confronting abuser

Early 2010: I speak up about Tracy’s child abuse–and ponder reporting her to authorities

Very late December 2009 or very early January 2010 is when I saw Tracy smack the 3-year-old upside the head, which could’ve easily sent her flying into the TV, which was a short distance in front of the child.

Keep in mind this child was very small for her age, and toddlers are already small, their heads not fully formed, their brains still vulnerable. 

Even if the child does not fall on something or get a visible injury, smacking a child like that can give a kind of whiplash to the delicate brain as it whacks against the wall of the skull.

Shaking or hitting a child’s head or face is always dangerous. Young children cannot control the movement of their head as well as adults can.

Shaken baby syndrome (shaken baby–impact syndrome) is brain damage caused when a baby is shaken, slammed, or thrown against an object. –“Physical Abuse: Common Injuries in Children,” HealthLink BC

Help prevent shaken baby syndrome

  • Never shake a baby. Also, do not slap or hit a child of any age on the face or head. A child’s brain is very delicate. Shaking, slapping, or hitting a child can cause serious harm, even though it may not leave any obvious sign of injury. –Healthwise staff, Shaken Baby Syndrome: Home Treatment

But Tracy popped her child in the back of the head right in front of me one evening, so hard that the child’s tongue flew out.

!!!!!!!!!!!!

I sat in shock and disbelief.  I wonder if it showed on my face, if Tracy saw it–and if this is what renewed her campaign against me.

But she only has herself to blame.  Not me, and certainly not that poor child.  Sure the child was being naughty, but abuse is never the answer, never the fault of the child.

I think I wondered if I should call the police.  But when you’re a guest in someone’s home, and that someone already frightens you….

Afterwards, I spoke to Jeff at home about it, and discovered he didn’t see it happen even though he was in the room.  I went through a moral crisis over the next week or two.

I posted about it briefly on an Orthodox forum late on January 6, 2010, hoping somebody would help me with good advice.

Though I soon took it down again (in the wee hours of January 7) after a guy scolded me twice over: first, for “gossiping” if it wasn’t that hard, and second, for not calling the police if it was so hard a slap.

But another poster got upset with that guy, couldn’t believe he wrote what he did, and understood my predicament.  He understood this wasn’t about “gossip” but about badly needing advice about abusive friends.

He urged me to report Tracy to Social Services, even gave me a link to state CPS phone numbers and said I could do it anonymously.

But I hoped that somehow I could convince her this was wrong, without calling the police or CPS.

Those few weeks were so hard that I finally told Jeff the various abuses I had seen and that Richard had told me about, so he’d know where I was coming from.

He already knew some of them, because I told him at other times.  But now I showed him the e-mail and notes from March 22, 2009, the contents of which I never showed him before, keeping Richard’s confidence.  He finally realized just how bad things were in Richard’s house.

I asked Jeff, “How much more of this can I take?”  Because being friends with Tracy, and not calling CPS or the police about what I saw and what I knew, was working like acid on my conscience.

Jeff and I discussed whether we should report her to Social Services, but set it aside for the time.  I forget why; maybe we thought we could still influence them to stop the abuse.

Later in the year, after we ended the friendship, we set it aside again, in fear that Richard would take vengeance like he almost did with the apartment manager, whom he plotted to kill.  (I also didn’t tell Jeff the full details about that plot until July 2010.)

Shortly after the smacking incident, one of their friends, Chris, stopped over for a bit as we played D&D at Richard and Tracy’s house.

His own wife did some of the very same things Tracy did, but he apparently had no clue Tracy did them:

  1. Chris’ wife fought tooth and nail to keep him from seeing Richard, just as Tracy used to fight tooth and nail in early 2008 to keep Richard from coming over for ten minutes just to pick up stuff they left behind at our house.  (So you see it’s not just fearing affairs that gets people to act jealously).
  2. Chris’ wife went into rages and hit him.

Chris complained about latest developments: She left him again.  He saw her smack his son (from a previous marriage) on the back of the head, and he was very upset about that.  Chris said that smacking anywhere but on the butt or hand is abuse.

Tracy said, “Well, I smack [the 3-year-old] on the back of the head all the time!”

He looked startled, and she laughed and said, “I’m just kidding!”

To which my mind screamed, “You are not kidding!  I saw you!”

Then Richard joked about smacking kids on the back of the head, said the way he grew up it was normal.  He talked like they did this all the time and there was nothing wrong with it.

I cried vehemently, “No, no, no, no!”

To hear Richard joke about smacking kids and apparently condone it, disgusted me. 

But at least I finally had the chance to speak up about Tracy’s actions–and without broaching the subject myself.  Not only that, but Chris supported my views.

It was so Providential that I wrote back to the guy on the Orthodox forum.  I said that God seemed to have answered my prayer, and arranged circumstances so I could say something to Richard and Tracy.

We both rejoiced.  I hoped that everything was settled and I would not have to call CPS.

I made my feelings known another time as well: On February 8, 2010, Chris posted on his Facebook wall,

And some say that ‘waterboarding’ isn’t torture!
Daily Mail: U.S. Soldier waterboarded his own daughter, 4, because she couldn’t recite alphabet

I replied at 8:12pm,

Anyone who thinks the US should use torture of any kind, should read “Proved Innocent” (the story of Gerry Conlon). 😛

I wrote at 8:29pm,

And all for not knowing the alphabet. It’s like the parents who made their little girl eat half a bar of Irish Spring and ignored her near-fatal allergic reaction, just for saying a bad word. 😛

Screaming, belittling, hitting anything other than the butt (or maybe a quick hand slap), torture–all are child abuse and inexcusable.  😛

Richard’s reply is no longer available for me to quote exactly because he blocked me months later.  But I recall him writing, “Screaming is abuse?  Seriously?”

I replied the next day at 4:53pm,

There’s a big difference between yelling and screaming. I’m not talking about yelling at a kid who’s about to touch a hot stove or run into a street or who isn’t listening.

I’m talking about screaming, screeching, sounding like a demon….

There was no reply.

Um, screaming is not abuse?  Seriously?

It was absolutely appalling.  I used to think Richard was kind and gentle, with a big heart, like his friends kept saying about him.  But I was beginning to see an entirely different person, the wolf underneath the sheep’s clothing.

This post (and a refusal to get into his extremist politics) is probably why, a very short time afterwards, both Tracy and Richard started bullying me on Facebook and the friendship soon ended.

My mother and father never smacked me anywhere on my head.  When an older brother smacked me one day, my mother became furious with him and said to never do that.

My parents raised me in the days when you could still use a paddle, which I don’t condone nowadays, but I don’t remember them ever doing anything that was abusive, at least according to the standards of the 70s and early 80s.

They didn’t scream, didn’t use a belt, didn’t smack me or slap me on the head.  Of course I did naughty things from time to time, as all children do, and got yelled at, but I turned out fine without being abused by my parents.

If Richard told me the above stories of abuse, and Tracy did the above abuse right in front of me, so brazenly, as if bragging, as if to show no fear that I would report them–what else went on when I wasn’t looking, what was I never told?

What the heck were they thinking?  Why did they think they could do this without me ever reporting them to the authorities?

Why did they repeatedly do these things, yet Richard treated me like I didn’t know what I was talking about when I said this was child abuse and Tracy was abusing Richard?

Why did Richard tell me the things Tracy did, how she’d be mean to him over the phone for example, and why did Tracy demonstrate to me that the stories were true, yet they expected me to befriend Tracy?

Why did they think I’d want anything to do with a child abuser and husband beater?  Why did they think I’d ever want to open up to her?

8 Reasons People Don’t “Get” Emotional Abuse
Unnecessary Force is Emotional Abuse [no longer available on Web]

When I told these things to two friends who were in some way involved in Social Services in my state, both said Tracy and Richard sounded very abusive and I must report them for the sake of the children.  This was in July 2010 and February 2011.  I finally did in March 2011; the story is here.

What did they do when I wasn’t around?  What did Richard not tell me about?  I was to discover the answer in 2011.

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

I almost break off the friendship because of Tracy

In late February 2008, Richard and I exchanged a series of e-mails which led to the revelation that she fought him “tooth and nail” every time he planned to come over to my house to pick up the bags of mail and stuff I kept finding as I cleaned.

I was horrified to find that she kept telling him I “hated” her, was “biased against” her–and that she gave him so much trouble just to come pick up their own stuff.

Didn’t she want her mail?  Didn’t she want her daughters’ little doodads?  I sure wasn’t going to keep them at my house!

I was also horrified to hear him back up her complaints against me and now scold me for doing things I did not even remember ever doing.  Or for not wanting to talk to her because I was angry at her for something she had just done.

I tried to explain that they kept misunderstanding me, but he refused to listen.  I thought my BFF, with whom I had bonded, who called me the most awesome person he knew–

–would give me the benefit of the doubt, and believe in me, know that I meant no harm–

–but no, even he judged me without a trial!

I told Jeff, “I just can’t deal with that woman!”

It was so distressing that I thought I had to break off the friendship.

Jeff wanted to go over there and give Tracy a piece of his mind, but they were getting ready to go down to their previous city, and fetch their furniture and other stuff from storage.

So he planned to straighten them out after they got back.

I spent a long, miserable weekend, crying a lot, barely sleeping, thinking the friendship was unsalvageable.

Jeff tried to reassure me and comfort me by making the decision for me, saying that I wouldn’t break it off yet.

We went to an SCA event to get me out of the house.  On the way home, I spent probably the better part of an hour describing all the abuse I witnessed Tracy committing against Richard and the kids while they lived in our house, so he would know what all was going on.

I wish I had written it all down at the time.  Or maybe I did, but shredded it later.

On February 22, I wrote but never sent an e-mail to Richard:

You want me to make an attempt to get past the things that happened while you guys were all staying here.  I want to, as well, and have been doing so.

But I tried and tried and tried and kept coming up against a roadblock: that you say Tracy feels herself justified in what she does and rarely apologizes.

Well, I can offer forgiveness; I can offer civility.  I can offer apologies for hurting her feelings or offending her at any point.  I certainly never meant to.

But I must assert my rights to dignity and to choose who my friends will be.

I was deeply hurt by things that happened, and no, it’s not okay.  It will NEVER be okay if all I get for each point is, “[Tracy] was justified for (whatever reason).”  No matter how reasonable the reasons may seem to her, it doesn’t erase how the action made me feel.

If I just pretend nothing happened and everything’s okay, I will get an ulcer [I had one in high school], and inside I will be miserable physically and emotionally.  I endured years of bullying as a child and in college; I’m far too old and have come too far to allow it to happen again.

In order for me to be her friend, to even consider confidences, I MUST insist that Tracy give in some and make apologies.  Otherwise it will be nothing more than civility.

I know it can be hard to do that when you feel you’re right, but to make it in this world, a person must learn how to make apologies even when she does feel justified.

There were some things that happened with the children that bothered me, but as time went on, I noticed that they seemed to lessen.  The children were also very difficult to deal with at times, so I’ve decided to cut her slack.

So these are the things that must be apologized for if she wants to be friends and not just acquaintances:

1) Doing these things in my house: Yelling at you, picking at you, accusing you of things I knew were not true [they had nothing to do with me, by the way], using a foul word [“bullsh**”] right in front of her children and [my son].

I know this was done to you and not to me, but it was done in my house and I will not have that kind of crap going on in my house.  It never affects just the couple when there are other people around.

2) Getting angry at you for talking to me, not just around New Year’s, but still getting angry at you just for wanting to come over here and grab the stuff you left behind when you moved out!  I don’t want to hear any more about it being a “respect” thing, getting to know her first–

It was deeply offensive and insulting to be treated like crap for wanting to talk to you privately about private concerns, after all that I had done for you guys, after opening my house to her.

3) Me overhearing a phone call to her mother criticizing the menu for that week.  I made that menu in the middle of the lice treatment.

Not only were we trying to deal with shampoo and nitpicking, not only did we need groceries, but I had an unbelievable amount of laundry to do, and it had to be done all in one day so as to kill off any lice in the sheets before we went to bed that night.

The menu had to be done quickly without much thought.  Sunday by necessity HAD to be fast food.

And we couldn’t incorporate lots of produce or meals made from scratch, because that takes a lot of money, and our grocery bills were already averaging $300-$400 a week.

4) Me overhearing a phone call to you as she criticized me for having a “routine.”  That “routine” keeps the house from turning into a pigsty. That “routine” keeps the house and the laundry clean.

I have been mistress of my own house for many, many years and will do things my own way.  My mother had a “routine.”

After Richard and Tracy got back with their stuff, I told Richard one day that Jeff wanted to talk with him.  They had this talk in the bar and grill on Friday, February 29.

Jeff had calmed down somewhat.  But he still tried his best to persuade Richard that I was being misjudged and mistreated, that I was naturally shy and quiet with everyone and could not be an extrovert, that my NVLD affected my social skills, that Tracy’s treatment of me was causing me to close up with her.

He came back home and said the results were very disappointing, that Richard and Tracy thought I was making “a mountain out of a molehill,” that I should just “push myself” to be more sociable with her, that the NVLD was just a crutch.

Jeff tried, but could not get Richard to feel any empathy for me at all.  Jeff was disturbed by this lack of empathy, not just then, but in the years following.

And not just for me, but in other areas, such as Richard’s “oh well” when Jeff told him that his political ideas would cause the poor to suffer for years.  A lack of empathy is also a sign of narcissism.

Lack of empathy is one of the most striking features of people with narcissistic personality disorder. It’s a hallmark of the disorder in the same way that fear of abandonment is in borderline personality disorder.

“Narcissists do not consider the pain they inflict on others; nor do they give any credence to others’ perceptions,” says Dr. Les Carter in the book Enough of You, Let’s Talk About Me (p. 9).

“They simply do not care about thoughts and feelings that conflict with their own.” Do not expect them to listen, validate, understand, or support you. –Randi Kreger, Lack of Empathy: The Most Telling Narcissistic Trait

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 are Aspies so Weird?  Why can’t we just “get over it” or act normally?

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)

Myth #10 – Introverts can fix themselves and become Extroverts.
A world without Introverts would be a world with few scientists, musicians, artists, poets, filmmakers, doctors, mathematicians, writers, and philosophers.

That being said, there are still plenty of techniques an Extrovert can learn in order to interact with Introverts. (Yes, I reversed these two terms on purpose to show you how biased our society is.)

Introverts cannot “fix themselves” and deserve respect for their natural temperament and contributions to the human race. In fact, one study (Silverman, 1986) showed that the percentage of Introverts increases with IQ. –Carl King, 10 Myths About Introverts

I thought Richard was my friend, that he understood me, that we were a mutual admiration society.

That he would have my back, and at least try to understand my point of view and validate it, even if he had to support his wife at the same time.

But no, there was no empathy at all.

Richard even gave Jeff the impression that it would be dangerous for me to apologize to Tracy, and that it would also be dangerous to tell her about the NVLD, because her mother had abused her while using some disorder as an excuse.

(Jeff thought it was a learning disorder, but he may have misunderstood, because I know her mother had borderline personality disorder.  Learning disorders don’t lead to abuse.)

Jeff found it very frustrating.

If it were even remotely possible for me to behave like an extrovert who didn’t have NVLD, don’t you think I would have already done so 20 years before, rather than always feeling like the odd one out, the one nobody paid attention to, the one rarely asked on dates?  Do you really think this is some sort of choice?

Unfortunately, I did not have research into introverts to show him at that time, because I did not know that the very makeup of my brain determines how I interact socially–even before you get into the problems that NVLD caused me academically, socially, athletically, and in various other ways as described here.

But who knows if even that would’ve made a difference with how he treated me, because he’s one of those extroverts who think that introverts only act the way they do because they’re stubborn, don’t like people, or aren’t trying hard enough.

Richard and Tracy probably would’ve bullied me on the playground if I knew them growing up.

It was also extremely insulting to me, putting my shyness, quiet nature, social understanding disability, and reaction to Tracy’s abuses, on the same level as the abusive actions and excuses of a crazy mother!

Most introverts experience various levels of discrimination in our extroverted society, but this was beyond the norm: It crossed the line from misunderstanding introverts, to abusing and bullying me, by trying to twist my behavior until I sounded like the bully!

It was gaslighting and echoing, both common tactics of abusers and narcissists to screw with your perception–to take the focus off their abusive actions and put it on you.

Introverts may be common, but they are also among the most misunderstood and aggrieved groups in America, possibly the world. —Jonathan Rauch, Caring for Your Introvert

On March 3 I wrote an e-mail to Richard, but I don’t remember if I sent it or not:

I keep getting the impression and fearing that you have misunderstood something: I am NOT trying to get Tracy to ease up on her restriction of our going out to the bar and grill, for coffee, etc. alone.

I stopped fighting that weeks and weeks ago, I think after having a talk with Jeff [after they moved out] that calmed me down and helped me see things from the other perspective.

I know the topic came up on Friday, I’m not sure how, but he probably meant that merely to explain why I was upset and did not understand in the first place back in January, not to change anything.

I just want her to understand that I do not hate her, that she can trust me, so she can feel comfortable with me and ease up on her own time.

Okay, don’t tell her about the NVLD, if you think it’ll only cause trouble.  Just tell her that I never meant any harm to her and did not deliberately snub her.

Tell her I’m a little dense in social situations, if you think that’ll help.  I’d rather she think I was a bit thick than mean or hateful or devious.

I don’t mean the NVLD to be a crutch.  It is, rather, an explanation. I keep looking for ways to compensate for it.

The problem is that I don’t have a teacher, so oftentimes I’ll know I have a problem with something, but don’t know how to deal with it.

But nothing seemed to change.  I was still expected to change the most basic part of my personality, just as much a basic and unchangeable determinant of who I was, as my gender and race–if I ever wanted full friendship benefits with Richard.

While Tracy felt no need whatsoever to stop being an abusive bully, something which can and must be changed, because bullies violate other people’s rights to be treated with dignity.

‘And it is as fundamental a part of who we are as our gender is,’ [Susan Cain] insists. ‘Your tendency to be inward-directed [introverted] or outward-directed [extroverted] is huge; it governs every part of the way you live and work and love.’ –Jane Mulkerrins, The big noise in the quiet revolution, why introversion is in: Susan Cain on her bestseller about keeping life on the lowdown

 

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

 

Verge of nervous breakdown as houseguests from Hell abuse our hospitality

Tracy complained about the food we provided, even though they never gave us money or ideas for other food, we were financially strapped (paying for 8 people’s food and utilities with not a bit of financial help) and, with a small child running around (now four small children), didn’t have the time to prepare from-scratch meals every day.

If they found our food so offensive, why didn’t they plan, buy and then prepare meals for us?

I did two dishwasher loads a day, along with extra towels and sheets.  And of course, you can’t run a washer and dishwasher at the same time, because it strains the hot water.  I stayed up till 1 in the morning doing these things, then heard complaints from Richard and Tracy about how late I stayed up.

I’d overhear wailing children, arguments, and criticisms from the wife about how I run things.  I’d walk in on various things.  The TV was on all day and evening, which drives me crazy.  (I must have my music!)

I felt claustrophobic, wading through people and things just to get dinner or find a seat.  We did not have room for a proper dining room table (I told you this place is small), so people ate in the living room when they couldn’t fit around the little island.

The living room was full of STUFF.  I couldn’t believe what I found in each room as I began cleaning up after they moved out.

There were new illnesses all the time.  My son had to share his room and toys, and even had to give up his own bed, so he got pretty naughty for a while there and I had to lay down the law.  His behavior greatly improved after they moved out.

And with all that, I had this hostile, jealous, abusive woman in my house 24/7, and I was expected to excuse and accept her behavior.

Jeff didn’t like having to give the kids breakfast every morning because the parents were asleep.  He didn’t like never getting help taking out the extra trash.

And never a thank you from Tracy for putting up with all this, with her–just hostility.  Richard alone we could handle: He was far more gracious and easygoing.  But all these people, whom we didn’t know previously and who weren’t even family?

I also confided in my priest during this time about some of the things going on, especially since they kept neglecting to go to church with me, when Richard used to go with me all the time.  I felt stressed and sad even during the service, unable to get away from it in my head even at church.

My priest said that his own parents had once hosted family who arrived from Greece, that things got very tense after a while, and that it was time for Richard and Tracy’s family to leave.

Once I heard Tracy getting short with Richard on the phone while he was at work, then hanging up and saying “Bullsh**”–with kids nearby!

I did not just quietly seethe, but brought it up with Richard whenever I had the chance.  We agreed to chat with each other in the evenings while Tracy was on the computer and I was doing chores in the kitchen; this helped a bit.

Since I was not comfortable around her, she was too scary and hostile to safely confront, and he was my best friend, I felt it best to tell him I was upset so he could take things up with her in a way that she would respond to.

Also, it seemed proper to do things this way.  For example, the advice column Annie’s Mailbox typically advises to let your husband/wife/friend deal with his/her own family even when you have a problem with them.  Like, for example, here, on 1/26/15, when they say the writer’s husband should deal with his own grown son, not her.

I let my husband deal with his family, and I deal with mine.  So to deal with a friend’s wife, it seemed right and proper to go through him.  Something Miss Manners would approve of.

I told Richard every problem as it came up, through snatches of conversation grabbed when Tracy was on the computer, or letters, or e-mails, whatever I could manage, since she was being so overprotective about our time together.

But he did not tell me crucial information I needed to know, like the fact that she overheard my venting to Jeff, or that she had forbidden sleeping on shoulders.

I told Richard I was very upset about the complaints to her mother about the food while I was right there in the bathroom, but he didn’t tell me that she knew I overheard her, that she was deliberately being catty, that she felt herself justified in this cattiness.

It wasn’t until a year and a half later, June ’09, that he told me she knew I could hear her and that it was in response to my complaining to Jeff.

I was amazed that he scolded me in June ’09 for venting privately to my husband about real problems, rather than scolding her for being vindictive.

I wanted to throw them out–or, at least, her.  Keep Richard and the kids, but throw Tracy out on her ear.  But I felt bound by the rules of hospitality, and Jeff was being far too nice.

We didn’t realize that it was within our rights to go ahead and (kindly) show them the door, that if we didn’t, we were actually allowing ourselves to be taken advantage of by freeloaders.

I kept telling Richard from the very beginning that I wanted them to leave, but he didn’t until he made up his own mind that it was time to leave, after the events in the last section.  When he first told me this in June ’09, I thought it strange that he said they decided it was time to leave, when I had been telling Richard for four weeks that they needed to set a date and leave.

But this memory faded a bit until a few days ago, when it finally dinged in my head (after reading various comments online about freeloaders) what really happened: that they had it cushy here, we were not assertive enough about bills and pitching in and getting out, they were obnoxious houseguests whom we were sick of, but they wanted to decide when to leave.

We have cheap motels around here where people in their position often stay; they could have moved into one of those.  But no, instead of letting us decide how long they get to stay, they figured it was up to them, even though neither my husband nor I ever approved them all staying here to begin with.

Meanwhile, it seemed they never had enough money for a downpayment on an apartment, even though Richard had been working part-time for a few weeks before they all moved in, and they didn’t contribute to their expenses.

We were too nice, they were intimidating and forceful, they took charge and decided when to stay and when to go, meanwhile sponging off us and not contributing financially or getting full-time work.

And then they guilted me for making things “unpleasant” for them by disapproving of abusing spouses/children, and not being properly “welcoming.”

This letter to the Annies sounds very familiar:

Dear Annie: My brother and his wife recently stayed with us for nine months. He did some part-time work every now and then. His wife refused to find a job and mostly stayed home.

My wife and I work long hours. We also then had to do the grocery shopping, cooking and taking care of our kids afterward. During this time, my brother and his wife never spent a penny on food or anything else.

We politely said that we think it is time for them to find their own place and move out. A few hours later, they left screaming and shouting at us. We were speechless.

My brother says we are cheap because we asked them to leave. What do I tell him? Please help. — Cheap Brother

Dear Brother: Listen closely: You did nothing wrong. Your brother and his wife are first-class freeloaders. They took advantage of your generosity, making no effort to contribute to their upkeep.

They would have allowed you to support them financially for the rest of their lives.

They are angry because they couldn’t bamboozle you longer than nine months, which is plenty long enough. People who take advantage of others are always the first to cry “foul” when things don’t go their way.

We know you care about your relationship with your brother, but nothing will make him happy short of letting him move back in. Please ignore him. Do not defend yourself against his accusations.

Do not, under any circumstances, let him guilt you into helping him out again unless it’s to help him find a full-time job. Simply say as calmly as possible, “I’m sorry things didn’t work out for you.” Repeat as necessary.

Then this comment from a reader:

Listen very closely: The best defense is offensive attack (and as offensive as possible), especially when you’re dead wrong. What the Annies said – EVERYTHING they said.

We didn’t get screamed at for telling them to move out, but I did get chewed out (and, later, screamed at) for other things, as I show in this memoir–things related to how I was supposedly such a horrible host of these freeloaders.

I felt all along, for the next two and a half years, that Tracy should be making it up to me, NOT me making it up to her.  But she started throwing her weight around with Richard and making it sound like I had to suck up to her, or else I was a horrible person and couldn’t be friends with Richard.

This whole thing sounds very much like “echoing”: Basically, the abuser finds a way to accuse the victim of doing what the abuser is doing, then uses it as license to continue the abuse.

Another very destructive habit which I have identified in my relationship I refer to as “echoing”. This habit takes two distinct forms. The object is to feel whatever the partner feels whenever an “attack” is detected by the abuser….

The second form is to accuse the partner of whatever the partner accuses them of.

Scenario 2:

Partner: Please don’t raise your voice at me.

Abuser (Screaming): You’re the one that’s yelling.

or

Partner: Please stop cutting me off and let me finish my sentence.

Abuser (angrily): You’re the one who cuts me off all of the time.

When the conversation is discussed later, the abuser quickly takes the opportunity to first accuse the partner of the infraction and seize the high ground.

The abuser will then take every opportunity in the future to accuse the partner of doing what they do saying “See, you do it too.” This is generally viewed by the abuser as a way out.

Anytime they accuse you of an action similar to one of their destructive actions, that is viewed by them as a license to do it at will and a “win”. —An Analysis of the Abuser’s Language by Abused Judge

I was criticized by them both for everything I did: not being harsh enough with my son, my habits, not eating right, not potty training right, standing and quietly waiting my turn in the little kitchen when somebody was in front of me rather than pushing them aside (apparently they like rudeness, and politeness “drives them crazy”).

If I wanted Richard to call me and let me know he was going to be late and not dead in a ditch during a snowstorm, I was being his “mother.”  (Actually, it’s one of the rules of being a houseguest, so your host doesn’t worry about you.)

Tracy may have overheard me complaining to Jeff that she was abusing the children as well, because during one conversation, she said she figures she’s not abusive if her children love her.  (Actually, that’s Stockholm Syndrome and a natural defensive tendency of children.)

I confronted her for telling my son that he’d better stop doing something if he knew what was good for him.  To me, that sounded like a threat of violence.  She said she meant that I would punish him.  But I don’t know whether to believe that or not.

Then the couch–not up to the strain of holding some 300 or 400 pounds every night–began leaning towards one side, then finally that side broke down one day when a few of the kids jumped on it.

We had to quick buy a futon, which cost us even more money we didn’t have and put us even further into debt.  I wanted to be paid back for the utilities/food/futon, but they never had the money to pay for it.

We had a futon when we were first together, and that couch had been a wonderful replacement when we finally had the money in 2001.  No more metal bars! no more springs hitting you in the butt!

But now our wonderful couch–complete with washable fabric (great for kids and pets) and end recliners–was broken after only six years.  We only had money for yet another wretched futon.  Well, actually, we had no money for that, either, but everybody sitting on the floor was not an option.

Then Jeff put the futon together when it arrived (mail-order), but Richard complained that it wasn’t put together right.  While “fixing” it, he broke it, and we had to buy another futon frame with money we didn’t have.  But then he turned his puppy-dog look on me and melted me into forgiveness.  He had a way of doing that, of getting me to not be mad at him no matter what the infraction….

After they moved out the next day, I believe it took me about a week to clean the place properly, systematically going room to room, filling grocery bags with stuff they left behind and mail they were still receiving.

Then when I asked Richard to come pick up these bags and get them out of my house, Tracy would fight him “tooth-and-nail” and make life extremely unpleasant for him if he came over!

Then in the springtime after the melt, my son and I had to go around the parking lot around our condo, picking up all the cigarette butts which Richard and Tracy never picked up after themselves.

While they were still there, I had at least two breakdowns, one a crying jag that must have lasted for hours, the other just shutting inside myself and sitting and doing nothing.  I wanted them GONE.  NOW.  But Jeff had to be on board or it would be just little, cringing me against two big, forceful people.

I did tell Richard in a letter I slipped to him, that I wanted him to get an apartment right away because I couldn’t handle all this anymore, told him how it was affecting me, and begged him to come up with a move-out date.

But kicking him and his little children out on the street in the middle of a long, cold winter?  I couldn’t bring myself to do that.

From What Makes Your Control Freak Wife or Girlfriend Tick:

In order for me to win, you must lose.

Because this is a matter of psychological survival to her, she has to steamroll you in order to avoid feeling helpless. “To relinquish control is tantamount to being victimized and overwhelmed” (Schumacher).

Unfortunately, her fears also fuel her lack of empathy toward you and create the mindset: “Victimize or be victimized; dominate or be dominated.”

To the emotionally abusive woman, it’s not enough to merely control you. She only feels in control and good about herself if she makes you feel less than. Her mood becomes buoyant as she cuts you down. She has to make you feel useless, disoriented and helpless, so that she doesn’t feel this way.

This is evidence of a faulty belief system. She has a one-up/one-down mentality. She believes that in every interpersonal interaction there’s a winner and a loser and she will fight tooth and nail against being the “loser.”

This is why it’s virtually impossible for this woman to compromise or make concessions. To her, compromise and concession are humiliating defeats. She’d rather blow the house up and everything in it than compromise or take personal responsibility.

Her need to control, however, will come back to bite her on the backside. Instead of feeling and appearing in control, this woman comes across as out of control when trying to exert control and the people who are under her tyranny eventually stage a revolt and/or bolt from the relationship.

I did indeed feel steamrolled; this is the very word I used once to Jeff, and here it is in a webpage about controlling women.

Apparently it was “offensive” to Tracy for me to do housework, take care of my little boy’s needs, and take time to myself each day to recharge, rather than sitting on my butt talking to her day in, day out, for six weeks.  And she refused to see it any other way than as a deliberate, personal offense.

She decided that Jeff was “welcoming” while I wasn’t.  This despite the fact that I spent six hours socializing with her every evening/night, while Jeff spent that time in the basement on the computer.

What, was I supposed to let my son’s diaper stay wet and the house get filthy and the laundry stay undone?  You must allow your hosts to get back to normal life as soon as possible, because while you may be homeless and unemployed, your hosts are not, and have responsibilities, routines, and ways of doing things.

6. Let your presence interfere as little as possible with your friend’s normal routine, household duties, and career.

You friend may of course wish to take time out to hang with you, but you should never be the one to impose on their time. Do your best to conform your routine to the routine of the household, as to not get in the way or create an imposition….

13. Don’t overstay your visit. Try to keep your stay shorter than three days. Your host has things to do and they can’t put their life on hold forever. —How to be the Perfect Houseguest

I was very welcoming to her when she first arrived.  But I think even extroverts get tired of a small, crowded house after a few days, and want those houseguests to leave.  After all, Benjamin Franklin himself said that “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.”

We had no spare beds or extra couches.  We had debts, a child in diapers, and all the expenses of home ownership and association fees, so we had no spare money.

They left their dirty laundry in a pile on the living room floor.  They left messes in the bathroom for me to clean up, and didn’t shower more than once every two or three days, but it was too cold to open windows.

They criticized everything from how I ran the house to my various introverted ways.  (So what if I “don’t go anywhere”?  Maybe I don’t want to go anywhere.  And where exactly was I supposed to go, anyway, especially with a toddler and no car?  All my business was in the house.)

I didn’t let them into my house to tell me how to run my life and that everything I do is wrong!  Is there anyone (at least in our culture) who would still be “welcoming” for long in this situation?

Of course, we are not just animals but social animals. Social norms requiring politeness and hospitality usually override overt territorially defensive actions (e.g., “You have to leave my territory, NOW, or harm may come to you”).

Instead, hosts typically communicate feelings of invasion through social withdrawal and short-temperedness.

Primary territories are also the most private of territories. We can control others’ access to us, which reduces stress and promotes recovery.

Most of us need time at home alone or with a few trusted others to recharge before we go back into the world. This varies based on culture and individual differences. For example, introverts, like me, have high privacy needs.

Mack upped his fishiness quotient by inserting himself into private conversations, intruding in private spaces (my bedroom!), and being omnipresent (in spite of the fact that he was not a Holy Mackerel).

Altman’s privacy regulation theory would predict that houseguests are stressful to the extent that they create a “disconnect” between hosts’ actual and desired levels of privacy. —The trouble with houseguests

They really could have used this list of houseguest etiquette; they violated all sorts of things here.

I had no idea I was offending, only that she was suddenly acting very hostile toward me and also toward Richard and her children.  In the beginning I had no problem with her at all, wanted to befriend her, chatted with her, told her a few secrets, had no desire to upset her–but then her hostilities began.

I kept begging Richard to set a move-out date.  He finally set one, January 16, 2008, and I counted the days.  Then as the day got closer, I’d hear, “We may not be able to move out then after all.”  But when the day came, they left.

And there was much rejoicing.  Except that I was so used to having Richard around to talk with and watch TV with, that I missed him dearly.

But for the next couple of years, every time I cleaned the basement and otherwise went about my normal household routine, I heard Tracy’s snotty little voice ripping on my “routine” as if there were something wrong with an orderly household.

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

 

Tracy overhears me telling Jeff she’s abusive–and wreaks vengeance with smear campaign

I finally got a chance to vent privately to my husband on Wednesday, January 2 about what all went on in his house while he was out of the house or the room.  I told him the same things I told my mom, about all the abuse, possessiveness and controlling behavior, including the story of her getting jealous just because Richard took me to a corner store so we could chat.  (Jeff said in shock and disbelief, “She was jealous of you?”)

He got so furious with Richard and Tracy that I thought he would throw them both out onto the street right then.  He says I asked him not to, and that’s the only reason he didn’t, the only reason he didn’t even yell at them.  But they came upstairs and were shocked at how angry he was.

I must have asked him not to throw them out because I didn’t want to throw the children onto the street in the middle of a cold winter.  He was angry and shocked at Tracy for being jealous of me, of all people.

He felt her behavior was ungrateful and insulting to the hostess, after all I had been doing for them, basically accusing me without cause of being a slut.  I wrote to my mother the next day,

I had a long talk about this with Jeff yesterday.  He knew some of it, but apparently I hadn’t told him the full extent of what had been going on.

He agreed that Tracy has to stop getting mad at Richard and chewing him out whenever I want to talk with him alone, that he needs to have friends, that we own the house, and that chewing out Richard for talking with me alone is not the way to treat me after I’ve been providing hospitality.

Now that Jeff and I had full agreement on this, I had the strength I needed to take charge.  I told Richard that I own the house and she is not to do that anymore, that it’s getting in the way of me being friends with her.

He said that he believes he has it squared away now and there shouldn’t be any more trouble.

Richard and Tracy were in the basement and I was on the main stairs with Jeff, the only way we could talk privately.  But I wasn’t even allowed this private grievance session with my own husband:

Tracy must have come upstairs very quietly, because she eavesdropped without my knowledge on this conversation with Jeff.  She never told me she heard everything I said.  I had no clue until the summer of 2009, when Richard finally admitted it.

Since she was the one listening, not Richard, she got away with blatantly lying to him about what I said.  She told him I was manipulating Jeff.

The truth is that I told Jeff what was happening and how I felt about it.  If that’s “manipulation,” then proper, direct, open communication with your spouse is “manipulative.”

Then Jeff came up with a way to help me.  It wasn’t a good way, but neither of us realized this at the time.

I think what I really wanted him to do, was to sit down Richard and Tracy and explain the rules of the household and being a guest, rather than leaving it all to me to deal with these people.  But I don’t remember if I said so, or if I was even able to articulate this at the time.

(Sometimes I don’t know how to explain what I want while I’m speaking.  The words I need tend to come while writing drafts of e-mails–or blog posts.)

This is the first time I know of that Tracy lied to Richard to smear me and slander my character; there were other times to come, when she either lied to him about me, or twisted my actions and slandered my character to him over and over again, while I was in my house blissfully unaware (until he told me about it).

When she later accused me in 2012 of defaming her character, this was hypocritical, because she defamed my character to her mother, husband and on Facebook, and defamed Todd’s character to an entire web forum/gaming group.

And I did not defame her: To defame is to lie and tell half-truths to make a false representation, and I have been scrupulously honest in these accounts.  (I have been honest to the point of fear, which I bravely faced and posted anyway, because I want to be a trustworthy narrator.)

I also do not name her or post her personal identifying information, because this is about telling the story of my trauma in my own way, NOT about smearing her to her friends/co-workers/etc. or getting it to show up in Google searches for her.  But I digress.

She then decided I hated her, was biased against her, was a terrible person, had bad character, must not spend any time alone with her husband without her okay, and was “moving in on” her husband.  Anything and everything I did was evidence supporting this theory.

During this time period, I’m told, she almost killed me for something she wrongly interpreted as vixenlike behavior, though I wasn’t aware of this for a year and a half.  (I have no idea if this was meant literally or metaphorically.)

As for what I did: I have already explained how Richard taught me that putting your head on another’s shoulder and sleeping is an innocent expression of friendship, nothing more.  That our arms stayed folded around ourselves, NOT each other, and in a friendship manner.  He made it sound like this was normal friendship behavior where he grew up.

(From what I just read in an abuse blog by a woman around that area, and her descriptions of caring gestures by a close platonic friend with no romantic feelings for her, this may actually be true.)

I was wrapped in a small couch/throw blanket because I’m always cold in the wintertime, and was now cold with illness; I was NOT sharing it with him, he was NOT under this blanket, had no blanket on him at all.  Even if I wanted to share it, this little blanket couldn’t possibly stretch far enough to cover him, too.  But no, I did not share it with him, despite her later claims to the contrary.

I was sick, desperately needed a nap, my son was asleep in my room, and the couch was crowded.  Normally back then, I often took naps during the day (probably exhausted from caring for a toddler), and preferred to nap on the couch instead of on my bed.  It’s just a quirk, hard to explain why, but I don’t like lying down to nap.

All these people interfered with my normal nap routine, along with everything else.  I also did not want to wake up my son by going in the bedroom, and sickness makes it hard to breathe when sleeping on your back.  I felt just rotten, but couldn’t get a nap or any rest at all.

I was wrapped in a blanket because I’m always cold in the wintertime, but my sickness made it worse.  Richard was beside me on the couch; finally, I put my head on his big, squishy shoulder, which was just like a large pillow, not some bony skinny shoulder, and fell right to sleep.

An innocent act, no more “vixenlike” than the guy who put his head on another guy’s shoulder on the subway.

But it inspired Tracy–in a massive overreaction which showed the violent truth of her character–to kill me!  She only kept herself in check because of fear that we’d throw her out.  (Well, yeah, if you kill me, or even if you just beat me up, my husband won’t let you stick around.  He’ll get your *** thrown in jail.)

Richard later told me that Tracy’s reaction was based not on the act itself, but that if, say, a certain other friend from the Forum did it, Tracy would find it cute and join in, because she was friends with Tracy….

Which is, of course, maddening, because Tracy had already told me that she and I were friends.

But she changed her mind on that without telling me so, or why, because I had trouble carrying on conversations with her, and because I desperately needed time by myself every day to recharge (things I did not know until the summer of 2009).

Basically, because I am an introvert with NVLD, who desperately needed time alone every day during a house invasion which had gone on for weeks, she began acting jealous and controlling toward me, but never told me why.

Then I recognized her verbal abuse and controlling behavior for what it was, rather than saying she was right and justified.

So she eavesdropped when I told my husband what was going on, did not tell me she overheard, was prejudiced against me for being an introvert, and made me jump through impossible hoops before she would consider me her friend and allow me to do things like this, which she would allow her other friends to do.

So she wanted to kill me because I was sick and needed a nap, and because I followed Richard’s directions to do this when she was not in the room (and fell asleep), NOT because I actually “did” anything.

I made no moves on her husband, did not try to get him to kiss me or go to bed with me or any crap like that which would have deserved her ire.

By the way, my husband came home and saw it, remembered we have SCA friends who do this sort of thing, shrugged his shoulders, and went on with life, never saying a word about it.

In fact, a month or two later, I even mentioned it to him to explain why Tracy was mad at me this time, without fear that he would berate me over it.

Not only did he not berate me, but he understood it was platonic, and still did not tell me he already saw me.  I did not find out until August 2010, when he told me Tracy’s reaction was overblown and ridiculous!

Basically, I did something which would have been perfectly fine with her if I were an extrovert without NVLD, and if I accepted all her abuse as okay.  It was a double standard which discriminated against me for what I was and could not change.  Nobody told me she saw this and was upset, until a month or two later.

Once I found out this upset her so much, I thought she overreacted, and was puzzled because I thought it was normal behavior where they came from?

However, I never did it again, respecting her boundaries–but continued to pay for it constantly for two more years as she kept bringing it up with Richard as evidence of my bad character, and then ripped into me for it in the summer of 2010.

Because I was sick and desperately needed a nap on a crowded couch.  Because I had been taught by Richard that such behavior was perfectly fine, normal and appropriate among friends.  (The jerk set me up!)

You will also note that it was the middle of the afternoon, in the main room in full view of the kitchen and front door, while she was awake and my husband was about to come home.

NOT late at night or while the house was empty, like when Richard did it before.  Which is further proof of the innocence of my actions.

There was also another time when they were up late watching TV, she was on one side of him on the couch and I was on the other, and I tried to nap against his shoulder because the TV was boring and I was sleepy.  But she never mentioned that I did do this in front of her once, did she?

No, I was falsely accused of bad motives and character, and constantly slandered by this woman, who knew that I saw her abusing her husband and children.

And now I was supposed to suck up to her and court her favor or else I’d stay on her sh** list and be “that woman” who wasn’t her friend and couldn’t say or do much of anything to him without her getting upset.

This is a common abusive tactic: Slander your spouse’s friend and make his life miserable, because the friend could open his eyes to the truth of the abuse.  Use intimidation and pressure to get him to only be friends with people you approve.

Memories of Phil were still fresh in my mind from writing and researching about his abuse in 2006/2007.  This was a tactic he used to try to separate me from my group of best friends, who saw he was treating me badly.

Richard kept things from me that I needed to know, such as the fact that Tracy overheard my complaints to my husband, and saw me asleep on his shoulder.

Meanwhile, I overheard her complaining about me or my son to Richard or her mother on occasion, sometimes quietly, and sometimes so I could hear.

Rather than get them out in the open and deal with them directly with us, she was passive-aggressive.  (Note that I did not go to Jeff until after I tried to sort things out with them, but conditions continued to deteriorate.)

And I was not allowed to object to her jealous, abusive and controlling behavior, or say how she treated Richard was wrong, or say that I will not be disrespected in my own house–or she would lose all respect for us and go back across the country to the state she came from.  (Right there: intimidation, delivered through Richard as her proxy.)

But it was well within my rights to object to abuse and other mistreatment of my friends, and to say that no one was to be abused and mistreated in my house.

That included objecting to her telling Richard not to go to the bar and grill with me.  She thought I was horrible and disrespectful of her to even ask him in the first place!  Say WHAT?

Even two and a half years later, she still got on my case about this, saying “everybody knows” you don’t do this without being friends with the wife first, and making me into a horrible person for “violating” this “rule.”

First of all, there is no such “rule.”  I have occasionally gone out to lunch or some other thing with a friend or boss, or had conversations with him, without consulting the wife first–or even knowing her, period, let alone being friends with her.  And the wife never put up a fuss about it.

The only “rule” is that you are open and honest, don’t sneak around and lie about where you went or who you were with, because that’s a red flag of cheating.

Second, she herself TOLD me I was her friend weeks before I even asked him!

Third, it was Richard’s idea to take me to that bar and grill in the first place.  He never informed me that one-on-one conversations and going to get ice cream, which were all perfectly fine and allowed for the past two months, were suddenly verboten.

I had absolutely no reason to think there was anything wrong or “inappropriate” about continuing to do these things.

It is gravely immoral to be mean to your close friends, to restrict your husband’s friends, to be jealous without cause, and to be hostile to the person who is sheltering you in her own home.

It is gravely immoral to treat close friendship as if it were expendable, as if it could just get tossed away.

It is gravely immoral to verbally abuse your kids all day and your husband all evening.  It is gravely immoral to be violent, whether verbally or physically.

Yet I was treated as if my feelings on the matter, my opinions, were just so much garbage to get tossed out with the rest of the trash, that I was a horrible, hateful person to even have them.

Richard’s own behavior was baffling through all this.  The first day she moved in, he told me she was a jealous person who went through his cell phone logs.  She discovered that while he lived with us, the female friend she was “at war” with had called him, and he called her back.

She got furious with him for it, even though he and this friend had always been platonic, and the friend was thousands of miles away.

I heard his conversations with this friend; they were appropriate, just catching up and news of the church the friend still went to and that Richard and Tracy used to go to.  He was upset with Tracy’s behavior, and I found it bizarre.

In just a short time, I had a full picture of a domestic abuser who considered me a threat to her control.  Especially after she eavesdropped on Jeff and me, she knew I recognized her abuse for what it was. 

Because I now know that she eavesdropped, I am confident that this was her true reason for the smear campaign and making me jump through hoops to please her.

I remember Richard saying she “heard every word” of what I said to Jeff, in that scolding tone which implied that I lied to Jeff, or that there was something wrong in what I said to him.

But I told Jeff nothing but the truth–and they obviously had no qualms talking to each other about me.  Yet more intimidation and control, not just from Tracy but from Richard as well, trying to keep me under their thumb.

I have always wondered what all Tracy told Richard I said.  I know she lied about me manipulating Jeff; what else did she lie about?  This is how domestic abusers operate when they know they are found out:

Domestic abusers use various methods to separate their victims from anyone who could open the eyes of the victim to the abuse.  An abuser will object to your friends and family, either unilaterally or just the ones who recognize the abuse.

She’ll lie to you about that friend/family member.  She’ll tell you that person is bad and you should not associate with her.  She’ll smear her to you, slander her character with lies and half-truths, to drive a wedge between you and your friend/family member.

She’ll tell you a friend made moves on her, even though it is a lie.  She’ll forbid you to be friends with someone she has not approved, or allow it but make life difficult for you whenever you see that friend.  Or she’ll make life so difficult for that friend that he breaks off relations with you.

She’ll reward you for sticking up for her, and subject you to more abuse if you object to how she treats your friend.  This, also, drives friends away, because nobody will put up with that for long if they don’t have to.

In the end, you are isolated from everyone who could open your eyes and help you out of the abusive relationship.

One day Richard complained that his wife should allow him to spend time with his friends, too, and was it really so wrong for him to do so?

But whenever I myself complained about how she treated me, or how she treated him, he defended her, spoke like I didn’t know what I was talking about and there was nothing wrong with her behaving this way.

Even a year and a half later, he told me her treatment of him during this time was his fault because of this and this and this.  This is Stockholm Syndrome, also known as the FOG (Fear, Obligation, Guilt), which drives an abuse victim to defend the abuse.  For example, the wife who’s beaten and then says, “It was my fault.  I shouldn’t have upset him.”

As for consideration for Tracy’s feelings, Jeff and I had many conversations about this situation, and he did try to get me to see Tracy’s side as well.  This led to me going to Richard, contrite.

I do acknowledge that I did a few things wrong myself during this time.  I spoke to Richard about these things, some of them during this time, others later on after they moved out.  I also stopped trying to get him to go to the bar and grill with me.

But even though I told him she did many things to hurt me, he told me not to expect any apologies from her at all, that it was very difficult for anybody to get apologies from her (including him).

Even though twice I suggested apologizing to her on Forgiveness Sunday (which begins Lent in Orthodoxy), the first time he said it was not necessary (that she only wanted apologies from him), and the second time, he gave Jeff the impression that my apologizing would somehow be dangerous for me.

As a housewife with a small child (not potty trained) and a cold northern winter outside, I was in a tiny house 24/7 with this jealous, hostile person, who also had no job.

One night, I even overheard her talking to Richard and saying my son’s name several times, angrily.  (I don’t know what else she said.)  How on earth could she speak badly about a 3-year-old child???!!!

It was extremely stressful and insulting after all I was doing for her, and after she overheard me venting to my own husband about it, she got even worse.

Shortly after, while I was in the bathroom next to the kitchen, I heard her in the kitchen lying to her mother about me (and on my phone, too, using my long distance!).

She went on and on about the dinners we were providing, and that “No, your grandchildren are not eating vegetables.”  This was an outright lie, because I put vegetables in nearly every dinner.

She b**ched about that week’s dinner menu.  I made that menu in the midst of cleaning up the lice they brought into the house.  I had no time to worry about balanced meals, just had to come up with something quickly so my husband could get groceries, and so I could get back to combing nits and washing every single thing our heads had touched.

Also, we were spending $300-$400 a week on groceries with absolutely no financial help from them, so we had to get meals as cheaply as we could.  (In today’s prices, that’s like $340-$450.)  Everything from scratch is far too expensive when you’re feeding eight people, and who has time for that with small children running around?

Other meals were up to them, but I made sure we had vegetables for dinner.  We also had a lot of fasting days during this time, so many meals were heavy on vegetables.  (The Orthodox Church asks believers to fast from certain food items–especially meat–for a few weeks during the Christmas season.  So you have to eat vegetables or go hungry!)

So she was even going to smear me to her mother with lies and half-truths?  And I later learned from Richard that she did this on purpose to get back at me, as vengeance for what I told Jeff!  This woman was frickin’ vindictive!

But no, one week’s lapse because we were far too busy cleaning up lice to make up a proper meal plan or grocery list, and she rips on me for it as if that’s always the case.

Then she b**ched at her mother that I don’t cook, Jeff does.  Apparently there was something “wrong” with this, too, though what, I have no clue.

This was none of her frickin’ business!  He did the cooking because I was exhausted from taking care of the house and our small child all day.

What’s so terrible about a husband sharing the load while the kids are small?  Was this related to her refusing to help Richard with the house and kids, expecting him to take care of it all himself?

Apparently, in her mind, her abusing her husband and children and being nasty to me was somehow nowhere near as bad as me providing food she didn’t like, or letting my husband cook.

(I mean, seriously, I accuse her of being an abuser and this is all the “dirt” she can come up with on me to “throw in my face”?)

When the kids got into some children’s medicine, I did not wish to assign blame, even though she was supposed to be watching them every day so I could do my normal daily tasks without keeping an eye on four wandering children.

But I heard her on the phone with Richard, pinning the blame on me, saying “I guess she was going about her–” insert extremely snotty tone here–“routine,” even though the medicine had been in the medicine cabinet where it belonged–and she was just a few feet away from the bathroom.

And even though she tended to leave her allergy meds on the coffee table.  I believe the youngest child was with me at the time.

Oh, so now I was expected to watch the children, too, on top of all the other work these people made for me?

I was only beginning to get a picture of just how vindictive, controlling, blame-shifting and hysterical this woman really was.  She claimed to not know me, yet I was beginning to know her quite well–and I did not like what I saw.

So today’s dose of truth and reality is this: Evil must mask itself with good in order for it to make a living. Evil must hide itself by hiding the truth of who and what they are. Therefore, full truth (light) is anathema to evil.

You know this is true. You’ve tried to bring just a smidgen of truth to the table with the narcissist and you saw the hissing, spitting and reviling it invoked.

The extreme reaction is the narcissist’s attempt to get you to drop the holy water before he gets burned.

That is not the moment to fumble or drop the truth. Thrust that stake deep into his heart and then put him in the ground. Metaphorically speaking, of course. –Anna Valerious, Narcissists Suck: They Hide From the Truth Because Their Deeds Are Evil

 

Abusers believe they have a right to control their partners in the abusive relationships by utilizing the tactics found in the power and control wheel, by:

  • Telling them what to do and expecting obedience
  • Using force to maintain power and control over partners
  • Feeling their partners have no right to challenge their desire for power and control
  • Feeling justified making the victim comply
  • Blaming the abuse on the partner and not accepting responsibility for wrongful acts. —Power and Control Wheel in Abusive Relationships

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

 

Tracy’s narcissistic/BPD rage episode at Richard (IN MY HOUSE)–and Richard reveals his own abuse

I wrote my mom detailed e-mails all during this time, because I badly needed to talk to SOMEBODY.  I told her that Tracy was controlling and possessive, everything she was doing, how jealous she was acting, how abrasive she was, and about the verbal abuse I witnessed every day.

I first tried to get these things sorted out with Richard and Tracy myself, but just kept feeling ganged up on, like I was being overruled again and again, as if my opinions and views and feelings held no merit and were of no importance whatsoever.

In one of those e-mails, written the afternoon of Wednesday, December 26, 2007, when everyone was at home for Christmas, I wrote that “I don’t know how much longer I can put up with this.”

As a considerate host who did not want to use up all the hot water before my guests could shower, I’d wait for hours for people to take showers before I could start the laundry or take my own.  But nobody would.

That morning, I was the first adult awake, and Jeff had to run some errands, so I had to wait until another adult would get up and watch the four kids, before I could take my shower.

Jeff came home and Richard and Tracy got up.  I told them I wanted to start the laundry, and asked who should take a shower first–them or me–but got no real answer.

Soon I overheard them talking about going somewhere, and it sounded like Richard was about to shower.  But then Tracy started ripping into Richard and screaming louder and louder, angrier and angrier, accusing him of things!

Now I know that I witnessed a narcissistic rage, a common means of intimidation and control used by narcissists and abusive borderlines, further proof that Richard told me the truth about her abuse of him and the children.

(Can you imagine being subjected to this as a child?  In 2010, I also witnessed her in a screaming rage against the children.)

The trouble is that, while borderlines are supposed to feel sorry later, I never witnessed her feeling sorrow for her rages against him, the children, me, or Todd.  This is why I tend to think of her as either a narcissist, or a narcissistic borderline, rather than just borderline.

(When I say “scream,” I don’t mean raised voices or yelling or shouting.  I mean “scream”: screeching, hysterical, high decibels, Exorcist-style, at the top of her lungs, wild, out of control.  This is also what I mean when I say she screamed at her kids.

(I thought everybody understood that “yelling” and “screaming” are two different things, but later discovered that some people think they’re the same thing.  Everybody yells from time to time, but screaming is verbal abuse and intimidation.)

A number of behaviors are considered verbally abusive, including angry outbursts, screaming rages, and name-calling. Verbal abuse often includes blaming, brainwashing, and intimidation.

Hidden aggression is a part of verbal abuse, as well. Verbal abuse is extremely manipulative, as insults are often disguised as caring comments. Verbal abuse can be overt or covert, but it is always about controlling and manipulating the victim. —What is Verbal Abuse?

I recall the basic nature of the argument, but won’t reveal it online.  I will tell you it had nothing to do with me or my house, and that her accusations sounded very unfair, that he was deceiving her.  He said it was a misunderstanding; she wouldn’t hear of it (sounds familiar); everything turned heated.

Richard just took it without arguing back.  He didn’t even try to defend himself.  He said little, even agreed with her at times.  Yet she just kept getting angrier and angrier and screaming louder and louder.

I was furious with Tracy for treating Richard like this, and furious that nobody was taking a shower.  Jeff and the kids were all in the basement, and the whole house could hear the screaming.

I wanted to scream at her to shut up.  I went upstairs to do some chores.  I screamed in my room for it to stop.  I slammed a door in frustration and anger, and was on the verge of breaking down.  But still she did not stop hounding him.

I wanted to rescue Richard, defend him.  I flew downstairs to the basement to Jeff.  The children were also there playing.  I complained to him about how Tracy was treating Richard, and how frustrated I was.

He would have more force and authority as the man of the house (and as the person who Tracy was not constantly insulting).  So I asked him to tell her to STOP treating Richard like this.

It was either that or go into the living room and scream at her to stop screaming at Richard.  Calling on Jeff to assume his role as man of the house and lay down some rules, seemed the most civilized thing to do.

He went upstairs and simply said that we’re not going to throw you out of the house, but please don’t do this in the house, and please take your showers now so Nyssa can take hers and start the laundry.  Tracy apologized to Jeff.

After that, she didn’t scream at Richard inside my house.  When she wanted to scream abuses and cuss at someone (like her ex), she took her cellphone outside.  But we should not have had to rescue Richard like that.  His own wife should be his partner, not his abuser.

I hid in the basement until they left with the kids about an hour and a half later, because I didn’t want to face them.

I described the whole argument to my mom.  I wrote,

For the last few weeks, I’ve been very depressed. I’ve already talked to Richard about this, but I’ve been feeling cut off lately.  I don’t have a lot of time to talk to him anymore.

I didn’t tell him that one reason I have trouble connecting with his wife is I often find her rather abrasive.  She orders him around and picks at the kids and picks at Richard.

At least twice during this time period, I saw him give her a look as if scared of what she would do if he stepped out of line.

My mom e-mailed back that things were getting out of hand, that we needed ground rules, that I shouldn’t wait for them to shower, just go ahead and start the laundry.

After they returned in the evening, I avoided both of them in my room, but finally had Jeff call Richard to me.

I was still furious with Tracy for abusing Richard, and for disturbing the peace of my household like this.  (In Shogun, the abusive husband had to grovel in repentance for doing this in the main character’s house.)  Note again that this conversation took place on the evening of December 26, 2007:

I said, “I can’t stand the way she picks at you and orders you around!”

She kept picking on him and getting mad at him for the slightest thing, making fun of him, ripping on him, ordering him to go get her some ice cream etc. without even a please, and one night he commented to me privately how annoyed he was at this.

He and I both noted that he had not argued back.  But to my shock, he began to say these things: “Actually, she’s being nice to me.”

“She’s being NICE to you????!!!!!” I cried in disbelief.  This is NICE for her?  What is she like when she’s not “nice”?

“…My father abused me as a child, but I was a little rat who deserved it, and it made me a better person….I’ve had to put the children in the closet before to get them to listen to their mother.  It looks like I’m going to have to do it again.”

WHAT????!!!!

I couldn’t believe he’d say such things, wondered if I’d misjudged him somehow.  How could my spiritual mentor, the same guy who complained to me for two months about how his wife verbally abused him and the children, about how she always screamed at the children and he had to be around to keep her in check, that she was jealous, that she got furious with him for talking to an old female friend she had been “at war” with–

How could he turn around and tell me these things?  How could he tell me that he, too, was abusing the kids, that he justified it with that tired old Stockholm Syndrome chestnut: that his parents did these things but he deserved it?

I expected him to be grateful for my support and sympathy, especially after he had courted it for two months.  But now that Tracy was here, he was like a totally different person, content to abuse and be abused.

He did once tell me over the phone that he recently abused the kids, but he gave no details, and said he was sorry for it.  But now he was excusing abuse?

Other times, too (during this time and in the following years), he told me she didn’t trust women, that pregnancy hormones made her jealous of any attention he paid to other women, etc.

So no, this wasn’t about me causing her jealousy, but about her being naturally jealous to start with.  If some other woman had been in my place, if he stayed with some other couple for two months, she probably would’ve treated her the same.

Jeff reacts quite differently to the same things that made her jealous and furious.

I think people online or in advice columns who just automatically assume the wife must have a reason to be jealous, don’t realize a wife can be so naturally jealous that she sees offense even in innocuous behavior, and drives everyone around her crazy with it.

Another shock: Now that I saw her abuse for myself, and no longer just took his word for it, he made excuses for what she did, and claimed she was being “nice” to him.

In other, later conversations, he told me she was justified in her anger at him during the time they lived with us, or that screaming at children was not abuse but necessary to keep them from being spoiled, and I could swear he told me that yelling at a spouse can be a good thing.  (My mother told me not to get any more childrearing or marital advice from him.)

I began to feel gaslit, a tactic of abusers of which I was already aware because of my 2006 research into my ex’s behavior.  But then one day in 2009, Richard told me things that proved I was not imagining abuse.  These things are here in my accounts.

Jeff wrote a Myspace blog about this: He wrote that with our son squeezed into the bed, a squirm who kept getting sick, he had only a foot or so of space for himself.  No raise for 2007, a 2% raise for 2008, and here we were trying to make that stretch for eight people.

The couch could not take the strain of Richard’s weight: One day, the kids jumped on this already-compromised frame, and it broke down.

We sat on the right side now, having no other chairs.  We were supposed to get together with some friends from out of town on New Year’s, but it was cancelled because of lice.

Yes, lice.  Yet another gift they brought us, along with the cockroaches.

The paperwork for a new apartment finally went through, but they still had to get rent and deposit money, so I had no idea when they were going to move out.

I complained about Tracy’s jealousy and controlling behavior to Richard through a letter, since letters and e-mails were now the only way I could talk to him.

First, he said it was indeed jealousy causing her to act this way, then he said it wasn’t jealousy but some other thing.  But whichever it was, her behavior was still that of a jealous wife who wanted to control her husband’s every move.

That rubbed me the wrong way.  Not only did it insult the hostess and benefactress helping her family and providing her with room and board.

But it raised my hackles because anyone who hurts my dear friend or child or husband, it’s as if they hurt me.  I have always been protective of family and friends, going back at least as far as middle school when my best friend kept getting harassed by other kids.

It demonstrated Tracy’s own insecurity and possessiveness, but when I spoke up about it, I was treated like I was somehow the one in the wrong.

It also seemed quite ridiculous and unreasonable to try to keep two roommates from speaking privately once in a while.  What are you going to do, shadow our every move?  She did try!

She looked ridiculous, and this gave a full picture of her abusive hold over the family, an emotional terrorist trying to keep her family under tight control.  It was like my abusive ex Phil all over again.

Don’t allow yourself to be isolated from others against our own better judgment. Insist on your right to have your own friends and family. —Gaslighting

 

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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