.  I embrace NVLD, since to my neurological differences, it gives a name, a reason–and a community of people just like me.

As an aside, not only have I obsessively researched this since 2000, but researching this also led me to learn about Asperger’s–long before the public had heard of it–and reject it as a possibility.  NVLD is still not known to most.

I started with the symptoms and worked outward; I knew from childhood that I was different from other kids, but did not know why.  I found notes written in diaries 20 years ago which describe things I did without knowing why, but which I later discovered fit with NVLD.  I also looked it up because I had so much trouble with driving.

Reading about NVLD was like reading my entire life story, not just some social issues but handwriting, learning to ride a bike late, getting lost even with a map while driving, the same driving problems I have, and all sorts of other things–academic, social, visual-spatial–which I don’t have room to list here.

Before Richard moved in, I told him I believed I had NVLD, and explained it a little, so he wouldn’t think I was weird because of my physical and social awkwardness, trouble catching many social cues, and various other things.  I expected he would understand, cut me slack, verbalize more if I missed a social cue, and be fine with my idiosyncrasies.

I had no idea he would later use this against me and accuse me of being a victim, say I just needed to “push through it.”

And no, Sally Normal and Joe Regular, we can’t just ‘get over it’ and we can’t just ‘be normal’. The brain is a flexible organ and we do learn, but we will always be Aspies. –Rudy Simone, Why people with Aspergers seem so awkward around others

2. You just need to try harder. Sorry, but no. My brain does not work the way yours does. There is something the matter with mine. It’s not a matter of will, or effort. It’s a matter of trying to figure out how to cope. You wouldn’t tell a blind person to try harder to see, would you?  –Peter Flom PhD, Things not to say to LD people (or their parents)

I hoped that as he learned about learning disorders while working for a Psych degree, he would understand me better and begin to realize what I needed.  Instead, he just got more adamant that he was right and I was wrong, based on a bit of questionable information in his textbooks which does not match the latest research or the opinions of NVLD experts.

I, on the other hand, already spent almost a decade and probably hundreds of hours researching NVLD, using documents from NVLD experts such as Sue Thompson, and reading accounts by people officially diagnosed with NVLD.  He based it on a tiny part of knowledge of what I had experienced in my own life, when I had a far more comprehensive knowledge, based on a long memory and things I pondered over the past decade or so.

This video, a lecture on social emotional learning disorders, talks about differences in learning disorders, levels of difficulty, classification, etc.

(This is from the 2004 UC Davis M.I.N.D. Institute Summer Series on Neurodevelopmental Disorders.  The lecturer is Meryl Lipton, M.D., Ph.D., on “Social Emotional Learning Disorders: The Dyslexia of the 21st. Century.”  Note: The URL no longer works, but I’m having trouble finding another one.)

The lecturer notes that a lack of clear diagnoses affects how people perceive those who have NVLD or Asperger’s, unlike if you have, say, a broken leg.

Even professionals have an awful time telling the difference between Asperger’s and NVLD, and whether or not they’re autistic, so being scolded by Richard was not going to make me think I must be wrong.  I knew far better than he did what I struggled with.

I never had a chance to put all this evidence before him: After he laughed it off and disregarded everything I said about it, I never trusted him enough to say more than a small bit of what I dealt with.

One big piece of evidence was my lack of social connection, which Aspies and NVLDers struggle with the most.  Since I left school, I found it extremely difficult–even more so than in school–to make friends of any kind, let alone close ones.

Also, around age 10, I had enough problems that my mother took me to a psychologist for a while.  First, I went to stay with my aunt for a week or two.  The whole time, she picked at everything I did or said (which drove me nuts), then threw up her hands and told my mom, “I can’t do a thing with her.”

I’m not sure what my “problems” were that bugged her so much, only that I had troubles at school with the work and with the verbal bullies.  I mean, come on, this is the same woman who verbally abused and criticized her own mother when she came to visit that week.

I had some trouble with etiquette, because my aunt got after me for not saying “goodbye” when people said it to me, and for taking a book when going to visit people–though I was a little kid visiting adults and needed something to do besides sit there listening to boring adult conversation.  I didn’t realize you’re supposed to say “hello” when somebody greets you, or they think you’re a snob.

But otherwise, I was just being me, and wasn’t aware I had “issues.”

My aunt, who was married to my dad’s brother, and constantly at odds with my dad, thought my dad was somehow to blame for my “issues,” that he or my brothers probably molested me, even though they never did any such thing and had nothing to do with this.  Now, she didn’t say anything about that until my mom and dad had some issues in 2007.

But when I was ten, my aunt thought spending a couple of weeks with her would somehow “help” my “problems,” whatever they were.  When it didn’t make a difference that satisfied her, she suggested a psychologist in Michigan.

Every week, my mom drove me all the way up to Michigan, where I saw the psychologist for an hour, then we got dinner from a McDonald’s drive-through or a Jack-in-the-Box.  My mom says the psychologist helped me a lot.  I’m not sure what he did, exactly, but apparently he gave me social pointers.

He was also somebody to talk to, not just about my problems, but to whom I showed my series of “Space Blimp” stories (based on a dream in second grade).  For a time, I also did group sessions with a young teenage boy and his little sister, where I read the stories.

Still, in middle school I was so closed off that one classmate termed it years later (during a Facebook chat) as “a wall” around myself, but I didn’t even know I was closed off.  I just was the only way I could be, with all the bullies around me who criticized everything about me, and just a few nice kids to talk with.

This same kid wondered why I dressed so oddly; I had no idea what the fashions were, and just wore whatever my mom got at garage sales, caring only for what was comfortable.  But I got teased for how I dressed, without knowing why.  I hated school so much in seventh grade that I counted the days till summer–while it was still fall.

How could this just be me being an introvert who’s otherwise normal?  NVLD would explain all of this, because these traits are quite common with NLDers, while an introvert can still keep up on fashions, wear things that aren’t as comfy if they look good, know the basics of social situations, and the like.  I examined various learning disabilities and the like, such as ADD and Aspergers, and this one fit like a glove.

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

 

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