escaping abuse

Why we should tell everyone we have been abused

[Note: This blog post was written in 2014 but back-dated to 2010 to fit with this series.]

Especially after Tracy told me not to “go crying to Jeff,” it was a relief to finally reveal to all my friends, using Facebook, that I had been abused for being an introvert.

It was a relief to post about the evils of jealousy, the traits of introverts and NVLD, and the abuses Tracy was guilty of. 

No more silence about how I had been abused for the past two and a half years by these narcissists: It was all coming out now.  (I also felt free to post whatever I wanted to politically.)

In e-mails to and chats with family, a Fond du Lac friend I had reconnected with, my college friends and, for the next couple of years, Todd, I named names and got into more detail about what went on.  Todd enlightened me on some things as well, and confirmed my suspicion that Tracy has BPD. 

That’s the advantage of two abuse victims of the same person talking to each other: They can compare notes, fill in missing details, and reassure each other, “No, it’s not you,” and “No, you’re not crazy.”

And having supportive friends and family, in general, has been helpful.  They know I don’t deserve this.  The Fond du Lac friend I gave details and names to, had also just broken up with a best friend who abused his girlfriend.  So we had something in common as well.

I posted a link to my blog post Fighting the Darkness, and got all sorts of positive feedback, as people tried to encourage me not to give up faith.  You can see some of this in the comments to that post.

When I discovered in September 2011 from the local newspaper’s arrest records that Richard choked his stepdaughter until she passed out, I also vented about this on Facebook.  It was just too appalling and shocking to keep quiet. 

I didn’t use his name, but everyone who had been following my updates knew it was about my ex-friend.

My friends were very supportive, saying things like, The breakup may have been painful but God was looking out for you.

We wondered why I saw him with the kids in between the charges and the trial.  One person feared they were the type who could manipulate a judge.

This is when Todd unfriended Richard on Facebook, disgusted at how much he had allowed Richard to influence him.

It was all extremely helpful, to know that I was not the terrible person Tracy tried to gaslight and brainwash me into thinking I was.

These were people I had known long before I even met Richard and Tracy on the Forum.  These included people who spent four years of college with me, day after day in each others’ company, and kept in touch after college.

These included people who grew up with me, and family.  These included people I went to church with.

They knew me and that I did not deserve abuse.

It was also helpful to discuss these things with virtual friends on online forums.

On Orthodox forums I could ask the religious questions this stirred up:

–how could this happen when God sent me this friend as an answer to prayer,

–how to stay in the faith and not become an atheist,

–how to deal with this,

–how to forgive,

–how to deal with seeing them at church.

We could share experiences of spiritual mentors who fell, and how this affected our faith.  I could ask for prayer.

I also consulted with my priest all through this: in July 2010, in August 2010, then again in October 2011 after Richard was convicted of choking his child.

In October 2011, I asked my priest if Richard could be ordained after choking his child, and he said no.  This was a great relief. 

I again went to my priest when Richard and Tracy threatened and began stalking me, even at church.  I also told all my friends and family again.

I found all sorts of blogs about abuse, such as Shrink4Men, Narcissists Suck, and various survivor blogs, which described the behaviors of narcissists, sociopaths, abusers and abusive borderlines.

They provided a chance to discuss what I went through and read about others’ experiences.  They helped me to define and sort out what had happened.

They helped me learn how abusers operate, far beyond what I had already learned from researching abuse between 1997 and 2010 (first because of Phil, then because of Tracy abusing Richard and the kids). 

They helped me learn that this is a psychological disorder, that how Tracy and Richard acted had nothing whatsoever to do with me.

I learned that no matter what the kind of abuser, their behavior is so alike that survivors keep asking, “Do they all have the same playbook?”

I discovered what a narcissist is, what borderline personality disorder (BPD) is.

And confirmed with Todd that BPD is indeed the most likely cause of Tracy’s behavior, because her mother has it and Tracy has the same traits. 

Though narcissism fits her behavior even more.  As I read Sam Vaknin‘s articles on abuse and the narcissist, the lightbulb went off in my head, not just for Tracy but–to my shock–also for Richard!

Somewhere around or before February 2012, I also made a few friends at my current church who were close enough to tell them more details about what happened, the abuse I suffered and witnessed from Richard and Tracy. 

They could support me as well.  This was incredibly helpful for my healing process, though it had not yet finished as of May 2012, and I was still in a risky emotional state.

But just having them nearby was emotionally supportive when Richard and Tracy began stalking me in May 2012, including coming to my church to intimidate and frighten me into silence and submission. 

One of the friends still goes there; we are like two peas in an introvert pod.

In the e-mail in the above link, Richard and Tracy claimed that I somehow threatened them, but this is a narcissistic lie pulled out of their backsides. 

Something about a threat to “go public” to “members of the church and community.”

Say what?  I never made such a threat, and as you can see, I had already told all my friends, family and priest what had happened, and written the blogs.

In the blogs I changed names, because that was public, and because I–having read Writer’s Digest for years–happen to know a little something about libel.  Everything I did was well within my rights of free speech, and I never, ever threatened to go beyond that.

This is yet another example of abusers trying to gaslight and frighten their victims into silence, the actions of thugs. 

We have to fight this, because that makes us into survivors, not victims.  It makes us strong, not weak for bullies to pick on. 

I stood up to my bullies, and they backed down, though they still stalk my blog constantly.

Then they will pull your face close to theirs and through snarling lips and gritted teeth tell you that if you try to expose their bad deed they will destroy you. This person knows what they are doing is wrong. –Anna Valerious, Narcissist or Psychopath, Narcissists Suck

I wrote this webbook and the related blog posts because I could not afford or trust a therapist,

I am a writer and deal with my worst emotional upsets through writing,

and like many abuse victims I needed to tell the story and talk about my pain over and over until it was gone–which I could not expect my friends/family to listen to.

In blog posts, I could perseverate as much as I needed to, without annoying anyone (except Richard and Tracy, who have been stalking my blog).  And fellow abuse victims can read as much or as little of this as they choose.

Meanwhile, I don’t keep my story or the process of my healing journey under lock and key, where it only benefits me.  I know from my own searches all over the Web, that abuse victims want to read stories like theirs.

So while Richard and Tracy tried, yet again, to threaten me into silence in May 2012, it was too late, because my friends and family–including some in town–already knew all about it. 

And it all falls within my First Amendment rights.  Their threats are meaningless and illegal.  You can see in the e-mails I copy here in my webbook, that my story is consistent.

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

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

An earlier article, “Injuries to Child Raise Questions” (Aug. 26), discussed sentencing for child abusers.

Recently, a local man who choked his young daughter was charged with two felonies. But through plea bargaining, his sentence became probation, no jail time.

How can this happen with such a despicable act? Is that child being protected?

Domestic abuse is far too common – husbands abusing wives emotionally, verbally and/or physically, wives abusing husbands in the same way, husbands and wives abusing each other, parents abusing children.

And keep in mind that “domestic abuse” [in Wisconsin] applies to anyone living together, including roommates.

People laugh at women abusing men, but it happens quite a bit, even physically. Even going to counseling can be a way for the abuser to control the abused by manipulating the counselor.

I also commend Social Services and the police in trying to stop abuse.

Anyone who witnesses or suspects abuse should report it to the police or Social Services to help them do their job protecting those who can’t protect themselves.

And I hope the abused, even children, will have the courage to tell someone who can help.

Abuse victims need to quench their fear of the abusers and break the silence.  This also breaks the control of the abuser over the victim. 

Abusers usually threaten their victims into silence, but I am surrounded by people who support me and protect me by their very presence. 

TELL!  TELL HOW YOU’VE BEEN ABUSED!  Gather supporters to yourself!  Your best protection against bullies is friends.

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

 

Part Four: Their DARVO lies lead us to break off relations with our abusers

Warning: The following contains venting of anger, to get it out of my heart and onto the page, to make the story authentic, and to show other victims of abuse that I feel your rage.

Both Richard and Tracy–first Richard when Jeff spoke to him, then Tracy in the e-mail to Jeff–claimed that 99% of everyone else in the world would have reacted even more fiercely than Tracy had done during the “incident” which ended the friendship, to the e-mail I had written.

What kind of horrid, abusive people do they normally hang out with, anyway, to think this?

Meanwhile, Jeff reacted very differently.  Do remember that he is Tracy’s counterpart, therefore the one to whom I compare her behavior.

The very same things that threw Tracy into furious rages, Jeff barely even raised an eyebrow about.  

What I actually did, did not deserve even half of the reaction it got.  To this day I look back on the “shoulder thing” and the hugs and I’m baffled at Tracy’s reactions.  Does she live in a bubble where no one can touch anyone with kindness and caring unless they’re family?

Also, note that here, as before when Richard told me that 90% of the world would disagree with me that the man is not responsible for all problems in a marriage, Richard and Tracy were now claiming that most of the world would agree with them–as if somehow this made their view right and mine wrong.

But what about the way men in much of the world think women should be treated, with women subservient, so any problems in the marriage can be solved by the man asserting his dominance and swacking her over the head?

What about the tyranny of the majority?

And how do they know most of the world disagrees with me?  Have they done a poll?

This is typical of abusers, claiming that their abuse is kind compared to what other people would have done to you for your “crimes.”  

The appeals to these hypothetical “others,” the Grand Society who would treat you far worse for what you have supposedly done, to make you think you should be grateful for the “mild” way he’s abused you.

The minimizing, rationalizing, and justifying of the abuse to make the victim seem like the abuser, or too sensitive, or too immature to accept responsibility for her behavior.  (Ironic, isn’t it?)  

He’s “only” yelled and screamed at you.  Or “only” hit you.  Or “only” cussed at and belittled you for your horrible behavior. 

The slaveowner in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl did exactly this to Linda, telling her other masters would have killed her on the spot for saying she despised him.

Don’t you dare go and tell anybody how I’ve treated you.  Don’t tell your mother I touched you like this.  

Or don’t tell the police I’m slapping you around.  

Or don’t go crying to your friends/husband/ boss/teacher about how I’m beating you down verbally or physically, because I don’t need the headache.

(That’s what Tracy wrote to me: “Don’t go crying to Jeff about this because we don’t need the headache.”)  

Don’t tell your teacher or the police that I nearly choked you to death.  You deserve what you got….

THESE ARE LIES!

Abusers of any stripe deserve to be brought into the light and their deeds exposed.

The major tactics we use in maintaining our denial are minimizing, rationalizing, and justifying. The effect of these tactics is to redefine what happened, what is acceptable, and what is harmful in such a way that ultimately any act, no matter how hideous, can be carried out.

Minimizing distances us from the damage we caused by claiming that the damage wasn’t as bad as it actually was. “I didn’t beat her up, I just pushed her.”

By minimizing the damage we have caused, we can then blame the victim for “exaggerating” the abuse or accuse the victim of simply making the whole thing up, depending on the nature of the evidence we face.

If there is enough evidence to prove that we have done something wrong, we can use partial repentance: “I’ll accept the responsibility of anything you can prove I did, and nothing more.”

Rationalizing is lying to oneself about what was done to make it seem acceptable — telling ourselves rational (sounding) lies if you will.

“She’s lucky I only hit her once. Anybody else would have beaten the crap out of her.”

This lying becomes more and more practiced until we can convince ourselves of anything — particularly when the pain of admitting the truth of what we’ve done becomes larger and harder to deal with.

Justifying is explaining why it was okay to do what was done. “It was okay for me to tell her that I would kill her (justifying) because she was becoming so upset and she had to shut up before she disturbed the neighbors (rationalizing) and I didn’t really mean it anyway (minimizing). She knows I could never hurt her.”

Part of the reason for maintaining denial is that when we are abusing others we are frequently incapable of separating ourselves from our behavior, and therefor to admit that the behavior is bad is to make us bad as well. Nobody wants to think of themselves as bad, so we don’t think about things that way. —Denial

Both of them were, basically, blaming me for Tracy’s actions.  But the responsibility for Tracy’s behavior is on Tracy, not me.  

She could have chosen to step back, calm down, and then find out what was REALLY going on, before (over)reacting.  This would have led to her getting the truth, (hopefully) accepting it, and then the preservation of the friendship.

This is DARVO, or deny, attack, and reverse victim-offender.  This is abusers trying to silence their victim.  Classic abusive behavior.

Despite the verbal barrage I received from Tracy over many e-mails on that day and on 8/1/10 (in the next chapter), I did my best to remain calm, make my own apologies, and be mature.

But, like the various cyberbullies I’ve come across on gaming forums and in chat rooms, there was no reasoning with her.  

Her rage just kept going and going, even a month later by which time most reasonable people would have calmed down and seen their own contribution to the problem.

She didn’t care about my feelings or hearing me out; as Jeff said, she just wanted to yell.

In fact, when I think back over the years I knew her, she never did want to hear me out about anything, never cared about my side of things.

A true friend would care, would cut you slack, try to get the full story, not treat you like a worm every time you did something she didn’t like, but she never even bothered to ask me.

A true friend would let you be yourself, but she criticized me for being naturally quiet and introverted.

She went on and on about me somehow hurting her again and again over the past couple of years, but Jeff and I both had no idea what she was talking about: Ever since they moved out, I had stopped doing the things that I knew bugged her, had been nice to her!

I joked with her at times, and held my tongue when she kept poking and prodding me with her snarks.  Yet I was somehow hurting her?

She blamed me for things which had been Richard’s idea, and even when we found out they upset her and stopped doing them, it was as if they had been all my idea and as if I kept doing them.

And of course, she wouldn’t allow me to defend myself or find out what the heck was going on, by replying to these e-mails.

She talked and acted as if it were horrible, selfish, disrespectful (to her and Richard), and stalker-y to respond to these e-mails, to defend myself, to find out what was going on and why I was being treated this way, and, later, to send Richard a good-bye e-mail that explained our decision and accused him of duplicity.

Then she later on used this as her excuse–er, justified reason, she would say–to block me from Richard’s Facebook and e-mail accounts, and forbid him from e-mailing or speaking to me.

It was truly BIZARRE behavior from her, and yet more evidence that she is a narcissist/sociopath.  Truth made no difference to her at all.  As Jeff said, “She just wanted to yell.”  As Anna Valerious writes,

Recognize the reality that the narcissist will never give you “permission” to defend yourself against them. Quit being confused as to your rights to self-defense when confronted by the threatenings and breathings against you by the narcissist for doing so.

Is it reasonable to expect the despotic ruler to grant you the right to mount a defense against his capricious demands? Hardly.

It is time to recognize your fundamental right to live which is connected to your fundamental right to defend your life against threats. This is as true in the emotional, mental and spiritual realm as in the physical. —Your Most Fundamental Right

Let’s take a look at this line that narcissists aren’t really bad, that they lash out at you because they feel “threatened.”  This idea begs the question “Threatened in what way?” and “Threatened by what?”

If you’re the victim of a narcissist, you know that this “threatened” excuse is a farce, because the narcissist attacks precisely when you are anti-threatening him or her.

Like when you are trying to please them, when you are saying you love them, when they are already mad at you and you are trying to appease them, when you try to get them to listen to you.

WHAM–you expect the normal reaction to these friendly behaviors, but what do you get instead? The PERVERTED reaction of an attack. It’s a shock tactic that takes you aback and makes you have to pinch yourself.

What on earth have you done to “threaten” the poor narcissist?  Let’s look at the last example–trying to get her to listen to you.  By doing that, you ARE “threatening” her, I’m afraid.

Yes.  Correction: No, you are not threatening her; you are threatening the imaginary her, the bogus “her.” You’re threatening her delusions of grandeur.

ANY honesty or reality does.

Remember that she is a mental child playing Pretend, and she wants all her playmates to play along. That means you are supposed to follow her script.

You are supposed to act unworthy of her attention or regard. When you don’t play that part, she stomps her little foot at you and gets mad, throwing a temper tantrum to be so obnoxious that you give in and do what she wants.

…But when your motive is to destroy the other, the other party backing down or trying to appease you has the opposite effect. Then it’s a sign of weakness that just emboldens the attacker to pour on the attack more furiously than ever.  –Kathy Krajco, The Poor Narcissist Feels Threatened

So after she sent that horrible e-mail to Jeff in response to his attempts to calm her down, which I saw before he did, I made up my mind that it was OVER. 

I couldn’t go to the game because I was too upset to see people.  When Jeff got home from the T-ball game, I told him, “I just can’t deal with that woman anymore!”

Jeff read the e-mail, then came back upstairs and asked me, So we’re going to break off the friendship?

He was on board with it now, now that he had full confirmation that Tracy was a nasty, horrible person who would never lighten up on me no matter what we said or what I did. 

He wanted nothing more to do with either one of them. 

He planned to watch the kids on the weekend, and at first didn’t want to back out on his word.  But after what Tracy wrote to him, he didn’t even want to do this. 

You know it’s serious and that he’s furious, for him to break his word. 

Screw Richard/Tracy and their plans for that weekend: If they couldn’t find another sitter and had to stay home, it was their own fault and their problem.  You just don’t treat friends the way they treated us, and expect those friends to stick around.

My husband and I had been so patient, so nice with them for so long, but after this, we finally had enough of their crap.

Tracy had made it clear that I was not allowed to speak to Richard–whether by phone, e-mail, Facebook, etc.–until we had this “conference.”  Basically, emotional blackmail.  I elaborate on this here.

Bullies find your weak spot, the thing or person that means the most to you, and keep it from you unless you give in to their demands.

In my case, it was my friendship with Richard, with all the privileges his other friends had; she always held it up like a carrot, always out of my reach, sometimes letting it down enough so I could nibble it for a while, then yanking it back up again.

Well, I was tired of dancing for Tracy, always at risk of her blowing up at me the way she did to Todd.  It was degrading.  That’s why I’m gone. 

“Best friends forever” phbbt–If Richard were really my friend, he never would have allowed her to manipulate me like this.  Instead, he tried to pull me into her quagmire and then beat me up emotionally when I was down.

I wasn’t going to sit and listen to an abusive witch lecture me on how I was behaving so “badly,” when she refused to recognize that she’s an abuser and a bully. 

I wasn’t going to let her go on and on about how I deserved her abuse. 

I was sick to death of getting lectured over and over again for being a quiet introvert with NLD, of everything I did being interpreted in the worst possible way and as a horrible offense against her,

while she got away scot-free with all the snarks and other abuses that she did constantly for the past two and a half years I had known her!

Now that I know about Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), I see that the BPD was coloring everything I did in her eyes, making it into an offense where none existed, and that it was nothing I actually did. 

But back then, I had never heard of BPD.  All I saw was a crazy woman. 

And whatever the cause, she was extremely abusive and cruel, not the kind of person I wanted for a friend.

BPD may be a reason, but no excuse for abuse. 

I didn’t have to put up with this.

I knew very well that I deserved none of her abuse. 

That I had done nothing wrong. 

That I had done NOTHING over the past two and a half years to hurt or offend her. 

That this was all a bizarre game she was playing to make me think I did things I didn’t do, deserved abuse I did not deserve. 

And for some unknown reason, Richard was playing along with it–probably so she wouldn’t beat HIM next and make his life miserable with her tirades.

The following quote describes her exactly and explains what she was doing with me:

Another highly effective device abusive women use to control you is denying approval and acceptance.

It’s natural to want to be liked and admired—especially by the person you love. Being criticized, demeaned, rejected and told repeatedly, “not good enough,” “you don’t measure up,” or that you’ve “failed again” is demoralizing.

It also spurs you on to try even harder to please her and herein lies the problem: These women are never satisfied. Nothing you do will ever be good enough. She will never bestow upon you the kind of love and acceptance you seek.

Why does your wife’s/girlfriend’s/ex’s approval mean so much to you? Do you actually respect her and the way she conducts herself?

A woman like this is an abusive, entitled and incredibly self-serving bully, so why do you care what she thinks?  Seeking approval from someone who takes pleasure in cutting you down is a recipe for disappointment and pain.

You’re perpetuating a sick dynamic by seeking approval from someone who’ll never give it to you. Why? Because these women experience giving approval to others as a psychological and visceral loss.

To tell you, “nice job” or “I appreciate you” somehow makes her feel less than and, as you well know, these women won’t tolerate that for a second. –Dr. Tara Palmatier, How Emotionally Abusive Women Control You: The Fear of Loss and the Need for Approval

I have speculated on why, and come up with probable reasons for their behavior: Richard was going into right-wing extremism while I was turning liberal, we had been financially generous but the economic downturn left us short of money, I spoke up against the way Tracy treated her husband and children. 

All of these are very plausible reasons why the two of them would conspire to carry out this gaslighting campaign against me, trying to convince me I was a bad person doing horrible things, when it was actually THEM doing the horrible things.

This is one of the ways that narcissists and abusers twist with your head.  You see it all the time when abused spouses say, “I deserved it.  I talked back/burned the dinner/talked to that person/etc.”

It’s called Battered Wife Syndrome.  And well, my mind was too strong for anyone to convince me that I deserved abuse.  I resisted it with Phil, and I resisted it with them.

I wasn’t going to let them bully me into submission, force me into believing that my natural temperament was somehow horribly offensive. 

These were bigots, not just your normal extroverts who don’t understand introverts, but bigots and bullies who set out to destroy you just because you’re an introvert with NVLD

I could not believe how loony, bizarre, fierce and overblown they were over such a small thing. 

The justification they later gave was connected to my being a quiet introvert–and is behavior not at all unusual for a person like me, and completely benign. 

With most people except for Richard, I don’t even like talking on the phone, even with my best friends, because it’s hard to find something to say. 

Which is another reason why I look at them now as con artists who no longer saw us as useful to them–because of our lack of money, moderate politics, lack of political connections and willingness to speak up when they were abusive–and had to latch onto some reason to make us believe I was the problem, not them. 

Then we wouldn’t notice how they kept siphoning money and other things from us while treating us like crap.

And you know what?  Finally refusing to give in to her, to chuck everything rather than keep dealing with her constant covert and overt bullying and abuse–That was my declaration of freedom.

I began to breathe more freely, felt greatly relieved to have her out of my life.  No longer was I made to feel like an evil witch simply because I am shy, quiet and refuse to let dangerous people into my confidences and inner circle.

Her insistence on this “conference”–my mother called her manipulative.  I have found references to the very same thing in reading this blog on emotional blackmail, and reading about people who have left spiritually abusive churches, but are told they have to attend a meeting with the elders.  They know they will be subjected to more abuse.

Tracy’s behavior and demands exactly match the abusive practices of these cult-like churches, as I describe here.  As for the blog on emotional blackmail, it describes a man being forced by his son to endure the son’s verbal abuse if he expects to see his grandchildren.

Jeff went straight over to their house with a borrowed book and a necklace–a gift to his hostess–that Richard gave me when he first moved in.

The book was the classic Orthodox work I had wanted to read, and that he had finally given to me a few weeks before, The Way of a Pilgrim.  I hadn’t even finished it yet, and was getting so much from it.

But I had to give it up.  I still haven’t read it.

In fact, I have blocked out the memory of it so much over the past four years because of its association with Richard, that I blanked on the name, and still didn’t recognize it even though I found it after Google searching.

That necklace, a tiger-eye bought at the mall, meant a lot to me, and I wore it all the time.  Once, I thought I had lost it, or that my son had lost it, and tore up my room looking for it until I found it.

It was a symbol of our friendship–which meant that it was a LIE.  I’m starting to tear up just writing about this, four years later.

Jeff said to Tracy, “Any hurt Nyssa has caused has been by accident.  But you, you’re being deliberately hurtful!”  He ended things right then and there while I watched over our son at home, not wanting to be near Tracy for obvious reasons.

I hoped to hear when he came back that Richard and Tracy were sorry for blowing up like that, that they valued our friendship as much as Tracy said they did, that they tried to apologize and change his mind.

But no, all they said was “I understand” (Richard) and a petulant “Give him the stuff you borrowed, Richard, so we can get back to our MO-vie” (Tracy).

I have found sources which say narcissists will often let you go like that, like you never meant a thing to them.  Because, well, you didn’t.  Richard had claimed to Jeff that he wanted to preserve the friendship, but this was obviously yet another lie.

Jeff brought back books I had lent to Richard, an Orthodox book on mystical theology, and Kafka’s The Trial.  We had seen the movie together when he lived with us.  They had also just used our cat carrier that day, so it still had a tape with the cat’s name on it.

While the book I returned to him was in pristine condition, mine were all covered in dried spaghetti sauce, which Jeff and I both had to scrub off!

Jeff came home and went on and on about how Tracy’s behavior was “just AWFUL!” and how she had to get down on her knees and apologize to me, and how glad he was to no longer have to go back to “that HOUSE” with its filth and “that SMELL!”

Then Richard posted a video on Facebook as an expression of what happened that day, “Birth School Work Death” by the Godfathers.

I won’t link to it, because that would require finding it, and while it’s an awesome song, it’s triggering.

That’s all Richard wrote about it, though Tracy had posted far more about what a GREAT day she was having (before I finally blocked her Facebook account that afternoon).

Jeff said, “They weren’t good friends,” and “Do you feel used?  I do.”

For days and weeks, I kept waiting and hoping for an apologetic phone call, but none came.

Jeff said I was sweet and everything that Tracy was not, and that was the real reason why she hated me.  

So after all Richard’s claims of how awesome a person I was and how dear my friendship was to him and how much he liked Jeff and me, he just let us go with a simple “I understand,” and he never called us even once after that to try to get us back.  Not even once!

Yeah, now I see how much his friendship was truly worth.  A real, true friend would have tried to call at least once, and not let us go so easily and then blocked us all on Facebook.

Is it necessary for me to state that I saw clearly that it would be a dishonour to myself to continue even an acquaintance with such a one as you had showed yourself to be? –Oscar Wilde, “De Profundis”

I wrote to Richard that evening on Facebook, giving him a chance overnight to respond to it.  But he wrote zilch back, so I unfriended him in the morning:

Goodbye

This is the only message I’ll send. I’ll just say that I bear you no ill-will and certainly never meant any trouble.

You know everything was innocently meant. We were having trouble and I simply wanted to go back to how things were before we started having any problems.

I’ve said before that I’m not comfortable being friends with someone whose wife hates me.

I certainly can’t be friends with you when your wife thinks such horrible things about me.

It’s ripping my heart apart to lose my best friend and brother and favorite theological conversationalist, but it’s probably for the best.

That night, I dreamed that Jeff was helping me escape an abusive husband.  We were running through an airport, down an escalator, to get away from him.  When I woke up I knew it was about Jeff helping me escape Tracy.

Because not only is she an abusive wife, not only is she an abusive mother, but she is also an abusive friend. 

She’s just as bad as any man who beats his wife or girlfriend.

The following day, Jeff wrote me this:

Well, just remember that it isn’t you. What they don’t seem to understand is that all friendship requires give & take.

When I considered how much I had to tolerate to maintain being friends with them, we more than earned a little tolerance and understanding from them.

Instead, while I drop off stuff, Richard is just “I understand”, while Tracy is barking to just give me your books so she can get back to her movie.

Oh yeah, they’re sensitive types and I can tell that my friendship just meant a ton to them.   🙁

I wrote back,

And all because we tried to be kind and give them a place to stay. Really turns me off on the idea of further hospitality for anyone else.   🙁 

I really felt that our good nature was being taken advantage of because it seemed like they just started planning for it and we had nowhere to put them.  🙁

He wrote,

The thought has occurred to me.  Through all our troubles, I put out an honest effort to be understanding of Richard and Tracy.

I spent a ton of time talking with you, trying to nurture understanding and tolerance in you to help smooth our relationships.

What was I thinking?

He later elaborated on how bad he felt about this, not putting more faith in what I was saying, because now he saw for himself that I was right about Tracy.

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

 

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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